Energy market authorities, experts and participants have slammed the Government’s Big Stick energy policy as undermining investment, rising prices and being the result of a policy process that is “anarchy”.
In an incredible revelation, it was confirmed that due to the rushed and chaotic energy policy process of Energy Minister Taylor, the Australian Energy Markets Commission (AEMC) was not able to assess the impacts or provide advice on the Big Stick Bill prior to the government introducing it into Parliament, with the head of the AEMC warning about “unintended consequences” of the Bill.
More disturbingly, the Energy Security Board (ESB), which was specifically established by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government to advise on energy policy, was not consulted on the Bill at all by the Government and first saw the Bill when it was publicly released.
When asked by Labor Senator Chris Ketter, “Are you concerned at the moment that there is a chaotic policy development process going on?” the Chair of the ESB, Dr Schott replied “I am on the record for saying it is anarchy actually”.
In her testimony, Dr Schott confirmed that the lack of energy policy that addresses the need to cut electricity sector emissions is creating investment uncertainty that pushes up power prices, and that the Big Stick Bill not only doesn’t address that uncertainty, but adds to it.
While energy companies expressed similar concerns, it is particularly worth noting that they are shared by energy users, who want to see nothing more than lower power prices.
The Business Council of Australia (BCA), as well as the Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) warned about the government’s bill increasing rather than lowering prices.
The BCA stated "Lower prices will not be achieved by ad hoc, extreme intervention in the electricity market which brings new risk and unintended consequences."
While the EUAA, which represents the most intensive energy businesses in Australia, warned not only of inevitable higher electricity prices from the government’s Bill, but also job losses, saying the Bill “will only increase the risk faced by the electricity supply chain. A risk that will inevitably be passed on to our members in the form of even higher prices that will, in turn, have negative impacts on our members’ businesses and employment levels in the wider economy”.
The fact is the government’s Big Stick Bill isn’t about fixing their energy policy mess and lowering energy prices for Australians. It is all about looking tough before an election, even if it means higher power prices for all Australians.