Solar flagship funding reinstated by Gillard government

Last week saw a minor victory for climate change and renewable energy campaigners with the Gillard Government re-instating funding for the solar flagship program which had originally been slashed as part of it's flood reconstruction package for rebuilding after the devastating floods in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia and the damage caused by Category 5 Tropical cyclone Yasi.

Green groups had criticized the Federal Government for slashing climate programs, and Australian online activist group Getup! organised an online petition collecting 39,000 signatures in two weeks, and raising $165,000 for newspaper advertisements.

To get the Government's flood levy through the House of Representatives an agreement was struck with the Greens and independent members to return $100 million to the solar flagships program in the forward estimates. Discussions are continuing regarding long-term funding for disaster relief and options for a national insurance program as part of adaptation policies to meet the challenges of climate change.

“Today’s agreement gives the Australian solar thermal and PV industries a real chance to flourish and start replacing our old dirty coal fired power plants. I am particularly delighted that, for the first time, the government has acknowledged the role of feed-in tariffs in accepting our proposal for a solar industry roundtable,” Senator Milne said.

“The Greens and the solar industry have long argued for well-designed programs such as feed-in tariffs and loan guarantees to really drive the construction of baseload solar power plants. The solar industry was never properly consulted on the design of the Solar Flagships program, which has suffered from delays and poor implementation,” Senator Milne said.

Greens member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said "Over recent weeks, people across the country and in my own electorate of Melbourne have said it makes no sense to cut the solar flagships program to fund flood reconstruction when climate change will only make extreme weather events more frequent and more severe in the future,” Mr Bandt said.