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Electrical Energy

Just last week, polling by RedBridge found that 68 per cent of Australians think the next generation will have a lower standard of living than current generations. RedBridge director Tony Barry, a veteran of political analysis, was quoted as saying he had "never seen it like this".

That depth of pessimism about the future in the community is very sad, and I am very sympathetic. On so many issues—housing, climate, inequality and global tensions—that is a rational response to the evidence. Pessimism of the intellect may be warranted, but I am a firm believer that we must always reach for optimism of the will.

That leads me to a topic that gives me hope about the future, which is the electrification of everything. I reflect on some encouraging progress in the journey towards a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient electric future, which can make people's lives better and slash the emissions that are cooking our atmosphere. The Government's announcement of subsidies of $1,600 to $2,400 to incentivise uptake of household batteries is a good start. I have recently installed a home battery, so I will miss out, but I am pleased it will be available to others from 1 November. It is a welcome step to help people towards household energy independence. I very much hope an interest‑free solar loans scheme will follow.

I recently met with the dedicated staff leading the Government's Zero Emission Buses program. Brookvale bus depot will be the first in Greater Sydney to go all electric, and work is expected to start later this year on installing 16 charging bays for 229 battery-electric buses, which will start rolling out of the depot from March next year. The buses will be a powerful symbol of the clean, green future that awaits us if we make the right decisions and investments.

Jay, Mark and the whole team at Keolis Downer, a bus operator on the northern beaches, are working very hard to help make that momentous change. In my regular meetings with them, I have made it very clear that I want to see the first electric buses on suburban routes, which will benefit most from the reduction in noise and air pollution. Uptake of electric vehicles for personal use is also getting a boost, with a trial kicking off on the northern beaches last week of seven charging stations attached to kerbside power poles, including three in Wakehurst, at Frenchs Forest, Collaroy and Allambie Heights.

We need more innovation to massively upscale the accessibility of personal electric vehicle charging, of course. That is why I am so supportive of a local startup based out of "Silicon Brooky", as it is affectionately known, called Alchemy Charge. Its game-changing SmartPoint product and app allows cheap installation of level 1 trickle-charge points that allow the user to be directly billed for the power they use. That technology is transformative for electric vehicle charging in existing strata complexes and avoids the need for expensive upgrades to install fast chargers. I was glad to bring Alchemy Charge and relevant New South Wales Government staff together earlier this year. We need to see a plan to scale up level 1 trickle-charging in the next iteration of New South Wales's electric vehicle strategy, which I understand is due later this year.

Back to the powerhouse that is Brookvale, just across the road from the bus depot is Brookvale TAFE, which I recently visited for an afternoon with head teachers across a range of faculties. I was so impressed by the passion and commitment of the staff that I met. Many of them could be earning far more money working as experts in their industry trades, but they choose to teach instead. They must be paid more. At the heart of our vocational skills and training system, TAFE is absolutely integral to accelerating the electrification and sustainable building revolution.

That brings me to one particular legend, Dwane Stockini, who is the TAFE NSW carpentry and joinery head teacher based out of Brookvale. When I met Dwane, he was overflowing with enthusiasm about the need and opportunity to teach his construction students the best and latest construction techniques. After a study tour to the British Columbia Institute of Technology's dedicated Zero Energy/Emissions Buildings Learning Centre a few years ago, Dwane wants to establish one at Brookvale TAFE—another exciting, future-focused idea that I look forward to championing.

As politicians, we are in the hope business. All Australians can and should feel excited about the household electrification, rooftop solar and energy efficiency revolution and the savings, amenity and climate benefits it can and will unlock. We can all be more like Dwane from Brooky TAFE. As local MPs, we have an important role in communicating that opportunity and imperative to our electorates. In my latestWakehurst Matters newsletter, which lands each quarter in every letterbox in the electorate, I have provided updates on the initiatives I have mentioned tonight. With the Consumer Energy Strategy to be released later this year and announcements in the coming budget, that role will only become more important. I am keen to work with the office of the Minister for Energy and other MPs to help spread the positive message of hope and progress to our communities and explain how we can all be part of it.

06 June 2024, 18:14.

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