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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 907


Mr HUNT (2:46 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. I refer the minister to revelations that up to $113 million of potential solar credits have been invalidated because they have been installed by improperly accredited installers, have been poorly installed or have had failure of the panels involved. Will the minister institute an independent investigation, and what will the minister do to address this government’s chronic incompetence and failure to deliver basic government services?


Mr COMBET (Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) —I thank the member for Flinders for his question, because it provides the opportunity to correct the record in relation to this particular issue. In fact, since the renewable energy target was in initiated in 2001 by the Howard government, over 100 million renewable energy certificates have been created. As the regulator indicated at Senate estimates this week, since 2001 3½ million renewable energy certificates have not been validated by the regulator. I am advised that some of the reasons for this were errors in the lodgement of RECs in the system. Others have been from the failure to submit the necessary documentation, but the regulator has also indicated in advice that none have been dealt with in this manner due to safety issues emerging.

I am advised that the renewable energy certificates subject to this issue are often resubmitted with the proper documentation and are then validated. The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator checks each batch of RECs to ensure that the legislative requirements are complied with, and the regulator has also been given new enforcement powers by this government through amendments to the legislation in June to maintain a robust compliance system. I am advised that there is nothing new in the level of RECs which are failing the audit process that warrants a special review of this scheme.

In this respect, almost a million of the renewable energy certificates that have been invalidated were done so in 2003, during the term of the Howard government, without any specific review of what had happened. The legislation is already subject to biannual reviews, the first of which is due in 2012. What we are seeing here, yet again, is an effort by the opposition to misrepresent facts, to create a scare campaign—and they do not do their detailed policy work.