No sense in green bank jeers

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

I DON’T like the Fed­eral Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment’s vin­dic­tive cam­paign against the Clean Energy Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion.

They have tried to abol­ish the green de­vel­op­ment bank twice through leg­is­la­tion re­jected in the Se­nate and now they are seek­ing to hob­ble it through di­rec­tives lim­it­ing its abil­ity to in­vest in the most vi­able later stage clean energy projects.

This is bad for Aus­tralia and bad for North Queens­land where there are so many ex­cit­ing projects which could de­liver badly needed in­vest­ment, jobs and lower elec­tric­ity prices.

It is worth peo­ple here not­ing the cor­po­ra­tion’s stated achieve­ments so far. In two years, about $ 1.4 bil­lion of public fi­nance has been in­vested in part­ner­ship with the pri­vate sec­tor into clean energy projects val­ued at over $ 3.5 bil­lion. That is $ 1.80 in pri­vate funds com­mit­ted for ev­ery public dol­lar. Those in­vest­ments are ex­pected to yield a weighted av­er­age re­turn of 6 per cent. In other words, the cor­po­ra­tion is mak­ing us money.

Part­ner­ships have been es­tab­lished with com­pa­nies such as Ori­gin Energy, Na­tional Aus­tralia Bank, the Com­mon­wealth Bank and the EG Group to name a few in projects rang­ing from up­grad­ing the energy ef­fi­ciency of old of­fice build­ings to big so­lar projects at re­mote mine sites.

The cor­po­ra­tion has fi­nanced projects for busi­nesses that em­ploy more than 35,000 peo­ple.

We are cry­ing out for lo­calised gen­er­a­tion to wean us off ex­pen­sive coal- fired power trans­mit­ted from plants hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres to the south. Sadly, there is a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the ad­e­quacy of re­new­able energy from an anti- green and pro- coal lobby. At the re­tail level, how­ever, we al­ready pay 30c a kilo­watt hour for sub­sidised coal- fired power. This does not ac­count for an an­nual $ 630 mil­lion bill paid by gov­ern­ment to pro­vide us with elec­tric­ity prices that are some­where near that of Bris­bane. And there is no ac­count of fos­sil fuel emis­sions which are the main driver of cli­mate change.

The Coali­tion’s at­ti­tude to the Clean Energy Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion looks to be driven more by ide­ol­ogy than com­mon sense and is a scan­dalous state of af­fairs.

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