Big business laments NEG in front of PM

Luke Costin

The chair of Australia's peak big business lobby has told Prime Minister Scott Morrison he laments the coalition's failure to pass "sensible energy and environment policy".

Business Council of Australia chairman Grant King mourned the scrapped National Energy Guarantee during a speech on Wednesday night at the council's annual dinner.

With the prime minister on the head table, Mr King told the dinner many of his members had worked hard on the NEG.

"This is a matter that many of our members feel very strongly about," he said.

"Whilst we certainly know the importance of competitive energy prices for companies and the community, the issues are more complex than this.

"The community expect all jurisdictions across all levels of government to work with business to deliver leadership on this issue."

The NEG, the coalition's one-time signature energy plan, was abandoned when Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as prime minister.

Mr Morrison insisted in October the government was still pursuing a reliability guarantee with state and territory governments, a feature of the NEG.

Mr King said "sensible energy and environment policy" was one of the two most significant policy issues the BCA advocated for in 2018.

The other - a more competitive tax rate for big business - also failed to make it to law.

"This (tax) issue will not go away and it will certainly be addressed by a future parliament," he said.

Mr King said he feared that in the absence of major economic reform, the prospects for Australia's future will diminish.

"In short, growth matters and we need good policy to drive growth," he said of the BCA's 2019 agenda.