Is Australia RET(arded)?

It looks like the year long standoff over what the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is close to ending. In that time the Federal Government has severely wounded the renewable power industry in Australia, but that has always been the motive. Abbott is wedded to the coal industry to such an extent that last November he declared, contrary to global opinions; “The future of Australia is in coal”. This month Bill Shorten said “Since Tony Abbott was elected, investment in Australia’s renewable energy industry has fallen 88 per cent, while around the world investment rose by 16 per cent.” So what is a fair and reasonable setting for the RET? When it introduced the review the Federal Government said it felt that the established target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of annual renewable energy production by 2020 was too high and 26,000 gigawatt hours was more appropriate, this of course was in response to lobbying by the coal industry. The stated motive for the review was the recent levelling off of power consumption across Australia, but that of course is the result of huge price hikes over the last 5 years; amounting to between 50% and 60% on the eastern seaboard and 38% here in WA. There are those, such as economist and former Liberal leader, John Hewson who argue the RET must stay at its current value to give the certainty necessary for the renewable industry to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, whilst having an insignificant effect on Australia’s forward budget. The renewable energy industry is more sanguine and simply need the pain to stop. They have said 33.5 gigawatts is a compromise they can live with and the Labor opposition is supporting that line. Meanwhile the Liberal government has come up from its ambit position to 32 gigawatt. I’m hope there will be a bi-partisan compromise in the next week or so, because if the Government stick to their guns and get 32 gigawatts through ‘negotiations’ with the Senate the uncertainty for the renewable industry will continue. The shameful thing is that with half the support the coal industry gets the Australian renewable industry could be a world leader and export earner, we have the resources the skills and the passion. Renewable and smart energy are the next energy revolution, but it looks like Australia is stuck backing the same old polluting fossil fuel industry. Australia can and should be at the forefront of the energy revolution. The RET will be changed, go through Parliament and everyone will get on with life. What is more important is this issue again demonstrated that sticking to old world technologies is endemic in the Australian leadership, and that frankly is not leadership.

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