Australia Needs a New Wave of Energy Reform

“Australia’s opportunity to become a global energy superpower is at risk because of increased competition from lower-cost countries and a domestic energy market not fit for purpose for the 21st century,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said today.

Today the Business Council launched Australia’s Energy Advantages, which sets out its vision for energy policy in Australia and a practical action agenda to maximise the benefits of Australia’s energy for all Australians.

“Governments, the community and business need to work collaboratively to achieve a balanced approach to energy policy that will help spur economic growth, jobs and improved living standards while safeguarding the environment.

“If Australia does not act to strike the right balance in energy policy, our comparative advantage in energy will continue to weaken, the Australian economy as a whole will be less competitive and consumers will be worse off.

“Australian energy resource projects are facing increasing competition from countries with access to extensive energy resources, but with a lower cost base than Australia.

“At the same time, the cost of delivering our electricity and gas to our homes and business is increasing.

“But there are big opportunities for Australia with global demand in energy expected to increase by the size of two United States over the next 20 years – the majority of this growth expected in Asia.

“Our proximity to growing Asian markets, our experience doing business in the region and the quality of our resources give us an advantage.

“But we need concerted policy action to unlock our energy reserves, improve the efficiency of our energy markets and improve climate change policy, and this will involve a careful balance between meeting global demand and providing affordable and reliable energy to households and businesses.

“This balance can only be achieved through honest and respectful community engagement – by being open and clear with people about the choices, and the implications for jobs and standards of living.

Australia’s Energy Advantages takes a balanced approach to energy policy, between promoting our economic growth, energy security and environmental sustainability.

“To maximise Australia’s comparative advantage in energy, Australia’s Energy Advantages makes recommendations in five key areas:

  1. Improve the competitiveness of our energy resource sector by lowering the cost of production.
  2. Ensure access to our natural gas resources and improve information and trading in our gas markets.
  3. Improve the efficient operation of our electricity markets by moving to prices that reflect the cost of delivery to consumers.
  4. Underpin Australia’s liquid fuels security by continuing to support access to open and competitive domestic and international markets.
  5. Cost effectively manage our greenhouse gas emissions by driving investment in research and development in technology and acting in tandem with the world to reduce emissions at least cost to the economy.

Australia’s Energy Advantages is the Business Council’s submission into the Australian Government’s Energy White Paper process, but should also be embraced by all state, territory and local governments.

Australia's Energy Advantages

Australia's Energy Advantages: Priority Energy Reforms

Australia's Energy Advantages: Speech by Jennifer Westacott