The Coalition welcomes the passage through the Senate of amendments providing greater certainty to the renewable energy industry.
Legislation splitting the Renewable Energy Target (RET) into two parts from January 2011 – the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) – has been passed by the Senate with amendments.
The Coalition moved and supported changes to the RET that would help to deliver better security and confidence for Australia’s vital and developing renewable energy industry.
These include support to off-grid connections in regional Australia, increasing the flexibility in managing support for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, providing a mechanism to limit liability for electricity users and enhancing protection for Australia’s trade-exposed industries.
We want a strong and vibrant renewable energy sector. That’s why we consulted extensively with the industry to improve the legislation designed to help it grow.
Although it should be remembered that these amendments should not have been necessary. In August 2009 the Coalition warned about the problems to be created by ‘phantom’ Renewable Energy Credits which would effectively crowd out large scale renewable energy.
It is also extremely disappointing that the Government went back on its agreement of last August and removed Waste Coal Mine Gas from the RET. The Government’s actions will only serve to increase Australia’s emissions. 
It will also put jobs at risk in regional seats such as Flynn, Macarthur, Newcastle and Shortland. This is simply inexplicable and a breach of faith as well as a risk to rural clean energy jobs and emissions.
However, as with the introduction of the original legislation last year, we have sought to be constructive and positive to get this legislation through to support renewable energy.
After the Government delayed its legislation by too many months, we cleared some of the decks to expedite the debate by giving up time set aside for a Matter of Public Importance debate today.
If we had had our way, we would have had the changes through to commence as of 1 July this year – not half a year later. The renewable energy industry has had to count the cost of Government delays to improve the legislation.