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Business Council of Australia critical of government's extreme energy plan

Staff Writer |
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has condemned the government's energy plan as "ad hoc and extreme".

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n a submission to the Treasury regarding the energy policy, BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott declared that the government's price regulation measure was a "heavy-handed, intrusive treasurer-ordered" remedy that "sets a dangerous precedent for other sectors of the economy and threatens our economic attractiveness".

The BCA is comprised of the chief executives of more than 100 of Australia's biggest companies, making it the largest and most powerful business lobby group in the country.

"The business council supports lower electricity prices but does not believe this will be achieved by ad hoc and extreme intervention in the electricity market, which brings new risks, unintended consequences and has never worked before," the submission said.

Westacott's submission was a response to energy policies proposed by Angus Taylor, the minister for Energy, which could see power companies broken up if they are found to have engaged in price gouging.

The Australian Energy Council (AEC), which represents 22 major electricity and gas firms, in November questioned whether the government has the legal right to pursue the policy after receiving legal advice that it could be unconstitutional.

Despite strong opposition to the policy, Taylor has repeatedly said he would not back down from his position.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) on Thursday launched its alternative energy plan, including a 15 billion Australian dollars program to promote renewable energy sources.

ALP leader Bill Shorten promised that his party would introduce a 50 percent renewable energy target (RET) and 45 percent emissions reduction target from 2005 levels by 2030 if victorious at the 2019 election.

However, the BCA has raised concerns over the interventionist nature of Labor's policy.

"We have consistently called for a minimalist approach to market intervention," Westacott said in a media release on Thursday.

"Much of the detail still needs to be worked through, including the underwriting and investment program for low-emissions generation."

"In such a complex policy area it is important that a thorough consultation process with industry occurs, drawing on evidence-based policy. If the last decade has shown anything, it's that the devil is in the detail, and we need to get that right."

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