Lack of en­ergy leaves bur­den

I’m not a com­men­ta­tor but...

The Gympie Times - - NEWS - Colin Clar­idge

AS THE se­cu­rity fenc­ing goes up around Par­lia­ment House this week, we can feel the slight pangs of re­gret, the fence wasn’t erected in time to keep the blighters in. Be­cause par­lia­ment has now risen; al­low­ing all those fed­eral pol­lies to go free range un­til Oc­to­ber 16.

This last ses­sion was dom­i­nated by two is­sues: dual cit­i­zen­ship and elec­tric­ity. For all of La­bor’s huff­ing and puff­ing, noth­ing can be achieved con­cern­ing the for­mer un­til the High Court makes its rul­ing. So La­bor’s con­stant dis­rup­tions to Ques­tion Time were ab­so­lutely point­less.

On the sec­ond is­sue, our politi­cians con­tinue to be in a state of paral­y­sis. Like most things, when they get hold of an is­sue and use it to flog each other with, a state of chronic numb­ness sets in, pre­vent­ing any real progress.

Some couldn’t re­sist the temp­ta­tion to lay the blame on the power gen­er­a­tors. But surely, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for this mess lies squarely at the feet of the politi­cians.

Par­tic­u­larly in the south­ern states, the sell-off of power as­sets to the pri­vate sec­tor was all well and good. But the past decade or so of pol­icy fail­ure by both ma­jor par­ties has re­sulted in an en­vi­ron­ment hardly con­ducive to said power gen­er­a­tors be­ing en­cour­aged to in­vest to the level that was re­quired to guar­an­tee ei­ther re­li­able sup­ply or af­ford­able power. So, it seems re­ally disin­gen­u­ous for the cur­rent Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to be stron­garm­ing power com­pa­nies over keep­ing the coal fires burning.

Af­ter all, in the free mar­ket econ­omy that the politi­cians laud so much, why would any com­pany want to con­tinue to pour money into keep­ing costly and an­ti­quated sta­tions run­ning. Isn’t profit the prime con­sid­er­a­tion in a free mar­ket econ­omy? So, why would they when the mar­ket is driv­ing the bus to­wards other en­ergy sources, re­gard­less of what the po­lit­i­cal agenda of some would dic­tate? It’s a whole new level of bizarre when you have some Na­tional Party MPs at­tack­ing the power com­pa­nies for pan­der­ing to the loopy left. It’s just too easy to blame some­one else, when it’s po­lit­i­cally pop­u­lar to knock the power com­pa­nies.

Sure, the ALP and The Greens moved too quickly down the re­new­ables track, but at least they were show­ing some form of move­ment on the is­sue. The un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity is that en­ergy pol­icy has be­come mired in the short-sighted fo­cus on the three year elec­tion cy­cle, rather than tak­ing the long-term view.

At some point (and by their very na­ture) fos­sil fu­els are go­ing to be ex­hausted. Con­ve­niently, it won’t be in the next cou­ple of elec­tion cy­cles and hence, the be­lief that we can con­tinue to run coal and gas fired plants un­til at least the cur­rent mob have left the build­ing (both metaphor­i­cally and ac­tu­ally). How­ever, the mar­ket is clearly dic­tat­ing an en­ergy fu­ture based on ad­vanced re­new­able tech­nolo­gies. Reliance on fos­sil fu­els is not sus­tain­able in the long term and the longer our politi­cians con­tinue to put ob­sta­cles in the way of de­vel­op­ment then, the fur­ther be­hind we will be, com­pared to our trad­ing part­ners.

Con­ser­va­tive politi­cians, in par­tic­u­lar, have this mantra when it comes to fis­cal pol­icy that we should not be leav­ing our grand­chil­dren to pay our debts. So, aren’t we also do­ing them the same dis­ser­vice by leav­ing it to them to make the ad­vance­ments in af­ford­able and re­li­able re­new­ables be­cause it’s too po­lit­i­cally dam­ag­ing for US to be bit­ing the bul­let? Of course it’s ex­pen­sive at present. Of course the tech­nol­ogy is still in its in­fancy.

But what com­pa­nies are go­ing to in­vest when they have no clue as to pol­icy di­rec­tion from one elec­tion to the next?

The Na­tional Party’s de­ci­sion to push back on the chief sci­en­tist’s ad­vice for a Clean En­ergy Tar­get shows ab­so­lute, mind-bog­gling ar­ro­gance. Ap­par­ently, the boys from the bush think they know bet­ter than the ac­tual ex­perts. Their call to put a ceil­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of re­new­able tech­nolo­gies in favour of so-called “clean” coal is a mid-term re­me­dial fix at best. It pro­vides gov­ern­ment with a li­cence to con­tinue to do noth­ing for the next 30 or so years. It pro­vides them with a li­cence to leave the bur­den to the next gen­er­a­tions.

On the sec­ond is­sue, our politi­cians con­tinue to be in a state of paral­y­sis.

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