Labor will not accept two year reviews in RET deal

The Opposition says it will not pass changes to the renewable energy target (RET) if they include the provision that the target will be reviewed every two years.

Last week, after months of deliberating, the two parties agreed to an in-principle target of 33,000 gigawatt hours of energy produced from renewable sources by 2020. This figure was revised downwards from a previous target of 41,000 gigawatt hours.

However, as the SMH reports, in an apparent move by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, the government wants to review the RET every two years.

According to spokeswoman for Macfarlane, the 33,000 gigawatt hour target would involve a significant increase in renewable energy and it would be hard for the industry to meet.

She said the two-yearly reviews would ensure electricity prices wouldn’t go up if the target isn’t met.

Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler told the SMH the Opposition would not support such reviews.

"The industry has made it clear that new building will not proceed if there is still a two-year review process that would lead to the review starting in as little as seven months' time," he said.

Macfarlane had previously vowed there would be no such reviews.

“Now I’ve offered them a process of certainty, I’ve offered them a number and I’ve offered them a guarantee that this will be the last review before 2020 so that we change the legislation that requires a review every two years,” Macfarlane told Sky News in February.

The news that the RET negotiations have again stalled disappointed not only green groups but also sections of the business community.

According to The Business Council of Australia, Environment Minister Greg Hunt already has the power to review the RET at any time so reviews should not be an issue.

AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said review triggers were a good idea.

“But there is no need to continue with automatic legislated reviews every two years, which have tended to produce uncertainty rather than clarity,” he said.

Meanwhile, News.com.au reports that not all Government members have accepted the proposed RET. Two appear to be prepared to cross the floor on the issue. One does not want to see more renewable energy and the other believes wind turbines pose a health risk.