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Ministers meet to drive nation's power agenda

13 December 2013

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to work co-operatively with the States and Territories on energy market reform, Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said today, following the fifth Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER) meeting.

Mr Macfarlane said progress had been made on several important fronts.

“Energy market reform is an ongoing process that requires a long-term commitment and co-operative work with State and Territory Governments and other stakeholders,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Australian Government understands that these issues reach directly into homes and businesses, including in the form of electricity costs.

“Unfortunately, the Rudd/Gillard Governments dropped the ball in this important area, ignoring it for too long, before using energy policy as an attempt at a political wedge.

“It’s time to get to work to reinvigorate energy policy, including market reform, energy security and the Australian gas market. I am pleased to say that my State and Territory colleagues have recognised this imperative.”

Mr Macfarlane said the council made further progress on implementing:

  • the Energy Market Reform Implementation Plan;
  • the Australian Gas Market Development Plan;
  • the National Harmonised Regulatory Framework for Natural Gas from Coal Seams;
  • the Multiple Land Use Framework; and
  • the National Mineral Exploration Strategy.

“This meeting also allowed Ministers to meet key industry stakeholders to discuss the future development of Australia’s national energy market,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Ministers discussed strategic energy issues facing the nation, together with the three energy market agencies the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Energy Regulator.

“We have considered challenges such as declining demand for electricity and the impact of market developments on network tariffs – an issue we will return to in 2014 after exploring what possible mitigation measures might be taken,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This was a timely meeting because of the rapid changes underway in the East Coast gas market due to the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities at Gladstone in Queensland.

“We have noted today the tightening supply-demand balance and have discussed ways to improve competition in the market to deliver value to consumers.

“We have also discussed key issues for the uranium industry, particularly with regard to efficient and streamlined transportation and export to the international market.”

Mr Macfarlane also launched a case study on the National Electricity Market (NEM) at the meeting, hailing the NEM as an important microeconomic reform.

“It’s inspiring that we as a country were able to join forces and co-operate across jurisdictional boundaries to bring the NEM and modernise our electricity supply system,” Mr Macfarlane said, launching a KPMG case study on the NEM’s success story.

“The NEM shows what we are capable of when we work together as a nation – and proves that we can accomplish much of lasting value through hard work and co-operation.”

The KPMG report National Electricity Market – A case study in successful micro-economic reform is available at www.industry.gov.au/NEMcasestudy.

The Communique from today’s SCER meeting can be found at http://www.scer.gov.au/council-meetings.

Media Contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070