National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson hopes the release of the Finkel Review will create the opportunity for a productive, national conversation about where to from here for Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).
Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel presented his review of the NEM to the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers at the COAG meeting in Hobart last Friday.
Ms Simson said from the NFF’s preliminary reading of the report, there were many recommendations worthy of more detailed consideration and discussion.
The release of the Finkel Review represents a fork in the road when it comes to the interface between climate and energy policy in Australia. We can choose a path of evidence-based policy deliberation, or we can continue the decade-long climate policy war.”
Ms Simson said the NFF was looking for Australia’s political leaders to take a constructive path.
“The conclusion of Dr Finkel’s review provides the chance to re-set the national debate and embark on an evidenced-based policy discussion about how we can transition to a more secure, reliable, affordable and sustainable NEM.
Ms Simson said Finkel’s recommendation for a Clean Energy Target (CET) provided another technology-neutral, market-based policy option, was worthy of detailed discussion and analysis and was a positive step forward.
“It is inevitable that as a nation we will move away from coal-fired power generation – as assets age and new technologies become available and more affordable.
“We know there is a cost to transition and what we know from Dr Finkel’s report is that the cost of acting is less than a continuation of our current approach.
“As Dr Finkel has highlighted, resolving the affordability crises that besets NEM customers, including farmers, will take more than resolving the interface between energy and emissions policy,” Ms Simson said.
“Governments must pursue the broader COAG NEM-reform agenda with diligence.
“The NEM needs fair rules and transparent and robust governance – and in setting these we must have our eye on the future where power generation is likely to become increasingly decentralised and where the demand for network assets will change.
“Now is the time to pause, take stock of Dr Finkel’s findings and begin a bona-fide, bi-partisan, national conversation about the future of power in this country.”
Ms Simson said the NFF would examine the detail of Dr Finkel’s review and stands ready to participate in a constructive debate with the Government, the Opposition and stakeholders on the detailed policy settings needed to fix the NEM.