Sunday Herald Sun - - Opinion -

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


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