Media Release: Turnbull's Climate Inaction Causes "Investment Strike" By Energy Industry

9.15am | March 07, 2017

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

DEPUTY CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE RESILIENCE OF ELECTRICITY INFRASTRUCTURE IN A WARMING WORLD

 

Industry and expert witnesses lined up to slam the government’s inaction on energy policy at a hearing today of the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Energy Infrastructure in a Warming World.

Danny Price, who advised the Prime Minister on energy when he was Opposition Leader, agreed with Senator McAllister that Australia’s energy crisis was caused by an “investment strike”.

Three quarters of our thermal electricity generators are now operating beyond their design life, and new generation capacity is not being built to replace it. “This is not a market failure,” Mr Price said, “it is a political failure to have a national plan…”

The absence of any coherent government policy has forced industry to act for itself, the Senate Committee was told. Distinguished ANU Economics Professor and climate change policy expert Ross Garnaut described decisions taken by business as having to “second guess” the regulators.

Representatives from AGL agreed: “We have to calculate a cost of carbon in our capital decisions.”

AGL provided evidence that it is issues around gas supply, not renewables that sit behind South Australia’s recent electricity events. Richard Wrightson, AGL’s general manager of wholesale markets, told the Committee “Dysfunction in the gas market is causing most of the systemic problems we are seeing in South Australia,”. Damning evidence that again exposes the Turnbull Government’s anti-renewable campaign as nothing but ideological political opportunism that is hampering our affordable, reliable and clean energy future.

Mr Price said the government’s refusal to price carbon was economically irresponsible. “It doesn’t require a belief in climate science to believe carbon pricing is necessary… What matters is what investors think. If they think there is a possibility of a carbon price in the lifetime of an investment they will need to take that into account.”

The Deputy Chair of the committee, Senator McAllister, said: “Malcolm Turnbull has managed to turn his internal political problem into a national economic problem. This government’s continuing inaction on energy is imposing real costs on our economy and our environment.”

 

TUESDAY, 7 MARCH 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: LYNDAL HOWISON (MCALLISTER) 0404 854 033