Senator Christine Milne

17 August 2010 – An enhanced renewable energy target, $5 billion worth of loan guarantees for renewable energy developments, plans to revitalise local communities and improvements to public transport systems are among The Greens’ major policies heading into this weeks election.

Plans to transform Australia into a 100 per cent renewable energy powerhouse have been spearheaded by a proposed $5 billion loan guarantee scheme and a feed-in tariff , with Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne saying that Australia can shift to renewable energy sources within decades if the right policies and strategies are in place.

“Australia can harness our tremendous resources of the sun, wind, ocean, earth and human ingenuity to replace our reliance on coal with 100 per cent renewable energy within decades,” said Senator Milne.

“But if we are to make that a reality, we need a well-designed suite of policies to get us there – a strategic plan, an ambitious renewable energy target complemented by a feed-in tariff, a grant program and a loan guarantees scheme.”

Senator Milne said that a loan guarantee for renewable energy developments would help finance new sources of energy.

“Particularly in the context of the global financial crisis, loan guarantees are essential to help renewable energy developers access the finance they need to build baseload power stations.

“A great advantage of loan guarantees is that, while they involve the government taking on financial risk, they leverage private sector investment and allow banks to develop the confidence to lend to large-scale renewable energy projects in the future, without government support.”

The Greens’ loan guarantee scheme would adopt the successful US Department of Energy model that provides 100 per cent guarantee. It would be open to emerging renewable energy technologies including baseload solar thermal with storage, geothermal, and ocean energy and be available for projects larger than 100 megawatts at a single site.

The guarantees would work in conjunction with a gross national feed-in tariff, to give certainty to investors in all forms of renewable energy, and an increased renewable energy target, as well as the development of a strategic plan for the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Shopfronts

The Greens have also announced a policy to revitalise local communities by making empty shopfronts available to be used by creative small businesses at no cost to the owners.

The Greens’ Empty Spaces – Creative Spaces policy will establish a $3 million grants program for groups to replicate Renew Newcastle’s model, tweak tax laws to ensure that no financial disincentives exist for owners to free up vacant properties for creative enterprises and provide for public liability insurance to be paid as part of the scheme.

Senator Milne said that the policy will help accommodate businesses having trouble finding spaces to lease. Greens candidate for Melbourne Adam Bandt says that the policy will benefit large cities like Melbourne.

“Even busy Melbourne has a constant turnover of empty spaces that could be used to great effect to incubate small creative businesses, from design studios to food coops to art galleries and much more.

Transport

The Greens also announced their commitment to improved public transport system’s nationally, with a focus on upgrading Hobart’s lagging system.

Senator Milne joined forces with Greens minister for alternative transport Nick McKim to call for the Federal policy of improved public transport to be extended to the Tasmanian capital.

“A Hobart Light Rail public transport system that links the state’s capital with the northern suburbs will free up time and increase the attractiveness of Hobart to young people who realise that car commuting is a time waster,” said Senator Milne.