In most areas of State policy, Labor, Liberals, Nationals and the Greens are in agreement, meaning that key issues have not been subject to contestable debate. NSW One Nation aims to disrupt this major-party consensus and give the electorate better policy outcomes.
This is particularly the case in energy policy, where the Labor/Liberal/Nationals/Green coalition is taking the State down the path of 100 percent renewables – putting all our energy eggs in the one basket. This is a high-risk strategy for the NSW economy, given the high cost and unreliability of renewable energy.
In December 2018 the Liberal Energy Minister, Don Harwin, said that the core purpose of NSW Government policy was to “drive low carbon investment and new renewables energy generation across NSW”. He wants the State economy to have zero-net emissions by 2050 – an economic suicide note for many of our industries.
In February 2019, Harwin urged his Federal and State Ministerial colleagues to legislate emission targets in excess of the Paris Agreement. The Federal Liberal Angus Taylor described this as a “wrecking ball for the economy”. NSW electricity prices have doubled over the past decade and under the Harwin plan, they are likely to double again over the coming decade.
Naturally, Labor and the Greens cheer on Harwin at every opportunity. He is a Left-leaning NSW Liberal doing the work of the Greens on energy policy. Together they are practicing the new secular religion of Renewables (similar to Pagan cults worshipping the Sun).
In picking renewables as its energy ‘winner’, the Labor/Liberal/Nationals/Greens alliance has downgraded the role of coal. Over the next 20 years, most of NSW’s coal-fired power stations are likely to close, starting with Liddell in 2022, followed by Eraring. At the moment, there is no clear government strategy for filling this baseload power gap.
Consumers are exposed to the possibility of needing to import more electricity from interstate (without the necessary transmission planning in place) or watching wholesale electricity prices rise. Either way, NSW is highly exposed. The urgent task for energy security and economic development in NSW is to restore the State’s supply of dependable baseload power.
Instead of the high-risk strategy of 100 percent renewables, policy makers need to adopt the economic principle of diversification. NSW should have flourishing fossil fuel energy (coal and gas), renewables (where viable) plus a nuclear power industry. With increased supply from multiple reliable sources, electricity prices will come down.
One Nation’s policy is to diversify our energy base, to realise the State’s potential as a global energy superpower. We will:
Open up the energy market to new sources of power. Existing restrictions should be abolished, particularly in allowing for the development of nuclear energy. This is vital in overcoming future gaps in NSW’s power supply.
Bundle together existing NSW Government contracts as a major electricity consumer, then tendering out for a new baseload power supplier to meet this need. With existing restrictions on nuclear and the unreliability of renewables, this will most likely be in the form of a new coal-fired power station for NSW.
Abolish State Government subsidies and concessions for renewables, thereby leveling the playing field for the development of other power sources, such as nuclear energy and investment in coal-fired power stations.
Conduct a full audit of the various ways in which the State Government is funding and providing preferential treatment to renewable energy.
Abolish the NSW Climate Change Council, which has been a cheer squad for renewables, wasting public money.
Publicly a lot of time and effort is taken up with arguing whether climate change is real. The evidence suggests that global surface temperatures are not moving as rapidly as climate scientists predicted 15 years ago, when they convinced politicians to take action. In NSW, a carbon-free economy has been the main energy policy goal on both sides of parliament.
The other problem with this debate has been Left-wing attempts to scare people with climate hysteria. Whenever there’s a bushfire in NSW, the Greens try to link it to climate change. Short-term extreme weather events are also exploited politically in this debate, even though climate can only be assessed through long-term trends. A decade ago, for example, exaggerators like Tim Flannery predicted that Sydney’s dams would never be full again, but in that period heavy rain has often filled them.
One Nation takes a different, more prudent approach. We are guided by evidence and the need to satisfy the public interest in all aspects of energy policy, rather than focusing solely on emission levels. The first priority of government must be to deliver reliable, affordable power to NSW households and businesses, powering up the economy. Once energy security and lower prices have been achieved, if emissions can also be reduced, that’s a bonus.
Australia is the world’s most geologically stable continent with abundant uranium reserves and vast open spaces for nuclear waste disposal. We export our uranium for other countries to produce affordable, reliable electricity but don’t use it ourselves. This is a wasted opportunity and a wasted resource.
More than any other country, Australia should be a dominant producer of nuclear-fuelled electricity. If we used the uranium we ship overseas, it would cover our entire national electricity needs, with zero emissions. Internationally, this has been a successful, commercially viable industry, with more than 450 reactors in 30 countries powering 11 percent of the world’s electricity. There is no reason why Australia cannot share in this commercial success.
It is estimated in the 45 years up to 2015, nuclear energy avoided the need for carbon emissions equating to five years’ worth of the world’s power production. If Left-wing parties were serious about the climate change issue, they would support One Nation’s policy for the development of nuclear power. Unfortunately, they are too busy worshipping their new Sun God, known as Solar Panels.
Even though the Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro has called for the development of nuclear energy, the Berejiklian Government has not acted. It’s another case of the Coalition talking about change but not knowing what to do. In fact, the timing could not be better for lifting the ban on nuclear power generation in NSW.
Improved technology, with the development of small-scale modular reactors, has given the nuclear industry greater flexibility. New South Wales is now in the incongruous position where the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney’s south can create medical isotopes, yet a smaller, newer reactor is not allowed in distant parts of the State to power up mining and industrial activity.
One Nation will end the prohibition on nuclear power generation in NSW. Full community consultation and environmental protocols will be observed in the development of this new State industry.
A New Coal-Fired Power Station in NSW
Under Don Harwin’s policies, the NSW Government has used its leverage as a major electricity consumer to develop renewable energy projects – an example of ‘picking winners’ at taxpayers’ expense. Harwin has guaranteed renewables companies government energy contracts to help them develop their projects financially.
NSW One Nations sees potential in the bundling together of government electricity contracts to develop new sources of baseload power. The aggregated contracts would be tendered out for suppliers to build a new, reliable baseload energy facility in NSW as a replacement for the closure of Liddell and other power stations.
With existing restrictions on nuclear and the unreliability of renewables, this will most likely be in the form of a new coal-fired power station for NSW. Only under One Nation policy will coal be given a fair chance to compete.
Dependable baseload power for the NSW Government is vital, ensuring the ongoing reliability of our hospitals, schools, police stations and courts. The new commercial supplier will be free to develop other market opportunities, hopefully emerging as a major generator of private sector baseload power as well as for the public sector.
Ending Subsidies For Renewables
Economic history tells us that when governments try to pick industry winners it invariably ends in failure. A decade ago, NSW politicians picked renewables as a ‘winner’ in the energy sector. As usual, their judgement was flawed, producing higher electricity costs for households, reduced economic competitiveness for the State and no significant benefit for the environment. The more government has intervened in the NSW energy market, the worse the results.
Electricity is an essential economic input, so it does not require green taxes and government subsidies to manipulate outcomes. It needs a level playing field that maximises the range, reliability and quantity of energy supply, thereby driving down prices. In its treatment of various energy sources, One Nation believes in policy neutrality – that is, abolishing government targets and subsidies and unnecessary regulation and taxes.
Like Labor and the Greens, the Berejiklian Government has gone overboard in favouring renewables. Minister Harwin has said, “It is feasible to double the State’s renewable energy capacity”, hence his support for large public subsidies and fast-track planning approvals.
The Government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan features scores of wasteful grants and pork barreling. These include sponsoring universities in solar car races, feasibility studies for ‘renewable energy hubs’, ‘community awareness’ research, sponsoring the NSW Energy Innovation Prize, holding renewable energy research roundtables, funding local government solar farms and the appointment of a Renewable Energy Advocate (where’s the coal and nuclear energy advocates?)
As with all government accounting in this portfolio area, it is difficult to identify the total amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on renewables. Additional funds have been allocated to bodies such as the NSW Climate Change Council and NSW Adaptation Research Hub. Subsidies are hidden from public view in other ways, such as the government’s practice of deploying its own energy consumption/spending to leverage new renewable projects.
Grants are also allocated across portfolios to influence non-government energy use. In 2017, for instance, a ‘Clean Energy Strategies for Business’ program was established. Companies are subsidised “to achieve 100 percent renewable energy or emissions reduction, in keeping with the International Paris Agreement.”
A full audit is needed to identify the extent to the NSW Government is spending taxpayers’ funds on its renewables fetish. Once identified, One Nation will abolish these subsidies to level the playing field, establishing policy neutrality between energy sources.