The solar industry has teamed up with the union movement and environmentalists to form a Save Solar coalition tha intends to make rooftop solar an important political issue at the next Queensland state election.
Three peak bodies – the Australian Solar Council, the Queensland Council of Unions and Queensland Conservation have joined forces to back the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and to push for strong solar policies.
The three groups intend to run a highly visible campaign that will target key seats in Brisbane and regional Queensland over the next five months.
RenewEconomy reported, just last week, new analysis showing state investments and jobs are now at risk from the slashing of the RET with Queensland and New South Wales as the ‘the states with the most to lose’, according to the analysis released by the Clean Energy Council.
“Solar saves money, creates jobs, helps our climate and shifts votes,” said John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council. “It makes sense for the solar industry, trade unions and environment groups to back good solar policies.”
The launch follows the success of a campaign targeting federal seats on the issue of the national renwwable energy target. Thousands of workers and community members joined rallies around Australia last Friday to picket the offices of Cabinet ministers and their local federal MPs across Australia, demanding support for the the renewables community.
“Queenslanders love solar and will support political parties that back good solar policies,” said Grimes. “That must begin with strong support for he maintenance of the existing Renewable Energy Target.”
“The Renewable Energy Target is doing what it was designed to do, providing clean energy to Australians and delivering tens of thousands of jobs,” said Ron Monaghan, General Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions.
“Since Campbell Newman’s LNP was elected two and a half years ago, unemployment has hit its highest point in more than a decade, rising to 6.8 per cent. Newman has supported the Abbott Government’s push to dismantle the RET, and if this is allowed to happen thousands more Queenslanders will be unemployed.”
(Polling shows that Campbell Newman is in danger of losing his seat of Ashgrove in the next election campaign).
Toby Hutcheon, from Queensland Conservation, said Queensland was the solar capital of Australia, with over 330,000 homes with solar on their rooftops, nearly 25 per cent of all homes. “Solar means a clean environment and safe climate,” he said.
As the solar industry launched its campaign, the major energy users also joined forces with the union movement to argue for a “gas reservation” policy that would protect manufacturers from soaring gas prices.
Wholesale Australian gas prices are projected to triple due to LNG exports ramping up from July 2015, with household gas bills set to rise by 26 per cent. The “Reserve Our Gas” will argue that a percentage of Australian gas production is reserved for domestic use at a fair price.
Australia is the only gas-exporting nation in the world, including Indonesia, Egypt and Israel, without federal laws to ensure the linking of gas to global markets does not damage its domestic consumers.
Western Australia has a gas reservation policy, which mandates the reservation of 15 per cent of WA’s gas, although the policy has been criticized as inefficient and an effective fossil fuel subsidy.
The Reserve our Gas campaign is led by Alcoa, Australian Paper, and the ACTU have backed the campaign, which was initiated by the Australian Workers’ Union.
“Australians have a right to know their rapidly rising gas bills are actually completely preventable. We just need to do what every other gas-exporting nation does and bring in laws to look after the local population. Australians should pay the Australian price for gas – not the global price – because it’s our gas,” AWU National Secretary and Reserve Our Gas spokesman Scott McDine said.