Oct 11, 2017

Should we take responsibility for energy policy away from the government?

If kicking the politicians out of policymaking is good enough in monetary policy, why isn't it good enough in energy?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

It’s an outrage. One of the most crucial economic issues in the country, that affects virtually every household, which could send hundreds of thousands of Australians spiralling into penury and bankruptcy, is controlled not by democratically elected politicians but by unelected bureaucrats who act without regard to what Australians want, placing their own elitist judgement of what the country needs above what the electorate might believe.

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17 thoughts on “Should we take responsibility for energy policy away from the government?

  1. Bob Weis

    Many Australians are kready taking it out of the hands of the politicians with roof top solar and wind. What we know from the politicians is that the current government speaks and acts as if we don’t know or care what they do or say – even suggesting that when a market company, AGL, decides its time to close a dirty coal fired plant that they should keep polluting for another five years so that Malcolm can be seen to do what his paymasters require.
    Remember when he said that it was time to have an intelligent conversation with the Australian people?
    He doesn’t

  2. klewso

    Turbott and his Limited News Party Coal Profits Preservation Society….

  3. Mr Denmore

    Yes, get the politicians out of it. Stop giving taxpayers money to dodgy Indian coal companies. Stop trying to rig the rules. Stop using energy as another arm of the tiresome culture wars. Look at the nation’s long-term energy needs and it’s global obligations. Get the amateurs out of it. People are sick of politics as an end in itself. The political careerists are wrecking the country playing silly bloody games.

  4. Roger Clifton

    “A framework in which politicians choose the country’s emissions abatement targets, and independent bodies design and implement the transition”

    Bravo! In particular, the institution would be able to work on a timescale (far beyond the three years or so of elected governments) required to meet emissions targets that are laid out in decades. The lifetimes of the necessary technologies of generation, conversion and distribution are also measured in decades, beyond the century target of 2100.

    Something else a venerable institution would be capable of that come-and-go governments would not, is maintaining a rate of emissions reduction. Climate leader James Hansen has proposed a 6% per annum reduction in emissions to get us below 20% at 2050 and effective “net zero emissions” by 2100. Although it would take massive disaster to rouse the political will to authorise it, only an institution as proposed would be able to maintain the progression across the century.

  5. zut alors

    I’m trying to get my head around the words ‘responsibility’ & ‘government’ being used in the same sentence.

    Turnbull & Co take almost no responsibility for anything (except occasional good news on unemployment figures) & blame pretty much everything else on previous Labor governments. They are too frightened to take responsibility lest a policy backfires.

  6. Graeski

    Ummm … I think you’ve missed the memo, Mr Keane. The government doesn’t have responsibility for the country’s energy policy. That would be the Minerals Council of Australia.

  7. Dog's Breakfast

    “Central bank independence has been one neoliberal idea”

    I’m not sure that this occurring around the same time that neoliberal economics was it its peak is sufficient reason to think of it as a neoliberal idea. Concurrent with neoliberal thinking, yes. Neoliberal? In what way. In the same way, the gun control changes after Port Arthur weren’t neoliberal either, just concurrent.

    Regardless of that, yes, both the energy markets including control over our gas exports and any others that are needed should be out of politicians hands. Infrastructure investment, again, definitely.

    Having politicians making the decisions means that there are systemic deficiencies in the model, neatly outlined by Roger Clifton – 10 and 20 year time frames decided by next week’s opinion poll politicians.

    1. old greybearded one

      Only politicians can fix gas issues. Laws are needed

    2. Will

      On the contrary, Dogs, I think a very strong case could be made that central bank independence, post-Port Arthur gun regulation, and BK’s proposals here for independent regulators of energy and infrastructure sectors are all thoroughly neoliberal ideas. They all favour deregulated markets – up until those markets, or those affected by them, ‘fail’, often with society-ravaging results – but then look to market-friendly, administrative patches rather than countenance inherently political, anti-market solutions.

  8. John Boulton

    Re Your final statement; I’m not too sure that we can afford to leave it ” ’til another day”

  9. graybul

    When one thinks of the current crop of politicians (right and left) and observe even those individuals who’s personal values have yet to be subsumed by the dominance of their privileged party cabals; one really is overcome by despair. As a nation among many all around the world, now struggling to even quantify threat of climate change or; avoidance again, of global conflict.

    It is not too difficult to accept that our species is incredibly adaptable, creative and, in the same mouthful, myopic and dead set stupid, capable of repeating again and again horrendous, inhumane lessons driven by failed leaders. Our problem is that after each cataclysmic abandonment of reason; we have significantly increased our means to exceed the inhumanities of the previous ‘lesson’. It cannot continue. Leadership cannot be unaccountable, driven by personal gain, ego, or unchallenged by the populace that appointed them.

  10. mike westerman

    Policy is by definition political and therefore the job of politicians, who should reflect the broadest views of the polity, while protecting the vulnerable. With energy, this means the long term policies on whether we will transit to renewables or stay with coal and ignore our international and local responsibilities, whether we will have a system so reliable that even the most sensitive user is satisfied or something lessor that meets most needs, whether power will be extended to all Australians and if so on a common grid or a series of mini-grids, and whether Australians will have first claim on resources or overseas clients. The current government has failed on virtually all reasonable demands on responsibility in respect to energy policy, and left it to bureaucrats lacking the authority to impose policy to try to make do, a shameful set of affairs.

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