Australia: Queensland Premier axes environmental funds

The Newman government is said to be planning the abolishment of eight of the former Labor government’s environmental funds, the 300 million Australian dollars (AUD) climate change fund and the AUD50 million renewable energy fund. The other funds identified were the Queensland smart energy savings fund, the future growth fund, solar initiatives package, waste avoidance and resource efficiency fund, and the local government sustainable future fund. The feed-in tariffs (FITs) will however remain for Queensland’s home solar power systems at AUD0.44 per klowatt hour for surplus electricity fed into the grids.

The LNP official press release labelled the Labor government’s schemes as "redundant" and "waste of taxpayer’s money". "Labor has already wasted too much of taxpayers’ money on failed carbon schemes, including more than AUD100 million on the Zero Gen project, and Queenslanders shouldn’t have to pay twice for Labor’s carbon tax," Tom Nicholls, LNP said.

The 59-page document released by Newman’s government states, "At a national level, the Labor-Green government is imposing new taxes on the sector – the Carbon Tax and the Mineral Resource Rent Tax – that will be an additional burden restricting the growth of our resources and energy industries, as well as Queensland’s overall economy. The mining and resources industry has always played a central and important role in Queensland, and the LNP believes it must continue to play a strong role in the development of our state, its culture, its lifestyle and its economy into the future."

Victoria backs out too

The state of Victoria also decided to back out of the 2020 20 percent emissions reduction target that was set by the Labor government. The conservatives supported this scheme when Labor was in power. The pressure mounted on the Victorian government from opponents such as Exxon Mobil.

Ray of hope

On a brighter note, the federal Australian government announced the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund, a AUD200 million, 13-year co-investment arrangement by the government, Southern Cross Venture Partners and Softbank China Venture Capital. The fund will commence mid-year and will be based in Sydney. The fund will make equity investments in young Australian renewable energy companies to help them overcome capital constraints, develop technologies, increase skills and enable international networks.