Time For Action on Energy Reform

“Today’s Energy White Paper should spur governments across Australia to reform a critical sector of the Australian economy,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“The white paper recognises that the energy sector enables every part of our economy and is essential for Australia’s future competitiveness.

“As highlighted in the white paper, reform is needed across a broad range of areas – regulation, taxation, innovation, skills and workplaces – if we want to maximise the economic and social contributions from our energy sector.

“Additionally, we must ensure energy and climate change policies are integrated into an overarching policy framework, to meet the dual objectives of increasing our prosperity and contributing to a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Given the importance of energy, the Business Council welcomes the white paper’s focus on competition, productivity and investment.

“The proposed reform agenda for the Council of Australian Governments outlined in the white paper should be a priority for all Australian governments.

“Recommendations for further privatisation of state-owned electricity assets and cost-reflective pricing will drive productivity and investment.

“Streamlining project approvals, including implementing one-stop shops for environmental approvals, will reduce unnecessary costs to businesses and consumers.

“The white paper also recognises gas reservation as an ineffective policy intervention for gas pricing or supply – affirming that increasing supply and competition will be more effective in addressing gas prices.

“The Business Council looks forward to working with the government in the development of the National Energy Productivity Plan. There are both economic and environmental gains to be made in improving our energy productivity. It will be important to understand what potential productivity dividends exist across the full economy, and the costs and benefits of different approaches in different sectors.

“The white paper’s recommendations are a sensible next step for energy reform, and are consistent with many aspects of previous energy white papers and the Business Council’s Australia’s Energy Advantages report.

“Now is the time for federal, state and territory governments to take the framework in the white paper and convert it into action.

“The Energy White Paper makes clear the importance of the federal government’s overall reform priorities, including deregulation, workplace relations reform and improving the competitiveness of the tax system,” Ms Westacott said.