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Farmers commend Government’s sensible short-term, gas safeguards

22 June 2017

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed sensible measures taken by the Government this week to provide short-term safeguards for consumers and businesses, including farmers, against power outages and continuing price hikes.

Today the Government will sign into effect new regulations to enable the Minister for Resources to curtail gas companies exporting gas, if there is a prospect of a domestic shortfall.

The Limited Merits Review regime will also be abolished, which will improve affordability in the medium- to long-term.

“These are sensible measures from the Government that will provide sufficient breathing space for our elected representatives to participate in an open and frank discussion about solving the energy trilemma – reliability, affordability and sustainability,” NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.

The Government’s Australian domestic gas security mechanism is ‘targeted’ and ‘temporary’ and seeks to ensure domestic gas users, including electricity generators – are not paying more than their international counterparts for Australian gas.

“As an export-dependent industry, any restraint on international trade is not something our sector would normally subscribe to," Mr Mahar said.

“However, when it comes to the availability of a reliable and affordable gas supply, it makes sense that priority be given to fix the short-term crisis."

Mr Mahar said currently, farmers were not immune from energy pain.
“Farmers rely on energy to power dairy plants, irrigation operations, shearing sheds and in horticulture – refrigerators and packing sheds.

“Year in, year out, farmers have been battling power price rises, in some cases, in excess of 100 per cent. These costs damage a farm business’ profitability and ultimately, its competitiveness.”

The abolition of the Limited Merits Review regime ensures electricity network providers cannot use the courts to undermine the decisions of the Australian Energy Regulator and continue to gouge consumers.

“While this comes too late for some states and territories, it will prevent gouging happening in the future.

“Most importantly, these actions will provide the Parliament space to consider fully what can be an enduring and politically-stable solution to energy reliability, affordability and sustainability,” Mr Mahar said.

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