Minister refuses to answer Ellen’s question on coal exploration licences

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — My question is to the Minister for Energy and Resources. Last week four new coal exploration licences and a coal retention licence were granted in Victoria. Media reports suggest that the minister did not know about the granting of these licences until after they had been approved. Yesterday in the other place, despite her clear stake in the matter, the Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Regional Development confirmed that she was not consulted. Can the minister advise the Parliament exactly when she became aware that new coal exploration licences had been approved by her department?

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Witty interjections are not welcome either. The Minister for Energy and Resources.

An honourable member — Go nuclear.

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy and Resources) — Really? Go nuclear? Is that right? The SPEAKER — Order! The minister to respond in conformity with sessional orders. Ms D’AMBROSIO — I would like to take both questions at the one time, but let us get on with this. I thank the member for Melbourne for her question. Under the Labor government Victoria is serious about transitioning to a renewable energy future. This is a commitment that we made in the lead-up to the election; it is a hallmark of the previous Labor government and it will remain a hallmark of this current government. Let us be clear: we do not make any apology for this. Our record on this is quite clear. We are already moving on environmental upgrade agreements. We have removed the planning laws with respect to wind energy projects, and we have assigned $20 million to a New Energy Jobs Fund. We are not wasting a single day in getting the jobs and the investment into our renewable energy sector. We support renewable energy, and we have made a concerted effort to deliver that.

Mr Hibbins — On a point of order, Speaker, the question was specifically about the minister’s knowledge about the granting of coal licences, and I ask that the minister answer the question.

The SPEAKER — Order! I do not uphold the point of order.

Ms D’AMBROSIO — As I was saying, our government is serious about delivering the plan that we identified in our election commitments, and we will be getting on with the job of ensuring that the billions of dollars of investment that will come to our state will flow through with our renewable energy action plan.

Supplementary question

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — Given that the minister has stated that this government is committed to renewable energy and to climate action, can she confirm that under this government her department will not grant any new coal exploration or coal mining licences in Victoria?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Minister for Energy and Resources) — This supplementary question is from the party that rejected the emissions trading scheme. This question — —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Government members will allow the minister to continue.

Ms D’AMBROSIO — When the Victorian Labor government called for the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to get out of the way and remove section 7C of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 — the constitutional barrier to Victoria’s setting up a complementary renewable energy scheme — the member for Melbourne said that it was of no consequence, it was not important at all. We are getting on with the job of creating a renewable energy sector, building it up with real investment, real support and an action plan that will start to get investment dollars flowing to Victoria.

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