Chairs Report

The Climate Change Political landscape has drastically changed since the last Annual Report.

The unprecedented swing to the “Teal Independents” in the Federal Election supported by the Climate200 campaign and the historical success of the Greens has changed the political landscape. In his acceptance speech, Australia’s 31st prime minister Anthony Albanese, hailed the prospect of Australia becoming a “renewables superpower”. The past months of unprecedented and record braking flooding on the east coast of Australia has only emphasised the need for rapid action.

The dizzying pace and range of announcements on Climate Action is hard to keep up with.

Victoria started with offshore wind targets legislating to reduce emissions by 80% by 2035, and to bring forward our net zero target to 2045. Also announcing to bringing back the SEC emphasising a re-engagement of the public sector with the State’s energy generation.

The Victorian Offshore Wind Implementation Statement 1 released in October includes the important announcements that VicGrid will take the lead to coordinated approach to transmission to ensure projects have access to the grid. GCCN strongly advocated for this outcome as we believe it is crucial to meet the target deadlines to have a single entity in control and not have a spaghetti approach to transmission that would have considerable community resistance and delays. The Federal government fast track renewable energy zones including Gippsland as the first Offshore wind zone announced in September by Hon Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate Change Energy, and then affirmed at our Gippsland New Energy Conference 2022 has sparked a deluge of offshore wind proponents seeking to develop in Gippsland.

The big end of town also made some monumental announcements with AGL releasing its inaugural Climate Transition Action Plan. Outlining its ambition to invest in new renewable and firming capacity and bringing forward the targeted closure dates for AGL’s coal-fired power stations including LoyYang A.

As we suggested in our submission to the Federal Government Offshore Wind Proposal last month we believe that Gippsland is positioned well
to transition from being the centre of Victorian energy production with coal fire power into two Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) – the G-REZ and the first offshore wind REZ. The forecast broad benefits are:

  • Planned & coordinated transition to renewable energy
  • Alignment of renewable generation with best resources, transmission & demand
  • Facilitation of large-scale renewables
  • Meeting Victorian Renewable Energy Target
  • Action on climate change
  • Cheap, reliable, clean electricity
  • Reinvigorated regional economy, including coordinated transition and re-deployment of existing coal and gas workforce

I acknowledge there is work to be done in coordinating the activities, developing our workforce capability including ports infrastructure and most importantly demonstrating benefits to Gippsland and social licence for the industry to operate.

In assisting with these important developments we have not forgotten our links to community. We continue to create local energy projects, developing local grid networks, retro fitting programs for and improving sustainability such as our support for the Gippsland Councils for Climate Action (GACA) and the Single Use Plastic Ban with Sustainability Victoria.

I would like to acknowledge all the GCCN Board members and in particular the leadership team of Tony Wolfe Vice Chair, Alison Edgar Treasurer, and a special mention to retiring long serving board member and Secretary, Lorraine Bull. Thank you, Lorraine, for your years of service and your considerable input into relationship building with AGL and the new energy sectors community engagement process. Like all voluntary associations, GCCN relies on the willingness of passionate and dedicated volunteers who generously donate their time and energy for the good of their community. Without them GCCN would not exist.

We are equally supported by a dedicated CEO, Darren McCubbin who has made a huge contribution to the expediential growth of the organisation over the past two years. He leads an expanding team of project and engagement officers that have built GCCN into a professional organisation that is trusted to deliver regional programs, partnering, and connecting with Government agencies, community groups, education providers, Local Government, businesses of all sizes and the rapidly growing new energy sector.

It is only with partnerships and working together that we have a chance of reaching our vision for the future of Gippsland being carbon neutral by 2040 with thriving communities, new industries, a resilient economy, healthy habitats, and sustainably managed resources.

Carolyn Crossley