RET impasse hurting Australia’s industry


The political stalemate over the passing of the renewable energy target (RET) is hurting the competitiveness and confidence of Australia’s trade exposed industries, said the Chairman of Manufacturing Australia, Mark Chellew, in a media statement.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos By: ponsulak
Image credit: user: ponsulak

Mr Chellew said the impact is felt much wider than in the renewable energy industries that seek clarity on their future level of subsidy under the RET.

“If a deal on the RET is not done shortly, Australia’s large manufacturers will be hit with very high unintended costs. For trade exposed manufacturing industries that are unable to pass on those costs, that is a direct threat to their international competitiveness and viability,” he said.

“Manufacturing Australia supports a Renewable Energy Target in the low-to-mid thirty thousand GWh, subject to an exemption for Emissions Intensive and Trade Exposed (EITE) industries, which both major parties support.“

Mr Chellew urged all parties to show flexibility and bridge the 1,500 gigawatt hour gap that separates the Government’s proposed target and the renewable energy industry’s proposal.

“If negotiations really do stall so close to the finish line it would be an indictment on both major parties and a reminder that the interests of the broader economy and competitiveness of Australian industry are playing second fiddle in this debate,” he said.

“Frankly, for the companies that pay for the RET, the difference between a 32,000 gigawatt hour target and a 33,500 gigawatt hour target is insignificant compared with the continued uncertainty and likelihood of much higher costs if a deal is not done.”

In the meantime, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) criticised the Abbot Government for its failure to resolve the impasse over the RET.

Craig Kelly, Victorian assistant secretary of the AMWU said the situation was putting the viability of Australia’s only wind tower manufacturer at risk.

He said the future of 40 workers at Keppel Prince Engineering’s wind tower manufacturing plant was hanging in the balance due to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s failure to negotiate an acceptable outcome on the RET.

“The Government needs to settle on an appropriate RET to give confidence to the renewable industry,” said Mr Kelly.

“Resolving this issue is becoming critical because the longer the Government takes, the more precarious the jobs of Keppel Prince employees become.”