THE Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio will visit Ararat on Wednesday October 10 to speak on energy policy at a community forum.
The Minister will be joined by Ararat Rural City Council mayor Gwenda Allgood, Northern Grampians Shire Council mayor Tony Driscoll, and industry representatives.
The forum, titled ‘Securing renewable energy jobs and investment’, will host talks on the region’s current renewable energy projects, the future of clean energy in the Ararat and Northern Grampians region, and what post-election energy policies might look like from a re-elected Labor Government.
Taking place at St Andrew’s Uniting Church on Barkly Street from 6.30pm-8pm, the event is being hosted by Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth alongside the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
Friends of the Earth organiser Leigh Ewbank visited Ararat to promote the event last Thursday and said that the forum was a chance to have a conversation about the impacts of climate change already being seen in Victoria.
“Last June the Bureau Of Meteorology reported that Ararat and Stawell saw the hottest month ever recorded,” he said.
“In April this year we saw a record breaking heatwave. East Gippsland is now in drought and we’ve already seen winter bush fires, so the impacts of climate change are here and now and unless we double our efforts to rein in emissions things are set to get worse.”
These effects have brought climate policy to the fore in the coming election, with one flyer produced by the Victorian Trades Hall to advertise the forum displaying the words ‘Is Louise Staley trying to kill local clean energy jobs?’
Ms Staley, who voted against the Victorian Renewable Energy Target last year, labelled the Union’s message as ‘absolute hypocrisy.’
“For the past four years I have fought and campaigned for local jobs, for local people in Ararat, Stawell and across my electorate of Ripon,” she said.
“At the last election Daniel Andrews promised 440 jobs for Stawell which have never been delivered. His union mates should be campaigning against his dismal record on local jobs rather than playing politics on the eve of the election,” she said.
However, Mr Ewbank said that the election was a chance for “all political parties in Victoria to get on with creating policies to roll out renewables and target climate change” as well as deliver jobs in the growing sector.
“New research has shown that the renewable energy target will create six thousand jobs annually in Victoria. With new wind farms under construction in Bulgana, Crowlands, and Stockyard Hill, this region is the epicentre for jobs and investment.”
“I think the community is well aware of the benefits that it brings the local economy and I think there is a pride that among the community that this is a place where climate change solutions are visible and benefiting everyone.”