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Will Rudd act to save solar jobs?

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Christine Milne

Australian Senate Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania

Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

media release

Hobart, Tuesday 18 November 2008

Will Rudd act to save solar jobs?

The Rudd Government must act decisively to save the jobs of the 200 highly skilled solar cell manufacturers that will be lost with the closure of BP Solar's plant in Sydney, the Australian Greens said today.

“Prime Minister Rudd faces a defining moment today in convincing Australians that he cares about climate change and the green jobs revolution,” said Australian Greens Deputy Leader and Climate Change Spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne.

“If this were a car manufacturer, an aluminium smelter or a coal company, the Government would be bending over backwards to keep it in Australia. What will it do for a solar company?

"At a time like this, with the financial meltdown meeting the climate meltdown head on, we need all the skilled workers we can find in clean industries to help build the solution to both crises - a new, zero emissions economy.

“But the Rudd Government has consistently demonstrated its complete lack of interest in renewable energy, with its single-minded focus on coal.

“11 months after taking the reins, there is no sign of legislation to lift the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 20% as promised. My bill for a renewable energy feed-in tariff has been relegated to the oblivion of COAG. The emissions trading scheme is being designed with a clear eye to protecting coal and little or no incentives for renewable energy.

“Any Australians who still think they elected a Government that would be serious about climate change should keep a close eye on what Prime Minister Rudd and his Ministers do and say today about BP Solar and its highly skilled workforce.

“While BP solar is understandably at pains not to blame the Government, there can be no doubt that, if Australia had a welcoming environment for solar power, this decision would be different.

“The Rudd Government must act today to keep the 200 jobs from BP Solar's plant in Australia, and move decisively to reassure Australia's renewable energy sector that it will help it to grow here rather than move overseas.

“The green jobs boom is happening around the world, with the USA now becoming the centre of gravity for the 'Green New Deal'. Either we can ride the crest of that wave and see jobs created here, or we can shackle ourselves to the 19th century coal jobs which will disappear as the world moves to a renewable energy future.

“Which path will the Rudd Government choose for Australia?"