Tony Abbott pretended to support the renewable energy industry before the election but is now “launching a full-frontal attack” according to Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler.
The Coalition went to the election promising to keep the renewable energy target (RET), which underpins investment in energy sources such as wind and solar.
But the prime minister has now taken control of a scheduled review in his own department and says the RET may have outlived its initial purpose and needs to be reassessed because it increases power prices.
“The Liberals went to the election saying there was no difference between the parties on renewable energy, but they weren’t being straight with the Australian people because now they are launching a full-frontal attack,” Butler said.
Butler said Labor would stick with its opposition to the repeal of the carbon tax when parliament resumes this month, but was now also preparing “to ramp up a community campaign in support of renewable energy”.
“We didn’t foresee this battle and it seems the responsible ministers [environment minister] Greg Hunt and [industry minister] Ian Macfarlane aren’t having much of a say either – it’s ideological and driven by people like [the prime minister’s chief business adviser] Maurice Newman.”
The renewable energy industry is also becoming increasingly alarmed at signals the government intends to drastically reduce, or even abolish, the target.
The Australian solar council has launched a “save solar” campaign because of deep concerns the review will cripple the industry by axing the target, which requires 45,000 gigawatt hours of power to be sourced from renewables by 2020 and provides a subsidy to people installing solar systems.