Greens leader Christine Milne says it is clear that the Abbott government is determined to kill the renewable energy industry in Australia, and the solar sector faces the “fight of its life” to survive.
“Tony Abbott has made the political choice to destroy renewable energy,” Senator Milne told the ATRAA conference in Sydney on Thursday. “The solar industry is in a political battle of its life.”
Milne said it was clear that the “puppet masters” of the Abbott government were pulling the strings against renewables and for the incumbent fossil fuel industry.
She specifically cited the Institute of Publish Affairs, which had placed the repeal of the carbon price and the renewable energy target near the top of their “must do” policy demands.
She also noted the role of Australia’s richest person and mining baron Gina Rinehart, and the country’s biggest and most influential media owner, Rupert Murdoch, in supporting these policy changes.
Milne noted that solar was key to helping people in developing countries out of poverty, and for reducing emissions in developed countries.
However, it’s biggest impact was in challenging the primacy of incumbent fossil fuel industry.
“The technology is not just competing with dirty generators, it is turning what used to be passive consumers of energy into real competitors. And they loathe it.”
“It’s not just because solar PV is eating into their midday lunch, it challenges coal and the LNP power and political influence.”
The LNP, she said, was a “wholly owned subsidiary of “Australians for coal” – noting the appearance in the Senate last week of Senator Ian Macdonald, who wore a high-viz vest with Australians for Coal emblazoned on the back.
Milne said the renewables industry needed to end its policy of “appeasement” with the conservative parties. The experience of the Rudd, Gillard and Obama administrations had all shown the folly in that.
“They all thought that by watering down policies, giving ground, they then could get the policies through. But in each case the conservatives had abandoned “bipartisan” support and smashed the outcome.
“Don’t bargain below the (renewables) act we already have. We need to go for grater ambition. We have got to talk 100 per cent renewables as soon as possible, or at least 90 per cent by 2030.
“You have got the support of the population … solar has been embraced by the demographics (retirees and battlers) that are hard for Abbott to attack. We have to look up not down. It’s not about saving the furniture, it’s about bringing Australia in line with the rest of the world.”