Hunt launches personal attack on head of Australian solar lobby | RenewEconomy

Hunt launches personal attack on head of Australian solar lobby

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt calls ASC chief a ‘total failure’ and ‘utterly partisan,’ as solar lobby begins marginal seats campaign.


Australia’s federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, has launched an extraordinary attack on the head of the Australian Solar Council, John Grimes, after comments the ASC chief made on ABC radio, criticising the Coalition’s “broken promises” on support for renewable energy.

Hunt described Grimes as a “total failure of an industry leader” on Brisbane’s 621 Mornings program on Thursday, and said he should be “utterly ashamed” of comments he made suggesting the environment minister had been “sidelined” in a government that was firmly anti-renewables.

The comments by Hunt come just a few weeks after he accused the left of “being against electricity”, and comes as polling shows that the government is under severe pressure over its renewables policy, and the outcome of its controversial RET Review panel.

Chief executive of the Australian Solar Council, John Grimes

Grimes, who was speaking ahead of today’s launch of the “Save Solar” campaign – a campaign that will target marginal federal seats across Australia – accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of personally leading a push to curtail renewables growth in Australia.

“After the election, promise after promise (has been) broken,” Grimes said. “One million solar roofs gone, the RET he wants abolished – he and Joe Hockey are working hard for that outcome. … (And) moderate voices like [Environment Minister] Greg Hunt have been sidelined in the Cabinet.

“This is just not what the people were voting for, and certainly not what they want.”

But Hunt took exception to the comments, insisting his party was committed to the future of renewable energy in Australia, with a focus on long-term stability.

“We spoke a week ago and I was absolutely crystal clear that we remained committed to the renewable energy target,” Hunt said.

“He knows that, [yet] he said things which were extraordinary and completely at odds with what he said to me in private. It is a deep personal moral duty to myself to say the same thing in private as the same thing in public.

“Mr Grimes should be utterly ashamed of himself today – he is somebody who says one thing in private and another thing in public.”

Grimes later told the ABC presenter that Hunt had warned that there would be consequences if the Save Solar campaign continued.

“Greg Hunt is a man of his word,” Grimes said. “He called me… to warn me off, and to tell me to shut down our pointed marginal seat campaign.

“They are so scared about the voice of Australian people on this subject …they will apply any pressure and destroy any character to stop this movement,” Grimes said.

“Greg Hunt, so under pressure on this issue that he has to attack my personal credibility… that just shows everybody just how far this government has gone and why this campaign is so important.”

Grimes told ABC Radio that the Solar Council would begin its Save Solar campaign with a meeting at the RSL in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, tonight.

“The first marginal seat we’re targeting is right here in Queensland, kicking off today, the seat of Petrie,” he said. “This is an area, like other places in Queensland, where people have absolutely embraced solar.

“But this is only the first – we’re going to roll this campaign out across New South Wales and Victoria as well.”

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  1. Doug Cutler 6 years ago

    Run on the sun . . . the politics of the future, hopefully.

  2. Zvyozdochka 6 years ago

    Maybe Hunt, like Pyne, will get the chance to do a Mirabella.

    • Melba 6 years ago

      You mean lose his seat? Sure hope so!!

  3. Vandemonian 6 years ago

    The Honourable GHunt should realise that nobody is listening to him or his government anymore, they are sick of the lies and deceit.

  4. michael 6 years ago

    any chance hunt is telling the truth? in a story about one persons word against another, the interpretation comes down to your predisposition I suppose

    • adam 6 years ago

      A lot of being an industry group is behind the scenes working with government and you can’t do that if they won’t let you in the door because you got into this type of spat in public.

      Hunt is probably the only sympathizer left despite his public face so this is a bad move I think.

      • Gongite 6 years ago

        How much does it matter whether Hunt sympathises or not if he is the only sympathiser left and he has little or no control over matters in his own portfolio….?

        • Liz Connor 6 years ago

          Point well made. And I’m sure that John Grimes is acting on that premise as well.

      • CoreyAnder 6 years ago

        The RET review is an exercise initiated by Abbott outside of the legislated review timelines. The review panel was handpicked by Abbott and includes no renewable energy expertise. Abbott’s systematic program of abolishing (or trying to abolish) anything associated with climate change and renewable energy indicates absolutely no support for the renewable energy sector.

        John Grimes would be a poor advocate for a industry that all indications are that this government would like to annihilate if he did not robustly challenge.

        Not much good being an advocate for an ex-industry.

        • adam 6 years ago

          I see where you’re going but robustly challenging is different to public cat fights.

          What strategic benefit does obliterating the working relationship bring to solar? How easily will it be to discuss getting solar into direct action, longevity of CEFC and ARENA obligations, or even more mundane things that need to be dealt with under general consultation (a LOT).

          lobbyists need to walk the fine line and getting into this situation, in my opinion, is walking on the wrong side of it.

          • Petra Liverani 6 years ago

            Oh come on. It’s just very, very lucky that the prices of renewables and storage are coming down and pretty soon it won’t matter what the government does. If the renewable path depended on policy we’d be screwed.

          • Colin Spencer 6 years ago

            Spot on Petra. The solar industry doesn’t need to be drip fed with subsidies to get going. It needs a wake up signal to get on with its marketing. I delivered to a bottle shop today, and he asked me what I thought of solar. I looked at all the fridges and lights, and asked him why he hasn’t already done it. As it happened I had the card for the CEO of SolarSunwerks in my wallet and gave it to him. “Don’t waste time, get it done, fit the largest option, and get them to put it onto a 5 year lease with zero balloon at the end.”

    • Henry WA 6 years ago

      Well Michael you can judge them by their words and actions.
      Just 2 examples from the article above: –
      a) “The comments by Hunt come just a few weeks after he accused the left of ‘being against electricity’,” Do you believe it is accurate for Hunt to claim that those who opposed the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and supported solar and wind generation instead are against electricity, either generally or for the poor in India?
      b) ” ‘We spoke a week ago and I was absolutely crystal clear that we remained committed to the renewable energy target,’ Hunt said.”
      Well we will shortly see if the Government is committed to the RET.

      • michael 6 years ago

        a 20% target for renewables in an RET is what the government seems to be aiming for right? isn’t that pro-renewable?
        without this version of the RET (if it were to eventuate), would you agree the percentage of renewables would be even lower?

    • Petra Liverani 6 years ago

      How can Hunt be telling the truth? The government is NOT committed to the RET.

    • Colin 6 years ago

      “any chance hunt is telling the truth?”


  5. Stan Hlegeris 6 years ago

    When you have no answer, you resort to personal attack.

  6. Pedro 6 years ago

    Grimes you have my support for getting under Hunts skin. Keep up the good work.

    • Melba 6 years ago

      Hear hear! Sock it to him, John Grimes!

  7. Gongite 6 years ago

    An extraordinary intervention by a minister, utterly unprofessional, and likely to do him further reputational damage. In what sense could the government’s current policy direction be said to be putting renewables on a sustainable path? The cuts, the broken promises, the creation of uncertainty, assertions that Australia needs to exploit every gram of coal and every molecule of gas….Just bizarre.

    • Melba 6 years ago

      As in other policy areas, the LNP government appears to believe that if they keep saying white is black enough times, we will start to believe it.

  8. Rob G 6 years ago

    In a government full of puppets, Hunt is the biggest one. He struggles to hold face when declaring that his party supports renewables, knowing full well the damage they are currently inflicting. He is still coming to grips with his role and struggling to understand what the actually environment is? (currently in his mind it’s a quarry).

    Clearly, the government, are feeling the pinch from an angry community, but they have remained stubborn, sticking to their back room arrangement with the coal lobby (that was one promise that cannot be broken). And every time their sneaky behaviour is exposed by the likes of John Grimes they can feel any support they had is falling away. No wonder Hunt feels the need to discredit Grimes.

  9. Cartoonmick 6 years ago

    It is so easy to doubt the sincerity of many of those in authority.
    Their hidden agenda is so transparent.

    And what is really obvious, is their lack of understanding of the words “promise” and “mandate”.

    Resorting to “Shooting the messenger”, is a strong indication of the weakness of their case.

    Perhaps the situation could be summed up by this cartoon . . . .


  10. Steven Zilm 6 years ago

    Well, I sat and listened to this Hunt chap address the crowd at All Energy 2013 in Melbourne and to be frank, I don’t know how he got out of the building without being “tarred and feathered”. We (the converted) in the crowd knew from the tone of his speech that a coalition was almost certain to “pull the rug” from under solar. He tried to make us feel good by outlining his dodgy 1,000,000 solar roofs program… Hunt’s policy was full of holes, and was little more than rhetoric BS.

    Now, I’ve listened (and spoken) to Grimesie on several occasions and to say that he is a total failure is absolutely crazy… Under his stewardship I’ve watched the ASC develop into genuine political force.

    So watch out Hunty…. comments like yours are just exposing you as an environmental fraudster! …Expect to be heckled when you next take the podium!

  11. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    Whatever was said, I’m sure both men can get over themselves. Though I suspect the Minister may be looking for reasons to withdraw – Government machinations are pushing him aside anyway. The Minister could lose his rhetoric and announce publicly what he has discretion to do in support.

  12. Melba 6 years ago

    From Twitter tonight:

    [email protected]
    38m ago
    Local Member for Petrie @LukeHowarthMP didn’t turn up to #SaveSolar Forum in own electorate #RET

  13. shinytop 6 years ago

    Well done John.
    Keep up the great work, the personal attack by hunt is the sign of a desperate man trying to escape.
    Keep digging hunt, the deeper the hole the longer your party will remain there, maybe time enough for people with vision to restore some of this country’s credibility.

  14. JustThink4Once 6 years ago

    This minister represents a government that has systematically dismantled everything that constitutes a threat to the coal industry. To then state a commitment to renewable energy is farcical. Actions always speak louder than words.

  15. Colin Spencer 6 years ago

    Unfortunately some of the people involved in the renewable energy business allow their fantasies dilute their intellect and integrity. Any one with a bit of common sense must realise that government policy is not concocted by a minister or even by the prime minister. There has to be a raft of experts that advise, and if you look at what the solar industry has achieved so far, the rate of development of solar power generation needs to be steady and time is needed to integrate the expansion of solar into future electricity generation. The next huge expansion of solar will be the introduction of high efficiency lower cost battery storage solutions that existing solar system owners can employ, and that can be packaged with new installations. Meanwhile, there is a large commercial premises market that is virtually untouched. Time for Solar companies to do some serious marketing and to forget being drip fed by tax payers money. You don’t need subsidies any more guys. Go for it. Finance is cheap. There are no excuses.

    • Andrew Thaler 6 years ago

      I’m trying mate.

  16. KGB 6 years ago

    Hunt and the LNP are the biggest failures in Australia. Abbott and his cohorts run the worst Government in our Country since Federation, one based on lies, deception and greed. It should never have been elected and the sooner it is despatched the sooner Australia and its valuable unique environment will begin to recover.

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