Southwick encourages investment

Encouraging investment in innovation is opposition spokesman on energy and resources, renewables and innovation David Southwick’s solution to the state’s energy crisis.

During his visit to the Latrobe Valley on Thursday, Mr Southwick said it wasn’t the government’s role to fund new generation, but rather should “ease back” to promote a competitive marketplace.

“We’ve got a really, really exciting opportunity for Victoria to lead the way when it comes to energy innovation,” Mr Southwick said.

Promoting a competitive market would also be part of the Liberal government’s plan to remove some barriers to entry into the market.

“We can’t let a couple of big guys just rule the show and I think one of the key issues is that we’ve had retailers that are also generators,” Mr Southwick said.

The self-described “energy agnostic” said the Latrobe Valley could be a rich resource for a whole range of power generation, including renewables.

“The thing that just reinforces the strength of the Valley is you go to Hazelwood and you have a look at the poles and wires that are just sitting there and effectively terminated,” Mr Southwick said.

“Why wouldn’t you make the Valley an absolute hub for energy going forward that has the mix that has the vibrancy and is already connected?”

He said there needed to be a situation with the most affordable and reliable power, but also the cleanest power possible.

“I’m not someone who says ‘go coal’ … but I kind of think we should be backing what’s the best available,” Mr Southwick said.

He said gas would be an important part of the mix in the future.

“We’ve also released a policy to say that we would kick-start an onshore gas industry in Victoria, and allow gas found in Victoria to stay in Victoria,” Mr Southwick said.

“Does that mean you look at something down in the Valley where gas could be a good mix along with coal? … Maybe so.”