Energy ignored in election debate: Energy users

The peak industry body for Australia’s energy users has called on all political parties to drive energy market reform.

Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) chair Brian Morris said users and networks need a holistic energy policy to address mounting challenges.

“Energy users can only assume the significant issues around the availability of competitive, reliable and sustainable gas and electricity across Australia are being ignored by both major parties. The current state of play in terms of national gas and electricity law can only be described as a quagmire,” he said.

“We have seen very little evidence the laws with the stated objective of meeting the long-term interests of consumers are actually achieving this.”

Australian industry’s contribution to the economy and international competitiveness has been built on this available and affordable energy supply, according to Mr Morris. However, he said this advantage is quickly eroding, and politicians are slow to address fundamental reform issues.

“The ACCC in its recent East Coast Gas Inquiry finally lifted the veil that many previous inquiries were unable or unwilling to do,” he said.

“Large gas users are facing a dysfunctional east coast gas market. The transparency and liquidity required for a competitive market have evaporated. We call on both parties to commit to leading the implementation of the ACCC’s recommendations as soon as possible.”

Mr Morris said electricity markets do not fare much better, adding the regulatory structure for network revenue determination has left all National Electricity Market users paying high prices for an over-built network.

“We need consistent, clear, long-term and binding climate policy at the federal level with bi-partisan support,” he said.

“Instead, we have a series of inefficient federal and state-based policies trying to plug the gap, imposing great costs on Australian businesses.”

The EUAA has called on the major parties to clearly annunciate their plan to restore Australia to the position of having a competitively priced, reliable and sustainable energy supply.

“A robust, holistic energy policy requires bold reform measures,” Mr Morris said.

“We hope the political parties seeking Government post July 2 are up to the challenge.”