Albanese calls on Morrison to negotiate a bipartisan energy framework

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From The Conversation

In a letter to Scott Morrison Albanese says the government’s recent draft technology roadmap “presents a technology transition story that is largely consistent with past Labor policy and expert advice”.

It sees renewable energy at the centre of Australia’s energy and industrial future, which fits Labor’s view, and so “it represents an opportunity” for bipartisanship, the Labor leader writes.

“We have an opportunity to move beyond past partisan approaches to energy policy, to draw on the community’s clear desire for more bipartisan approaches to difficult policy areas, and to finally deliver an enduring, effective and bipartisan energy policy for Australia.”

Albanese says if Morrison agreed to negotiations Labor would not seek a specific model for a bipartisan investment framework. Rather it would seek a framework “scalable” to different emission reduction targets by future governments.

“As you know, the agencies and industry have argued that investor confidence requires enduring bipartisan agreement around investment rules, rather than specific targets,” Albanese says in the letter, released ahead of his latest “vision statement”, this one on science, to be delivered at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Albanese writes that Labor would support the development and use of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) methodologies for the creation of Australian carbon credit units to be available for Emission Reduction Fund auctions and the offset market. Although the letter does not spell it out, this would cover clean coal technology.

While Labor remains opposed to the fund, as an inappropriate use of taxpayer money, a Labor government would respect all contracts made under it, including any future CCS-related contracts, he says.

Labor would support the government if it set up new funding mechanisms to develop CCS technology, but would remain opposed to the re-direction of Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation support away from renewables towards CCS.

Albanese also reaffirms Labor opposition to a domestic nuclear power industry.

Albanese says that for any negotiations to have a credible chance of success the government would need to agree to re-fund ARENA so it could in particular help deliver the “technology roadmap”.

Also there would need to be acceptance that agreement on targets was not necessary for an enduring energy policy, but “scalability” was required in the framework.

“As we address the greatest health and economic crisis we have seen for generations, it is only by working together that we can deliver the leadership Australian business and families are rightly crying out for,” Albanese writes.

By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra. This article was originally published in The Conversation.