Stripping more than $1 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), as the Federal Government plans to do through its Omnibus Bill, would snuff out the possibility of thousands of new jobs in large scale solar in Queensland, research by the Australian Conservation Foundation has found.
ARENA has 10 major solar proposals in Queensland on its books. ACF’s research finds if these projects are funded they could create 2,695 direct jobs.
While the government says ARENA’s current $100 million funding round is safe, not all these projects will be funded in this round. If ARENA’s finance and function are stripped, it will be harder for the remaining projects to get off the ground.
“Big solar could mean a jobs boom for the sunshine state, but the federal government’s proposed cuts to ARENA’s funding mean good projects might never be built,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“The Turnbull government proposal to cut ARENA’s budget and remove its grant making function would stifle innovative clean energy projects and jobs.
“Solar is a much better bet for Queensland than coal. It is estimated the 10 major solar proposals on ARENA’s shortlist, eight of which are in northern Queensland, would create 2,695 direct jobs.
“In contrast, Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine would employ an estimated 1,400 people while creating 4.7 billion tonnes of climate pollution over the mine’s lifetime and threatening the 70,000 jobs that rely on a healthy Great Barrier Reef,” she said.
ACF is presently awaiting a verdict in its Federal Court challenge to the approval of the Carmichael mine. In the court case ACF argued the Federal Environment Minister’s approval of the mine was inconsistent with the Australian Government’s international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
“Parliamentarians who really care about long-term sustainable jobs in Queensland would be doing everything they can to make sure these projects become a reality – and that means protecting ARENA,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
“The real future for Queensland is in renewables, not coal. Queensland politicians who talk up jobs in coal, but do not speak up for jobs in solar, are not representing the best interests of Queenslanders.
“ACF urges the federal government and opposition to support clean energy jobs in Queensland by reinstating funding and grant-making powers to ARENA.”