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Energy Policy: it's a tussle « Previous | |Next »
March 29, 2004

There was a report in the Australian Financial Review last Friday (subscription required, 26 03 04, p. 18) highlighting the current vacuum in the federal government's energy policy. The report said that all the different sectors (coal, petroleum, electricity etc ) are united in criticising the Howard Government for its delay in releasing its long-dealed national energy policy.

Such a national energy policy should be concerned, with developing energy resources, investment security and enabling a move away from fossil-based primary energy resources to one based on the increasing use of renewable sources, such as wind and sun.

Currently, we do not have many renewables connected to the national electricity grid. Nor do we have much in the way of support to ensure this connection. Nor has there been much support to get the manufacturing of green technology going in Australia.

The problem that appears to exist is that the push for renewable energy through Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (MRET) is seen to threaten not supplement the coal and aluminium industry. Is this the reason for the policy vacuum? The reason for the long over-due national energy policy?

Could there be a Mexican stand off between the different ministries within the Howard Government? A standoff instead of a joining up of policies and portfolios?

Strange isn't it. Energy underpins economic and social development and the shift to the sustainable use of this resource is crucial. Yet we have a stalemate in terms of the development of a national energy policy built on a sustainable energy future.

The implication? A lack of commitment to invest in innovation to drive a smart low carbon growth into the future other than geosequestration - the capturing and burying carbon dioxide underground. Does not this lack undermine Australia's future competitiveness in the global marketplace? Does it not undermine investment and jobs in rural and regional Australia?

This is not just fringe groups putting the pressure on the government. It's also the big end of town who sees the importance to green technologies, energy-saving production, and the competitive advantage offered by the development of resource-saving technology.

Lenore Taylor in the Australia Financial Review (subscription required, 31 03 04, p. 3) identifies those Ministers involved in the Mexican standoff. On the one side we have Kemp, on the other side MacFarlane. It's environment versus the coal and aluminium (energy-intensive) industries: Kemp wants to extend the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme whilst MacFarlane opposes any extension.

Lenore says that supporting Kemp's extension scheme are the sugar industry and the National MPs.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:57 PM | | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

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Keynesians or monetarists, it's still the same mantra of economic growth and then we'll all be happy. Funny thing is very few believe it anymore, even though it's mothers milk to pollies.