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Fed: Labor 'hopeful' of deal with opposition on renewables

Wed Aug 19 17:50:25 EST 2009

CANBERRA, Aug 19 AAP - Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says she is hopeful of resolving differences with the coalition and crossbench senators over the government's renewable energy legislation.

A week after the coalition voted down Labor's emissions trading scheme, the opposition has indicated it will support government legislation to have 20 per cent of Australia's energy come from renewable sources by 2020.

The legislation has been split from the carbon pollution reduction scheme legislation.

Senator Wong has been in talks with the opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt, along with Australian Greens deputy leader Christine Milne and independent senator Nick Xenophon.

"I thank those shadow ministers with whom I have been dealing, and I hope we can resolve the issue through the committee process," Senator Wong told the Senate on Wednesday.

"The government is still in discussions with other parties."

Senator Wong reiterated her argument that a renewable energy target alone would be insufficient to stop carbon pollution levels rising by 20 per cent by 2020.

She called on the coalition to put forward amendments to the government's emissions trading scheme when the legislation is put before the Senate again later this year.

"The only way we're going to turn around the growth in our carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change is with a carbon pollution reduction scheme," she said.

"I urge those opposite to, who appear to have become supporters of renewable energy in recent times to also join the bigger fight."

On the renewable energy bill, Senator Wong rejected the Greens' call for a 30 per cent renewable energy target and a feed-in tariff, which is a premium rate paid for generators of renewable energy.

She defended the decision to include waste coal gas in the RET.

And she rejected the opposition's call to give a greater share of the RET scheme over to new renewable technologies, such as geothermal energy.

The Senate has started debating 29 pages of amendments to the RET and a final vote may not be held until Thursday.