President's August 2017 Message

Ian RossiterAugust has been a month of mixed emotions for BREAZE members. Delighted by the announcement last month by Victorian Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio of BREAZE’s funding to conduct the Ballarat Community Power Hub, we had a thought provoking inception meeting with stakeholders to plan our structure, governance arrangements and vision for this important regional project.

We were shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Rachel Browning, one of our former employees and committed volunteers.

We have been delighted with the level of interest and attendances at our Smart Living Ballarat Lunchtime Workshops with again in August attracting large crowds to John Ditchburn’s Backyard Food Gardens presentation.

We have been appalled by the Federal Government’s Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Status Reform Opportunities Discussion Paper which proposes to make BREAZE and other environment organisations receiving tax deductible donations to spend at least 25% of these funds on environmental remediation work (see Discussion Paper) This may be because the Federal Government wants to silence strong environmental advocacy programs funded through donations. The paper was posted with a window of 6 weeks to receive written submissions, while the BREAZE public fund received no notification of the consultation process.

Despite the Finkel Report (Independent Review of the Australian Energy Market) recommending the adoption of a Clean Energy Target as the major market mechanism to ensure investment in new power generation, (supported by the Australian Energy Council representing 21 major electricity and gas generators) it has been reported by the Age / Sydney Morning Herald that Federal cabinet has not accepted the recommendation. The continued lack of Federal policy on the National Energy Market and investment in new infrastructure is creating considerable tension between industry groups and the government. State governments, regions and industry groups have to take their own initiatives to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to maintain energy supplies.

The Regional Sustainability Alliance Ballarat (RSA) through BREAZE has just presented a forum “Ballarat’s Energy- Crisis or our New Gold” to create awareness about the Finkel Review, the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets and opportunities for our region to generate investment, jobs and have energy security and affordability.  Due to limited capacity the event was by invitation only.     One of the outcomes was for RSA to work with other organisations in Ballarat to ensure that the whole community is aware of and is involved in these exciting initiatives. As part of this we hope to distill the outcomes and arrange for BREAZE members to engage in a concerted campaign to drive investment in renewable energy in our region.

I encourage all members to participate in coming September BREAZE events including Sustainable House Day (17 September) and our Smart Living Ballarat Lunchtime Waste and Recycling Workshop 20 September and of course our September Ballarat Farmers Markets.