National Farmers' Federation

NFF supports a comprehensive plan to fix the energy market but expresses caution over targets

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) remains supportive of measures that will fix Australia’s broken energy market.
“The system is compromised and it needs bipartisan commitment and cooperation for farming and the broader economy to get on with doing business,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“Farmers need policy that addresses reliability, sustainability and affordability and allows our industry to grow.
“Accordingly, we welcome all plans that propose a path through our nation’s energy policy consternation.
“Labor’s plan lays out a series of investment initiatives that identify and address a number of the key issues for an economy transitioning to a renewable energy base.”
Mr Mahar said the plan’s strategies of: expanding funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; facilitating investment in targeted and necessary interconnectors and support for the National Energy Guarantee, had merit.
“Investment in interconnectivity and transmission links to renewable energy hubs are also sensible. As is investment for community hubs, especially where they can be implemented in regional areas.”
Mr Mahar said new investment in large scale generation and storage together, would support an orderly transition.
“The NFF remains technology agnostic. We have been clear in our concern that any transitioning to renewables needs to be done at a strategic pace that allows new technologies to be stored for dispatch (firmed).
“Establishing a large scale renewable dependencies without this support risks perverse reliability outcomes.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF’s Roadmap for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 required sustainable growth to meet an ever increasing food and fibre demand.
“Significant impacts from high energy costs, unreliability or burdens from over ambitious emissions reduction targets not implemented in the correct way, may prevent Australian farmers from reaching our $100 billion vision.
Mr Mahar acknolwedged that Labor’s plan to transition to renewables set significantly high targets.
“A 45% emissions reduction target and 50% renewable energy are at the high end and we need to ensure they do not have a perverse impact on the economy.”
“The farm sector is a price taker and energy consumers risk being adversely affected by over ambitious aspirations.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF supported the National Energy Guarantee at a minimum of 26% emissions reduction.
“This was caveated to ensure that accelerated investment in renewables did not adversely affect price and reliability.
“We want to ensure a target of 45% sends appropriate signals that support an affordable and low cost transition to new energy sources while balancing the clear need for baseload affordable power.”
“Equally a 50% renewable energy target is well beyond the current bipartisan agreement.
Modelling by the Australian Farm Institute revealed energy costs (including electricity) averaged 9% of farm input costs and are much higher in more intensive industries, for example irrigation or horticulture industries.
“These are therefore important input costs to manage and will underpin the future viability and growth of many agricultural sectors,” Mr Mahar said.

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