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92.9fm Regional News

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New England potential 'renewable energy hub'

Labor has labelled New England as a potential "renewable energy hub", but Barnaby Joyce has accused them of hurting regional areas.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese announced that Labor supports a net-zero emissions target by 2050 and will oppose taxpayer funding of any new coal-fired power plants.

So far, there is no set plan as to how this goal will be achieved if Labor wins the next federal election.

Labor Senator for NSW Tim Ayres said this would provide a chance for regional areas in the state to lead the way.

"We know that's a target that science demands if we are going to reduce Australia's emissions," he said.

"If we get the pathway right it will mean lower emissions, cheaper electricity and more jobs and better jobs and a decent standard of economic growth and standard of living for Australians particularly in the regions."

Mr Ayres added that the New England had been identified as a renewable energy hub.

"It already provides a large share of New South Wales's renewable energy from projects like the Sapphire Wind Farm," he said.

"There are several potential renewable projects that have been identified in the region that are looking for investment, including three pumped hydro facilities.

"New England should be attracting global investment in renewable energy infrastructure. It should be creating hundreds of skilled jobs, creating apprenticeship opportunities for a new generation of young workers and deliver cheap power to residents and businesses across NSW."

Mr Ayres said they would take the time to consult with experts to develop the long-term plan that will influence future policies.

He added it was essential to set the target now, so voters knew where the Labor Party stood on this issue.

Mr Ayres referenced The Walcha Energy Project, which aims to combine solar and wind energy generation with pumped storage hydro to provide a reliable source of renewable energy for NSW.

"Which would deliver a solar, wind and pumped hydro project which would be twice the size of the Liddell Power Station," he said.

My Ayres concluded that they are focused on what this will mean for regional communities, and the Labor Party's approach will be to consult with those living outside the major cities.

New England MP said zero emissions by 2050 means removing jobs from regional areas, exporting manufacturing jobs from the Westerns Suburbs, shutting down mining jobs in Central Queensland and the Hunter Valley and putting pressures on one of Australia’s largest exports, coal.

"This issue of economically crippling emissions targets must be nipped in the bud now," he said.

"In regional areas, we have already started paying the price for these policies. We have the highest electricity prices in the OECD which hurt the poorest and most vulnerable people in our villages and towns.

In regional areas, vegetation management laws have divested the property rights off farmers. In the outer suburbs manufacturing jobs have been lost to overseas as our cost advantage on power inputs are lost."


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