The federal government has commended Labor for its latest offer on the renewable energy target, but insists it won’t be budging.
The Abbott government is confident it can win the support of Senate crossbenchers for a pared-back renewable energy target despite a new offer from Labor.
The opposition has for the first time nominated a specific figure for a revised 2020 target, backing the 33,500 gigawatt hours proposed by the Clean Energy Council as a way of overcoming a 12-month political deadlock.
Labor initially preferred a figure in the mid-to-high 30,000s to replace the legislated target of 41,000 GWh. The government insists it won’t go higher than its revised offer of 32,000 GWh, arguing that it is the “very top” limit needed to maintain confidence in the scheme’s stability.
“We’re not prepared to take it above that because … it will end up causing the scheme to default,” Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told reporters in Brisbane.
The minister said he was confident he could secure a deal with the Senate crossbench in the next two or three weeks.
When asked about Labor’s offer, Mr Macfarlane said: “Our current position is our final position.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor was working with the industry to save projects being shelved along with the loss of jobs.
“The government’s dishonesty and incompetence has almost destroyed Australia’s renewable energy industry,” he said, citing figures showing domestic investment had fallen 88 per cent while elsewhere in the world investment rose by 16 per cent.
Labor’s support for a 33,500-GWh target is contingent on the small-scale solar rooftop scheme remaining unchanged.
It will also continue to oppose government plans to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The Clean Energy Council hopes Labor’s offer will prove the catalyst to end the deadlock.
“Everyone’s had to move a long way and we just now need (the government) to move to this proposal to resolve the issue,” chief executive Kane Thornton said.
WHAT THEY WANT:
- Initially wanted to reduce the 41,000GWh target to 27,000GWh.
- Compromised to 32,000GWh but insists this is its final offer.
- Compromised to 33,500GWh.
- Wants to keep the original target of 41,000GWh.
- Glenn Lazarus: wants original RET target.
- Jacqui Lambie: wants hydro power included.
- Ricky Muir: wants original RET target but with wood waste included as a source of renewable energy.
- Leyonhjelm, Day, Madigan, Xenophon: appear willing to negotiate.
- Palmer United Party’s Dio Wang: wants original RET target.
- Renewables industry: 32,500Gwh.