Last Friday an expert panel led by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel released its Final Report on the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, titled Blueprint for the Future.
You can read our initial insights into the Final Report, published on the same day, here.
The fact that the terms of reference for the Final Report were proscribed highlights the challenge for Australia in not only coming up with good policy, but being able to implement it. Business engagement in policy debate has generally been through participation in the public debate, and with political leadership. Yet whilst in any free vote there would probably be enough consensus to implement some reasonable energy policy compromise, in the Balkanised political system we now have – where positions seem almost universally to be partisan rather than bi-partisan – any consensus seems very difficult.
An issue for business is how it can also work with the backbench, crossbench and fragmented State Governments to hear and address their issues, but also to put to them the very difficult and uncertain investment climate business faces whilst energy policy remains gridlocked, how these difficulties have serious potential consequences for consumers and employment, and how those difficulties could potentially be addressed.
We will be exploring further insights into the policy vision outlined in the Final Report in the next few days – including whether it will be sufficiently compelling to garner COAG support. I will also separately be looking at what potential and incentives there might be for mine sites that generate their own electricity to create their own micro-grids.