POWER in the Daintree is again on the Federal Government’s radar with Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch today securing a commitment from Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg MP that he will visit the Daintree Coast in early 2017.
“I’ve been trying to get a Federal Minister on the ground for a long time but because of the portfolio responsibilities we would have needed both the Energy and the Environment Ministers to come up, which is a challenge to coordinate,” Mr Entsch said.
“The planets are now aligning we’ve got a very enthusiastic Environment Minister with responsibility for the Energy portfolio as well.
“I’ve spoken to him before about the electricity situation faced by Daintree Coast community and he’s expressed great sympathy for the plight of its residents and businesses.
“Rather than duck-shoving or blaming others, he has committed to travel to the area and meet with the community and work with them to identify a solution.”
Mr Entsch has also today spoken to Ivor Frischknecht, the CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is already providing significant investment in renewable energy projects in Weipa, Lakeland and Normanton.
“Ivor understands the challenges facing the Daintree Coast community and is keen to travel up with the Minister to see first-hand what can be done to reduce the reliance on diesel-powered generators in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area,” Mr Entsch said.
“In the meantime, I’ll be putting the Daintree Power Committee in touch with ARENA so they can start preliminary discussions.”
Mr Entsch said he will organise the visit as soon as possible in the first quarter of 2017.
“I’m very excited about the prospect of getting some direction and leadership at the highest level with the aim of helping residents of the Daintree Coast to get access to the same essential infrastructure that is taken for granted in every other community in Australia,” he said.
“Successive State Governments have proven they have no interest in addressing this issue and the petty excuses and blame shifting has gone on long enough.
“I’m pleased that the Federal Minister has indicated he’s prepared to show leadership that has been sadly lacking at the State level for decades.”