Captain’s call to cut funding for clean energy “vindictive industrial sabotage”

Intro

The Abbott Government’s job and investment-destroying attacks on renewable energy continue, with the Prime Minister ordering the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to cease investments in wind and rooftop solar projects. Dubbed “revenge politics” and “an extremely vindictive form of industrial sabotage,” the decision comes just after the Government finally reached a deal with independent senators and Labor on reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Solar-supporting senators that have twice blocked the abolition of the CEFC are already speaking out about the attempted gutting of its activities so soon after the RET. Environment Minister Greg Hunt appears to have no inkling the cut to rooftop solar support was coming, tweeting on Sunday morning that Government policy is to abolish the CEFC, but until then ensure it focuses “on solar and emerging technologies”. This signals a growing rift and communications breakdown inside the government due to Tony Abbott’s “captain’s calls”, but worse for the government: it also raises questions on the legality of Ministers giving direction to the CEFC, as under Section 65 of its Act they may not give a directive that is inconsistent with the object of the Act to facilitate finance flows into clean energy.

Key Points

  • Fighting the renewable future is madness. The Government’s ongoing stealth attack on renewables is a last ditch attempt to protect coal and gas in Australia, but there is only so much it can do to slow the unstoppable clean energy transition. The coal industry is a zombie in terminal decline, and it looks as if gas is already on a similar path. Where the CEFC

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Key quotes

  • “It is our policy to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because we think that if the projects stack up economically, there’s no reason why they can’t be supported in the usual way. But while the CEFC exists, what we believe it should be doing is investing in new and emerging technologies – certainly not existing windfarms. This is a government which supports renewables, but obviously we want to support renewables at the same time as reducing the upward pressure on power prices. We want to keep power prices as low as possible, consistent with a strong renewables sector.” – Prime Minister Tony Abbott
  • “To say this is about lowering the costs of power is cynical in the extreme,” Grimes said. “What they’re doing with this is the precise opposite.” – Head of the Australian Solar Council, John Grimes
  • “[The CEFC directive is] an extremely vindictive form of industrial sabotage. This is a Prime Minister who’s done everything possible to handcuff our country to the coal and gas industry, doing everything he can to wipe out a low-cost competitor.” – Acting Greens Leader Senator Scott Ludlam
  • “Tony Abbott is broadening his assault on renewable energy technologies, putting thousands of Australian jobs and billions of dollars in investment at even further risk. This is the most blatant example of Tony Abbott’s lack of vision for Australia’s future. The whole world is moving towards clean energy and Tony Abbott is scrambling to take Australia in the opposite direction.” – Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler
  • “Cutting the Renewable Energy Target effectively shut the door to investment in large scale solar, and now with this directive to the CEFC, PM Abbott is shutting the door to investment in wind power, and all the jobs that depend on it. He’s handcuffing us to the coal age – to polluting at home and overseas – and condemning Australians, our Pacific Island neighbours and people right across the world to worse health, a loss of species, damage to our natural environment and to our agricultural land and water.” Australian Greens Deputy Leader Larissa Waters
  • “We all know that Mr Abbott doesn’t like wind farms. The guidelines now being proposed by Mr Abbott mean that basically the only thing the CEFC could invest in is flying saucers.” – Labor leader Bill Shorten

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