Labor offers hope for RETs



Labor is offering an olive branch on the renewable energy target (RET) but says the government must distance itself from a review’s push to scale it back.

Federal ministers are considering the report by businessman Dick Warburton, which questions the target of 20 per cent of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020.

A formal response would be released in the next few weeks, a government source has said.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said getting rid of the RET would smash business and investor confidence in the renewable energy sector and put thousands of jobs on the line.

If the government wanted to work with Labor, it first had to rule out the recommendations in the review.

“It belongs in the bin,” Mr Shorten said.

Australia had a competitive advantage when it came to clean energy, and Labor was committed to keeping the RET as a bipartisan target to give the industry long-term security, he said.

The RET mandates that 20 per cent of electricity be sourced from renewables by 2020.

The RET mandates that 20 per cent of electricity be sourced from renewables by 2020.

It is understood the opposition wants to keep the small-scale solar rooftop scheme in place while pushing back the large-scale renewable energy production target of 41,000 gigawatt hours a few years beyond the 2020 date.

The position is supported by Climate Change Authority chairman Bernie Fraser.

The Warburton review calls for the small-scale scheme to be abolished or phased out.

The large-scale scheme should be closed to new entrants and existing participants “grandfathered”, or new entrants allowed in only as the demand for electricity rises, the review says.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told a conference last week he wanted to ensure the RET remained a bipartisan policy for the sake of jobs and investment.

The government would keep the RET and promised not to make any changes that would affect anyone who had already made a small or large investment under the scheme, he said.

In a bid to pressure both major parties on the issue, the Climate Institute on Monday launched a radio advertising and online campaign under the theme, “Stop the Dinosaurs”.

“The RET is working – it has helped triple solar and wind energy since 2009, led to some $18 billion in investment and grown jobs in the sector by more than 250 per cent,” institute chief executive John Connor said.

The issue is expected to be discussed in party room meetings when federal parliament sits next week.


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