A Labor government will commit to building Australia’s first Community Power Hub in Tathra should they win the election.
That was the message from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten when he visited the seaside town on Tuesday, January 29.
The election pledge for Tathra amounts to $10million from Labor’s $100million Neighbourhood Renewables Program announced in November last year.
The program is aimed at helping renters and social housing residents benefit from cheaper and cleaner renewable energy, by supporting local community renewables projects such as solar gardens on rooftops, community wind farms, energy efficiency upgrades for social housing, and grants for community groups to pilot new projects.
Tathra’s would be the first of 10 such Community Power Hubs across the country.
Mr Shorten was welcomed to Tathra by sitting local MP Mike Kelly. The last time both were together in the region was in the immediate aftermath of the March bushfire that devastated Tathra and surrounds.
That “off season” bushfire was a direct result of a changing climate Mr Kelly said as the pair both extolled the virtues of a Labor Party “committed to real action on climate change”.
“In the Army we used to have a saying – lead, follow or get out of the way,” Mr Kelly said.
“I think the message this community is sending to the federal government is you’ve failed to lead, you’ve failed to follow, just get out of the way.”
Mr Shorten said renters, social housing tenants and community groups can struggle to access renewable energy and benefits, including potentially lower power bills.
“The principle behind the Community Power Hub is to provide modest resources to allow our go-ahead communities to actually move ahead and be able to invest in clean energy. This is the future,” he said.
Prue Kelly of Clean Energy for Eternity, which has been behind the installation of solar energy on every public building in Tathra, said it was “an outstanding” pledge.
“It’s recognition of the work a large number of people have been doing, not just in Tathra, but the whole Bega Valley,” she said.
“Our success is that we have results on the ground, we’ve done what we said we would do.
“It’s gratifying that all the time, money and effort invested in this community is being seen at higher levels.”