Doorstop Interview at Parliament House

3.48pm | August 02, 2022

1 August 2022

Doorstop Interview at Parliament House

Subjects: Climate Change Bill; ACCC Energy Market Report

JENNY McALLISTER: Well, this week in the House of Representatives, Parliamentarians will commence debate on Labor's legislation to enshrine emissions reduction targets in law. It's an immensely important moment in stabilising our energy system and providing certainty for investors and participants in the energy market. Because of course, what we know is that nine years of division, playing politics under the Coalition, and a failure to land a single energy policy has left the energy market in a state of disrepair and it falls to a Labor Government of course, to clean this up. 

During Opposition, I sat on a number of committees which were tasked with looking at the state of the energy market and at hearing, after hearing, after hearing, participants in the energy market would come before us and they would say: 

“We need certainty, we are ready to invest, but at the moment, the chaotic state of the government's climate policy, of the government's energy policy, means we are in no position to make that contribution.” 

And what we know, of course, is that during that period, four gigawatts of capacity exited the market, only one gigawatt replaced. A whole lot of big talk from then Minister Taylor about bringing additional investment into the system. But of course, no real action and consumers will pay the price, because over the last few months since taking government we have seen the consequences of these failures to properly stabilise and prepare the energy market for the changes ahead. 

Today's report from the ACCC is just one more contribution to this. And of course, the Albanese Government will take the advice that’s being provided by the ACCC. They are forecasting shortfalls of supply in the coming year, and they are also raising concerns about the level of competition in the wholesale gas market on the East Coast. Now, just as we are doing in all other aspects of the energy system, we will take the ACCC's advice seriously. We are grateful for their work and their rapid response to the Treasurer's request that they examine competition issues in the market. But the main message I wanted to deliver this morning is this: Australian citizens should expect that the energy system works for them, and they should expect a government that takes this key policy issue seriously. That will be the approach of this government and it is in stark contrast to the chaotic, politicised and careless approach of the Liberal Government that came before us.

JOURNALIST: I just want to ask - what do you think of the seriousness of the ACCC's advice this morning? I mean, it seems pretty dire. Should we be bracing ourselves for the consequences of shortfalls in the year ahead?

JENNY McALLISTER: The ACCC are raising concerns about the supply-demand balance in the East Coast gas market in the coming year. They are serious concerns, but they are also pointing to the mechanisms that may be used to manage and resolve those. I know that Minister King, Treasurer Chalmers, Minister Bowen will be talking with one another, consulting with the industry and of course working with the energy market regulators to consider their options in response to the report that's been provided. As I say, we are a government that will take these issues seriously, that will listen to the policy advice that is being provided and will respond to them.

JOURNALIST: The idea, of course, to get more renewables in the market over to the medium and long term. But I guess in the short term it's things like the gas trigger that will solve the problem. Is that sort of one of the things that is being considered.

JENNY McALLISTER: The government has a range of tools at its disposal. But of course, these are areas where, again, the former government left the policy framework to languish. The gas trigger expires at the end of the year, Minister King has indicated her intention to renew it. There are features of the gas trigger that are not fit for purpose and Minister King has indicated her intention to revitalise that trigger so that it will do the job that we need it to do. In all of these areas, what is required is a government that takes policy problems seriously, that sees the energy market as a key service that's provided to citizens, not just as a political tool to play politics with. Thank you.


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