Labor criticizes minister for QLD wind farm
The federal government has vetoed a $ 370 million green energy project in far north Queensland, despite its potential to create hundreds of jobs and cheaper energy.
The Kaban wind farm and the accompanying increase in the grid are expected to generate 250 jobs in the region and provide more affordable electricity to households and businesses.
It was claimed that the project would result in electricity savings of $ 461 million over 30 years.
The proposed energy hub, which is expected to be based 80 km west of Cairns, received the green light from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Board of Directors in December 2020.
But Northern Australia’s Minister Keith Pitt exercised his ministerial powers and vetoed the project because it was “incompatible with the goals and policies of the Commonwealth government.”
Mr Pitt used the powers given to him under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility legislation, put in place in 2016 by then North Australian Minister Josh Frydenberg .
At the time, Mr Frydenberg told parliament that ministerial powers could only be used for projects “contrary to the national interest”.
Mr Pitt reportedly told the NAIF chief in March that he was not convinced the project would lead to lower energy prices.
The veto decision was attacked by Labor Party climate spokesperson Chris Bowen, who accused the government of killing the project because it was against their “non-existent energy policy”.
“North Queensland is expected to get 250 new energy jobs and cheaper electricity bills, but they have been hung to dry,” he said on Thursday.
“Queensland has the resources and the workers to keep feeding the country and the world, but a government that leaves them behind.”
Opposition spokesman in North Australia, Murray Watt, said the NAIF had struggled to fund projects for more than five years.
“The NAIF has been notoriously slow in allocating funds to projects since its announcement six years ago,” he said.
“Now that he finds a project to finance, the minister is overthrowing it in secret.
“This government’s ideological obsession with renewable energy costs jobs and lowers electricity prices.
“They are holding back regional Queensland.”