Labor asks government to talk on energy

Labor is offering to short-circuit the seemingly endless arguments over Australia’s energy policy by starting negotiations over a new, bipartisan deal.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has made the offer in a letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison late on Tuesday.

The government released an energy technology road map in May outlining what fuel sources could be used to meet Australia’s emissions reduction obligations.

It highlighted the key role of gas and new hydrogen technologies to underpin solar and wind power generation.

Public comment on it closed on Sunday.

Mr Albanese says there is little for Labor to quibble with in the road map but it doesn’t amount to an actual energy policy.

“It represents an opportunity that we have an obligation to build upon,” he writes in the letter to Mr Morrison.

“That is why I am writing to propose that the government and the opposition commence negotiations on a bipartisan energy framework that will deliver on the promise of your draft technology road map as well as the jobs and investment we desperately need.”

Labor would come to the table with an open mind rather than a specific policy, he says.

Past policies developed under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership were scuttled in part because some coalition MPs were cautious about working with Labor on any climate change-related policy.

Mr Ablanese says Labor will back further development of carbon capture and storage – something advocated by coalition backbenchers – as long as the money doesn’t come from existing government clean energy financing sources.

The opposition wants the government to re-fund the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which helps to back emerging technologies.

It has also promised a Labor government would respect all contracts under the Emission Reduction Fund, although it opposes its existence.

“As we address the greatest health and economic crisis we have seen for generations, it is only by working together that we can deliver the leadership Australian business and families are crying out for,” Mr Albanese writes.

He will discuss the importance of science and listening to experts in charting the way out of the coronavirus pandemic and moving to a greener future in a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

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