Page 3314 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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Madam Speaker, an application for development approval of a proposed solar farm must be processed in accordance with the planning laws and it must be assessed on its merits, taking into account public comment, agency advice and other factors. Assessment of the matter on its merits, taking account of the public interest, is also required in relation to any decision to call or not call in any such project. It would be improper, pre-emptive and speculative for me to pre-empt this process and these assessments by acceding to a request to guarantee a particular outcome at this time.

While it is a matter for this Assembly, I would suggest that members take the time to consider carefully whether it is appropriate for this Assembly to pass a motion asking me to pre-empt the proper assessment of these matters contrary to statutory requirements for assessment based on the merits of an application that is yet to be made.

The government is committed to ensuring that the assessment of these matters is completed in a proper manner as required by the planning law. We are also committed to helping our city make the transition to a sustainable future, a future where we abate the detrimental impact that carbon pollution has on our climate. I spoke yesterday about how vulnerable our city is to the changes that climate change can work on it. I talked about the impact of more significant heatwave events, heightened bushfire risks, extended droughts or severe storm events.

These are all consequences that our city faces now. As a city, we have obligations to act to try and abate some of the impacts of extreme climate change. One of the ways that we can do that is through making a shift to renewable energy sources. We should allow the processes set out under the law, in both the solar auction process and under the Planning and Development Act, to decide whether or not certain renewable energy projects proceed.

I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.28): I thank Mr Wall for bringing this motion to the Assembly today because it is clearly a matter of significant public interest to which the Assembly should turn its mind. The ACT Greens want to see solar built in the territory. We strongly support the policies on renewable energy and tackling our greenhouse gas emissions. It was the Greens who initiated a proposal for the 40 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020, one that sets the territory up very well to set us on a path to sustainability. We strongly support the 90 per cent renewable energy target. Again, this practical measure will help deliver the greenhouse gas reductions the territory is seeking and position the ACT as a leader.

The ACT Greens have strongly supported the government in their rollout of the large-scale solar farms as part of a mix of technologies and programs that will be needed to meet the targets that have been set. We remain committed to expanding rooftop solar in the territory through the renewable generator guarantee, which would pay a fair price to people who are generating electricity and feeding it into the grid. The ACT needs to be ambitious to meet our targets. They are country-leading, nation-leading and world-leading targets, and to achieve them will take considerable effort.

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