Australia, which uses brown and black coal for 73 per cent of its electricity generation needs, stands to benefit in myriad ways from a stronger natural gas industry, which are not limited to keeping 60,000 at-risk manufacturing jobs, improving domestic energy security, and facilitating a potential contender to eclipse iron ore’s contribution to Australian GDP.
It is therefore unclear why there continues to be a lack of forward-looking, long-term energy policy and leadership at a Federal level.
The Abbott Government’s Energy White Paper, released in April 2015 and intending to set out a policy framework that “will deliver competitively priced and reliable energy supply to households, business and international market”?, has been met with disappointment by industry.
Robert Pritchard, Executive Director of Australia’s Energy Policy Institute, wrote damningly that the paper was “a timid document replete with unresolved issues for energy industry investors”?, and that it had “done nothing to diminish the level of doubt about the capacity of governments to find the right solutions”?.
Many others, including the Energy Supply Association of Australia, have dismissed the paper as being all smoke and mirrors, and left the industry asking: where to next for energy policy in Australia, and the removal of impediments to the growth of its natural gas industry?
This was the question posed by attendees of the APPEA conference to Federal Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane, opening the conference with his plenary address.
Mr Macfarlane reiterated that the Government was “doing its bit”? to support the industry’s efforts by strengthening the policy and regulatory environment; however, the industry waits with bated breath to see if this will make any difference to the energy policy quagmire the industry finds itself in.