AN energy policy green paper is under fire from environmental groups
AN energy policy green paper is under fire from environmental groups Trevor Veale/ The

Australia 'little more than a quarry' in energy green paper

ENVIRONMENTAL groups have warned a new Abbott government energy policy green paper is a replay of "last century's energy options", while the energy supply industry has backed wide-ranging market reforms.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Tuesday released the paper, an early precursor to the government's energy policy, to a mixed reception.

The green paper has laid out draft plans to attract more energy investment, loosen market regulations and lower electricity prices.

But it also maintains strong support for the existing coal and gas industries, and has raised the ire of environmental groups for not focussing on renewable energy options.

Mr Macfarlane said the paper aim to "reset" energy policy, coming only two years after a similar process by then-Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

The report also focuses on building domestic gas supply, but did not advocate a reservation policy, and has reinforced the government's drive for states to sell off energy assets.

But the Australian Conservation Foundations' climate change manager Victoria McKenzie-McHarg said it "positions Australia as little more than a quarry".

She said the paper failed to address two of the "biggest challenges"; growing the renewable energy sector and replacing coal-fired power stations.

But the Energy Supply Association's chief executive Matthew Warren said it highlighted the major changes in addressing energy market reforms.

He said any future policy needed to focus on "changing demand trends, decarbonisation and continuous shocks" from the renewable energy sector.

"These markets are now evolving rapidly with more empowered consumers and an expanding portfolio of new technologies," he said.

"How we respond to this will be crucial to the successful transformation of the Australian energy industry."

The green paper is now out for public comment, before submissions will be taken into account for a white paper, which will lead to an official government energy policy.

- APN NEWSDESK



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