Majority of Australians support Senate crossbench, which saved $23b of renewables from Coalition cuts

A new report from The Australia Institute’s Climate and Energy Program has shown the Senate crossbench’s role in preventing the Coalition Government from abolishing three renewable energy policies (The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, ARENA and the Renewable Energy Target) resulted in $23.4 billion worth of investment in renewable energy, from 2013–2018.

The ‘Saved by the bench’ report is being released in conjunction with Australia Institute polling* which shows that a majority of Australians believe the country is better off because of the Senate and that better laws are created when the government has to negotiate with other parties

“When they came to power, the Coalition tried to take an axe to renewable energy investment in Australia. Thankfully, by working with Labor and The Greens, the crossbench stopped that from happening and saved more than $23 billion of future investment in the renewables sector,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of The Australia Institute.

“This revelation comes at a time when Australia Institute polling has shown that 66% of voters think better laws are made when the government has to negotiate with other parties. More than half of voters believe Australia is better off thanks to the existence of the Senate and nearly three out of four people think the Upper House should scrutinise and evaluate legislation on its merits, rather than simply being a rubber stamp on government policy.

“There are few examples that show just how crucial the role of the Senate crossbench is than renewable energy investment post-2013.

“In the five years since they were saved from the Coalition’s axe, the CEFC has invested $6.7 billion, which ‘crowded in’ $12.3 billion of private sector investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. ARENA grants worth $1.2 billion supported $3.2 billion of total investment in emerging energy technologies, helping make them commercially viable.

“The RET also helped over 805,000 Australian homes install solar PV and supported the installation of 225,000 solar hot water systems by households.

“As a result of their strong performance, the Coalition has reversed its position on these investment mechanisms and now recognises them as being essential for the continued economic and environmental health of the nation.

“With the government largely failing to deliver energy policy certainty, the suite of policies saved by the crossbench has remained and is underpinning billions of dollars of investment in renewables to this day,” Oquist said.

*The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,449 Australians about knowledge and attitudes about the Senate.

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