Competitiveness the Key to Australia’s Energy Future

The Energy White Paper is a solid framework for energy policy to support Australia’s enduring growth and prosperity, Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“The white paper highlights that lifting our competitiveness and efficiency to put downward pressure on the cost of energy supplied to export markets and domestic consumers will be critical to the quality of our lifestyles and economic growth into the future,” Ms Westacott said.

“Our rising costs, combined with an increasing number of competitors supplying global energy at competitive prices, are eroding our historical advantage of cheap energy and risking our important energy exports.

“To realise the benefits of the investment pipeline in new energy exploration and the resources sector, we must pull out all stops to avoid becoming a high-cost and high-risk place to invest.

“Competitive and well-regulated energy markets are essential, which means tackling the unfinished business of energy market reform and ensuring the fledgling gas market is able to develop.”

The white paper identifies a range of options for energy market reform including the need for more efficient regulation, greater market efficiency and improved demand management options as tools to assist in managing rising electricity prices over time.

Privatisation of electricity infrastructure and removal of electricity price regulation remain a priority.

While the white paper is a solid overall framework, three issues are worth highlighting:

  • to better manage increasing electricity costs, the wind-up or scaling back of the Renewable Energy Target should have been included
  • the role of nuclear power in Australia’s long-term energy mix must be put back on the agenda
  • the detailed consideration in the white paper of liquid fuels and refining in Australia – including the implications for security of supply – makes the need for a House of Representatives inquiry unclear.

“The white paper charts the right course but its successful implementation will remain a challenge and will require a commitment from all governments to drive a more efficient and effective energy market,” Ms Westacott said.