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Politicians agree it's time to get on with locking in national energy policy

Both state and federal politicians from across the political spectrum have called for Parliament to get on with reform of the energy market using the package of reforms proposed by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel at the morning session of today’s Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the debate around a Clean Energy Target, and said a mechanism was needed that didn’t exclude future coal investment.

“What is important is that we come to some form of resolution. All parties will have to move,” Mr Joyce said.

“We need our colleagues in the Labor Party to come to a bipartisan position so that we can land this.

“We have to nail this down so that what we have is the confidence in the marketplace so that whether it’s photovoltaic, whether it’s wind, whether it’s low emissions high-efficiency coal, whether it’s gas, whether it’s hydro, that people can see a return on their capital,” he said.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten offered an olive branch to the Prime Minister, saying the federal opposition was prepared to work together with the Federal Government on a Clean Energy Target to deliver long-term policy certainty.

“When you look at what’s at stake, failure isn’t an option. We need to find a way through the politics.
I think there have been enough battles. I say instead of digging out your trenches or marking out your battlelines – or even revisiting old ones – let’s go and find the middle; the common ground, the sensible centre,” Mr Shorten said.

“I want to help create an environment where Mr Turnbull can persuade his colleagues to put the future first. My promise today is very straightforward: Whether we are in government or in opposition, Labor will just get on with it.”

Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is scheduled to appear at the conference at the NAB gala dinner this evening.

New South Wales Resource, Energy and Utilities Minister Don Harwin said clean energy played an important role in helping the lights stay on during a heatwave in February.

“It is time to draw a line under the politics of energy and focus on delivering. We need to end what can be referred to as a culture war and let economics and engineering guide the future of energy. We just want clean, reliable and affordable energy,” Mr Harwin said.

“I would encourage all of you to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s support Josh Frydenberg. It’s the best hope for energy policy that will last. We need credible policy. It doesn’t need to be perfect. And we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said a diverse response to climate change is required, but clean energy was winning the economic battle and traditional energies can’t compete. The politics of solar and storage is winning and people are taking back control, he said.

“The lack of a plan has meant uncertainty for the industry and driven up power prices. We leave the market unchanged at our peril,” Dr Di Natale said.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said her government supported the Clean Energy Target mechanism recommended by the Chief Scientist and had expressed that at a meeting of state and federal Energy Ministers last week.

“We know that in two and a half years the federal Renewable Energy Target finishes and there is nothing to replace it,” she said.

“We expressed our support last Friday, particularly for the single most important recommendation from the (Finkel) review, and that is for a Clean Energy Target. It is the single mechanism that from 2020 will deliver more energy, lower bills and lower emissions. The fact is we need to get on with it.”

The Australian Clean Energy Summit runs at The Hilton in Sydney until Wednesday 19 July.

Please contact CEC Media Manager Mark Bretherton on [email protected] or 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.