My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy and Resources, Ms D’Ambrosio, and it is in relation to the renewable energy target (RET) and the renewable energy industry.
To give some background, the RET was established in 2001 to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. Since then the RET has successfully reduced emissions by 22.5 million tonnes. If the RET had been left unchanged, it was anticipated that emissions would have been reduced by a further 76 million tonnes by 2020.
The Australia Institute released a research report in July 2014 entitled Fighting Dirty on Clean Energy — The Case for the Renewable Energy Target. The research found that despite the federal government blaming rising electricity prices on the RET, it is only responsible for around 3 per cent to 4.5 per cent of the increase.
In fact the research indicates that the RET is likely to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices, which will flow through to retail prices and ultimately benefit consumers.
In 2011 more than $5 billion was spent on renewable energy due to incentives provided by the RET. Some 90 per cent of additional renewable energy generation since 2001 can be attributed to the initiative. In addition to the environmental and financial benefits of renewable energy the Australia Institute found that consumers strongly support it.
Of the Australians surveyed, 86 per cent wanted to see more renewable energy, while 79 per cent thought that governments should support renewable energy expansion. Last week marked 12 months since the Abbott federal government announced its review of Australia’s renewable energy target. Since the announcement there has been much damage done to the renewable energy sector. According to the Clean Energy Council, investment in large-scale renewable energy over the last 12 months has been cut by almost 90 per cent, with many of the sector’s 21 000 employees having already lost their jobs.
As I said in an earlier contribution tonight, Keppel Prince Engineering has retrenched many of its workers. Indeed 100 workers were retrenched in October, and that has had a devastating effect on those employees. Travelling to Colac last Tuesday night I listened to the ABC’s PM program when Steve Garner from Keppel Prince said that the company is ready to walk away from the renewable energy industry. I am quite concerned.
Given the inaction of the federal government with respect to renewable energy, I ask the minister to outline what action the Andrews Labor government is taking to support and develop Victoria’s renewable energy industry.