A joint letter from 16 groups across the political and social spectrum has called for immediate action on the National Energy Guarantee.

Representatives of Australia's businesses, communities, environment, energy industry and workers are calling on the Commonwealth and States to work together to develop the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as a top priority.

Australians are living in an age of high electricity prices and rising emissions, with more reliability and cost challenges on the way if the retirement of ageing generators is not managed well. 

But the business sector says the private investment needed to stimulate change will not come without a framework for long-term energy and climate policy.

The groups behind the joint statement admit the NEG is far from perfect, but say that with no apparent alternatives at present, agreement should be made to create certainty (and an investment pipeline) as soon as possible.

They want it to be the first part of a wider energy and climate policy reform agenda including the Finkel reforms, the National Energy Productivity Plan, the Climate Change Policy Review and more. 

The statement says Australia needs:

  • Competitive, transparent and liquid electricity markets and efficient investment to deliver the lowest sustainable costs to energy users
  • A credible, scalable and enduring settlement of climate policy for the electricity sector to help ensure Australia meets our commitments under the Paris Agreement
  • Confidence for investment in the full range of energy services we need to maintain an affordable and reliable electricity system as old generators retire and emissions decline consistent with our Paris Agreement commitments
  • Comfort that any impacts on industry and the community are understood, equitable and well managed, including maintaining the competitiveness of trade exposed industries, protecting vulnerable households, and ensuring a just transition for electricity sector workers and communities

The letter seeks to inform the COAG Energy Council meeting in Hobart this week, calling on ministers to agree on a work plan and full consultation to resolve the many unanswered questions about the NEG.

The statement has been endorsed by:

Australian Aluminium Council
Australian Council of Social Services
Australian Council of Trade Unions
Australian Energy Council
Australian Industry Group
Australian Steel Institute
Brotherhood of St Laurence
Cement Industry Federation
Clean Energy Council
Energy Efficiency Council
Energy Networks Australia
Energy Users Association of Australia
Investor Group on Climate Change
National Farmers' Federation
St Vincent de Paul Society
WWF Australia