Energy issues loom large in NSW state election

Intro

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.

 

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  • RT @Kelliecaught: The real villains in Australia’s renewables debacle? Three big energy companies | John Hewson http://gu.com/p/47xze/stw

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Key Points

  • 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.

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Key quotes

  • “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.

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More tweets

  • 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