Twiggy Forrest says resistance to regional renewables 'betraying the bush'

26 February 2024
Mr Forrest is heavily invested in renewables, including the largest wind farm in NSW. Pic: Pexabay
An article by  Jackson Hewett

Australia’s richest man, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has used his National Press Club address to lambast the National Party for “betraying the bush” by threatening to divert funding away from large scale renewable energy projects in regional areas, saying they are working against their own constituent’s interests.

The criticism comes after Nationals leader David Littleproud said the Coalition would redirect Labor funding earmarked for industrial scale renewable generation and transmission into household rooftop solar and batteries, as well as nuclear.

Mr Forrest said that the push for nuclear was “bulldust”, and was being used by the fossil fuel lobby to slow the energy transition.

"We ask those who claim to represent the bush now to stop dividing us with the false hope that we can cling to fossil fuels forever. We can't. So, please stop betraying the bush," he argued.

"If we swallow this new lie that we should stop the rollout of green energy and that nuclear energy will be our fairy godmother, we will be worse off again.

"I do know how to do projects. I do know the science. And I do know the economics. These misinformed, unscientific, uneconomic, plucked-out-of-thin-air bulldust of nuclear policies of politicians masquerading as leaders helps no-one."

Mr Forrest is heavily invested in hydrogen and renewables, committing $1.14 billion in Australia and the United States in November last year. That includes the largest wind farm in NSW – a 69-turbine project near Wellington in the Central West.

"Renewable projects can be distributed across a far greater area and bring economic benefit to far more communities," he said.

"It makes me wonder why it is often MPs from these very regions who are grasping for talking points who are inadvertently standing in the road of the local economic growth that will benefit the regions most.

"They push nuclear knowing it will just keep expensive and unreliable fossil fuel going for another 20 years, as opposed to green energy that is delivering jobs, infrastructure investment, and sustainable growth for their constituents."

Mr Forrest, whose family office received $1.22bn in dividends following Fortescue’s $5.1bn profit this year, also said that Australia must be prepared for a global carbon price, or get left behind.

"At the end of the day, the question for Australians is not if or why to price carbon — it is whether or not we allow the price to be set by Australia, by Australians, to the profit of Australians, or by global markets," he argued.

"It's going to happen regardless. You can't deny it. It's happening now.

"In 2026, the EU will impose a carbon border tax on all products. If we have a carbon price or levy, we won't pay that tax overseas, wasted. It will stay in Australia.

"As more and more countries bring carbon border taxes online, more and more doors will close on Australia's exports if we don't get moving."

His comments come as the Business Council of Australia, representing Australia’s largest employers, has called for extra time to prepare for a new proposed law requiring mandatory climate-related reporting.


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