Insuring Australia

I’ve grown up in Australia and I love every bit of our country. But we have to start thinking about the future.

Recently I received a letter from a Curtin resident highlighting her concerns over energy policy and with a question on what we would do to counter climate change when in office. I certainly appreciated the question — climate change is a critical threat to our society and Australia and we cannot afford to accept anything less than swift and direct action to counter it.

“Australia is a wonderful nation with a treasure trove of unique plants, animals and environments. It must be protected.”

Numerous policies having been implemented by governments all over the world in response to the ever-present threat of climate change. Last year, 500,000 solar panels were installed everyday, in nations around the world. China’s renewable energy installation equated to “two wind turbines every hour.”

As a developed nation, Australia has the responsibility to take an international lead in curbing carbon emissions and taking action against climate change and environmental destruction.

A number of different angles have been tried both in Australia and overseas. Some governments have tried making companies and citizens pay tax for their carbon emissions and some have tried rewarding them for reducing their emissions.

The unifying thread between the most successful governments, however, is that their climate policy has a high degree of continuity and stability, is financially secure — and is ambitious.

Our platform is proposing, in terms of energy policy, a significant investment in solar energy plants both regionally and urban. One positive action our current government has undertaken is recently announcing 12 new solar plants in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia. However, the Liberals and Labor have both long neglected any substantial reform in environmental policy — it simply isn’t enough.

Under our government we will commission an increase of eight more solar plants. These 20 solar energy plants will power our cities and not only create clean, sustainable electricity but also 3,000 new jobs or more around Australia, economic growth and consumer investment. An investment in a clean and sustainable Australia is a real plan for jobs and growth.

Powering our Cities with Solar

A policy scheme which saw particular success in Germany was their Renewable Energy Act from 2000 — this was a similar feed-in tariff that has also reached similar levels of carbon reduction in other European nations.

Our government will implement a 30 cents/kWh feed-in tariff, or economic incentive, for households, and a 15 year investment security guarantee.

By guaranteeing compensation for a household’s investment in personal renewable energy, the government provided the financial security necessary for many families or adults to invest in these industries.

In a similar line, our environmental policy is a community-minded, household-oriented approach which puts Australians first.

We want investing in renewables to be stress-free and our 15-year cost guarantee will incentivise the investment in these industries.

Community ownership and empowerment is critical to any government success. We’ll be a government that works with you, not around you, and that begins with improving our freedom of information. Similarly to the widely praised city of Bottrop in Germany (who successfully transitioned from a coal oriented industry to a renewable energy beacon), urban investment in renewables can be made far more attractive through the introduction of a personalised energy-reduction data website.

This database will give you straightforward step-by-step recommendations for renewable investment based on your household and income.

The Economy of Wind Energy

Our wind energy policy will see a high standard of energy production and the creation of jobs as well. Strong cooperation between public and private companies will deliver economic growth and sustainable energy. South Africa saw the highly effective government system of letting wind energy producers bid for opportunities. Pricing and job creation will be crucial criterion in the selection of these producers.

South Africa’s competitive and affordable wind energy can be attributed to the government’s excellent energy policy, something we as a nation should look to for inspiration.

Ambitious targets are an important aspect of any carbon emissions policy. Australia’s current target is to achieve 20% renewable energy by 2020, an almost laughably low goal considering our current rate is 15%. New Zealand’s 2020 target is 90%. So is Nicaragua’s. And Costa Rica aims to reach 100% renewable energy by 2021.

We will ratify the Paris Climate Agreement and achieve a 50% share of renewable energy by 2030.

Reading the newspapers and on social media, I often see companies in fossil fuel and coal industries rallying behind scare campaigns, warning against the economic dangers of renewable energy industries. But they are ignoring a critical fact.

“The international community has reached a turning point as we hit the accelerator on the transition to a clean energy economy,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Indeed, as we as a global society rapidly switch to renewable energy, Australia risks being left behind. Relying on old industries, not investing in new ones, is what threatens our future ability to be a competitive producer.

Insuring Our Future

However, careful consideration of energy producers in the selection of energy supply opportunities, an investment into new regional jobs, and an incentivised and community driven action plan will see Australia advance in energy production on the global stage. The economic rewards of becoming a clean energy superpower will generate revenue and growth far beyond the small government investments put in: a plan for sustainable energy is a plan for the economy. A careful and considered plan for a sustainable Australia is important to me, and it’s important to my colleagues. If we as a government and nation can work together to insure Australia’s future, we will be ensuring our children‘s health, wellbeing and lives remain protected: and then we really will be the lucky country.

— Akio Ho, spokesperson for Environment and Energy. Working with Daniel Stark, spokesperson for Innovation and Education and Jamin Hee, spokesperson for Infrastructure, to advance Australia’s future.


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