Greens MP Jamie Parker asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Central Coast:
"Considering that the New South Wales Government has a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020, when will the renewable energy action plan, which sets out how the target will be achieved, be completed?"
Watch Mr Parker's question and the Minister's answer here, or read the transcript below:
Mr JAMIE PARKER: My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy, Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Central Coast. It is a policy question, so the Minister will be happy.
The SPEAKER: Order! I remind Government members that I need to be able to hear the question that is asked. The Leader of the House will come to order.
Mr JAMIE PARKER: Considering that the New South Wales Government has a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020, when will the renewable energy action plan, which sets out how the target will be achieved, be completed?
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: It is a pleasure to be asked a sensible question but, sadly, it had to come from the crossbench—those four wonderful people. This is the only Government that has a Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, the member for Pittwater, who is doing an absolutely outstanding job in developing a policy on renewable energy for New South Wales. So well regarded is he that recently he represented New South Wales at a ministerial conference with the Minister for the Environment. Afterwards all I heard was high praise for both of them. Through the Parliamentary Secretary we are developing a renewable energy action plan that has gone through a number of formulations and discussions. It is a challenging document and a challenging plan. We have a 70 per cent target to be reached by 2021, which is contained in our State Plan, and we are looking at a wide range of mixed renewable energies.
The SPEAKER: Order! I am finding it difficult to hear the Minister.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: We are looking at solar energy, in cooperation with the Federal Government. We are looking at wind energy: the draft guidelines have been released. We are looking at geothermal energy, and that is being partly funded by the Government's Coal Innovation Fund in conjunction with the University of Newcastle. We are looking at biomass. We have done a lot of work on biomass. Indeed, earlier the Deputy Premier answered a question about our support for ethanol.
The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Leader of the Opposition that he is already on three calls to order.
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: We want to encourage private investment, supplemented—we are doing the same with our discussions with the Federal Government on solar energy—by Federal and State programs to increase the amount of renewable energy in New South Wales. As the member for Balmain would be aware, recently the Federal Government agreed to locate the Clean Energy Council in Sydney. That was a result of lobbying by the Premier. We want to work with the Clean Energy Council. This Government knows that the future of energy must be renewables. The Government has made a commitment that it will not impose additional costs on taxpayers and consumers.
The total incompetence of the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the Solar Bonus Scheme was revealed by the Auditor-General. The Solar Bonus Scheme, which the Leader of the Opposition initiated and about which he has never had the courage to ask me a question, blew out from $350 million to $1.7 billion. People are paying for that, and they will pay for it for years to come. If the member for Balmain wishes to have further discussions about the matter the member for Pittwater and I are only too happy to have further conversations with him. As for the member for Sydney—I am sure she sits on the political right of the member for Balmain as well as physically—we are keen to cooperate with the City of Sydney in its excellent tri-generation programs. The member for Sydney knows that we have already had discussions with government agencies and the City of Sydney at every level. The Government is conscious of its responsibilities to plan for renewable energy. The Government, through the Parliamentary Secretary, is discharging those responsibilities.