Government sources have moved to reassure the energy sector that they have no plans to close down the clean energy regulator, despite Treasurer Joe Hockey saying it is in the Government’s sights.
Mr Hockey made the comment while launching an attack on wind farms, saying he finds the giant turbines “utterly offensive” but is powerless to close down those operating outside Canberra.
Speaking to Macquarie Radio, Mr Hockey was being asked about whether the Government would target clean energy programs in its quest for massive spending cuts.
“Well, they say get rid of the clean energy regulator, and we are,” he said.
He then mounted an attack on wind farms, specifically the wind turbines operating outside the national capital.
“If I can be a little indulgent please, I drive to Canberra to go to Parliament, I drive myself and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive,” he said.
“I think they’re just a blight on the landscape.”
Infigen Energy, which owns the turbines, says the farm is capable of producing 189 megawatts of wind power, which is used to supply Sydney’s desalination plant.
It falls in the electorate of Hume, which is represented by the Liberal MP Angus Taylor.
He has told the ABC he does not support wind farms either but for different reasons.
“The economics don’t work. Right now wind requires massive subsidies over and above other means of reducing carbon emissions,” he told the ABC.
“This is not about their appearance; this about their cost and we all pay.”
Asked if he would cut Government subsidies to wind farms, in line with the Government’s stance on corporate welfare, Mr Hockey said he could not stop the Bungendore wind turbines from spinning.
“We can’t knock those ones off because they’re into locked-in schemes and there is a certain contractual obligation I’m told associated with those things,” he said.
But Mr Hockey hinted new climate and green energy schemes could be on the chopping block come budget night.
“You will see in the budget that we have addressed the massive duplication that you have just talked about and the vast number of agencies that are involved doing the same thing,” he said.
“We are addressing that in the budget, [and] we are considering that very carefully.”
But a Government source has told the ABC that the Clean Energy Regulator [CER] will not be one of them.
The CER will oversee and enforce the Coalition’s Direct Action policy.
The Government is abolishing other climate change programs and schemes, including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Climate Commission.