House of Representatives

Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

Second Reading Speech

Mr BOWEN (McMahon - Minister for Climate Change and Energy)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

When the Albanese government thinks about renewable energy - we don't just think about sun and wind. We think about jobs and investment.

That's why I am pleased to introduce the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Legislation Amendment Bill in the House.

This is job enabling legislation.

This bill underpins the offshore renewable energy regulatory framework for a new Australian industry, building on this government's strong support for renewable energy projects and critical grid infrastructure.

Offshore wind has incredible potential to strengthen our economy, create jobs and opportunities for Australians, and ensure the delivery of affordable and reliable power.

Renewable energy support

Australia should be on course to be a renewable energy superpower - we have the raw materials and intellect to do it. But what we haven't had to date is a government committed to seeing it happen.

The Albanese government is supercharging our renewables vision because we know how important it is to our future - cleaner energy, cheaper energy.

It's why our plan includes 82 per cent electricity by renewables by 2030.

It's why we're investing in community batteries - installing 400 around the country, so that communities can better harness the potential of solar without needing, necessarily, individual household batteries.

It's why we're rolling out 85 solar banks around Australia to ensure households can benefit from rooftop solar.

And it's why we're leading the way on offshore wind, putting in place the building blocks for what has the potential to be a game changing industry in our country.

Offshore wind

The International Energy Agency estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420,000 terawatt hours per year worldwide, more than 18 times the global electricity demand.

Offshore wind has the potential to power Australia several times over.

One rotation of an offshore wind turbine has the same amount of energy that an average household solar system produces all day. Meaning that this technology has the ability to expand manufacturing and the green hydrogen industry.

It's not hard to see why, since 2010, at least 150 offshore wind projects began development across the globe.

Offshore wind can strengthen our energy network by complimenting onshore wind and solar generation patterns.

While offshore wind generation is thriving in the UK, Europe, and the United States, this great resource is currently untapped in Australia.

While we're currently behind the pack, we're not out of the race yet, and the bill enables the necessary changes to allow for licencing and construction to begin.

These proposed measures will deliver investment certainty to renewable energy sector participants seeking to operate in the offshore wind environment.

There are at least a dozen offshore wind projects waiting for this legislation - and the passage of this bill is the next step in regulatory consideration.

Projects like Star of the South, which will deliver up to 20 per cent of Victoria's energy, have significant potential worth exploring, and my department is consulting with local communities to define job and economic opportunities, as we speak.

And the opportunities are there - offshore wind has the capability to become a significant maritime employer.

Energy jobs are well paid, secure jobs and this bill helps provide additional certainty to the regulatory framework.

As part of our licencing framework, we will be supporting local communities to work with offshore electricity developers to get the best outcomes for their communities. Whether that's through:

Regional investment;
Employment and training opportunities; or
Greater say in the project development.


Further to the introduction of the offshore electricity infrastructure legislative framework, consequential amendments to theCustoms Act 1901 are required to effectively manage border security risks that could arise from the installation of offshore renewable energy infrastructure in Commonwealth waters. These amendments will treat offshore renewable energy infrastructure on the same basis as sea and resource installations for customs purposes.

Without legislative amendments, there is a heightened risk of offshore renewable energy infrastructure providing an illegal entry point for people and goods seeking to enter into Australia.

These amendments to the customs framework will now treat offshore installations in the renewable and non-renewable energy sector on an impartial basis.

This bill also makes minor administrative amendments to the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 to ensure its effective operation as intended, further to recent Machinery of Government changes.

The offshore electricity infrastructure framework enables the development of a new industry; creating jobs, strengthening our economy, facilitating a more affordable and secure energy system, and significantly boosting Australia's progress in tackling emissions and climate change.

It's the start - but not the end - of our plans for offshore wind. But it's an important start. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.