The Greens say Labor’s chief whip and former cabinet minister Joel Fitzgibbon should “back off” from his calls for the renewable energy target to be cut.
In a heated defence of the RET, Greens MP Adam Bandt said Labor needed to unite and decide if it was for or against the scheme.
“The right-wing factional power brokers within the Labor party are beginning a campaign against renewable energy,” Mr Bandt said.
“This will be a litmus test for the Labor party to decide whether they have got their foot on the accelerator or the brake when it comes to Australia’s transition to a clean energy economy.
“Joel Fitzgibbon needs to back off. If Labor is serious about a renewable energy future, with the hundreds of thousands of jobs that will come with that as Australia plays its part to tackle global warming, then Joel Fitzgibbon needs to back off from his campaign to wind back the renewable energy target.”
The Australian revealed today that Mr Fitzgibbon had called on the Gillard government to “forget the ideology” of the renewable energy target and cut its fixed target to give households relief from rising electricity prices.
The MP, who represents the NSW coal-producing seat of Hunter, said he was “tempted” to advocate for completely doing away with the RET to make up 20 per cent of electricity production by 2020 but didn’t want to create uncertainty for business.
The RET, a bipartisan target, has been found to be pushing up power supply costs through subsidies to promote development of solar and wind power, at the same time as demand for electricity falls because of rising prices.
The Coalition is continuing an anti-carbon-tax campaign and arguing that it is pushing up electricity prices but it supports a renewable energy target without a carbon tax.
Last week the Climate Change Authority recommended the RET be retained unchanged. The authority said any benefits from altering the target “would be outweighed by the costs of increased regulatory uncertainty”.
Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles said the RET was bipartisan policy and Labor had no plans to make changes to it.
“This is bipartisan policy, this was policy of the Howard government … it’s been bipartisan policy for 10 years,” Mr Marles said.
“We are not talking about changing the RET.”
Liberal backbencher Alan Tudge said the Coalition was also not considering making any changes to the RET.
“The renewable energy target is only having a small impact on electricity prices presently. The main increase in prices is due to the carbon tax,” he said.
“That is the biggest thing that we can do to take pressure off rising prices is to cut the carbon tax in government.”
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