Ms Tanna called on the government to speak to its own energy bodies and refer to the recent electricity review carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission before implementing this bill.
“Listen to the experts. Listen to your experts,” she said.
“This bill, if enacted, will not overcome the fundamental shortcomings of Australian energy markets.
“Only adopting the recommendations of your experts will.”
She added, “If enacted, the legislation will embed a layer of uncertainty on top of the public policy vacuum that clouds Australia’s electricity sector.”
“It’s like adding a house of cards on a foundation of quicksand.”
Senate hearing deputy chairman Senator Chris Ketter said the government’s bill “appears to be a solution in search of a problem.”
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also called on the government to halt the bill and consult with both industry and its own experts to develop a solution to high power prices.
“We encourage the government to pause this bill and do a review on what is really needed to implement the ACCC recommendations,” ACCI director Jenny Lambert said.
Ms Tanna said both this bill,and government plans to subsidise new power stations were damaging commercial investment into the sector, pushing investment risks on to taxpayers,
“Australians need policy that encourages investment in new capacity – investment that is not funded by taxpayers,” she said.
The Australian Energy Market Operator estimated that the sector will need an investment of between $8 billion and $27 billion in new generation over the next two decades.
Electricity generator and retailer Powershop is already considering pulling back on its planned investments.
“Already the mere threat of this legislation has made us question whether we should hold back on, or require greater returns from, investments which we are currently contemplating,” Powershop CEO Ed McManus said.
“The only prudent response that an investor can take to this increased uncertainty is to increase the required returns from any such investment with this leading to higher prices and or delayed investment, placing reliability at risk.”
Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.