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Media Release
Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp

24 February 2003

Labor Policy Ahoy? No Captain, Just Another Mirage

Kowtowing Kelvin Thomson has struck again, announcing that Labor would aim for a renewable energy target of an additional five per cent.

How did he arrive at that figure? How much will it cost suppliers of electricity, and how much will family power bills increase as a result?

In early December, the Member for Wills told the House: “the review (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Review) should examine whether the MRET target should be five percent or a higher figure …”

Apparently now Labor has reviewed matters itself and decided that its policy should be to have a policy, any policy, preferably one that makes them look like the Greens. So the Labor’s lazy and irresponsible environment spokesman has merely plucked a figure from the air.

The Howard Government has been a world leader in the promotion of renewable energy. It has committed some $380 million thus far to renewable energies, which has had the twin effects of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting industry development.

As the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported just last week, “Wind energy is the fastest developing renewable energy source: Australia has among the best wind resources in the world and wind energy is the cheapest renewable energy. Its use is expected to grow by 25% a year up to 2020, compared to 2.3% growth for total energy consumption.”

The enormous interest in grants under the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) is evidence of the success of the Howard Government’s promotion of renewable energies. The program allocation for the current financial year would have been fully expended by the end of February had the cap not been imposed, a result of a huge surge in demand particularly from South Australia, where electricity prices have soared under the Rann Labor government.

The Photovoltaic Rebate Program is part of the Measures for a Better Environment, which offers rebates to householders and community organisations that install rooftop and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.

In May 1999, the Howard Government provided $31 million in funding for PVRP over four years to 2004. It then brought forward the commencement date of the program to 1 January 2000. Any extension of the program will be considered in the context of the May Budget.

Media Contact:
Catherine Job 02 6277 7640 or 0412 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia