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June 02, 2004

Energy: threadbare policy

I've been working all day trying to get my head around energy. It's a tough policy area. Then late in the afternoon I had a moment to glance through the papers and saw this cartoon in the Australian Financial Review.


I smiled. How true. The Howard Government doesn't have an national energy policy, apart from protecting the coal and aluminium industries at all costs. There was little in the recent Budget.

From what I have been able to gather McFarlane's Industry Department has been captured by the energy intensive industries. McFarlane cannot see beyond coal. They are in favour of an efficient and competitive national energy market, but they remain utterly opposed to renewable energy.

It is not providing effective policy leadership, does not have a game plan apart from protecting coal, and has little in the way of energy market reform.

Maybe the Howard Government is going to announce its national energy policy in the near future? At the moment it is not clear how its energies policies will satisfy the objectives of sustaining the environment and also maintaining economic growth.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 2, 2004 08:12 PM

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And at this stage it's not clear how anyone's energy policies could satisfy the objectives of sustaining the environment and maintaining economic growth. There's the rub as to why it's business as usual for us all.

Posted by: Observa at June 3, 2004 09:22 AM

Why does australia need an energy policy? Do we also need an egg-timer policy?

If you want to put your own money into expensive, unreliable enery sources such as wind and solar, feel free. Just dont pick my pocket in order to do so.

Posted by: Aaron at June 3, 2004 10:36 AM


Between your duality of changing science and unchanging green religion sits public policy. It is the Howard Government that is talking about an energy policy, not just me.

Why do you mention only renewables? I presume you use electricity to power your home and office. I also presume you pay for this energy and so are a consumer in the energy market.

Is not your pocket being picked? Ours are in SA. Or don't you care that we South Australians subsidise your pocket with 30% increase in electricity prices.

We have been sold a lie. The reason for the deregulation and dismantling of electric utilities iwasdone in the name of lower consumer power bills.

A national energy market needs to be created. Around $16 billion needs to be invested in energy to modernize the infrastructure and to meet future demand. Is not that a part of an energy policy?

I fail to see the egg beater analogy myself.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 3, 2004 12:57 PM

that may be the case.

However, sustaining the environment and maintaining economic growth is a problem SA is going to have to face.

Adelaide's future does depend on solving that problem.

It is not doing very well at the moment. Mostly talk and not enough action.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 3, 2004 01:01 PM

Why do markets need to be "created"? They will arrise spontaneously if there is demand.

Shortages are created by governments and their regulations, such as the forcing of energy producers to invest in renewables.

Posted by: Aaron at June 3, 2004 01:08 PM


energy markets have to be created in Australia because energy was once run by public utilities and controlled by state governments.

(Just like water in the Murray Darling Basin)

Is not creating markets a driving impetus of the CoAG reform process and National Competition Policy?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 3, 2004 01:39 PM

Just ask the Californians about energy policy and would they like their options over again.

I suspect that we will slide into exactly the same abyss without a coherent plan.

Posted by: woodsy at June 3, 2004 03:11 PM

IMO the best 'plan' for energy is to introduce carbon and resource use taxation only. Abandon all other taxes bar an annual net wealth tax for equity. Watch people plan their energy and resource use then.

By the way Gary, utility privatisation did achieve cheaper prices for the consumer. Trouble is you and I aren't the consumers that are enjoying the fall in price. The big end users, for which competition was designed to stop them cross-subsidising retail users, are enjoying the benefits right now.

Posted by: Observa at June 3, 2004 08:13 PM

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