The renewable energy industry’s peak body says it is extremely disappointed that the Federal Government is refusing to drop its plan to dramatically slash the Renewable Energy Target (RET), putting at risk more than 21,000 jobs and Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said today’s comments by the Labor Party that talks on the future of the RET had broken down would leave the jobs of 21,000 workers hanging in the balance.

“The Federal Government’s proposal to slash the RET is a clear broken promise that would result in a reduction of the future target by more than 60 per cent, decimating the renewable energy industry and risking the $10 billion worth of investment already made in good faith under the policy,” Mr Thornton said.

“The industry has previously stated its support for increased exemptions for aluminium smelting as a way to be constructive and help resolve the current impasse. But if the government’s proposal to slash the legislated target by over 60 per cent is adopted, it’s worse than no deal at all.

“The renewable energy sector is completely frozen until this can be resolved. The RET review started at the beginning of the year, and every week that goes by puts more of the 21,000 direct jobs in the renewable energy industry at greater risk.”

Mr Thornton said Australia was effectively closed for business as far as renewable energy is concerned, as major Australian and international investors face a massive change in the policy, after they had already made $10 billion worth of investment based on the Government’s long standing commitment to the current scheme.

“Many of the world’s major economies, such as the United States, China, Germany and Britain, are leaving Australia behind on renewable energy investment,” he said.

“We need to resolve these negotiations while we still have a skilled and capable industry left to build renewable energy projects here. Keppel Prince Engineering, which locally manufactures wind towers for wind farms using Australian steel, announced last month it would lay off 100 staff as orders had dried up. This is just a taste of what is to come if we can’t resolve the current situation quickly.

“It’s critical that the government resolves the current impasse as quickly as possible to give the thousands of businesses and tens of thousands workers in the industry a clear future.”

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.