Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne says the Abbott government has today admitted it is undermining renewable energy to protect the old coal-fired generators, after comments by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on morning radio.
"The Industry Minister has belled the cat on the RET review. He's made it clear this attack on renewable energy is nothing more than a cynical move to prop up old coal-fired power stations," Senator Milne said.
"Minister Macfarlane has said that there is a surplus of 9000 megawatts in the system and that's why he needs to reduce renewable energy. He wants to make existing coal more viable.
"Wrong, Minister. This is the best opportunity we have to phase down coal fired power, without running any risk to energy security.
"It would be good for people's health, and for jobs, as a proposed plan to rehabilitate coal mines at Hazelwood in Victoria demonstrates.
"The polluting fossil fuel sector just isn't viable in the age of cheap, sustainable renewables, but the Abbott government is doing everything it can to protect the profits of the old industry, at the expense of new jobs in solar and wind.
"The Renewable Energy Target needs to stay as it is. There was a cross-party agreement not to touch it until 2020 so the sector could have investor confidence.
"The Abbott government trying to do a deal with the Labor Party to water down the Renewable Energy Target. Any suggestion of undermining the RET is all about propping up coal, propping up gas or trying to include credits from furnaces burning native forests. The Greens won't do a dud deal for Australia.
"The Greens have a policy to increase the RET to 90% by 2030, and that's what we should be doing. Even the Warburton review found that increasing the RET would be cheaper than scaling it down.
"It's time for Tony Abbott to admit he was wrong, end the farce and guarantee to maintain the RET to 2020 as a minimum," said Senator Milne.
"He lied to the people of Australia in trying to suggest the review was about power prices for households, when the whole time it was about protecting his mates at the big end of town.
"Today Mr Macfarlane said, "We need to be looking to industries that can secure long term jobs for people. Industries that are based on clever, high-tech ideas." Well, they're staring you in the face, Minister, but the big end of town doesn't like them.
"This is just another example of Tony Abbott going entirely in the wrong direction."