Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen has convened an emergency meeting with state energy ministers this afternoon to address the spike in electricity and gas prices, but he says there is no ready solution to fix what he argued was a decade of inaction from the former Coalition government.
“There’s no easy fixes here,” Bowen told ABC Radio this morning. “We’ve been very clear about that. One meeting isn’t going to solve all the problems of nine years of lack of energy policy.
“We have some meaty issues to discuss, some issues around powers of regulators, some issues around information, and some issues that I’ll be putting forward about better planning and better integration of the massive investment we need to avoid this problem into the future.”
“Over the last few years, we’ve had a 70 per cent reduction in renewables investment. We’re way underdone on transmission, as AEMO, our energy market operator, has said, we need 10,000 kilometres of new transmission lines and we need nine times the amount of utility-scale renewables it takes to make the system more stable.”
As reported in this masthead today, the Australian Workers Union set the scene for a clash with the government by calling for a windfall tax, similar to that enforced in the UK, to be levied on gas exporters, which are earning record profits on the soaring global market.
But Treasurer Jim Chalmers has ruled out a windfall tax, and Bowen backed this position.
“I’ve made the point that the situation in the United Kingdom is a bit different to the situation we’re facing, and you can’t just translate one answer in one country – as good as it might be for, say, the United Kingdom – to the situation we’re facing in Australia, which is a little different.”