Former foreign minister Julie Bishop wants the federal government to come to an agreement with Labor over its dumped energy policy, now the opposition has put it back on the table.
Bipartisan agreement on the National Energy Guarantee was needed to secure private-sector investment in the energy sector, Ms Bishop told the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday.
“The generators need long-term certainty to give them confidence to make large-scale capital investments that will provide affordable and reliable energy, and with an appropriate level of return,” she said.
The coalition officially scrapped the National Energy Guarantee in September, after debate over the policy played a key role in the downfall of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
But Labor has now thrown its support behind the NEG, leaving business leaders briefly hopeful of an end to the decade-long climate wars in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly dashed those hopes on Friday, refusing to back the plan developed by now treasurer and then energy minister Josh Frydenberg.
The NEG was the only policy that could achieve the “elusive” bipartisanship on energy business is craving, Ms Bishop said.
The government’s current approach to energy involves prioritising reducing household power costs, including by taking a “big stick” to energy companies through new divestiture laws.
Ms Bishop said reliability and affordability of energy is important but “this must and has to be balanced with concerns for our environment and preservation for our planet”.
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said Ms Bishop was right to suggest the NEG was the best chance for a solution to the energy crisis, adding it was not too late for Mr Morrison to get on board.
“We have two weeks of parliament set for the rest of the year. We are ready to start discussions this afternoon on finishing the work of the National Energy Guarantee,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Turnbull will buy into the debate next week when he gives a speech on “opportunities for a clean energy transition” at the NSW Smart Energy Summit in Sydney.