Andrew McKellar interview with Ross Greenwood, Sky News Business Now

Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Ross Greenwood, Sky News Business Now.
Speakers: Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Ross Greenwood, host Sky News Business Now.
Date: 4 August 2022.
Topics: Climate Change Bill, energy supply and reliability, ACCC gas inquiry July 2022 interim report, battery storage, transmission infrastructure.


Ross Greenwood, host Sky News Business Now: Andrew McKellar is the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who joins me live from Canberra. Andrew, many thanks for your time. You have welcomed the part passage of this bill and the agreement that’s taken place. Many of your members rely on 24/7 power. Are they going to be compromised, their businesses in the future?

Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Good afternoon, Ross. I think the importance behind this bill and the plan that the government has put forward, really for businesses, that it provides certainty. I think it is fundamental. There is a link, as you say, between the energy requirements that the Australian economy has and this plan. We have to invest more in the renewable energy capacity and linking that into the power network. We can’t afford to see the sort of chaos that we’ve had in recent months with the electricity market, with the gas market. We need to make sure that we are investing for that long term reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy supply that’s absolutely critical to business and to households.

Ross: Yeah. But I don’t think there’s anybody in Australia who doesn’t agree with you, that we want cheap, affordable, plentiful electricity and gas, or whatever the source might be in Australia. But I’m just sitting here and looking, some of your members, the Australian Steel Institute, the Australian Roofing Tile Association, the Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia, the Concrete Masonry Association, the pharmaceuticals companies in Australia, they are all big energy users. Is their future compromised? Your member’s future compromised as a result of the passing of this bill, as a result of not having reliable electricity long term in Australia?

Andrew: Well, no, I don’t think it’s compromised, on the contrary. But clearly, we have to have a transitional plan. And one of the things that we’ve seen in the last several months is that the situation is unacceptable. We’ve seen an ACCC report in relation to the gas market in the last day or so, saying that we risk a shortfall in the next 12 months. So look, we obviously have to cover those immediate requirements, but we have to plan for the future. We have to ensure that we don’t perpetuate that existing situation because that is completely unacceptable. So we think-.

Ross: Okay. So one of the things right now… I was going to say, one of the things right now is that batteries seem to be a part of that solution long term. But are your members confident right now? They are telling you that they’re confident that there is sufficient technological capability in those batteries to allow that 24/7 electricity?

Andrew: Look, clearly, we are going to have that firming capacity in the near term. It’s not about losing the capacity that we have. Obviously, sources of energy, including gas, will be a part of the solution for the foreseeable future. And we have to make sure that is there. We can’t give that away. But yes, we do have to invest in that renewable capacity. We have to be able to respond to the changes in demand, it has to be switchable. So yes, technologies like batteries are going to be part of that solution into the future, they already are to some extent. And of course, over the next several years, that technology will continue to advance. So we have to plan for that and we have to invest in the distribution network to ensure we can deliver that power as well.

Ross: Andrew McKellar from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Many thanks for your time on the program today.

Andrew: Thanks, Ross.

Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

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