In a move set to widen the gap between Australia’s two main political parties’ stance on energy, Labor has confirmed that it will be pushing for a cleaner energy grid as it focuses its policy on energy efficiency and a move away from coal.
Current Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal party has said that it will not move toward a more climate-friendly economy at the cost of jobs, Key ministers have already stated that coal can remain a part of the energy makeup for now.
This view may be at odds with how the world is looking to combat the effects of climate change, as coal is one of the dirtier fuels available. Even major mining companies such as Rio Tinto have signaled their intent in recent weeks to shift away from fossil fuels and move into more sustainable assets.
Energy policy has long been the bane of Australian politicians, as both sides struggle to find common ground on any sort of deal to pass it through parliament.
Morrison replaced former leader Malcolm Turnbull after the latter failed to get key support from either side of the political spectrum to usher through the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). Energy has also been a sticking point for their predecessors over the last decade, and it appears that any hope of bipartisan deals is dead in the water following Labor’s shift toward making a cleaner energy policy a priority.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s party should take a two-pronged approach as it looks to woo voters from across the political divide. One front will focus on a raft of energy-efficiency measures, as Labor hopes to get the vital support of coal workers by promising them a transition and training into greener energy jobs.
As Labor prepares for a potential election next year and readies itself into campaign mode, it hopes to put its energy policy front and center. Labor’s goal is a clear method of delivery that will entice many Australians who may be tired of the back-and-forth instability caused by any lack of agreement on a national energy policy over the long term.
Labor’s policy, termed Labor’s Plan to Tackle Australia’s Energy Crisis, will officially launch at an event in Sydney on Thursday hosted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Previously, there was hope that a deal with Labor’s support would cross the floor under Turnbull’s tenure, but other members of the Liberal party ended up opposing it.
Labor intends to say that instead of focusing on getting any potential bill through parliament, it will concentrate on winning the election first. The Senate could still veto Labor’s plan if it chooses to, so the initiative is not a mechanism with any guarantees.
The opposition party hopes to capitalize on the growing momentum behind the need to combat climate change more effectively through solid policy and moving Australia toward greater adoption of renewable energy. How the polls respond to this is yet unknown, but a more obvious discrepancy in policy between Liberal and Labor might help indicate where voter sentiment lies.