A big yawn and finally the federal government has woken up from its decade-long ‘sleep at the wheel’ to launch its energy policy.
Perhaps it would have made some sense if it had launched this plan a decade ago, but the world has moved on while they kept bickering in parliament.
Unfortunately for the government the states and local councils have not been asleep during that period and they all have well-advanced plans under development and are implementing policies in relation to sustainability, resilience, renewable energy and smart energy (batteries, smart grids, microgrids, etc).
In their blissful ignorance the feds have completely ignored the enormous progress that states and local councils have been making in these areas. Unlike their federal counterparts they had the national interest of their states, cities and citizens in mind, rather than solely focussing on the national interest of the party.
As mentioned before, where national governments are now failing in a big way (and not just in Australia) states, provinces and cities have taken over leadership in many of these areas.
In relation to the NBN the Coalition was able to wind the clock back and develop the now infamous and disastrous second-rate multi-technology-mix version.
It will, however, be impossible for the federal government to wind back the clock on the energy developments that are now taking place around the country, initiated by states and cities.
That will not stop it from bullying the states, attempting to get them to accept its plan as it is ready and willing – as was the case with the NBN as well – to go against the will of the people. But in the case of energy policy the train has left the station and the federal government will be left behind unless it is willing to come down from its ivory tower in Canberra and make very substantial concessions to the states based on the reality of what already is happening all over Australia.
In reality the current National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will be no more than another chapter in the decade-old energy debate. It will not be able to deliver the long-awaited vision for the future of energy provision for this country.
It is rather amazing that Australia defies most other western economies by not following a similar vision for its future-based energy policy, based on renewable energy, smart technologies and a total transformation of the industry. All countries grapple with the fact that fossil fuels will be needed in that process but they all have renewables as their final solution over a 20-30-year period. It can’t be hard to put such a vision forward and develop policies based on that reality.
What is perhaps even harder to understand – coming from a Liberal government – is that it actively tries to kill economic opportunities. Future economic growth will have to come from new technologies, from transformed industry sectors, and from innovation. Coal-based policies are not going to cut it. Why would you actively boycott future economic growth? It does not make sense.
As mentioned in a previous analysis Australian households have already invested $9 billion. This is a fantastic platform from which to generate new economic developments; the government should promote that rather than trying to boycott it.
The NEG is not in the national interest. It is simply aimed at pacifying the ultra-conservatives in the Coalition government and that is not a good basis on which to run a country.