The Morrison Government was never serious about addressing energy policy. Here's why.
The Australian people deserve a government that’s serious about climate change and energy policy. Unfortunately, our experience with the Morrison Government was anything but.
Last month Liberal Energy spokesperson Angus Taylor wrote to me and several other union leaders in which he expressed apparent concern for our members working in energy and the future of their industry.
Despite his office leaking the letter to a newspaper, it did not get much attention. Just as well, because while the ETU responded to the minister, we knew it was little more than a hollow political stunt.
Mr Taylor said our members “have a right to know ahead of the next federal election just how hard Labor’s policies are going to hurt them”.
In reply we asked him to explain how his government’s failure to implement an energy policy after nearly six years in power was anything but detrimental to our members and the whole country.
Mr Taylor has been in the energy portfolio since August and while we have made several requests to discuss our members’ future with him, his only reply was to give 24 hours’ notice for a sit-down.
Like his letter of concern, Mr Taylor’s last-minute invite was a political game. And as we’ve seen over the past week since Labor announced its climate change policy, political games are all we’ll get from the minister and the Morrison Government.
We would love to get in a room with the government and discuss pursuing a just transition for our members in coal-fired power, renewable energy and upgrading the power grid, electric vehicles (EVs) and building the infrastructure that will make them viable.
Unfortunately for our members and the public, Mr Taylor who has only tried to score political points.
But we shouldn’t expect much from the Liberal-National coalition that’s had four different ministers in the energy and environment portfolios but has failed to produce even a basic energy policy.
We have more than 60,000 members whose livelihoods depend on the federal government taking the lead and delivering strong, forward-thinking energy policy that acknowledges the science of climate change and listens to informed expert advice on how Australia can adapt.
Instead, Mr Taylor and the Liberal Party have pinned their entire energy economic forecast on the work of a discredited report from BAEconomics, a long-time public opponent of climate action.
Even officials from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – part of Mr Taylor’s energy department – said it was “very unclear” how the BAEconomics report drew its conclusions from the department’s numbers.
Despite this, Mr Taylor only wants to play political games and has taken every opportunity to use this four-page report that fudged his own department’s numbers as evidence.
Mr Taylor and the Morrison Liberals have spent much of the past week trashing the modest climate policy proposals from Labor, such as the introduction of emissions standards and targets for electric vehicle sales – commonplace policies throughout the developed world.
The hysteria comes despite Mr Taylor and several government frontbench MPs being on record in recent months spruiking the positives of EVs and the increasing efficiency of charge times.
Mr Taylor even praised how “ultra-rapid charge will provide a range of up to 400 kilometres in just fifteen minutes, compared to a current charging time of several hours” in a ministerial press release.
Instead of having the mature, necessary conversation about how Australia will revolutionise our energy networks, modernise our transport and take action on climate change, we get an outrageous scare campaign about the government coming for your V8 or your ute.
It’s 2019 and Australia deserves a mature and honest conversation on climate and energy, not hollow and hypocritical scare campaign or political games.
Our union is eager to work with government to get the best for our members and their communities, especially those working in coal-fired power.
The ETU wants to work with a government that wants to bring power prices down instead of giving pensioners a $125 cash-splash. (This is the solution from “the minister for lowering energy prices”, but it’s corporate welfare ensuring prices and private power company profits stay high).
We must work with the government and industry to ensure the best energy and climate policies are put in place immediately, because we’ve lost immeasurable opportunities over the past decade.
Our members, their families and the Australian public deserve a government that’s serious about addressing the real energy and climate issues facing our nation. We don’t need another energy minister who only wants to play political games.
We hope the next government and energy minister want to have a genuine discussion about our members’ livelihoods, because my door is open.