The one pillar of existing climate policy the Coalition has promised to keep is the Renewable Energy Target (RET), to have 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity generated by renewables by 2020. This is widely regarded as a vital driver of change, because power companies must meet this target. This may be because the RET was a Howard government policy, not a Labor one, and still has strong support in the Liberal party.
However, It seems there are many within the Coalition who want the RET scrapped, or at least put back until 2025. And just before Christmas Tony Abbott also fired a warning shot across the bows of the RET, saying the scheme is “causing pretty significant price pressure” and needed to be reviewed.
Abbott said he would also “consult closely” with his Business Advisory Council, chaired by Maurice Newman, a climate sceptic and vocal opponent of windfarms who is on record as saying the RET should be scrapped. Abbott seems to be using Newman as his mouthpiece for what most people believe is Abbott’s own continuing climate scepticism.
The Coalition also made an election promise to conduct an enquiry into the health impacts of wind turbines, with many of its supporters pushing for a ban on wind turbines close to residential areas. Funnily enough, Maurice Newman is among a group of landowners threatening to sue their neighbour for installing wind turbines if it affects the value of their properties.