Australian government plans third billion dollar ‘raid’ of CEFC funding

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The Australian Solar Council said this was the government's third raid on CEFC financing in just a few weeks. Twitter: Malcolm Turnbull

Australia’s federal government plans a third AU$1 billion (US$745 million) reallocation of money from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), prompting a backlash from solar campaigners.

The CEFC is the body responsible for promoting financing of renewable energy projects in Australia, which has come under persistent attacks from the incumbent Abbott/Turnbull governments in recent times.

On this occasion prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would divert money to a ‘Sustainable Cities Investment Fund’.

Turnbull recently redirected AU$1 billion away from the CEFC for a loan scheme. Last week he cut another AU$1 billion from the CEFC budget to fund projects on the Great Barrier Reef and this week is set to remove a third billion dollar amount for the Green Cities Fund, according to Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes.

Grimes said the Turnbull Government is showing “utter hypocrisy” by raiding the CEFC in what he labelled as an “election stunt”.

“The federal government’s war on renewables has been devastating for solar. Investment in large-scale renewables is down 88% and investment in household and small business solar has fallen to a five-year low. Today’s announcement is not new money. It is simply using the CEFC as its slush fund,” added Grimes.

Campaign Group Solar Citizens said in a release that the reallocation would further risk the mandate of the CEFC and put it in danger of becoming a “political pork barrel”.

Claire O’Rourke, national director of Solar Citizens, said: “Here we are again, pulling money from an important institution to meet a short-term political objective – no matter what they try and tell the Australian public – this government still has no coherent plan for the shift to clean renewable power beyond 2020.

“Australia stands to gain an AU$800 billion slice of the global renewable energy investment boom, and we will miss out on jobs, growth and investment if we don't get on with it now – this is what the CEFC is really for.”

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