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Orderly transition to clean energy vital

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016 Katina Curtis

The energy industry and communities which rely on it for jobs face the same dire future as car-making unless the federal government ensures a fair and predictable move to clean energy.

A panel of 17 eminent Australians, including environmentalists and electricity company executives, has provided a blueprint for how that orderly transition could take place.

It includes restructuring the energy market to meet modern needs, speeding up the closure of coal-fired power plants and helping people who rely on them for jobs, and creating an attractive environment for clean energy investment.

Australian Conservation Foundation president Geoff Cousins, who brought the panel together, said the nation had seen dramatic evidence of what could happen without a plan.

"In the automobile industry people clung on to the thought that somehow things could stay as they always were, subsidies were kept in place and then finally jobs were lost and there was no plan to recreate them," he said.

"The whole purpose of our blueprint is to try and get, probably for the first time in the history of Australia, an industry to transition in an orderly fashion."

Award-winning author Geraldine Brooks lays out the stark choice Australia faces: a fair and predictable transition to clean energy or clinging onto old ways for as long as possible then a chaotic, disruptive chase to catch up with the rest of the world.

The industry acknowledges change is needed with the energy market and regulatory structure two decades old and Australia's coal power stations nearing the end of their useful lives.

"The energy transition is inevitable, it's unavoidable," Infigen Energy managing director Miles George said at the report's launch in Canberra.

"Our only choice is to make it fair and orderly for all Australians."

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the blueprint would be valuable for Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's examination of energy market security as well as the government's review next year of its climate policies.

"We don't necessarily see eye to eye with every recommendation in this report but that's not the point of it," he said, thanking the panel for taking the time to think about the nation's future challenges.

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