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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES The RET is not just good for big cities it also brings valuable jobs and investment to regional Australia. ARENA is also supporting the sugar industry by supporting projects to help convert waste into energy. This sees millions of dollars flowing into an industry that the LNP has abandoned. The National Party is kicking sugar farmers in the guts. The renewable energy target and ARENA are driving investment in this industry, yet Dick Warburton, the Prime Minister and the National Party want to end this support. The Palmer United Party will not be part of that. On the other hand, Mr Warburton is proposing a range of unsupportable measures to weaken the renewable energy scheme, such as allowing woodchips from native forests to be burnt and counted as renewable energy. That would be crazy; only plantation timber is fit for such a purpose. The measure proposed by Mr Warburton to allow native forest wood waste into the RET would not only be bad for the environment but wreck consumer confidence in the scheme. Queensland and the Sunshine Coast, to most Australians, have plenty of sunshine. Using the power of the sun to generate energy makes sense, and this is nowhere more the case than in my home state, the sunshine state of Queensland, where solar has been enthusiastically embraced. Queensland now leads the world in the uptake of household solar, with nearly 400,000 solar homes together generating 1.1 gigawatts of power. This makes Queensland rooftops the fourth-largest power station in the state. In my own electorate of Fairfax, nearly 14,000 homes are powered by the sun—that is, nearly one in four homes. Helped by policies like the renewable energy target, my constituents have invested $104 million of their own hard-earned money into putting solar panels on their roofs. These people have been motivated to take control over ever-increasing power bills and to do their bit for the environment, but they have also been angered by ongoing attacks from politicians like the Premier of Queensland and the Treasurer of Queensland, who recently likened these homes owners to ‘c hampagne sippers and the latte set.’ The reality is quite different. Many of the people who have gone solar are from lower- and middle- income households. They are young families, retirees, people without a decent roof space but worried about their electricity bills and people like Fay, an 81-year-old pensioner living in a retirement village in Currimundi. Fay estimates that at least half of her fellow villagers have also gone solar and invested their own savings in a 1.5 kilowatt solar system, helped with a rebate from RET. Fay says that her solar provides a huge relief every time she gets an electricity bill, but she has been frustrated by the chopping and changing of government programs. Fay said to me: ‘It is not fair or reasonable for one government to promote solar and the next government to take it away.’ The renewable energy target has also helped drive jobs and investment on the Sunshine Coast. There are over 100 small and medium solar businesses and installers on the Sunshine Coast. There are also bigger manufacturing operations like Latronics, an inverter company based in Caloundra, which is providing its product to 30 countries and selling it around the world. The Sunshine Coast Regional Council has plans for a 10 megawatt large-scale solar farm near Coolum incorporating 50,000 solar panels. This will provide 50 per cent of the council’s electricity needs, save ratepayers millions of dollars and help create a clean-tech hub on the coast. It would be the first large scale solar farm built by a council in Australia. All this is at risk if the RET and ARENA are axed. In the few weeks since the Palmer United Party announced it would not support the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014, my office has been inundated with handwritten letters from people in my area in Queensland and from around the country who have been calling on the Palmer Party to ensure that the future of solar stays strong in Australia. I can tell those people today we have heard you. The Palmer United Party will do the right thing by the people of Australia, the industries of the future and the jobs they are generating. We will save the renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. We will not be voting for this bill, so that will save Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency as well. The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia 95


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