Australia’s energy sector is under review and due for a shake-up with a revitalised federal energy policy expected at the end of the year.
In December 2013, the Commonwealth Department of Industry released the Energy Policy Issues Paper – a preliminary blueprint of the government’s future energy plan. This will inform a White Paper, which will detail the government’s strategic direction and policy commitments relating to energy.
The Energy Policy Green Paper is currently being developed and is expected to be released in May 2014. Further submissions will be sought on the release of this paper.
All companies with exposure to the energy sector should consider making a submission to the Government during the preparation of the White Paper later in the year. Rowland’s Government and Public Affairs team is adept at assisting clients engage with Government to assist in the development of public policy.
The premise of the Issues Paper is to increase efficiency in the energy industry by streamlining bureaucratic protocol, supporting investment and growth, and increasing business competitiveness, while also maintaining Australia’s environmental commitment to reduce carbon emissions by five per cent by 2020.
The major challenge is to implement a system that supplies and uses energy in a way that puts downward pressure on energy costs to help business remain competitive, eases household cost-of-living pressures, and grows energy exports.
The Issues Paper aims to start the ‘conversation’ about energy reform rather than seeking to solve it, and contains several proposed reforms including:
- reform for electricity and gas markets
- encouraging productivity and market efficiency by continued privatisation of state- and territory-owned energy assets and businesses
- streamlined environmental approvals and creation of a one-stop-shop approach to help navigate other approval and licensing requirements.
The Issues Paper also explores the security of energy supply, regulatory reform and the role of government, growth and investment, trade and international relations, workforce productivity, driving energy productivity, and alternative and emerging energy sources and technology.
Interestingly, nuclear options are placed on the table, albeit softly. While the Coalition currently has no plans to pursue nuclear energy it will be interesting to watch this polarising issue emerge once again.
The last Energy White Paper – completed in 2012 under the Gillard Government – gave little consideration to nuclear energy, ruling it out due to its lack of ‘social consensus’.
It is unlikely that nuclear energy will form part of Australia’s energy mix without bipartisan and community support, so expect the Federal Government to seek social license later this year if it is serious about introducing nuclear power.
There are three stages in the development of the White Paper:
Timeline of Energy White Paper development
For more information on the Energy White Paper and assistance with making a submission to government, please contact Fiona Sperou on (07) 3229 4499 or firstname.lastname@example.org