The legislation to give affect to the Enhanced Renewable Energy Target was introduced into the House of Representatives a couple of weeks ago and debated this week.

Uncertainty around how the bill will finally be structured and when it will be passed is top of mind for many in our industry. The big risk is that if the legislation doesn’t get passed this session it might be caught in the lead-up to the next election and then delayed. The Opposition’s view is therefore critical.

 The transcripts of the debate over the last couple of days make for interesting reading because they shed quite a bit of light on the Opposition’s thinking. From statements made by senior Liberal frontbenchers Greg Hunt (Shadow Environment Spokesperson) and Ian McFarlane (Shadow Energy Spokesperson) we understand the Opposition’s position to be as follows:

  • They won’t oppose the legislation in the House and will reserve their final position subject to completion of the Senate Inquiry and completion of successful negotiations with government and industry
  • They support the separation of the scheme into large-scale and small-scale in principle but reserve the right to move amendments in the Senate
  • They’re concerned that the small-scale scheme will blow out significantly – up to two or three times the 4000 GWh allocation
  • They’re  concerned that some of the reported abuses (namely around solar heat pumps) will continue under the small-scale scheme
  • They want to ensure that no “pink batt or insulation program disasters” occur for solar under the small-scale scheme
  • They want to ensure that new technologies (geothermal in particular) are encouraged under the large-scale scheme and that wind does not crowd out these technologies
  • We’re expecting the Opposition will try to amend the legislation when it gets to the Senate. The Government might accept some amendments if they don’t materially impact the design of the scheme. The two key issues flagged by the Opposition that impact the design of the scheme, and aren’t likely to be supported by the Government, relate to the uncapped nature of the small-scale scheme and the separation of the large-scale scheme to support new technologies.