Cross-party consensus sought for Australian policy

AUSTRALIA: Political leaders have backed a joint effort to reform Australia's energy market, following recommendations by chief scientist Alan Finkel in May.

Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce speaking at the Clean Energy Summit
Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce speaking at the Clean Energy Summit

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At the Australian Clean Energy Summit (18-19 July) in Sydney, hosted by the Clean Energy Council, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and opposition party Labor leader Bill Shorten both said the parties would work together in parliament to set a clean energy target (CET) and "deliver long-term policy certainty" by implementing Finkel's advice.

"What is important is that we come to some form of resolution. All parties will have to move. We need our colleagues in the Labor Party to come to a bipartisan position so that we can land this," Joyce said.

"When you look at what is at stake, failure is not 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," Shorten added.

Finkel's Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market proposed to allow the current 33TWh renewable energy target to continue to its scheduled expiration in 2020 and replace it with a CET thereafter.

The report said the CET would allow all electricity generators to receive incentives, based on the emissions produced and in a technology-neutral way.

"Our electricity system is entering an era where it must deal with changing priorities and evolving technologies. If the world around us is changing, we have to change with it. More of the same is not an option, we need to aim higher," Finkel said.

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