As feared, the first Budget delivered by the new Government has seen the axe swung upon the Australian Reneweable Energy Agency (ARENA).
According to the Budget papers:
“The Government will achieve savings of $1.3 billion over five years from 2017-18 (including $223.3 million in 2018-19, $455.9 million in 2019-20, $125.4 million in 2020-21 and $131.1 million in 2021-22) by abolishing the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and repealing the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011. Funding of $1.0 billion over eight years will remain available to support existing priority projects.”
The Government says the savings will be redirected to repairing the Budget and to fund policy priorities.
The Clean Energy Council expressed its disappointment in the announcement.
“A global race for renewable energy is on, and the removal of ARENA will see potential Australian and international investors now look to countries with much stronger support for renewable energy innovation, meaning we may well miss out on billions of dollars of investment and highly-skilled jobs,” said Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
“Abolishing ARENA is a backwards step for the ‘clever country’ at a time when job losses in traditional industries like the automotive and manufacturing sectors mean we need new, innovative industries to take their place and fill this void.”
The Australian Solar Council also reacted strongly, calling the budget a “boulevard of broken dreams” for the solar industry.
“The Budget has delivered a trifecta of broken promises to the solar industry,” said John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council.
“The Government promised the Australian people an additional million solar roofs by 2020. The Budget contains no funding to make this happen. A Million Solar Roofs is a mirage.”
“The Government promised to maintain the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) but, instead, the Budget has delivered a death warrant for ARENA. Unless the Senate stands up to the Government, ARENA will be abolished.”
“The Government promised to maintain the Renewable Energy Target but every indication is this key policy will also be thrown on the scrapheap.”
The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia called the axing of ARENA a regressive step.
“ARENA was designed to increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia and to make it more affordable. It has been welcomed by both the industry and by investors, who were looking at Australia as a growing market for clean technologies,” said SEA Chief Executive Kirsten Rose.
“Unfortunately, the proposed scrapping of ARENA means it’s likely that investment in a cleaner energy sector won’t happen in Australia, but will go to other countries with stronger, more stable policy environments for renewable energy,” said Ms Rose.
Greens leader Senator Christine Milne said the Budget was “just a tunnel vision for motorways and stranded fossil fuel assets that will be worthless to our economy within decades.”