The Victorian Wind Alliance today expressed disappointment that the government’s review into renewable energy will give no consideration to the most important impacts of renewable energy in country Victoria – jobs and investment.
The Call for Submissions released yesterday by the Renewable Energy Target Review panel restricts its scope to questions of cost and efficiency and makes no mention of jobs and investment in regional Australia.
“The Renewable Energy Target has delivered $18 billion of new investment since 2001 and a huge proportion of this has been in rural and regional Australia,” said Andrew Bray, State Coordinator, Victorian Wind Alliance.
“Jobs and regional investment have never been more crucial and country Australia will be looking to the government not to go backwards in its support for renewable energy jobs.
“With so many high-profile job losses in the news, we would like to see the government using every tool it can to boost regional prosperity.
“If the government makes any cuts to the Renewable Energy Target, this will directly harm the outlook for jobs and investment in regional Australia.
“There are hundreds of people working right now on sites like Mt Mercer and Portland in Victoria, Boco Rock in NSW and Snowtown in SA who wouldn’t be there without the RET.
The make-up of the review panel has been criticised for its connections to the fossil fuel industry, including its Chair, ex-Chairman of Caltex, Dick Warbuton, fossil fuel lobbyist Brian Fisher and ex-Managing Director of WA state-owned energy provider, Verve Energy, Shirley Int’ Veld.
“With the fossil fuel background of 3 of the 4 panellists, we're concerned that the panel will put the interests of the status quo above the interests of country Australia.
“How can this panel get any idea of what the target means for country Australia if they’re not prepared to investigate the effect on local jobs?
“Keeping regional centres and rural towns thriving should be the central focus of this panel but they won’t even acknowledge that it’s an issue.
“We’re very concerned that the panel will make recommendations that take away jobs and investment from country Australia.
“Projects worth $2.5 billion waiting to be built in regional Australia have been held up by dithering on the renewable energy target.
“We would like to see this Review wrapped up as quickly as possible and the RET left in a strong position to keep driving investment across country Australia,” concluded Mr Bray.