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Milne seeks talks with Lambie

AUSTRALIAN Greens leader Christine Milne is seeking an urgent meeting with newly independent cross-bencher Jacqui Lambie to discuss the Renewable Energy Target.

Christine Milne

It comes as Senator Lambie maintains calls for the state’s major industrial firms to be fully exempted from the scheme, arguing it is threatening thousands of jobs and punishing Tasmanian households.

Senator Milne has written to her Tasmanian colleague to spruik the benefits of retaining the target.

‘‘I fear you have been misled by industries that have a financial interest in destroying Tasmania’s emerging industries,’’ Senator Milne wrote.

‘‘Not only is the RET driving down the wholesale cost of electricity, it is driving investment in the industries that will provide Tasmanian jobs in the coming decades and is already injecting millions into the state budget.’’

An Australia Institute report released yesterday claimed Bell Bay Aluminium, Norske Skog, Nyrstar and Grange Resources has grossly overstated the scheme’s cost to their operations.

Each company receives a partial exemption from the scheme, and are lobbying hard for a full exemption.

The four have long argued the RET costs them $20 million a year, but the institute found the figure was actually closer to $8.5 million.

Australia Institute senior economist Matt Grundoff said the scheme also poured more than $100 million into Tasmania’s coffers every year.

‘‘Clearly, claims made against the RET by industry are not free from self-interest,’’ he said.

‘‘In practical terms, it’s not households but these industrial firms who are benefiting from the RET assistance – yet many are crying foul on the basis of false claims.’’

Senator Lambie said she was disgusted by the report, branding it biased and inaccurate.

‘‘Over the last decade the mainland RET scheme has been a disaster for Tasmania, which has made our power costs more expensive and stopped jobs growth,’’ she said.

Bell Bay Aluminium chief executive Ray Mostogl also rejected the report’s findings.

‘‘On behalf of the around 2400 directly employed workers at these assets, we call on all MPs and senators to reach agreement on the Renewable Energy Target, so that legislation to provide a 100 per cent exemption for these industries,’’ he said.

Senator Milne said Tasmania’s four big industrials were already benefiting from massive subsidies. ‘‘They’ve exaggerated the jobs, they’ve exaggerated the impacts, and that’s because they want a handout,’’ she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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