CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott announces his ministery at Parliament House on September 16, 2013 in Canberra, Australia. Tony Abbot will be sworn in this week as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia.  (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Anti-jobs Abbott digs in against renewables, despite public backlash

As the federal parliament enters the final sitting week for 2016, former PM Tony Abbott has used an interview with Sky News to attack renewable energy in what could be seen as an affront to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership position.

In the interview, Abbott ignored the analysis of the Australian Energy Market Operator and Bureau of Meteorology to blame renewable energy for the statewide blackout that occurred in South Australia on 28 September.

By doing so, Abbott joined the ranks of Deputy-PM Barnaby Joyce and South Australian opposition leader Steven Marshall in misidentifying renewable energy as the cause of the for the electricity fault.

It’s no surprise Tony Abbott is sticking the boot into renewable energy given his track record. Let’s take a look…

Only a few months into his Prime Ministership, Tony Abbott initiated a hostile review of the national Renewable Energy Target (RET). Abbott appointed former Caltex chairman and climate change denier Dick Warburton to undertake the review.

Uncertainty around the national policy framework caused renewable energy investment to collapse by 90 percent over a period of 12 months, and more than 2,500 people to lose their jobs.

The Coalition government’s eventual 20 percent cut to the national Renewable Energy Target diminished the sector’s prospects. It was this attack that led to a public backlash and policy backfire against the Abbott government.

During this turbulent period in energy policy, state and territory governments have emerged as leaders in growing renewable energy jobs and investment.

South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory increased their Renewable Energy Targets during this time. Queenslanders and voters in the Northern Territory elected governments committed to 50 percent renewables by 2030. Victoria’s Andrews government set an ambitious target of 40 percent by 2025 with policy teeth – a measure expected to create 10,000 jobs over the decade.

Friends of the Earth, GetUp!, Solar Citizens, among others, have written an open letter to the current PM Malcolm Turnbull, calling on him to end the blame game and support the community’s vision for a renewable energy powered vision.

Attacks on renewable energy from the likes of Tony Abbott, fossil fuel lobbyists such as Matthew Warren’s Australian Energy Council (AEC), the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and anti-renewables hate-site “Stop These Things” have failed to persuade the community.

Galaxy polling commissioned by The Advertiser found the public overwhelmingly believes storm damage to network infrastructure was the cause of South Australia’s blackout.  Historically, public polling has consistently shown strong support for increasing the uptake of renewable energy.

Everyone knows where anti-jobs Abbott stands on renewable energy. The question now is:

Will sitting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull capitulate to bullying by fossil fuel backers? Or will he stand up for the community and defend renewables? Jobs, investment and our climate are at stake.

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