White Paper a Solid Foundation for Future Energy Policy

The draft Energy White Paper released by the government today provides a solid foundation for ensuring secure, affordable and sustainable energy in the long term, Business Council of Australia (BCA) Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott says.

Ms Westacott said the white paper was an important step in creating a long-term framework for energy investment.

“The draft white paper rightly acknowledges that Australia’s energy markets and policy frameworks need to be resilient to support economic growth and respond to a broad range of risks,” she said.

“Having a clear pathway for future energy policy is an important signal in continuing to attract investment.

“This is critical if we are to have a pipeline of new energy exploration to exploit opportunities from growing regional demand for our natural resources and to support the considerable investment task ahead in the electricity sector.

“Australia’s economy has historically benefited from access to abundant sources of low-cost energy. If we are to maintain this competitive advantage then energy and emissions reduction policies must work together to drive efficient markets that encourage the most cost-effective energy sources.

“The draft white paper recognises that Australia cannot afford to limit its options if we are to deliver energy at the lowest possible cost while ensuring that our energy supply is reliable, and supports our transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The BCA strongly supports this view and believes technologies such as nuclear are an important consideration in determining the optimal mix of demand and supply-side technologies.

“Critically, the draft white paper suggests taking steps to wind up the numerous ad hoc state and federal climate change initiatives which are inconsistent with the objectives of a national approach.

“The BCA has consistently advocated the removal of the plethora of federal and state-based programs related to emissions reduction, which have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of a national emissions trading scheme, increase the cost to business and prevent the attainment of least cost emissions reduction.”

Ms Westacott also welcomed the draft white paper’s other priority actions including:

  • Re-invigorating the energy market reform agenda through the privatisation of assets, removal of retail price caps and facilitation of more effective demand-side management.
  • Evaluating future energy pathways over time through more regular institutionalised reviews of national energy policy and enhanced national energy security assessments.

“The success of the white paper in practice will depend on all Australian governments committing to the disciplined and timely implementation of actions through COAG’s Standing Council on Energy and Resources,” Ms Westacott said.

“While the Commonwealth Government has led the development of the white paper, state and territory governments must also play their part in driving more efficient and effective energy markets.”

The BCA looks forward to examining the draft white paper in further detail over the coming months before providing a submission to the government in March 2012.