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rethinking energy? « Previous | |Next »
August 15, 2006

I watched John Howard deliver his energy statement in the House of Representatives yesterday. The energy package supports alternatives to petrol by encourage motorists to convert to LPG and service stations to install E10 ethanol blend pumps. The Government expects close to half a million cars to either convert to LPG or be sold new with a fitted LPG tank, whilst close to 1000 more service stations are expected to sell ethanol blends.

Scratch media

Any shift from fuel-inefficient cars is welcome. It shows that the resilence of the Howard Government and its ability to overcome its difficulties.

However, the problem goes deeper than shifting to cheaper fuel. The government's short term policy reaction is a problem. As Tim Colebatch points out in The Age Australia now has almost 15 million vehicles, so the majority will get no benefit from the LPG rebate. Australia has 6500 service stations, of whom only 260 currently sell ethanol blends; and so if 1260 sell it, 80 per cent of service stations would not.

Why my charge that this is short term policy?

Why the effort on increasing supply because underinvestment in exploration and refining capacity is the whole story? The big oil discoveries are not happening any more in Australia.

Isn't public transport the best way to address increasing petrol prices, rather than searching for more oil to increase supply so as to become energy independent? Our capital cities need to find ways to roll back the car and to enable people to move around the city cheaply and quickly. That means lessening urban spread in favour of urban consolidation. Better public transport was not mentioned by John Howard.

Yet we find Peter Costello, the federal Treasurer, talking in terms of the suburban block as "the great Australian dream" that "we should nurture" and calling for increased land releases to address the unaffordability of housing. Costello's extolling urban spread means more suburbs, more cars, clogged cities and expensive personal transport.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:58 AM | | Comments (0)