Mining and Heavy Industries

Business Council slams Government after CET backdown

Australia’s big business lobby group has criticised the Federal Government for apparently backing down from implementing a clean energy target (CET).

The CET was a key recommendation of the report into Australia’s energy sector conducted by the nation’s chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

The Coalition had said it would work to follow the recommendations of the Finkel Report, but energy minister Josh Frydenberg signalled the CET would be ditched in an effort to keep energy costs down this week.

Frydenberg reportedly told a Sydney conference on Monday that emissions from the energy market had already “fallen over the last two quarters as the consequence of the closure of coal-fired power stations and flatlining demand”.

“However, this transition to lower emissions cannot come at the expense of the reliability and affordability of our electricity system,” he was quoted as saying.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott told RN Breakfast her group was disappointed with the apparent back-down.

“Last time we talked I made it really clear what business wants,” Westacott said. “We need a signal, a stable signal about how emissions will be treated in the economy.”

“The energy target was meant to be that,” host Fran Kelly suggested.

“Exactly,” Westacott replied, “and we’ve supported that.”

The BCA chief continued: “if the government is not going to pursue Alan Finkel’s recommended clean energy target mechanism as a way of signalling emissions then what is the alternative? And let’s make sure that in doing that, we are sitting down with business and industry to make sure we get this right. Because we both have had some false starts at this.”

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