NEG: ‘Now is the time to act in national interest’

Anyone who opposes the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) at this Friday’s COAG Energy Meeting will be condemning Australian families and businesses to higher power prices, according to Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

State governments are threatening to reject the NEG, particularly Queensland and Victoria.

States are demanding the targets only be increased, not decreased and the targets should be reviewed every three years not every five.

Speaking with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio this morning, Mr Frydenberg said the emissions reduction target has already been flagged for a review in 2024, with no possibility of the target being negotiated down.

“Firstly, the report of the independent ESB makes clear an additional 38 million tonnes of abatement will occur under the governments target and without a concrete mechanism in place there is no guarantee emissions reduction will follow,” he said.

“The Turnbull Government, as the signatory to the Paris agreement, is the party that determines the projectory.

“Nothing in the policy prevents the states from having their own renewable energy targets, they complement what is being done at a federal level. But we do need the Federal Government to maintain whole responsibility for this, because it is a national problem and it requires a national solution.

“We have committed to a review in 2024 of the targets. The states wanted a review and we are happy to provide it.”

If the policy is agreed upon on Friday, draft legislation will be released for comment for a period of four weeks before being given a final tick-off from the states.

“So, there is s till some time to go, but importantly, we’ve seen a broad cross-section of industry and consumer groups coming out openly in support of the NEG saying any delay will be denying people lower power prices,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“We have a very clear recommendation from the ESB that this policy is the best in the world.

“Mark Butler, the Labor party spokesman, has described it in his own words as very positive, as very good, as the Rolls Royce of design – those are his words.

“It’s time the Labor party stopped fluffing around, put the national interest first, no longer prolong these partisan wars and actually agree to a sustainable, durable policy that will deliver lower power prices.”

A group of representatives of Australia’s biggest employers, small businesses, the energy industry and the agricultural sector have today released a joint statement urging federal, state and territory leaders to put aside politics and ideology and support the implementation of the NEG.

The plea, signed by The Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Small Business Organisations, National Farmers’ Federation, APPEA, and the Australian Energy Council, said business and industry need policy certainty and stability in the energy sector.

“There can be no further delays,” the statement said.

“A decade of policy uncertainty has only resulted in higher electricity prices and a less stable and reliable energy system.

“This Friday we call on COAG Energy Council to endorse the framework of the NEG to provide the investor confidence needed to make the important, long-term decisions for a reliable, affordable and clean energy system.

“Now is the time to act in Australia’s national interest. Australian households and businesses cannot afford the costs of yet another cycle of political sparring, indecision and inaction.”