Time for bipartisanship on renewable energy
Australians are inspired by the great mirror fields of solar energy in California and Nevada. That vision is possible in Australia. But it is a vision now at risk.
For over a year now, the government has delayed renewable energy legislation which would establish a 20% renewable energy target by 2020. We have an end date but not a start date.
The renewable energy target was a promise made back in 2007. Yet, here we are in the second half of 2009 without any debate on the legislation yet.
The delay since the promises has gone on for so long, most people at home have just about forgotten about it. But not the renewables industry. They are puzzled and disappointed, angry and frustrated.
The renewable energy target would stimulate the creation of jobs and investment in the visionary solar, geothermal, wave, tidal and wind projects of the future.
Big projects. Spectacular in their dimension and outlook. Important building blocks in a renewable energy future in Australia.
The target would also allow the solar panel market to restart. It stopped in June this year when the government guillotined the Coalition’s $8,000 solar panel rebate.
Thousands of Australian are still fuming after the pandemonium of waking up to find they had eight hours to get weeks of paperwork in or face paying thousands more to go solar.
A new scheme – paying less – was promised. But that’s waiting for the new legislation to be introduced and passed.
But now here we are, faced with the prospect of renewable energy legislation being held hostage by the government.
It has still not been brought before the House of Representatives for debate – and this is a House which the government controls the numbers.
What’s worse, is that passage of the renewable energy legislation was made conditional upon passage of the government’s emissions trading plans.
But those plans have now been defeated in the Senate.
That means we are unlikely to see the legislation again for another three months. And because the renewable energy legislation has been tied to the ETS getting up, that means both sets of bills will lie in the shadows of the ministerial wing until near-on the end of the year.
How can this be? How can good legislation be held captive by bad legislation?
The school bully has the head prefect cornered behind the toilet block and there is no way out.
But it should never have come to this. Renewable energy should not be the hostage of other ills.
We need certainty for our renewable future, for solar, for wind, for tidal and for the other great renewable energy projects.
In the spirit of bipartisanship, we want to break the shackles from the renewable energy target and pass the bill next week.
There is too little bipartisanship in parliament. I am willing to meet with any member of the government, resolve the legislation, and help to pass a 20% renewable energy target next week.
I think the government now knows that the current situation is not tenable. Its position is just not sustainable.
Now that the emissions trading legislation has been sent back to the drawing board, I think the government will pretty quickly focus on what is at stake here.
Australians rightly dream of using our endless solar and tidal resources.
Just perhaps we can use this vision of a renewable Australia as the basis for overdue negotiations and bipartisanship.
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