Argument and blame shifting must come to an end when energy Ministers meet this Friday to discuss the design of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

National Irrigators’ Council CEO, Steve Whan said “Friday’s meeting must mark the end of years of bickering over energy policy, which is undermining the nation’s agricultural competitiveness and putting at risk Australia’s position as a competitive global producer of food and fibre, and the opportunity to be the ‘food bowl’ for Asia.

“The agriculture sector needs stability and certainty in a national energy policy.The NEG is only part of a complex puzzle of actions needed at State and Federal level to get prices down, but it is an important step. It’s not perfect but it is the only option capable of getting critical bipartisan support.

“For years NIC and other agriculture sector peak bodies have argued for a national coordinated plan with Commonwealth and State Ministers working cooperatively to fix the energy crisis. Energy Ministers now need to work in the national interest.

“NIC and members of the Agriculture Industries Energy Taskforce have indicated broad support for the NEG as the key mechanism underpinning its objectives of affordability, reliability and emissions reduction.

“I note the vigorous debate on emissions targets, and clearly the stationary energy sector needs to do its fair share to achieve agreed targets, but we need to be clear that the NEG as a mechanism will operate with whatever targets Australia’s parliaments might agree.

“Irrigated agriculture needs cheaper power if we are going to keep growing Australia’s food and fibre.

“Many irrigators already embrace renewables so we make no demands about the source of the power – as long as it is affordable and reliable.

“While the NEG is the key policy framework capturing public attention, there are other pieces of work currently under examinationthat sit outside the NEG. This involves the Australia Energy Regulator’s (AER) draft decision on the Rate of Return Guideline, as well as the AER’s profitability measures for electricity and gas network businesses, responding to community concerns about network businesses profit levels. The outcome of this work must bring to an end the unacceptable level of gouging of customers by electricity networks.

“To remain competitive and to stay in the game, irrigated agriculture needs ultimately a price ceiling of 8 cents per kilowatt hour for electrons and 8c for transmission.

“Friday’s decision on the NEG is a vital step. If Ministers fail to agree, they plunge every job producing industry into yet more uncertainty.”

Media Contact:
Steve Whan 0429 780 883
9 August 2018