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Australian Leaders Begin Dancing Around Renewable Energy Talks

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of CleanTechnica that I am not a huge fan of the current Australian Liberal-Coalition Government and their recent decisions to scrap the carbon tax and the impending changes to the Renewable Energy Target suggested in a recent panel recommendation.

Over the past month since the panel recommendations were handed to the Government, speculation has run rampant through Australian media — what will Prime Minister Tony Abbott do, and how much of a roadblock will his opponents provide.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has made it clear that the Renewable Energy Target must stay, and that the Labor Party will not countenance any reduction or scrapping of the Target. Clive Palmer, leader of the eponymous Palmer United Party has also vowed to veto any bills through the senate aimed at dismantling or changing the Target.

Today it was revealed that Ian Macfarlane, Australia’s Industry Minister, has exchanged letters with the opposition’s Environmental spokesman Mark Butler, initiating discussion on the Renewable Energy Target.

However, while Labor is willing to negotiate, Mr Butler has made it clear he intends to aim for a standalone target rather than a floating percentage.

“The existing policy is for 41,000 gigawatt hours by 2020. And the idea of a precise generation target, rather than a floating percentage, has been a central part of renewable energy policy, going back to John Howard’s first target,” said Mr. Butler in an interview with ABC Radio’s Naomi Woodley in Canberra.

“So I think Ian Macfarlane’s got a hard argument to put to move from a precise target to a floating percentage.”

While we have not covered the fallout of the recommendations much over the past month, Australian media has been rife with stories and interviews declaiming the recommendations put forward by the Warburton Review, the panel set to investigate the Renewable Energy Target by Tony Abbott, and headed up by Dick Warburton.

“I’ve said in my correspondence that we won’t support the recommendations from the Warburton Review, we don’t think that they are supported by any evidence,” said Mr. Butler. “And we also have heard pretty clearly that their implementation would devastate investment in the sector.”

Mark Butler has been repeatedly stated as saying that the Renewable Energy Target is not only a successful policy, but a necessary one. However, speaking to the ABC, Mr Butler notes that “if Minister Macfarlane has genuine propositions to put on the table, I’ll do him the courtesy of listening to them.”

Impressive words from a man not in a position of authority.

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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