Bill Shorten announces Labor plans to revive National Energy Guarantee 'even if it's not the best'

| 22.11,18. 02:11 PM |

Bill Shorten announces Labor plans to revive National Energy Guarantee 'even if it's not the best'

Bill Shorten says Labor plans to achieve 50 per cent of renewable by 2030. (ABC News)

Federal Labor will adopt the energy policy that helped bring Malcolm Turnbull's prime ministership undone, despite admitting it is not the party's preferred option.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced Labor's new energy policy, which revives the National Energy Guarantee and sets aside billions of dollars for renewable energy.

Acknowledging nearly a decade of political impasse on carbon policies, Mr Shorten said "the single most important thing about energy and climate policy right now is to have one".

"Today I reissue Labor's invitation for bipartisanship," Mr Shorten said. "We are prepared to keep the National Energy Guarantee on the table."

Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said Labor considered an emissions intensity scheme and a clean energy target preferable options, but both policies were abandoned amid political campaigning.

"[The National Energy Guarantee] is the one on the table that has the support of every business group in the country, and we are confident that it can work," Mr Butler said.

"Even if it's not the best, it's one that can work and we think the government should come back to."

The policy was designed by the current Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and championed by the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but abandoned in the final days of Mr Turnbull's government amid opposition from conservative MPs.

Mr Shorten has drawn attention to that support with an election looming and the Government already campaigning against the policy, arguing it won't reduce prices fast enough.

"The Coalition party-room debated and voted to back the National Energy Guarantee not once, not twice, but three times," Mr Shorten said.

"Our Parliament could debate and vote on this before Christmas if the Government was so inclined.

Coalition critical, despite industry approval

Energy Minister Angus Taylor criticised Labor's policy, arguing it will be a wrecking ball for jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sector.

He also dismissed Labor's pledge to provide mean-tested subsidies to help Australians install 1 million household batteries by 2025.

"[This] assured me that Labor doesn't understand what's happening in middle Australia, that people desperately want these jobs in the economy," Mr Taylor said.

"A 45 per cent emission reduction target and a 50 per cent renewable energy target, with a few batteries that are frankly a drop in the ocean, says they don't understand Australians want lower prices.

"There is a natural pace that energy efficiencies are happening, a natural pace that technology can be adapted and adopted, and if you try to go faster than that, as Labor is trying to do, you put a wrecking ball through the economy."

But the Australian Energy Council welcomed the revival of the National Energy Guarantee,saying it would provide certainty to investors and lead to a more stable market.

"Pretty much every stakeholder you can think of related to the energy sector supported the National Energy Guarantee," the Council's chief executive Sarah McNamara said.

"The Government walked away from the table on the NEG but frankly industry is still sitting at the table."

Frontier Economics: Prices will be the same

Mr Taylor said Labor's announcement and investment in renewable energy would not do enough to reduce electricity prices.

But Danny Price, managing director of energy specialists Frontier Economics, disputed that claim in modelling provided to the ABC.

"We project that Labor's 45 per cent emissions reduction target will result in prices that are about the same as the Federal Government's current policy of achieving an emissions reduction of 26 per cent by 2030," Mr Price said.

"Importantly, we also find that the Government's costly Snowy 2.0 proposal does not deliver any price or emissions benefit.

"It is a waste of money."

Greens: Labor wags white flag on climate change

Greens leader Richard Di Natale accused Labor of backing away from tough action on climate change, including a price on carbon.

"When the National Energy Guarantee was proposed by the Government Bill Shorten called it a joke of a policy," Senator Di Natale said.

"Well Bill Shorten has now become the punchline in what is the sick joke that is climate policy here in Australia."

Mr Butler said an economy-wide carbon price was no longer necessary as the renewable energy sector was now strong and competitive.

"In the years gone by, renewable energy needed a carbon price … to level the playing field with fossil fuel generation," he said.

But the Shadow Energy Minister did flag there may be industry-specific emission trading schemes for the manufacturing and LNG sectors.


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