Finkel Report set for Brisbane showdown between state and feds

THIS Friday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Brisbane is expected to bring the Coalition’s response to the Finkel Report to a head.

BRIGHT SPARK: Will the federal government lead on a national energy strategy?

BRIGHT SPARK: Will the federal government lead on a national energy strategy?

It’s been weeks since the chief scientist Alan Finkel’s report was handed down, so what do we know about the plan for a report that is meant to guide the country from 2020 on everything from energy prices to clean energy?

Party room politics

In June, federal member for Wright Scott Buchholz told the Times that the government’s response was taking place behind the closed door of the Coalition party room. Since then there has been very little comment from Coalition members.

What’s in?

According to federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg in a new interview with the ABC, 49 of the 50 recommendations in the Finkel Report are set to be adopted. These include recommendation 3.1: “By 2020, the Australian government should develop a whole-of-economy emissions reduction strategy for 2050”; and a raft of recommendations that would start as early as September, 2017, and across 2018.

What’s out?

The clean energy target – a key recommendation of Dr Finkel’s report – has not been decided on by the Coalition party room yet.

“The government's position on a clean energy target is that we haven't finalised our internal discussions,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“This is a very big decision, to move down the path of a new mechanism. It's one that Dr Finkel himself said should be in place by 2020, so we don't have to rush it.”

Have the feds missed the boat?

During the period the Coalition has been discussing its response to the report, the Times has reported on several local government initiatives on clean energy.

Logan City Council is planning to analyse its carbon footprint as part of its Corporate Plan 2017-2022, with the aim of becoming a carbon-neutral council.

Scenic Rim Regional Council is already benefiting from participation in the Emission Reduction Fund, with a carbon abatement project under way at Bromelton.

What else is going on?

The Logan City suburb of Yarrabilba is one of the first in the state to have an electric car recharging station for residents and travellers; and last month all three levels of government in the Scenic Rim agreed the region is closed to future fossil fuel extraction, although Mr Buchholz has not ruled it out on land that is not for farming and horticulture.

Queensland’S Energy Security Taskforce met for the first time on July 12, ahead of Friday’s COAG meeting.

The taskforce will implement the COAG Energy Council agreed Finkel Review recommendations.

Energy minister Mark Bailey said the state government would not sit idly by and watch the policy paralysis.

“The lack of federal policy leadership has undermined industry investment which has led to an increase of electricity prices across the nation. This is clearly unacceptable,” he said.