RET a serious threat to industry: Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has again expressed concerns about the renewable energy target (RET), saying it drives up power prices and threatens Australian companies and households.


Mr Abbott is facing pressure from his own backbench to exempt aluminium smelters from the RET, which is designed to ensure 20 per cent of all electricity comes from clean sources by 2020.

The prime minister has attributed the climate policy and the carbon tax – which rises to $25.40 from Tuesday – to making Australia an “unaffordable energy capital”.

Mr Abbott won’t predict the outcome of a government review of the RET, but said the scheme posed a “serious threat” to household budgets and energy-intensive industries.

“All of us should want to see lower prices and plainly at the moment the renewable energy target is a very significant impact on higher power prices,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“I don’t want to lose perfectly good industries that employ thousands of people and which value add for our country.”

Liberal MPs concerned about the cost imposed by the RET on energy-intensive aluminium smelters have signed a petition calling on the government to consider the sector as it reviews the climate policy.

Clive Palmer has vowed to oppose any changes to the RET before 2016, meaning the government could struggle to implement any of the recommendations to come from the review.

The government is relying however on the Palmer United Party leader and his senators to stick by their commitment to repealing the carbon tax in parliament.

Mr Abbott isn’t taking anything for granted, but is confident the carbon tax is on its way out.

“I think the public are entitled to expect the carbon tax to go in the next week or so,” he said.

From July 1, all companies will have to pay $25.40 per tonne of carbon emissions, up from $24.15.