More than 30 supporters of Repower Monaro – a local clean energy group – protested outside John Barilaro MP’s electorate office in Crawford Street, Queanbeyan last week.
The October 8 rally sought to urge Mr Barilaro to support a rapid transition to clean energy.
The rally marked the start of a broader Repower Monaro campaign to put clean energy at the top of the agenda in the lead up to the 2019 state election and to keep pressure on the government to accelerate a transition to clean energy.
Repower Monaro organiser Minna Featherstone said the group was “all about pushing our State Government to show leadership on climate change in the form of strong policy commitments for large scale solar, wind and storage projects in regional NSW”.
Repower Monaro spokesman Dr Frank Briggs said NSW was nationally lagging in the transition to renewable energy, “so Repower Monaro formed to ask their MP to represent what his constituents want: a clean energy powered NSW.
“Rather than advocating dirty and dangerous fuels like, coal, gas and nuclear, Mr Barilaro should be promoting the development of renewable energy, which offers a jobs and investment bonanza for areas like the Monaro.
“There is overwhelming public support in this region for clean energy, but Mr Barilaro is doing nothing,” Dr Briggs said.
Dr Briggs said Repower Monaro would very soon release polling on public attitudes to different sources of energy and climate change.
“It’s time our representatives started listening,”Dr Briggs said.
“We need to Repower NSW now. Monaro is one of the NSW Government’s most marginal seats, held by just a few thousands votes.
“That means voters in this area can have enormous influence over the policies the Coalition takes to the next election.
“We want all parties to adopt policies that are climate friendly, supports regional jobs, and reduce power prices by getting more renewables up and running.
“We want Mr Barilaro to understand that a default support for coal, gas and uranium could cost his party electorally, and would like him to provide a clear position on renewables.”
Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, convened a meeting with Repower Monaro organisers at his Crawford Street electorate office on Monday October 15.
The meeting was positive, a spokesperson said, adding Mr Barilaro said he remained open to the case for a transition from coal to renewables, though he didn’t provide a time frame.
Mr Barilaro also placed emphasis on the fact he was not “anti-renewables” as the protesters had suggested.
Mr Barilaro said, “it was unfortunate that Repower Monaro decided to protest outside of my office prior to meeting with me and assumed my position. When it comes to energy production, it is about finding the right mix to ensure a sustainable and efficient supply.
“I’m confident they were quietly surprised about my view on the energy market, and my support for renewables being part of our future, including investment in renewable energy projects such as Snowy 2.0.”
“We were able to have a good discussion about energy and ways the NSW Government can invest. It was exciting to hear about a potential reverse pump hydro site in the Araluen valley and a proposal for better utilisation of public assets, such as using schools to host solar panels.”
“I’ll be back in contact with Repower Monaro to continue these discussions.”
NSW Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson said NSW Labor recognised “the immediate need for more energy generation that can reliably contribute towards meeting demand.
“Locally the Snowy 2.0 project is a great example of that.
“NSW Labor is in step with Federal Labor with its target of 50 percent renewables by 2030.
“Locally, Mike Kelly and I are in lock step on the importance of renewables for our area’s economy and for the nation’s future.
“Our region has the potential to be a renewables hub from research through to generation. It can bring investment, skills and jobs.
“NSW Labor will use a proportion of the proceeds from the transfer of the Snowy Hydro to invest in new renewable generation projects across regional NSW.
“We will provide a fair minimum solar tariff, so that households with rooftop solar are paid fairly for the power they generate (an issue for many households in the Monaro); and will massively increase solar energy generation on the rooftops of government buildings, for example, our schools across Monaro.
“I have been proud of our school community investment in Solar at the Jerrabomberra Public School and I think there is enormous potential for projects like this across the whole region.
“In relation to the protest, Labor supports the move to a cleaner energy future with less reliance on fossil fuels, and as long as it is respectful, I have no problem with the Repower group making that point to our local member.”
A clear position on climate change and renewables will be a major issue with a NSW state election scheduled for early next year.