PM backs gas as key player in energy transition

PM backs gas as key player in energy transition

Greens leader Adam Bandt said on Monday the government needed to “shift a bit” in return for the Greens support for the safeguard mechanism, and he again suggested a climate trigger be inserted in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

“The government is going to need to shift a bit if they want to get legislation through the Senate. We are prepared to shift.”

But Mr Albanese will tell the summit that gas is an essential part of the picture.

“Everyone recognises that the global transition to net zero will take time. Equally, we understand there is no time to waste,” he says in comments prepared for delivery.

“The work of transition will require massive investment in building new physical assets and modifying existing ones.

“This is where gas in particular has a key role to play, as a flexible source of energy – providing peaking power today and continuing to provide firming and back-up power. Helping to smooth the transition to renewables, while guaranteeing energy security both for Australia and for our partners in the region.”

Mr Albanese says it’s only fair that if business is to take capital decisions over long timeframes, it is “important they can look to government for the confidence and certainty of a stable foundation and a long-term vision”.

Mr Albanese’s speech, his first to the summit as prime minister, will be delivered to an audience largely wary of his government’s policy agenda, especially on industrial relations.

“We want to work with business, to get things done, for the good of the nation,” he will say.

“We understand that to deliver reform, people need to know where you are coming from, as well as where you want to go.

“So when my colleagues come to you, as business leaders, seeking your input, be assured it is not for the sake of it, or the look of it.

“It’s not to pad out a report to put on the shelf. We want you involved and engaged in the work of change and reform.”

He will mention as an example last year’s Jobs and Skills Summit. At that event, many in businesses felt ambushed over what they believed to be a predetermined policy outcome on industrial relations, including the multi-employer bargaining provisions.

But the prime minister will note business also did well out of that event through such outcomes as increasing the permanent migration intake to 195,000 and fast-tracked visa processing, as well as policies the government had already promised and announced at the summit.

These include the creation of Jobs and Skills Australia and expanding publicly funded paid parental leave to 26 weeks from 18 weeks.

Mr Albanese will seek the assistance of business to help achieve “genuine renewal and reform”, saying the shortcomings identified during the pandemic should not be dismissed in the belief they were a once-in-a-century event and “that things will gently return to normal”.

He will say Australia needs to restore sovereign manufacturing capacity, through the establishment of the $15 billion, off-budget National Reconstruction Fund, the legislation for which the government is also trying to push though parliament.

Mr Albanese also identifies energy security, skills cyber security and the government’s aspiration for universal, free child care.

“We have before us a window of opportunity, a chance for genuine renewal and reform,” he says.

“But we have to move fast because other countries have seen the same signs.”

He says it is unrealistic for the government and business to always agree.

“No reform worth doing is wholly uncontested,” he will say.

“But I think we all come to this conversation with the understanding that turning away from this window of opportunity, hitting snooze on this wake-up call, settling for a slow decline as the world forges ahead, is simply not good enough.”

Mr Albanese travels to India on Wednesday to try to further trade relations between the two nations and help Australian exporters diversify away from China.

He will be accompanied by 25 business leaders from the transport, resources, finance, higher education, architecture and energy sectors.

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