WE CAN’T RENEW THE TRUTH
IN THE past few days, I’ve been in Brisbane, Darwin, Longreach, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide and Portarlington. I’ve never been one of those people who get their political insight from the ivory tower of inner-city Leftie land, the echo chamber of the ABC or the invective of Twitter. For me, asking ordinary people what worries them, what they’d fix if they were in the top job, what’s working (and what isn’t) is far better than any two-bit “wisdom” from insiders who don’t live in the real world. So it was no surprise that despite Canberra’s obsession with samesex marriage, the only issue people want to discuss is the madness of Australia’s energy crisis and the skyrocketing cost of their electricity.
With the world’s most abundant resources of coal, gas and uranium, Australia’s power prices are some of the highest in the world. It doesn’t add up and everyone knows it, or at least we understand it better now that the rosecoloured glasses have come off with the arrival of ever-increasing power bills.
It was all so much easier a decade or so ago when we could tick the climate change box and the only cost was empathy. Now it’s billions of dollars every year to shut down baseload power and support renewable energy to end up with more expensive and far less reliable electricity.
It hardly seems believable, yet this is Australia’s energy policy at work.
Let’s take the example of the subsidy scam.
As consumers, we pay twice — firstly, with higher household bills, and secondly, as taxpayers via some $3 billion per year in subsidies for renewables. Worryingly, estimates put the overall cost of subsidising renewables at $60 billion by 2030. To put it into perspective, that’s 60 new world-class public hospitals or a serious boost to our national road network.
Instead, with the majority of windfarms owned by foreign companies, and soon to increase to almost 70 per cent, this is money we’re sending overseas. It sounds like a joke only it isn’t. It’s your money and that’s never funny, because none of us earn enough that we can give it to Canberra to waste.
But let me give you the latest example of sheer madness.
A few week’s ago, the Liberal Party’s Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, announced $100 million for Macquarie Leasing to provide buyers with discounted financing to improve the take-up of electric cars. With many of the Tesla models in the $200k-plus mark, this taxpayer support will end up in the pocket of highincome purchasers. Having only recently stopped propping up Australia’s local car industry with taxpayer support, it doesn’t seem right to line the pockets of US billionaire Elon Musk, but that’s not the only issue I have with this scheme.
More electric cars equal lower emissions — or so the theory goes; at least that’s how it works in many of the European case studies proffered by advocates. But as explained to me by an MP with his head around the energy problem, it doesn’t work like that in Australia and here’s why. In France, the energy mix is about 75 per cent nuclear, which is a zero emissions baseload power. Replacing diesel or petrol with cars charged predominantly by nuclear power lowers emissions. In Australia, the result is not the same because we don’t have nuclear power and our baseload power is still predominantly coal-driven, especially at night when most people might charge their electric cars. Coal has greater emissions than diesel or petrol, which means, here at least, moving to an electric option increases emissions, rather than lowers them. Makes the $100 million subsidy seems like a stupid waste of money — or just plain stupid — doesn’t it?
It’s time for the Coalition to end this farce and scrap any plans for a new Clean Energy Target — or whatever else they might call it — as well as suspending the RET. Malcolm Turnbull must do more than just talk about extending existing baseload power stations and commit to new HighEfficiency Low-Emission (HELE) coal-fired power stations, the same HELE stations that are being built around the world to burn the coal we will export to them, but won’t use ourselves.
If the Prime Minister’s only answer is Snowy 2.0 because he can’t say the word “coal”, it won’t help us because Snowy 2.0 is sixplus years away and will cost billions when new coal-fired power stations can be under way immediately in all states and territories, and provide virtually endless reliable and affordable power. In the end, Malcolm Turnbull is still the same man that crossed the floor to vote with Labor to establish an emissions trading scheme and I’ve seen nothing to date to show he’s woken up to the reality of Australia’s energy crisis.
Yes, you’ve got every right to be angry — Australia is committing economic suicide, and it will be you and your children who pay the price. PETA CREDLIN IS A SUNDAY HERALD SUN COLUMNIST