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Politicians fight it out over RET

2nd Nov 2012

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been a popular topic over the last few weeks, and it is becoming a hotly contested issue between a number of politicians.

First to grab the bull by the horns was the Greens party leader Christine Milne, who launched a scathing attack on Labor chief whip Joel Fitzgibbon for his stance on the RET.

Fitzgibbon claimed last week that he would be tempted to scrap the RET entirely, particularly as the government already has the carbon tax. 

Dubbing him 'Coal Fitzgibbon' (because he represents the coal-producing division of Hunter in NSW), Ms Milne slammed his comments in statements made to reporters in Canberra.

She was quoted by AAP as saying: "What this shows is you simply can't trust the Labor party to run a consistent line when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Climate Change Authority has come out having reviewed the RET and said it's a really good policy."

Australia's RET aims to have 20 per cent of the nation's energy provided by sustainable sources within the next eight years - but softer demand for electricity and the popularity of solar PV could see the country surpass this total.

In fact, Nigel Morris of Solar Business Services recently claimed that there is a snowball effect being witnessed in the solar industry, with increasing numbers of people making the switch despite generous government incentives being removed.

Fitzgibbon, in an effort to distance himself from his previous remarks, told Sky News: "All I'm saying is we should adjust in the face of significant changes in our economy so that we stay at that 20 per cent (level) - a 20 per cent I support."

He added that he was an ardent supporter of attempts to combat climate change, but in a way that was at a low cost to the consumer and wouldn't drive retail electricity prices up.

Richard Marles, government parliamentary secretary, commented that the impact of the RET on energy costs was "modest" at best.

"It is an important part of tackling the issue of climate change. We are not talking about changing the RET," he added.

And he wasn't the only one. Liberal backbencher Alan Tudge agreed, claiming the RET was only having a small effect on electricity prices.

However, he advocated removing the carbon tax - claiming this would be the biggest cause of surging energy costs in the future.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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