The government's objective for the white paper was to outline the nation’s energy vision for the short- through to the long-term future. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government wanted to make sure that Australians would continue to receive competitively priced and reliable energy.
The white paper said that the best way to achieve this was by encouraging competition in energy markets, increasing energy productivity and promoting investment in energy resources development.
“The measures in the Energy White Paper will deliver stable energy policy and efficient transparent markets that give consumers information to make choices about their energy use and industry the confidence to invest,” Macfarlane said.
AFGC chief executive Gary Dawson said rising electricity and gas costs have hampered the competitiveness and profitability of the domestic food and grocery manufacturing industry in recent years, with more pain yet to come through a forecast tripling of gas prices.
‘Tripling of gas prices’
“Last year, the AFGC and a consortium of five other industry associations released a report that estimated the damaging effect of rising gas prices on Australia’s manufacturing industries,” said Dawson.
The Deloitte report forecast a tripling of gas prices, which it said would lead to a cumulative loss of output in the food, beverage and grocery manufacturing industry of A$9.7bn (US$7.4bn) by 2021, and a loss of 3,000 jobs over the same period.
“In releasing the energy white paper, the Australian government has agreed with the industry’s calls for gas market reform by increasing gas supplies, improving competition and increasing information about gas supply availability and pricing.
Governments must work together
“We look forward to working with the Australian and, importantly, state governments to ensure that the energy white paper delivers outcomes that support the competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian manufacturing industry.”
Dawson added that gas was only one element in the manufacturing supply chain and he called on the government at all levels to finalise previous reforms around electricity, retail market pricing and privatisation.