Green bank seeks to woo Coalition

Australia’s $10 billion green bank has halted investments in clean energy projects with executives hoping to convince the incoming Coalition government not to axe it as promised.

It comes as leading business groups said the Abbott government should be prepared to immediately legislate to lower the carbon price to international rates if it faces parliamentary delays repealing the scheme and putting in place its direct action scheme.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation hopes it can use upcoming talks to convince the Coalition its goals can be modified to achieve the new government’s plans without a change to legislation. The Coalition vowed to axe the bank in opposition. Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said responsible ministers would sit down with the corporation once they were confirmed.

Since opening doors in July the corporation has invested $560 million in projects such as the Moree solar farm and Taralga wind farm. It claims its activity has encouraged a further $1.6 billion in private investment towards clean energy projects.

”The [corporation] has approached the Coalition to engage in consultations about the transition and how the opportunities it has identified can support the incoming government’s policy priorities under direct action,” Oliver Yates, the corporation’s chief executive, said.

Stephen Garner, general manager of Victorian-based Keppel Prince Engineering, said 70 jobs making wind turbine towers had been saved at his plant by the corporation’s loan to Taralga.

The corporation’s fate comes as the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group said the Coalition’s mandate for carbon tax repeal should be respected by the Parliament.

But Business Council deputy chief executive Maria Tarrant said if there was a parliamentary delay to repeal, the Coalition should introduce legislation to cut the cost business paid for the greenhouse gas it emitted to about the international price – about $6 a tonne.

The Coalition faces a tough time axing the carbon price with Labor and the Greens – who hold the balance of power in the Senate until July 1, 2014 – saying they will vote against the legislation. After mid-2014 it will need to deal with independents and minor parties.

Ms Tarrant said business was paying rates for carbon emissions above international prices. She said it was unlikely the price for the financial year – $24.15 a tonne – could be lowered, but she said legislation could reduce it after that, if full repeal took longer.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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