Coalition’s harmful energy policy blackout

Published on Tue 23 March 2021 1:32pm

This government has gone out of its way to cut support, to gut programmes, to play games to indulge in ridiculous scare campaigns around electric vehicles. They’ve subjected Australia to an energy policy blackout. They have been a stinking pestilent wet blanket on energy policy in this country. And what does that mean in the end? It means higher prices. It means higher emissions. It means no innovation and fewer jobs.

Mr Wilson (3:56pm) – Thank you, Deputy Speaker. It is hard to believe that a third term, eight-year-old government cannot manage to settle a national energy policy. I mean, that would be extraordinary at any time in our history. It is extraordinary and extraordinarily harmful to be in that position at the time that Australia and the rest of the world goes through an energy transformation. And we go through that transformation in order to combat dangerous climate change in order to set the foundation of a 21st Century economy based on clean, affordable energy. And based on new energy, investment, innovation, and jobs.

We’re blessed in this country, we are blessed in this country with the highest quality, natural resources when it comes to clean energy, innovation and the highest quality human resources. We’re lucky to be in that position. And we should be a renewable energy superpower. And in time to come, we should be a renewable energy exporter. It’s inevitable that the world goes down that path and Australia actually has a lot to gain from leading the way internationally and in our region.

But we’re not on that track because we have a government that cannot settle a national energy policy. I mean, for the benefit of all Australia, if you ask people out in the community, what would a national energy policy mean to you, they would say it’s the kind of basic administrative competence and leadership I expected my government in order to deliver cheap energy, affordable energy and in order to lower emissions and combat climate change.

To those opposite, settling a national energy policy is a euphemism for having some almighty ding dong battle that results in the demise of the latest Prime Minister. Every single time they’ve even had half enough courage to approach that task that has been the result.

If upon coming to government, they had simply left the settings, the programmes, the policies that Labor had put in place, we would be in a lot better position than we are now. Unfortunately, it hasn’t hasn’t even been as good as that; it hasn’t even been as good as them hopping in the vehicle and leaving the Sat Nav set as it was. Instead, they have actively undermined the progress that was made under the previous Labor government.

They’ve attempted to defund the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. They’ve attempted, attempted to distort and pervert the Clean Energy Finance Corporation at every opportunity. That’s something that’s in train in this Parliament at the moment. They’ve got extreme members of the coalition backbench hoping to pin on amendments to that Bill so that not only does it become capable of funding coal fired power, but even nuclear energy, which is just utterly, utterly ridiculous.

They’ve abandoned the renewable energy target. They talk about the progress that’s been made in relation to renewable energy, which has been entirely achieved by the trailing value of Labor’s reforms, the CEFC, ARENA, and the renewable energy target, which unfortunately was allowed to run out last year.

They’ve done nothing yet to address grid stability and transmission capability or investment. They’ve got some discussion paper currently after eight years, and three prime ministers and 21 aborted policies and God knows how many ministers. They’ve got no electric vehicle policy, and I mean when it comes to liquid fuel security in this country, Deputy Speaker, our liquid fuel demand is higher than in almost every other comparable OECD country. Our mining and agricultural sectors are 90 per cent reliant on diesel fuel, our transport sector as a whole is 99 per cent reliant on liquid fuels.

And yet, we have an uptake of electric vehicles that is 1/7 the rate of countries like Canada and the United States. Our energy security is at risk, not least because of the policy failures and inaction of this government.

And when it comes at the end of the day to the absolutely critical area of energy policy and the national management of our energy transformation the only conclusion the Australian people can reach sadly, is that the government has been worse than useless. If they had been useless. if they had done nothing and left the settings as they were that they inherited, we’d be in a better position than we are now.

This government has gone out of its way to cut support, to cut gut programmes to play games to indulge in ridiculous scare campaigns around electric vehicles. They’ve subjected Australia to an energy policy blackout. They have been a stinking pestilent wet blanket on energy policy in this country.

And what does that mean in the end? It means higher prices. It means higher emissions. It means no innovation and fewer jobs.

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