Industry 'will pay dearly' for Canberra's stalled RET talks
The Opposition's decision to ditch further discussion with the Federal Government on the renewable energy target (RET) unimpressively adds to their track record of vacating the field on critical policy negotiation, Treasurer Joe Hockey has said.
The ALP's move to end talks for the time being will oblige the government to come to a compromise with crossbench senators, effectively throwing the multi-billion dollar renewable energy industry "into chaos".
ALP 'playing a political game'
Hockey accused the Opposition of "playing a political game" by backing out.
"This is a constant problem we have … the Labor Party is not prepared to do what is right for Australia," he told reporters.
"They created confusion with a renewable energy target mantra that they've had over the last few years.
"Some of them say it's too high, others say it's not enough. They said they were coming to the table with goodwill, now they're walking away."
No compromise on RET cuts
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor made the decision because the Coalition had refused to budge on its proposal to make deep cuts to the RET, and that they would rather back out now than lead the government "up the garden path".
"You can't have negotiations with people who don't even want to negotiate. You can't resolve certainty in renewable energy with people who want to create uncertainty," he said.
"This is a political issue now. Labor stands for jobs in renewable energy, investment in renewable energy, lower prices for consumers with renewable energy."
RET 'broken scheme that needs fixing'
The Business Council of Australia expressed regret about Canberra's unresolved talks, saying protracted uncertainty for "a broken scheme that needs to be fixed" would only add costs to consumers.
"It is disappointing that a bipartisan deal to correct the RET, so that it might actually deliver some wind investment over the coming years and avoid the risk of higher electricity prices to consumers, could not be reached.
"The Opposition is taking a gamble – it is locking in a broken scheme putting at risk higher electricity prices for consumers, for the short term glory to be seen as the 'saviours of the RET'.
"All too often, by all sides of politics, the longer-term interests of the country are being sidelined by short-term political objectives.
"The Business Council historically has not supported the RET but we recognised that once the scheme was in place the best outcome was to work constructively on improving the design of the scheme – not scrap it altogether given the risks to foregone investment.
"We have reached a compromise position, based on the evidence and facts before us, that the best outcome for consumers and business, and for the immediate future of the renewable energy industry, is for the RET to be adjusted to represent a true 20 per cent of electricity demand by 2020."
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