Editorial – Thought Bubbles Dominate the Energy Debate

Many Australians are totally disheartened with the political impasse and policy inertia in Australia. In turn this leads to significant disrespect for the elected politicians at both Federal and State level. Talk to them in private and their aspirations are commendable, combine them together, and they are no more than a meek shadow of those aspirations.
The fact they call themselves “a political class” is a euphemism, and helps explain why they are so out of touch. Many believe their IQ jumps 20 points when they enter Parliament. Most have evolved as staffers or trade union officials, and few have had ‘real’ jobs especially in policy and social areas. They raise their hands and voices as “a class”, because the rigidity of nonconformity, is political extinction.

A recent analysis of Australian and Norwegian politics, sought to answer the question as to why their had been so much greater unity both within and between parties in the post war period up until the mid 1970s. The answer was simple – many members of all parties had fought or been prisoners together in WWII, and their survival depended on cooperation, and unity. Post their retirement there appears to be no common bond to unite the “class”, not even the future of this nation.

Add to this the emasculation of the Public Services, and the country has what Laura Tingle calls “Policy Amnesia”. The result is a lack of review, an entrenchment of policy bias, and the complete lack of development of ideas and directions that will enhance the well being of the generations that will follow, rather than the member’s survival at the next election.
The GFC was a wake up call for the world, but not in Australia as we cruised through the crisis, more from luck than sound planning. We are certainly a lucky country, but at some time that can and will change.

Then the politicians will have to perform, and if their performances to date are any indication, it will be a disaster for this country, as the wardrobe of policy options and expertise will be empty.

In recent years, energy policy in this country, has been described by commentators and experts as ‘shambolic’. There is little serious energy policy direction from governments. Meanwhile pollution continues at an unprecedented pace with little to no consideration of the future legacy that is being left.

The recent failures in the electricity grids to South Australia and NSW, the shortages of gas, when Australia will shortly be the largest gas exporter to the world, and the cheap political point scoring by politicians at any opportunity, is a complete disgrace.
The Finkel Review will certainly try and lay a policy road map into the future of energy in this country. But whether our politicians are capable of stepping up is concerningly doubtful.

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