PM dismisses Abbott’s attack on renewable energy target

Prime Minister Malcolm Turmbull has dismissed Tony Abbott’s criticism of the renewable energy target.

In a press conference, Mr Turnbull reminded the former PM that the target was settled under his leadership just 18 months ago.

“It was restructured under the government of my predecessor, Mr Abbott, and as a consequence of that, as he said at the time, it created certainty for investment in the renewables energy space,” Mr Turnbull said at the joint press conference with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

“We’re committed to the Renewable Energy Target, as restructured at the time. And it will not be changed.

“As Mr Abbott said at the time, it was a great effort by the ministers, the Minister for Industry and Minister for the Environment at the time.

“Much of it received bipartisan support. But the important thing was, that it restored certainty to the industry.”

The statement came after Mr Abbott continued to attack the renewable energy target on the weekend.

He warned the audience at a Young Liberals conference in Adelaide that power was getting more expensive and less reliable because the Turnbull government was making it harder to use coal and gas through the target.

He said while he was prime minister, he had been successful in reducing the RET from 27 per cent to 23 per cent, but noted it was “still too high” because mining operations like Alcoa, Arrium, Port Pirie and Roxby Downs were in trouble.

“The public are not mugs. We can’t credibly attack Labor merely for being worse than us. This is why our first big fight this year must be to stop any further mandatory use of renewable power,” Mr Abbott told the audience.

“Labor wants to more than double the renewable energy target­ to 50 per cent. That means a $50 billion overbuild of unnecessary wind turbines costing each household $5000 — and that’s just for starters.”

Australia’s RET is to ensure that at least 33,000 GWh of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.