Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has defended the solar regulations. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has defended the solar regulations. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt

Analysis skipped on ’rush job’ solar regulations

CRUCIAL analysis routinely sought for proposed laws was never obtained by the Palaszczuk Government over its controversial solar regulations.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the Government never obtained a regulatory impact statement (RIS) for its regulations that were deemed invalid by the Supreme Court last month.

An RIS is not mandatory but is recommended.

Since introducing the regulations, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has emphasised they were created to ensure safety on solar farms.

However The Courier-Mail can also reveal no one has ever died on a Queensland solar farm as a direct result of electrocution.

The regulations, which allow only licensed electricians or electrical apprentices to mount, locate, fix or remove solar panels on farms larger than 100kW, rolled out on May 13 and were a major win for the powerful Electrical Trades Union.

Ms Grace said because of the immediate health and safety risks to workers, and the more than eight months of stakeholder consultation, the Government decided not to undertake an RIS.

" … There have been a number of close calls in which workers have received electrical burns and shocks when working on solar farms," she said.

 

Solar farms were the target of the State Government regulations.
Solar farms were the target of the State Government regulations.

"The Government was not willing to sit back and wait for someone to die as a result of unsafe electrical practices in large-scale, solar electricity-generating farms."

Opposition spokesman on energy Michael Hart said the Government had been caught out "as they (regulations) were obviously a complete rush job".

"Labor's flawed new laws are putting renewable energy projects at risk and they knew a regulatory impact statement would have told them that," he said.

Clean Energy Council director of energy generation Anna Freeman said the peak body didn't believe there had been a convincing case made as to why no RIS was undertaken.

"We would have expected one to be undertaken, given the high potential cost to projects, investment, jobs and communities, and the lack of evidence as to any electrical safety risks for labourers mounting solar panels.

The State Government has appealed the Supreme Court's ruling, which is back in court on Friday.



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