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Scrap renewable energy target – Premier Colin Barnett

Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet should cut all his renewable energy policies before asking the states to do the same, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said.

Mr Combet told the National Press Club yesterday he would be talking to his state counterparts about cutting their schemes, such as solar feed-in tariffs, once the “dust settles” on the carbon tax debate.

Today, Mr Barnett said that if the carbon tax was implemented there would be “an incredible overlap and confusion of different policies” but most of them were the Federal Government’s own.

Mr Barnett said the major problem was the federal government’s renewable energy target which requires 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply to come from solar, wind and geothermal energy.

“You shouldn’t be asking me, you should be asking Greg Combet is the commonwealth going to immediately drop its renewable energy target because that’s the policy that’s causing confusion,” he said.

As a result of the policy, Mr Barnett said the state had to “turn off clean gas power stations and turn on dirtier coal ones” to ensure the security of base load power in the grid.

“It’s illogical,” he said.

“So the ball is in the commonwealth’s court and I think if the commonwealth is going to bring in its carbon tax it should probably abandon all of its renewable energy policies.”

Mr Combet said although state schemes had been implemented with the best of intentions, the federal government believed a carbon price to be the most efficient and cost effective way of reducing pollution.

But Mr Barnett said Mr Combet’s “implicit assumption” that the carbon tax would be efficient was wrong.

“I don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in hell of working but that’s just my opinion.”

The Business Council of Australia has called for the Federal and State governments to wind up policies, including the renewable energy target, that are “inflating the costs of achieving emissions reduction”.

In its submission to the Federal Government, the BCA said states should be penalised through the carve-up of GST revenue if they don’t wind up inefficient programs.