Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a hollow pledge to keep the nation’s renewable energy agency alive, the solar industry says.
But the federal government has hit back at the Australian Solar Council’s allegation, saying it’s a partisan political organisation that will never be satisfied.
The prime minister announced a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund would be set up to be jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) from July.
Both climate bodies were set to be abolished under the Abbott government.
The solar council argues that far from safeguarding ARENA from the scrap-heap, Mr Turnbull has actually de-funded it.
“A cynic would say what they’ve done is abolished ARENA but they’ve done it in such a way that they can say they haven’t,” chief John Grimes said.
The announcement was being sold as a decorated Easter egg, he said.
“It looks great on the outside, but inside it’s a rotten egg.”
But Environment Minister Greg Hunt says nothing’s changed and the cut was already announced two years ago.
“That’s always been the budget position,” he told Sky News.
Mr Hunt slammed the council as a Labor-leaning group.
“There’s virtually nothing we could ever do that could satisfy them.”
The Clean Energy Council said the decision was two steps forward, one step back, given ARENA would have to cease providing grants from this year.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said abolishing the nation’s “green bank” remained government policy.
“What we see is Mr Turnbull scrambling with window dressing to pretend that he’s not the same as Mr Abbott,” he said.
But the CEFC was happy with the announcement, saying the new fund would support innovative entrepreneurial companies to help reduce emissions.