Protesters crash release of energy white paper

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has been interrupted by anti-fossil fuel protesters as he outlined plans to overhaul the national energy market.

The two men took over the podium during Mr Ferguson's speech, accusing him of being a "puppet" of the fossil fuel industry and singing a satirical song about global warning.

The protesters, who appeared to be the same people who interrupted a speech by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week, were eventually ushered off stage after several minutes.

Mr Ferguson used to speech to launch the Government's energy white paper, with a strong focus on giving consumers .

He declared that recent power price rises were "not sustainable" and it would take "political courage" by Commonwealth and state governments to put in place the reforms needed to foster greater competition.

His speech paves the way for tough negotiations between the Prime Minister and premiers at next month's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, something the Coalition suggests is designed to distract attention from the carbon tax.

The white paper includes a significant focus on household power prices, compared with the draft document that was released a year ago, in recognition of the heightened political debate over who is responsible for recent increases.

Mr Abbott says the Government would scrap the carbon tax if it is serious about easing electricity prices.

But Mr Ferguson says the carbon pricing scheme has added only "marginally" to power prices and has instead focused on the need to deregulate the industry and introduce demand-based pricing.

That would allow consumers to slash electricity costs by alerting them to periods of peak demand so they can moderate their power use.

The paper suggests that by 2050, up to 85 per cent of Australia's domestic electricity requirements will be generated through clean energy technologies such as wind and solar.

But it also identifies the need to grow the country's gas industry by removing impediments to onshore and offshore reserves.

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