Thursday, 18 August 2016 19:24

Strong winds buffeting government’s renewable energy policy Featured

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The Australian government has been criticised and warned that cutting innovation funding for renewable energy is economic and environmental “madness”.

The Australian Wind Alliance — a community-based advocacy group of farmers, wind workers, small businesses and residents took aim at Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull and the federal government, over plans to slash more than $1 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which is charged with unearthing the best clean energy ideas and smartest technologies.

Alliance national co-ordinator, Andrew Bray, says with the shift to renewable energy well underway, the country needed ARENA more than ever.

“We need to ensure the transition to a clean energy system is efficient – ARENA plays a crucial role in that process,” Bray said.

“We will need a full range of renewable technologies to complement wind. Under the prime minister’s planned cuts, it will be so much harder for start-ups and innovative ideas in Australia to gain traction.”

According to Bray, the Coalition government’s stance on renewables is confusing, and he’s called on the Labor Party to “stand firm” against the cuts to ARENA.

Bray says bipartisanship on renewable energy policy needs to be a hallmark of this parliament, “but there are lines that can’t be crossed and this is one of them”.

“The Labor Party set up a properly funded ARENA with the Greens to provide early-stage grant funding. Now is not the time for Bill Shorten to turn his back on ARENA.

“The new Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is talking about bringing more renewables into the electricity grid yet the Prime Minister’s first act upon returning to parliament will be to slash funding to this sector.

“You can’t claim to be pro-innovation and cut funding for renewable energy at the same time.

“We live in one of the world’s sunniest and windiest places, why aren’t we seizing on these competitive advantages and doing more to grow the jobs-rich renewable energy industry and reduce carbon emissions?”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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