Industry says Divestment Bill report lacking

Divestment Bill

The Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into the Divestment Bill has concluded with a report that the Australian Energy Council (AEC) has criticised as failing to dispel widespread concerns about both its overreach and the risk it poses to investment and energy prices.

The AEC’s chief executive Sarah McNamara said that the Committee’s majority report failed to give proper weight to the majority of submissions, which were critical of the Bill, including by major business groups such as the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, and the Energy Users Association of Australia.

“More than 75 per cent of the submissions to the Inquiry raised serious concerns about the Bill, while only six submissions supported it, and none of those were able to identify how the Bill would lower prices for consumers,” Ms McNamara said.

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“This should come as no surprise given the Government was similarly unable to show how the Bill would lower prices, and Treasury was not asked to undertake any economic modelling on the subject.

“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission did not find that there is misconduct in the market of the kind identified in the Bill, and specifically ruled out the need for a divestment power in the energy sector. The Bill proposes measures that are best described as a solution looking for a problem.

“In an environment of upward pressure on energy prices, it is critical that the Government and industry focus on reforms that are going to deliver price relief and better transparency for Australian homes and businesses.

“We remain perplexed that the Bill remains Government policy in circumstances where the weight of evidence before the Committee was that it would ultimately lead to poorer outcomes for consumers.”

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