Tony Abbott at the Boyne Smelter
Tony Abbott at the Boyne Smelter David Sparkes

O’Dowd in push to save jobs from RET costs

FLYNN MP Ken O'Dowd is pushing to have two emissions-intensive Gladstone industries exempt from the national renewable energy target to ease the pressure management faces in saving costs.

Cement Australia and Boyne Smelters Ltd have had to pay major costs to prop up the renewable energy industries but Mr O'Dowd has questioned "at what cost"?

BSL has already cut costs by not replacing staff leaving through natural attrition and shutting down part of its operations earlier this year, but there's still a fair difference in the $25 million the RET costs the smelter annually.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week suggested he could cut the entire RET, but the government is waiting on the Dick Warburton review.

Mr O'Dowd has been working behind the scenes before parliament returned this week to ensure Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane were aware of the impact the RET was having on Gladstone's industries and, in turn, its people.

And for what, Mr O'Dowd asked.

"The smelter is propping up these renewable industries of which none of them are up here and we see none of those jobs either," he said.

He said it was putting our companies on an uncompetitive footing to the rest of the world.

"The smelter has cut back on emissions and they're still whacked with $25 million a year fees," he said.

"Two smelters have already closed - we can't afford to have Boyne Smelters go too.

"I wouldn't go to a complete banning, but one thing's for certain is the impact it's having on industry and we need a 100% exemption here."

RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET

 The RET is designed to ensure Australia gets 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2020, but it's set to deliver about 28% due to an unexpected fall in electricity demand.

 Mr O'Dowd has led a group of 28 Coalition MPs with major aluminium-producing operations in their electorates, or concern for the industry, to endorse a call for aluminium production to be totally exempted from the scheme from July next year in a move that would save it up to $80 million a year.


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