Dear Australian politicians (of all persuasions),
We’ve elected you to make decisions and formulate policy that’s in the best interests of all Australians.
We’ve essentially entrusted you with our success and prosperity (and even health and happiness), individually and collectively.
In terms of the energy industry, you’ve failed us.
“Patients were left in the dark after one of Melbourne’s biggest hospitals switched off its lights and non-essential equipment as temperatures soared on Friday.
The Alfred turned off the lights on wards, in corridors and cafeterias about midday in a bid to conserve power.” (Herald Sun, January 19, 2018)
Earlier in the week:
“Four giant batteries installed inside the new $2.4 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital to help the facility meet the Weatherill government’s strict low-emission targets have ruptured without warning, spilling 80 litres of sulphuric acid.” (The Australian, January 17, 2018)
How has it come to this?
By all measures, Australia has the resources to produce and supply enough energy for the needs of our entire population.
And yet we somehow find ourselves in a situation where we can’t even do that for those who need it most, those who are lying sick or injured in our hospitals.
What would happen to a business that, despite being successful using tried-and-tested methods of operating, decided that it wanted to make a change that involved as yet unproven, still-being-developed, and therefore still expensive technology and processes … and then went ahead and scaled back the tried-and-tested to implement the unproven with no ‘Plan B’?
Well, apart from the fact that no business would do that, there’s a big chance they would fail.
They would be taking an unwarranted risk, making their business more expensive and less reliable.
In other words, less competitive.
So, why have we done that to the Australian energy sector, as a whole?
This isn’t about politics – or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
It isn’t about what you believe about carbon emissions or coal or wind power or battery storage.
It’s about facts and common sense, a couple of things that seem to be in short supply when we rely on you, our elected leaders, to lead for all of us.
So, please, stop the politicking and grandstanding, the hysteria, and the hyperbole, and start making decisions that make sense.
It doesn’t matter who’s to blame. Finger pointing gets us nowhere … and doesn’t make anyone feel any better about poor energy security or high costs.
Govern for now, before speculating about some possible future situation (that we might never even get to at the rate we’re going backwards).
Sensible incremental change is more prudent than ploughing full steam ahead down some ideological path. In other words; plan for the future without future without undermining (or completely throwing away) things that we know work well.
We understand that the world is changing.
Technology is moving us forward at a pace never before seen.
In our view, that’s all the more reason to be prudent.
Stop spending money ‘investing’ in hopeful schemes that may or may not pay off in the long run. If the private sector can see that an investment makes sense they will go ahead and make that investment anyway. Intervening in the market should be done in a way that makes investment more secure, not more uncertain.
Wait until something has been fully developed, so that not only has it been tested properly, but it’s also more economically viable.
Financial incentives for innovation are a good thing, but not if they skew your thinking and decision making and cloud your judgement: “We’ve put money into this, so we have to go with it – or even double-down on our investment”.
And not if that money could be better spent on incentivising the development or refinement of something less cutting edge, but more reliable.
If you want to enjoy the glory of when things go well, you need to face the responsibility when things go wrong.
We ask you to be mindful that you were elected by the people and should do what best for the country.
The energy market effects households, hospitals, industry and jobs. These are things that matter to every Australian. While it may not matter how we got into this mess. We simply cannot allow it to continue. Now is the time to rise above the ideologic point scoring and face the problem where all options are on the table.
So, please stop being distracted by what you think will be popular with high-profile and vocal advocates and just do what’s right for all Australians, and particularly those who are most vulnerable.
The Australian Public
*This letter is based on comments and feedback received from consumers over the past year.