Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Matthew Kelly

'Fast becoming a national scandal': Dutton attacks offshore wind proposal

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has renewed his call for community consultation on the Hunter Offshore Wind Zone to be reopened.

But the government has fired back claiming Mr Dutton's ongoing attacks on the proposed project put him at odds with his party's position on renewable energy.

Tourism and fishing operators who are fighting to keep offshore wind away from Port Stephens hosted Mr Dutton and Shadow Climate and Energy minister Ted O'Brien on a tour of the area on Tuesday.

Mr Dutton said the proposed project project, which Port Stephens locals and business operators say would destroy the area's multi-million dollar fishing and tourism industries, was "fast becoming a national scandal".

"The government hasn't done the work, they haven't undertaken the environmental impact statement that needs to undertaken in any other onshore development," he said.

"For Chris Bowen and Meryl Swanson and Emma McBride and others just to have absolute disregard for the local community I think is a national disgrace."

Peter Dutton speaking at Nelson Bay on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the regulations around offshore wind were introduced by the former Coalition government in October 2021.

She said not only were Mr Dutton's comments at odds with his Liberal colleagues in Tasmania (who announced consultation on Bass Strait offshore wind on Tuesday), but they're at odds with the former Coalition government's own legislation.

The government estimates the project would create 3000 construction and 1500 ongoing jobs in clean energy manufacturing across the Lower Hunter.

Mr Dutton declined detail the Coalition's plan, if the offshore wind proposal was scrapped, for creating jobs in the emerging sector.

"We have long term sustainable jobs now in the tourism and in the fishing industry, and I'll give you the Coalition's commitment: we're not putting those at risk, we're not going to destroy these jobs to create some short term construction jobs, we're not going to destroy the local environment here in an effort to achieve our emission reduction targets," he said.

"We're going to have support for projects which will firm up renewable projects"

Community consultation for the project ran from February 23 to April 28 this year.

But many Port Stephens locals have since complained they were unaware of the proposal until shortly before the consultation period closed.

Despite a recent community protest that drew about 1500 locals, the government has refused to reopen the process.

"It's obviously been a flawed (consultation) process," Mr Dutton said.

"The tricky way Chris Bowen undertook the consultation essentially under cover of darkness in a very short period of time. Locals weren't properly engaged and that's why there has been a very significant level of anger and concern about the impacts. Where is it going to be on-shored, the impact of the communities who live near near the sand dunes where the pipes are going run through to the connection points."

"I don't think the government's position is tenable."

More than a dozen Australian and international offshore wind companies have shown interest in investing in projects in the zone which extends from Port Stephens to Catherine Hill Bay.

The government is expected to announce a list of preferred bidders for the project in early 2024.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.