Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

managing a "power crisis" « Previous | |Next »
January 6, 2004

Public policy has taken a back seat to the endless summer and so there is not much happening in the media. The cricket test between India and Australia is what fills media flows at the moment. (I, along with many others, hope India wins).

Energy, however, is back in the news. This is because of the shortage of gas for NSW and SA due to the dramatic cut in the gas supply caused by an explosion at the Moomba plant in SA. The political response is all about crisis management in the name of the public interest.

Fair enough. The politicians needs to show that they are in control in a "power crisis" and that they are good managers with their hand on the wheel. But we should not be fooled by this we "have the 'crisis' under control" posture.

This crisis management means that the attention shifts away from the long-term thinking on energy that would integrate social, economic and environmental objectives into a comprehensive energy strategy for SA and NSW.

What drops out of sight is the need to develop a sustainable and socially responsible energy industry. The long-term thinking is done by those working within the self-correcting market and so it is concerned with competition, prices and profits.

That is what has happened in the electricity market with its fiction of a national grid, with SA only having a limited interconnection with the rest of national electricity market. And that resulted from the short term thinking of politicians---the Olsen Liberal Government. They maximised the financial return from the privatisation process by ensuring that private investors were not threatened by interstate competition. What drives the strategies of private investors in SA is servicing the debt incurred on buying the electricity infrastructure.

That is a good example of short-term thinking by state politicians on energy.

What the current shortage of gas shows is the small number of generators/producers in the gas energy market, and hence the lack of competition. It undercuts a central premise of a national gas market.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:44 AM | | Comments (0)