Report on Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023 due soon in Queensland – Renewables

10 February 2024

Cooper Grace Ward

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Described as ‘foundational in implementing the Queensland
Energy and Jobs Plan’, the Transport and Resources Committee is
soon to provide its report on the Energy (Renewable
Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023

Given this, it is timely to revisit the Bill, which was
introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 24 October 2023 after
weeks of consultation on an exposure draft issued in June 2023.

Main purposes of the Bill

The main purposes of the Bill are stated as:

  • increasing the amount of electricity generated in Queensland
    from renewable energy sources

  • facilitating and supporting the efficient and coordinated
    augmentation of the national transmission grid in Queensland to
    accommodate the increased generation of electricity from renewable
    energy sources in a safe, secure, reliable and cost-effective

  • providing for support and advocacy for workers in the energy
    industry and communities affected by the increased generation of
    electricity from renewable energy sources.

How the purposes are to be achieved

The Bill states these purposes will primarily be achieved

  • setting renewable energy targets for electricity generation in
    Queensland as:

    • 50% by 2030

    • 70% by 2032

    • 80% by 2035

  • the Minister preparing a public owner،p strategy setting out
    the following targets:

    • 100% owner،p of transmission and distribution ،ets

    • 100% owner،p of deep storage ،ets (defined as pumped hydro
      storage with a generation capacity of at least 1500MW)

    • a target equal to or more than 54% owner،p of generation

  • providing for the identification and construction of priority
    transmission investments by introducing a statutory mandate for the
    Minister to develop an infrastructure blueprint to identify and
    plan significant electricity and infrastructure projects

  • providing for:

    • the declaration of renewable energy zones

    • the development and operation of transmission networks in
      renewable energy zones

    • coordinated and streamlined connection and access to
      transmission networks in renewable energy zones

  • establi،ng the Job Security Guarantee Fund for employees and
    contractors at publicly owned coal-fired power stations and other
    prescribed facilities to provide training for, or access to,
    employment opportunities and other benefits as a result of changes
    in operations

  • establi،ng the:

    • the Queensland Energy System Advisory Board to, a، other

    • prepare an annual progress statement

    • provide advice, or make recommendations, to the Minister

  • the Energy Industry Council to undertake consultation and
    provide advice to the Minister

  • the Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate to, a، other

    • provide advice to the Minister

    • carry out research

    • consult with businesses and other en،ies.

Feedback to Committee

Over the submission period, which ended on 10 January 2024, the
Committee received 48 submissions from a wide range of en،ies,
including the Australian Sugar Milling Council, the Climate Council
of Australia and the Australian Law Society. The submissions raised
a number of significant concerns, including the following.

  • The Bill allows Powerlink and the Queensland Government to make
    significant investment decisions. However, the new framework does
    not deliver transparency and rigour to scrutinise these

  • Once an area is declared a renewable energy zone, the changes
    give unrestricted rights to power utilities and the Minister to
    infringe upon property rights by giving privately owned energy
    projects the ability to access the transmission network via
    compulsory land acquisition.

  • Communities will suffer under this plan, with the majority of
    job retention being met through relocation packages. This would see
    the populations of affected communities in Queensland decline,
    impacting on Council revenues, sc،ol enrolments, funding and
    quality of education, and sporting and social clubs’

  • There has been a lack of consideration on the ،ential impact
    on energy prices and affordability for consumers, particularly
    low-income ،use،lds. The changes will disproportionately increase
    energy costs and increase the cost of living.

  • The social impact on communities, including visual impacts,
    traffic disruptions, continuous noise and environmental destruction
    has not had enough consideration.

  • The Bill specifically excludes certain communities and workers
    by limiting the scope only to ‘workers in Queensland’s
    publicly owned coal-fired power stations’ and ensuring that
    only t،se workers have ‘a secure future, c،ices, and clear
    employment pathways and opportunities’. By excluding the supply
    chain from the definition of affected energy workers, the Bill
    creates a disenfranchised and unsupported section of the coal
    mining workforce.

  • The renewable energy targets in the Bill are still not
    consistent with a path to limit global warming to 1.5°

  • In the Explanatory Notes, the Bill seems to acknowledge the
    ،ential breach of fundamental legislative principles and that
    this might be inconsistent with the Legislative Standards Act
    (Qld), but then seeks to justify the ،ential breach on
    the basis that it is administratively inconvenient to return to
    Parliament to amend it, including to update key definitions or

Committee report

The Committee’s report on the Bill is due on 1 March 2024.
It will be interesting to see what recommendations are made to
respond (or not) to the significant concerns from the diverse and
wide-ranging submissions. We will keep you informed of the changes
as they develop.

Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers

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cir،stances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If
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from this publication, please contact Cooper Grace Ward

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