Regions send message to governments: Get on with renewables, new industry

Australia may have the wrong idea about regional Queenslanders, according to a detailed report that asked people in the state’s major centres: what do you want?

Aug 20, 2020, updated Aug 20, 2020
Queensland's is in danger of missing its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030, a report has found (Photo: Unsplash)

Queensland's is in danger of missing its target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030, a report has found (Photo: Unsplash)

The list that came out of the forums looks like a Greens wish-list but report author Amanda Cahill of The Next Economy said that was not how it was framed.

“The surprising thing for me is that there was a big shift in peoples’ acceptance, almost a pragmatism about how we have all this renewable energy now and that’s the way things are going so how do we make the most of it,” she told InQueensland.

“I think people are not anti-coal. That has not changed. It has become a ‘Yes and … ‘ approach, which suggests they are thinking that yes, we have a coal industry and we have renewables and we don’t know what is going to happen in the future so we will take both.”

She said there was also a palpable sense of anger in the regions that they were misunderstood and that there was no interest or desire for renewable energy projects or new industry.

She said the fundamental problem was poor communication, the politicisation of issues and misinformation.

“And people are angry about that. They don’t know who to trust,” she said.

“I even had coal-fired generator managers saying “we need to start managing the closure now’. They are frustrated they are not getting support from government for transition planning.

“They can’t move forward and that’s creating problems with their workforce and community.”

“There is frustration on the ground that these things are happening and it’s not getting the support it needs. There is frustration that regional Queensland is already taking action. That was the biggest push back I got in running the forums. They thought I was implying that nothing was happening.”

The report included a year of consultation with up to 450 people.

Regional forums results:


  • Broad support for the smart energy hub currently under construction, and excitement that a range of advanced manufacturing opportunities may develop as a result

  • A desire to brand the region as an ecotourism destination, with a proposal for carbon-neutral holiday packages


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  • Strong support for the proposed lithium-ion battery factory

  • Community pride for the Landsdown Eco-Industrial Precinct which uses renewable energy and battery storage

  • Support for Sun Metals wanting to produce green hydrogen alongside its zinc refinery, using energy from its existing solar farm

  • Very strong support for Copper String 2.0, to improve transmission between the coast and Queensland’s northwest, opening up additional capacity for renewable power generation and to expand minerals processing.


  • In-depth discussions about how to move heavy industry off fossil fuels and supercharge it using cheaper renewable energy and energy storage solutions

  • Enthusiasm for developing green hydrogen as an export industry in its own right, while also using it to continue the production of aluminium and power other heavy industries


  • Help needed for graziers to fulfill Meat and Livestock Australia’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

  • Government assistance to plan a transition away from coal to a resilient regional economy with a secure, stable, and affordable energy supply.

  • Growing support for developing the high protein crops industry


  • Strong support for the Pulse Data Centre, powered by renewable energy

  • Broad support for the range of renewable energy projects across the region

  • Excitement over the potential to export renewable energy to NSW

  • Support for local manufacturing industry

  • Interest in how to better process local waste, and alternative uses for biomass


  • Support for further developing food processing and other ways to value-add to the already strong agricultural sector

  • Enthusiasm for strengthening the local manufacturing industry, which specialises in agricultural equipment

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