The battle between public and private ownership of energy assets, and renewable energy versus fossil fuels is impacting heavily on the New South Wales election campaign, with “popular premier” Mike Baird undermined by unpopular policies at both the State and Federal level. Voter opposition to proposed electricity asset sales and growing questions on security risks and potential corruption around the sale is impacting on Baird’s campaign, while his state Liberal/National coalition also takes heat from its support for coal mining and coal seam gas operations. As with the recent Queensland and Victorian elections, the actions of the deeply unpopular Federal Government is also weighing heavily on the NSW campaign, with its active demolition of the national renewable energy sector contradicting the wishes of the majority of voters. The Abbott Government’s intransigence on climate change and support for the declining fossil fuel industry is also impacting on regional seats, with farmers calling for real action on climate change through the restoration of an emissions trading scheme, political support for the current renewable energy target, and greater spending on rail infrastructure.
- RT @Kelliecaught: The real villains in Australia’s renewables debacle? Three big energy companies | John Hewson http://gu.com/p/47xze/stw
- Act: Join the switch to save renewables (GetUp)
- Act: Write to Tony Abbott – Protect the RET (Friends of the Earth)
- Share: The majority of Australians support keeping or expanding our Renewable Energy Target (Solar Citizens)
- Opinion to share: The real villains in Australia’s renewables debacle? Three big energy companies (John Hewson in The Guardian)
- Opinion to share: Pilliga Forest coal seam gas mining a misstep (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Opinion to share: Vote no to Baird’s fight for fossil economy (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Opinion to share: Rob Oakeshott on #NSWVotes: We need another way (Crikey)
- Hashtags in use: #NSWVotes #Renewables #RET
- Energy issues are looming large in this state election, as decisions made now could have strong impacts on farmland, water supplies and consumer costs well into the future. Labor argues that electricity assets such as poles and wires should not be sold as they contribute $1.7 billion to state coffers every year, while the Coalition says it will use the sale to fund roads, rail, and other social services – though the likelihood of that has been questioned. Coal and coal seam gas expansion is more clear cut, as it threatens communities, health, and the natural environment, while locking Australia into continued reliance on fossil fuels for export and domestic use. Both coal and CSG are also being pushed by vested interests, with wilful blindness to the declining market and wilful obfustication of real motives, and both likely to result in significant risk for little to no gain.
- Voters are deeply concerned about public ownership of energy assets and strongly supportive of renewable energy expansion. The NSW Liberal Party is willing to gamble its popularity on the issue, however, the growing scandal around assets sales could hurt it, while the impact of the Federal government’s war on the Renewable Energy Target and sector could also colour voter decisions given a significant majority of Australians want the RET maintained or expanded.
- Expanding, not cutting, renewable energy is the single most important thing State and Federal governments can do to protect consumers and rural communities, to abide by international emissions reduction responsibilities, and to drive job growth and prosperity. Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane’s point blank refusal to negotiate a compromise on cutting the Renewable Energy Target to 33,500GWH – far below the current 41,000GWH target – suggested in good faith by the Clean Energy Council to break the deadlock – demonstrates that the Government is acting in the best interests of utilities and a declining coal industry, not the public.
- Corruption claims about Chinese power company increase pressure on Coalition (ABC)
- National security concerns around electricity sale stoked by Labor as it emerges that Mike Baird met president of Chinese power giant (Sydney Morning Herald)
- NSW election shapes up as battle between popular premier and unpopular policy (ABC)
- The Debate: should NSW’s poles and wires be privatised? (The Age)
- Renewable Energy Target: Government rejects RET compromise proposed by Clean Energy Council (ABC)
- Majority of voters opposed to privatisation of electricity assets (ABC)
- Economy and asset sales top voters’ list of concerns (ABC)
- Renewable energy target: Government under pressure to make deal as backbencher breaks ranks (ABC)
- Lock the Gate Alliance says NSW election hinges on CSG (Northern Star)
- Support for keeping or increasing renewables target continues to grow says poll (Business Spectator)
- Climate change: farmers urge Coalition to restore emissions trading scheme (The Guardian)
- Coal seam gas fracas raises ire on ‘Q&A’ (The New Daily)
- Anti-CSG banner unfurled at North Head by protesters (The Daily Telegraph)
- Climate change: Coalition accused of politicising greenhouse gas target (The Guardian)
- Australia urged to shut coal-fired power plants urgently as analysis reveals huge emissions (The Guardian)
Tools and resources
- PR: Clean Energy Council proposal to end the Renewable Energy Target impasse (CEC)
- PR: Labor’s renewable energy policy welcomed ahead of the NSW election (Solar Citizens)
- PR: PM’s captain’s call to harm renewable energy target hurts consumers (Solar Citizens)
- Polls: Vote Compass analysis (ABC)
- Cookbook: Planet to plate (The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute)
- Report: Appetite for Change (University of Melbourne)
Images and video
- Video: A little something to think about for Saturday (Michael Caton)
- Graphic: NSW Election 2015 – Solar Scorecard (Solar Citizens)
- Images: Stop CSG banner (Front Line Action on Coal), Mining Hotspots (Lock The Gate)
- “The people of NSW don’t want their electricity network sold off to a foreign owner, whether it’s the Chinese government, the Russian government, the French government or even my friends in the Irish government. The campaign is discussing the future of the state’s electricity network.” NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.
- “Let’s be frank, Origin, Energy Australia and AGL have significantly influenced the Abbott government’s ditching of its clear election promise to keep the RET at 41,000GWh. Their claim to support renewable energy while walking the corridors of power lobbying to undermine it smacks of hypocrisy. And, unlike the renewable energy-backed companies they want to undermine by attacking the RET, they’ve been getting away with screwing households on their electricity bills by hitting customers with almost obscene profit margins as energy retailers.” Former Liberal Party Leader and economist, John Hewson.
- “[W]e are prepared to accept a reduction of the target to 33,500 GWh. I believe it is in the national interest that both major parties support this proposal and finally resolve this issue.” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.
- “I’m not considering anything over 32,000 gigawatt hours. “Thirty-two thousand is take it or leave it.” Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
- “Minister Macfarlane is telling the clean energy sector to “take it or leave it.” Well, it turns out his own voters would rather leave it. The Greens want to transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible, and to start with we must maintain the current target of 41,000GWh to 2020. Minister Macfarlane’s final offer of 32,000GWh will cost jobs, investment, and generations of Australians who are already suffering the effects of global warming.” Greens Leader Christine Milne.
- “We want to see some leadership, we are tired of platitudes and saying it can’t happen, we are losing markets because Australia’s reputation is slipping on being clean and green. Climate change going to have impacts right across the budget from dislocation of whole rural communities to drought assistance. We need infrastructure spending and new industries in the renewable energy sector. Governments have to start thinking on policies that last a bit longer than a three year term.” Farmer Peter Holding.
- “What will it take for the major parties to prioritise the nation’s food security and water resources for current and future generations of Australians because CSG is risking the things that are priceless?” New South Wales farmer Sarah Ciesiolka.
- “We want regional communities to know that we in the city hear the concerns of those in the regions and we think it’s about time that the politicians do too. “NSW communities don’t want coal and gas threatening our most precious resources – our health and our water. During the state election campaign, concerns about the impact of coal and gas mining on water and farmland have been a flashpoint issue for many electorates.” Manly resident Liz Thornton.
Related Tree Alerts
- CSG, new coal mines front and centre in New South Wales elections
- Has the Queensland “Reef-erendum” election doomed Galilee coal?
- NSW Government hands AGL approval to frack near homes
- RT @Jacqui_Wales: Poles and wires: the defining debate this NSW election #energy http://t.co/OVvEDo9pPL via @theage #NSWvotes #auspol
- MT @Oshaunnewman: MacFarlane says a #RET above 32,000GWh wld leave coalition w no policy credibility. That ship sailed long ago #auspol
- MT @KatrinaIffland: Govt last ‘take it or leave it offer’ on #RET will mean 40% reduction in RET #investment to 2020 @Mark_Butler_MP #auspol
- RT @Lee_Tennant: #RET: Government under pressure to make deal as backbencher breaks ranks http://t.co/d2SUFTAAg4 #climate #auspol
- MT @AusWindAll: The govt caused the #RET debacle. It’s up to them to fix it. Our take in @FinancialReview http://t.co/gg5prY1TPD #auspol