TUESDAY, 5 JANUARY 2021
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thanks for coming out this afternoon. Australia’s Energy Security Board has again issued a report today warning that the security of Australia’s electricity system remains critical with no improvement since 2019. This is yet another consequence of Scott Morrison’s inability to land an energy policy.
While Australia’s Energy Security Board continues to issue warnings about the state of our electricity system – Scott Morrison cannot land a plan to keep Australia’s lights on.
This morning we learnt he has another $75 million taxpayer funded advertising campaign ready to go but he can’t land a plan to keep his lights on.
JOURNALIST: Should Australians be worried about their electricity supply?
BUTLER: We’ve had warnings now for several year about the security of our electricity system. Business groups and regulators have warned that the lack of an energy policy from our Federal Government is a major driver of those security concerns. It is time that Scott Morrison actually delivered an energy plan that would ensure we have a modern, clean, affordable, but, most importantly, reliable energy system for the future.
That’s why Labor’s Rewiring the Nation plan is so important. It will ensure that we have the energy built that is clean, reliable, and affordable. And it will be built by Australian workers using Australian supplies.
JOURNALIST: Who is to blame for allowing the national electricity system to get to the point where technology is so far ahead of regulation that it is threatening the electricity supply?
BUTLER: We’ve seen report after report lay the blame at the feet of the Federal Government for its inability to have a national energy policy. They’ve had 22 attempts to land a national energy policy and failed every single one of those attempts. Australians are paying the price for that failure and we see yet another report that says the security of our system remains critical.
JOURNALIST: The ESB points out that the various policies at state government levels is causing investor uncertainty and threatening the effectiveness of the national market. Should state governments be more patient as Kerry Schott suggests?
BUTLER: State governments have stepped into a void, a vacuum, left by the failure of national energy policy under Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. At the end of the day the electricity system is the responsibility of the national government and they need to put in place an energy policy that will pull through the investment we need to see, not just in renewable energy generation, but in firming technology like batteries, pumped hydro, peaking gas generation and the like. Those investments will ensure Australia has a clean, reliable, affordable energy system. We just need a policy to underpin that.
JOURNALIST: Many in the energy sector think the retailer reliability obligation is complex, not very effective and incentivises financial risk management rather than building new power infrastructure. Do you think it can be improved or should it be scrapped?
BUTLER: We will take the advice of the energy regulators. The Energy Security Board has provided a report to the Government, yet again, pointing out the failures of this Government in its responsibility to deliver a secure system. Those reports are based on extensive consultation and engagement with industry stakeholders, lots of public submissions from academics, experts and think tanks. We think, just as we have done over the last 12 months through the COVID pandemic, the Government should be listening to the experts in this critical area of climate change and energy policy. This Government, for almost eight years, has been incapable or unwilling to do that.