Ahead of the upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection, Opposition Leader, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, has given his sixth ‘vision statement’ at the National Press Club Address. His speech outlined the Labor Party’s renewed focus on ‘science based’ policy, particularly in the energy and manufacturing portfolios.
Today’s speech links back to Mr Albanese’s previous vision statements on the Future of Work and his view for Australia’s road to recovery from COVID-19.
The Nexus team has analysed the Opposition Leader’s Press Club Address, and we present our key insights on the Opposition’s Post-COVID agenda:
BIPARTISAN ENERGY FRAMEWORK
With the construction of Adani and Energy Policy playing a role in Labor’s defeat in the 2019 Federal election, Mr Albanese outlined Labor’s support for clean coal projects, carbon capture and storage technology CCS – while criticising the Morrison Government for abandoning the NEG, saying that the Government “turned their back for a time on the prospect of an enduring bipartisan energy policy”.
Mr Albanese’s speech built upon Labor’s announcement earlier this year supporting Independent MP, Ms Zali Steggall OAM MP’s proposal for net zero emissions in Australia by 2050. However, Labor’s median term emissions targets remain unconfirmed.
Mr Albanese emphasised the importance of seizing the bipartisan COVID-19 political environment, saying that “We have an opportunity to move past partisan approaches to energy policy, to draw on the community’s clear desire for more bipartisan approaches to difficult policy areas, and to finally deliver an enduring, effective and bipartisan energy policy for Australia”.
Mr Albanese has written to the Prime Minister coinciding with his address, proposing a bipartisan framework on energy policy that can be scaled in ambition depending on which party is in government.
Additionally, Labor will no longer push for the resurrection of the National Energy Guarantee and is providing support to the government’s energy technology road map.
SCIENCE BASED POLICY AGENDA
Attempting to challenge the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP to use the post COVID-19 recovery to display genuine bipartisanship in the service of fixing outstanding policy issues, Mr Albanese outlined the importance of Australian science innovation and the need for greater R&D funding.
Mr Albanese criticized the previous Abbott Government for “hollowing out the CSIRO”, and blamed the Morrison Government for low levels of R&D funding, noting that “R&D investment has fallen below 2 per cent of GDP – below countries like South Korea, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, and Singapore.”
Mr Albanese went on to say “Unless we invest in R&D we will only be able to read the story of our proud manufacturing history, when we should be writing the next chapter”.
Despite criticising R&D investment levels, Mr Albanese has echoed the sentiment of the Prime Minister in recent weeks outlining his focus on utilising innovative policy solutions based on science, saying that the policy agenda needs to be based on and guided by scientific facts rather than by ideological ideals.
Mr Albanese’s call for bipartisan energy policy and repositioning on NEG comes as Labor and the Coalition accelerate their campaigns in the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro, where climate change and bushfire recovery are key issues.
With the Morrison Government announcing additional funding for primary producers recovering from the bushfires, Labor will hope that announcing its new energy platform will secure votes from those concerned with climate change in Eden-Monaro.
Look out for our weekly email this Saturday, where we will explore the fallout from the Opposition Leader’s Press Club Address and the possible implications of the bipartisan energy framework for business and industry.