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Coalition would need to ‘get the Greens convinced’ in order to abolish RET: Palmer

In an encouraging sign that he will not be backing down (or backflipping) on his promise to support the Renewable Energy Target (RET), Clive Palmer has sarcastically commented that the Coalition will need to go through the Senate’s Green Party members in order to have the scheme abolished.

His comments come in response to a recent article in the Australian Financial Review revealing that key members of the Coalition–including the Prime Minister himself–had requested that the review panel investigate a RET elimination scenario in further detail. This was taken by many in Australia’s renewable energy industry as confirmation of the Lib-Nats’ intentions to do away with the scheme, although some have also noted that it could be political posturing on the part of the Coalition to make reductions to the scheme–rather than its outright dismantlement–more palatable as a ‘compromise’.

“We won’t be voting for it, so I suppose they’ll have to get the Greens convinced to abolish the RET. … We wouldn’t be agreeing to get rid of the RET,” Mr Palmer was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying. The support of Mr Palmer’s party (Palmer United Party, PUP) virtually ensures the survival of the scheme, at least through to the next election. Even without passage through the senate, the scheme could still be substantially altered by ministerial decree.

In the same article, Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes, citing an anonymous senior government official, said that the RET review report–which as not yet been released to the public–recommends the elimination of the scheme by closing it to new large-scale renewables projects, with existing ones to be grandfathered in. The small-scale portion of the RET (the SRES) would likely face the same fate.

SMH also said that Greens Senator Christine Milne demanded that the government release the report immediately. Vocalising the widely held view that the Coalition’s real motive was–and always has been–to abolish or substantially weaken the RET, Ms Milne went on to say that “[t]he Abbott government has done everything possible to set up the demise of the [RET] because their mates in the big end of town, in the coal industry in particular, can’t cope with the competition from renewable energy.”

Uncertainty about the RET is already causing shockwaves in the Australian renewable energy sector, with Australian concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) developer announcing yesterday that it would pull the plug on a demonstration plant in rural Victoria. An estimated $11 billion worth of projects sits in limbo until the scheme’s outcome is determined.

Top image: Clive Palmer, via Wikipedia

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