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PIAA calls for ‘political unity’ over Finkel report

Tuesday, 13 June 2017
By Print 21 Online Article

The Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) says the Finkel report into the national electricity market needs political unity to deliver affordable and reliable energy.

“Despite early statements suggesting political unity, political parties and interest groups seem to be staying in their various climate-corners,” says Printing Industries’ CEO, Andrew Macaulay. “Given our energy situation, this political arrogance is breathtaking.

'This political arrogance is breathtaking': Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA

“The emerging crux of the political debate seems to be whether there must be a future for plentiful, reliable and cheap coal.  Arguably, Finkel’s nominated ‘clean energy target’ will cut out coal.  A group of Coalition back-benchers, led by Tony Abbott, says that coal cannot be cut out.  Labor and the Greens essentially want an end to coal.  The Greens aren’t too keen on gas either.  None of this bodes well for a unified political outcome.”

In the aftermath of South Australia’s state-wide blackout last year, the Council of Australian Governments engaged Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel to inquire into energy stability and reliability.  The Federal Government said it wanted secure and reliable supply, with sustainability an objective.

“Finkel is unlikely to have got everything right,” says Macaulay. “But people must take to time to digest his report and consider what should result.  After all, over a prolonged period political leaders have squandered opportunities to head off our energy crisis, delivering instead a mish-mash of diverging and sometimes destructive political wish-lists.  We can’t afford any more of that.  Now is serious decision time.

“Above all, the printing industry needs cheap and reliable energy. Beyond this, we will consult with members to ascertain their views on what should be done in the wake of the Finkel report.

“Finkel’s report makes key assumptions to claim to be technology neutral ‘with no prohibitions, just incentives’ for energy producers, plus that consumers will pay less,” Macaulay says.  “However, these assumptions depend upon the level at which Parliament sets ‘clean energy targets’ to replace current ‘renewable energy targets’.  This politically-set level will determine which producers get subsidies, whether coal is effectively cut out of the market and whether consumers will pay less.”

Finkel’s review acknowledges that the adoption of renewable energy has caused security and reliability problems and suggests that any new provider of renewable energy must guarantee back-up supply (for example, by battery) and therefore reliability.

Finkel also recommends a new over-arching bureaucracy – an energy security board to implement and coordinate national monitoring of security and reliability.

“Our early impression is that the Finkel report could be positive,” says Macaulay. “But it will only be so if it results in unified political action.”


One Response to “PIAA calls for ‘political unity’ over Finkel report”

  1. June 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm,

    P. Rinter

    Oh Andrew, Just say “Jobs and Growth” and hope the Lib’s pick you up for pre-selection

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