Opinion pieces


March 22, 2019

Like democracy sausages, Aussie Rules and kangaroos, spending 15 years fighting about climate and energy policy is uniquely Australian.

Unlike the other three, the Australian disease of energy policy instability is harming our economy and undermining the very necessary task of decarbonising the world.

Other nations with strong political contests, such as the UK and Germany, have managed to enact plans for the transition to a low carbon economy without this chaos.

Labor has a plan to end this chaos, through either a bipartisan market mechanism or through long-term contracts that will deliver the investment certainty the sector needs.

We would prefer to achieve bi-partisan agreement. That is why, if elected, we will pursue a National Energy Guarantee that will deliver on our commitment of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The NEG was overwhelmingly supported by industry, policy experts, states, NGOs and the vast majority of the Coalition Government party room.

But, if a Labor Government’s legislation to establish a NEG is not supported by a Coalition Opposition, Labor will not pursue a NEG.

We will not allow the energy sector to be hostage to the repeal politics we saw at the turn of the decade.

Instead we will progress a 10-year energy investment plan that will deliver certainty to the energy sector through long-term contracts that will enable massive investment in new generation at the cheapest possible cost. 

We will double the investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to $10 billion, to support new generation and storage, concessional loans for household purchases of solar and battery systems, and boost investment in energy efficiency and industry transformation.

And we will set up an independent $5 billion Energy Security and Modernisation Fund to future-proof our energy network, building and upgrading our energy transmission and distribution systems, using the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated Systems Plan as the blueprint.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has had 12 energy policies since the 2016 election. There were four different energy policies in 14 days last August.

The energy sector has been unable to make investment decisions and the policy chaos is leading to higher power prices. It must stop.

Labor’s commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy and the investment in transmission infrastructure to make renewable energy reliable will deliver lower power prices, greater reliability, less pollution, and up to 71,000 jobs.

Those in the Coalition arguing for new coal-fired power stations are arguing for higher power prices as well as greater carbon pollution.

This is an edited version of his speech to the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia Energy Summit in Melbourne this week.