LABOR SECURES THE FUTURE OF ARENA

Date:  13 September 2016

Labor has won agreement from the Government on a package that will secure the future of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Labor created ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and only Labor can be trusted to protect our renewable energy industry.

Under Labor renewable energy boomed, jobs in the industry tripled and growth in the number of households with rooftop solar went from 7,400 to 1.2 million.

Australia under Labor was rated one of the four most attractive destinations for renewable energy investment – with the US, China and Germany. This ranking plummeted under the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

Labor has consistently resisted attempts by the Abbott-Turnbull Government to undermine the renewable energy industry, and we are doing so again today.

Through Labor’s strong advocacy, Labor has won an agreement with the Government to provide ARENA with secured funding of $800 million over 5 years. According to ARENA, this level of funding will allow it to continue its important work.

This funding is in addition to the funding ARENA has in place to complete around 200 existing projects and to fund the large scale solar projects announced on 8 September.

Importantly, this package will also deliver the industry some much needed certainty after three years of attacks by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

Labor took a comprehensive package of credible climate change policies to the election, including:

·         $300 million of funding for ARENA;

·         a commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030; and

·         $300 million for a strategic industries fund to ensure emission intensive industries and their workers are able to make the transition to a clean energy economy.

We promised strong climate change policies at the election and we will continue to deliver on those policies.

That is why as part of this package, Labor has also secured the Government’s agreement for the Minister for Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg to meet with me, to discuss the profile of remaining funds over the forward estimates and a forward work program, which:

(a) safeguards Australia's reputation as a world leader in research and innovation in renewable energy, building on the work of our universities and CSIRO; and

(b) ensures there is support for demonstration or 'proof of concept' stage development where debt and equity finance is insufficient to support projects.

In addition, Labor and the Government have agreed to discussions about opportunities for bipartisan agreement around policies to:

(a) accelerate the transition to a modern, clean energy system that delivers reliable, affordable energy to Australian households and business, and

(b) ensure that this transition is - to use the terms of the Paris Agreement - a 'just transition' for impacted workers and communities.

The package Labor has secured will strengthen renewables in Australia, while also assisting in the task of budget repair that is fair.

We remain committed to effective climate change and energy policy, and we have heard the clear calls from the community, business and environment groups for this Parliament to develop a greater level of bipartisanship in these policy areas.

This agreement is a first step in what Labor hopes will be a new effort to reach a bipartisan approach to renewable energy and climate change policy more broadly.

The onus is now on the Government to move away from ineffective policies and past deep divisions over climate change and energy policy, towards what Australians want and expect from the new Parliament: real action on a clean energy future.

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© Mark Butler. Authorised by Mark Butler 21 Commercial Road, Port Adelaide SA 5015