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Excessive and counterproductive energy market bill should not be rushed

"The Treasury Laws Amendment (Prohibiting Energy Market Conduct) Bill 2018 should not be rushed through the Parliament. It has not been subject to sufficient consideration and consultation; it unnecessarily goes well beyond the recommendations for market reforms in the ACCC's recent report into improving energy affordability; and it would undermine investment in Australia by adding substantially to the risk business faces of undesirable interference in the economy," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group said today.

"The guns have been drawn in haste and we now have too many itchy fingers on triggers. All Parliamentarians should support a pause in proceedings and allow for a period of reflection and reconsideration of this Bill. It creates powers that are unprecedented and which were not recommended by the ACCC in its June 2018 report. It adds a power of divestiture that has not previously existed in Australia and which was considered and rejected by the ACCC and it gives a wide range of new powers to the ACCC that go well beyond its own report.

"There is also a range of questions about how the provisions would work in practice. Many of these would normally be picked up through consultation of an exposure draft and by referring the Bill to the relevant Parliamentary Committee. These are important fortifications against the risk of poorly designed or ill-considered legislation and they should certainly be called on for these measures.

"As Ai Group and many other business organisations have been saying for some time, improving the energy market is a vital part of what Australia needs to do to address the decade of inaction on energy policy and we support a number of the measures proposed in the Bill which have been suggested by the ACCC. However, this Bill tries to make up for inaction in other areas of energy policy by putting forward a set of excessive, dangerous and counter-productive measures.

"These measures would create considerable uncertainty not only for the energy sector but for the economy as a whole. These hastily-drawn-up measures set a dangerous precedent and, if they are enacted all potential investors in Australia would weigh the risk of these powers being extended to their areas of the economy," Mr Willox said.  

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347