August 3, 2023

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (19:50): I rise tonight to talk about the Portland offshore wind farm. This is an incredibly important discussion that the community wants to have, and it wants to have it with the government. Minister Bowen visited Portland two weeks ago to announce this new offshore wind farm zone and say that consultations were beginning. The visit by Mr Bowen was at very short notice. I think I was given less than 24 hours' notice, and the community was not given much notice either.

As a result of the visit and the declaration of the consultation on the offshore wind farm zone, there was a meeting called last Wednesday in Portland at the yacht club. The meeting was called for three o'clock that afternoon and was jam-packed, much to the surprise of the organisers. It was overflowing because people had some serious concerns they wanted to see addressed and serious questions they wanted answered. Minister Bowen has kindly agreed to see me next week. I will ask a group of three or four people who attended that meeting from the various sectors of the community to come along so they can put their concerns directly to Minister Bowen.

A concern that was raised, for instance, from one local fisherman was about what would happen to birdlife. Through many years of fishing, he has recorded all the different ocean birdlife, and he has it numbered 63 different varieties of seabirds. He would like to understand what impact an offshore wind farm would have on birdlife in the area. There is also the southern right whale, which is protected in and around the coastline of southwest Victoria. So another issue that was raised was about what this would mean for the southern right whale and what environmental protections would be put in place for the southern right whale, given that it is a protected species.

There were also concerns raised about the Bonney Upwelling, which takes place off the coast of Portland and is one of the most important seasons for whale breeding. We have one of the most significant breeding grounds for whales just off the coast of Portland, and people want to know what protections there would be and would be put in place for that important whale breeding that takes place. When you think about the gaps between the towers that could potentially be proposed as a result of this consultation, there were concerns about what they would mean for squids and longline fishing. All these environmental protection considerations obviously need to be taken very seriously regarding the consultations on this offshore wind farm. There are also the local surfboard riders who want to know what the impact would be—although they told me not to say this too publicly—on one of the best surfing spots in Victoria. There are also those that glide around the area, whether paragliding or other gliding forms. They want to know what the impact would be.

Obviously, south-west Victoria, onshore, does more than its fair share when it comes to wind farms. Serious concerns were also raised about our vista. Onshore, I think we have more wind farms than any other area in Australia, and then you double that up with offshore wind farms. How much do we have to do regarding renewable energy provision? All those questions need to be answered by the minister. I thank the House.

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