Federal Member for Macquarie Louise Markus has stood by her party’s opposition to the establishment of a fund that will help finance the growth of renewable energies in Australia following a meeting with a local climate action group on Friday.
Members of Katoomba Area Climate Action Now urged Mrs Markus to support the Labor initiative that will soon go before Federal Parliament. The Coalition opposes the $10 billion fund, which would provide loan guarantees and competitive interest rates as a catalyst for increased private and community investment in renewables.
Katoomba Area Climate Action Now president Sue Morrison told Ms Markus the local community overwhelmingly supports government initiatives that will result in a transition away from coal and gas- fired power stations to big solar power and other renewable sources.
“We conducted polling across the Macquarie electorate over the past couple of months to find out what people know about big solar power and whether they support initiatives aimed at overcoming the existing financial barriers to construction of large solar power stations in Australia,” she said.
“We talked at length with more than 330 people from a range of demographic and socio-economic groups and more than 83 per cent said solar power plants should be built in Australia to take advantage of its abundant sunshine and open space.”
Ms Morrison said more than 86 per cent of those surveyed supported the government’s proposed fund to kickstart big solar in Australia, provided it was well managed and projects were well thought out and commercially viable.
“With current subsidies favouring fossil fuels and powerful vested interests entrenching the existing energy mix, it’s very hard for solar power to get a foothold in Australia.
“Australia is being left behind, with countries like the US, Germany, China, India and Spain racing ahead with solar technologies,” she said.
But Mrs Markus was not deterred from her position by the lobbying, saying she was “committed to pursuing effective and responsible solutions to fight climate change”.
“I like many members of the community do not believe that the Federal Labor Government’s price on carbon that will reportedly finance the growth of renewables in Australia is the most responsible for the Australian community and jobs,” she said.
“I have a strong record of delivering solar energy solutions within the region. It was the former Coalition Government that introduced significant rebates for the installation of residential solar electric systems and replacement of energy-intensive electric hot water systems with solar systems in Australian homes. It was this policy vision that laid the groundwork for a significant expansion of the solar industry in Australia.
“A Coalition Government would introduce a range of initiatives to boost renewable energy use in Australian homes and communities without having a carbon tax”.
These included a $100 million Solar Towns and Solar Schools initiative.
“During the 2010 election I announced that if elected the Coalition would provide $2 million for Blaxland and Glenbrook as a part of the solar towns as well as $1 million for solar schools in Blaxland East Public School and Colo High as a part of this initiative,” said Mrs Markus.
“I am extremely passionate about preserving the Blue Mountains first class natural resources, but I believe that there are more economically responsible and effective alternatives to achieve this without putting more pressure on the Australian community and Australian jobs via the carbon tax.”
More information about the Big Solar Poll can be obtained at www.100percent.org.au/bigsolar.