Both sides of government have taken advantage of recent engagement forums hosted by CCI to lay out their cases for the post-March horizon.
On the day when the start gun was fired for the partial sale of Western Power, Minister for Environment and Heritage Albert Jacob told CCI’s Environment Forum he would use another political term to build on the Barnett Government’s success in conservation and regulation.
Jacob highlighted the current term’s three-fold increase in marine parks, a 90 per cent increase in national park visitations, and the government’s introduction of a new, modern Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Of particular interest to CCI and its Members was Jacob’s foreshadowing of a demonstrable uplift in job opportunities as a result of working closely with Tourism WA to implement his conservation agenda.
On the regulatory side, Jacob said “clarity, consistency, and simplicity” underpinned his approach to the portfolio, a statement that inspired some frank and fearless feedback from CCI Members concerned about burdensome red tape.
Full of energy
Meanwhile, Shadow Minister for State Development, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston spent the afternoon with CCI’s Energy Forum, which comprised a diversity of representatives from industry, including upstream petroleum, resource extraction and midstream-and downstream energy players.
Hot topics raised in the room included one very close to Johnston: how best to establish an energy framework in the state to account for technology disruption in the years ahead.
The conversation gained all the more relevance with the recent failure of Parliament to pass legislation adopting a national framework, which would have seen the regulation of Western Power move from the state’s Economic Regulatory Authority to the federal Australian Energy Regulator.
CCI wrote to both the State Government and WA Opposition calling for the Bills to be prioritised for parliamentary debate in the limited amount of sitting weeks before the March 2017 election, however the Bills were not introduced in time.
Part of the reforms would have led to conditions making it easier for new projects, such as wind and solar projects, to connect to the grid. While not being drawn into what the Opposition would have done if the Bills were introduced into the Lower House for debate, ultimately Johnston sees the need to facilitate conditions for new technologies to enter the market. He recognised that the generation of new ideas for future network technologies is a strong value proposition for WA.
Johnston says more can be done with the Public Utilities Office to future-proof the South West Interconnected System.
He also reaffirmed his belief - an existing bi-partisan policy - that domestic gas reservation is a good policy for the state.