Labor asks government to talk about energy

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has asked the Government to talk about energy (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has dismissed an olive branch extended by Labor on energy policy as a backflip.

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the offer is genuine as he hopes to short-circuit Australia's endless energy debate by negotiating a new, bipartisan deal.

He made the offer in a letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison late on Tuesday.

Mr Frydenberg said it was hard to know how serious Labor was about the truce.

He pointed to recent comments by Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler, who crticised the government's emissions policy,

"This reminds me about that Groucho Marx saying, 'Well if you don't like these principles I've got others'," Mr Frydenberg told Sky on Wednesday.

"Our focus has always been on technology, not taxation."

Mr Albanese said it was a genuine offer, with his party flexible on a new framework.

"I firmly believe that action on climate change can actually reduce emissions but also create jobs and reduce power prices," he told the ABC.

The government released an energy technology road map in May outlining what fuel sources could be used to meet Australia's emissions reduction obligations.

It highlighted the key role of gas and new hydrogen technologies to underpin solar and wind power generation.

Public comment on it closed on Sunday.

Mr Albanese says there is little for Labor to quibble with in the road map but it doesn't amount to an actual energy policy.

"It represents an opportunity that we have an obligation to build upon," he writes in the letter to Mr Morrison.

"That is why I am writing to propose that the government and the opposition commence negotiations on a bipartisan energy framework that will deliver on the promise of your draft technology road map as well as the jobs and investment we desperately need."

Labor would come to the table with an open mind rather than a specific policy, he says.

Past policies developed under Malcolm Turnbull's leadership were scuttled in part because some coalition MPs were cautious about working with Labor on any climate change-related policy.

Mr Ablanese says Labor will back further development of carbon capture and storage - something advocated by coalition backbenchers - as long as the money doesn't come from existing government clean energy financing sources.

The opposition wants the government to re-fund the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which helps to back emerging technologies.

It has also promised a Labor government would respect all contracts under the Emission Reduction Fund, although it opposes its existence.

"As we address the greatest health and economic crisis we have seen for generations, it is only by working together that we can deliver the leadership Australian business and families are crying out for," Mr Albanese writes.

He will discuss the importance of science and listening to experts in charting the way out of the coronavirus pandemic and moving to a greener future in a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

© AAP 2020