Steven Secker

Candidate for the Heron ward in Armadale

Stop Blaming Others for Bad Policies

There were concerted campaigns before the March 2017 State election in Western Australia for the government to sell off part of Western Power, the monopoly power generation and distribution company, owned by the State government; there has been significant pressure applied to the new State government, in view of the parlous state of the WA economy following years of coalition rule, to reverse its stance on Western Power and at least sell part of it to reduce State debt; and the latest is the unhelpful and misleading comment from Craig Kelly, MP for Hughes and chairman of the Federal coalition’s “climate and energy committee”, that Australians will die this winter because of renewable energy.

Mr Kelly’s comment has rightly been denounced by Dr Hugh Saddler, of the Australian National University, who pointed to a very strong correlation between the price of gas, used in many of the more recently built power stations, and electricity prices. Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, weighed in with an ironically true statement that “governments had to be responsible for implementing policy [sic] that ensured affordable power.

What governments of all persuasions, and particularly business leaders with significant influence on the policy making of those government or influence in getting media coverage, have long forgotten is that we pay taxes to ensure that those who are not as well off in the community can still afford the essentials of life. To us, in 21st century Australia, that means, among other things, having access to affordable power. The major generation equipment and the distribution network, including its maintenance, should be paid for from taxes, not from flat fees imposed on consumers irrespective of their ability to pay them.

The Federal coalition government is well supported by the coal industry, and includes several whose understanding of the delicate balance of the atmosphere leads them to deny that humans are having any significant impact on climate change. What is most ridiculous about the coalition policies on energy is that it is economically sound policy to encourage as much renewable energy use as possible and to leave the coal in the ground for future generations. Yes, that means there will be job losses in the coal industry, just as there were job losses in the horse and buggy industry, but there are plenty of opportunities of re-skilling of employees over the next few years as the heavily polluting industries wind down naturally.

It was failure of the distribution network, and the blatant commercialism of the privatised power generating companies, that caused the blackout problems in South Australia last year and this, not the penetration of renewable energy sources.

If Synergy were free to buy electricity from solar power units on the domestic and commercial buildings at close to the same price as it pays Western Power for electricity generated at major sites, it would make installing units more viable for those on limited budgets. If that were supplemented by changes which would allow Synergy to buy more than 5kW from any site at a time then we could reduce dependence on coal and gas, which would be good for the environment and the State’s finances, and reduce electricity prices.

Only those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo could genuinely claim that is not correct.

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