Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has highlighted the need to build climate change, water and agricultural research institutes in regional areas in Parliament this week.
Speaking on the Energy Legislation Amendment (Feed-in Tariffs and Improving Safety and Markets) Bill 2016, Ms Sheed said people are searching for ways to be more environmentally-conscious.
“Energy is one of our greatest challenges and goes hand-in-hand with climate change.
“The Bill makes a number of amendments to Victoria’s energy legislation in relation to renewable energy feed-in tariffs and national energy markets,” Ms Sheed said.
“I hear farmers talk more and more about climate change, about variability in climate, recognising that there are drier times around us, that we are in a situation where we know that we will have less water in our future,” she said.
Ms Sheed also highlighted the growing interest in solar opportunities.
“The price of energy is certainly an issue for everyone, but people are looking at and wanting to adopt alternative ways to achieve energy savings for themselves, and in our area solar energy has always been regarded as very doable.
“We have more sunlight in Shepparton than probably anywhere else in Australia. Back in the 1980’s there was the notion that Shepparton would become a solar city. It was a vision that just did not seem to get up at the time, and it is probably now, 30 years later, everyone is getting on board,” Ms Sheed said.
She has encouraged the State Government to seek opportunities to put research institutes back into regional areas.
“I really bemoan the fact that so much of the research that used to take place in our communities — for instance, at the Tatura Research Station and the Kyabram Research Centre — has all gone back to capital cities, with all research now being done in major institutions in areas that are remote from our communities. Yet it is our communities who will adopt so much of what they discover.
I urge government to go back to the grassroots, go back to our communities and put research in those places where it belongs,” Ms Sheed said.
Ms Sheed used the examples of GV Community Energy, which has been operating since 2008, to prove the benefits of putting research back into the Shepparton District.
She also highlighted proposals for future projects, including a solar farm for the Moira Shire.
“The solar farm enables you to buy in, probably at a similar cost to putting panels on your roof. You then receive a commensurate benefit for being a part of that without having the panels on your roof,” she said.
“There are currently legislative impediments that will stop the Moira Shire from undertaking the project, but it’s keen to meet with government, talk about these sorts of projects and see whether it is something that it can get up.
I congratulate the Moira Shire Council for the work it’s doing in relation to sustainability and renewable energy,” Ms Sheed said.
“There is a lot of innovation happening in our communities, and governments need to legislate to ensure the facilitation of projects which will ultimately reduce our greenhouse emissions and of course household energy costs,” she said.
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