Business welcomes a step forward in the energy debate

We welcome the announcement by Labor today that they will take the National Energy Guarantee to the next election, said Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott.

“The Business Council and its members have strongly supported the implementation of the NEG as a credible, workable, market-based solution to the trilemma of affordability, reliability and reducing our emissions.

“We have supported the progression of the reliability obligation over recent months but the implementation of the emissions obligation of the NEG will be the final piece of the puzzle to provide a durable investment framework for the energy sector.

“We have consistently called on all sides of the political divide to support the NEG to end the policy paralysis that has stalled much needed investment.

“We support the current economy-wide emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Labor’s announcement that a 45 per cent target would apply in the electricity sector is a significant increase and the appropriate work needs to be done to determine the effect this will have on power prices, our economic prosperity and competitiveness.

“We welcome Labor’s sensible indication that they are not going to legislate the 45% target.

“In announcing their package today it is clear that much of the detail still needs to be worked through, including the underwriting and investment program for low-emissions generation. In such a complex policy area it is important that a thorough consultation process with industry occurs, drawing on evidence-based policy. If the last decade has shown anything, it’s that the devil is in the detail, and we need to get that right.

“We have consistently called for a minimalist approach to market intervention. We do not want to see further intervention into the energy market as it will threaten our economic attractiveness by sending a signal to the world that investing in Australia comes with considerable risks. We welcome Labor’s commitment not to support heavy-handed, intrusive changes into the energy sector such as forced divestiture.

“The role of government is to foster the best economic and regulatory environment possible to attract new investment. After a decade of policy chaos in the energy sector – at both a state and federal level – we must prioritise solving this mess and providing the sector with the policy certainty and stability it needs to drive new investment and improve affordability.”