28 October 2021

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 28 October 2021.

The Morrison Government need only look outside the doors of Parliament House for inspiration as it desperately searches for credibility on climate action.

While the Federal Government has embarrassingly dragged its heels on the issue, the capital city where it meets has led the nation in transitioning to renewable energy.

This month marked two years since the ACT officially became the first city outside Europe to be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity. If the ACT can do it, imagine what Australia as a nation could do!

With abundant wind, sun, hydro, and rare earth minerals, Australia is uniquely placed to lead the decarbonisation revolution and become a renewable energy superpower.

Global capital and the market have already made this decision for us – we just need our Federal Government to show leadership. But instead of preparing our energy grid for this change, the Morrison Government has instead chosen inaction (again) and, in the process, scared off international investors.

Some 2,700 clean energy jobs are estimated to have disappeared on Mr Morrison’s watch.

This do-nothing approach will also see Australia run afoul of inevitable carbon tariffs, which will render our global exports uncompetitive.

Our days are numbered on this reality, the European Union and the United States are already formulating options for carbon borders.

The only way to future-proof Australian industry is to avoid the tariffs through good, credible climate policy.

Anything else will be gross economic neglect and will hang Australian exporters out to dry.

It’s yet another opportunity missed by the Prime Minister, who has deferred to the Nationals – a party divided on even the basic science of climate change – to make the decision on his behalf.

After eight years of government, three prime ministers and 21 different policies – the Coalition is still divided and can’t make up its mind.

And now, the most important climate summit yet, COP26, is upon us. First the Prime Minister didn’t want to go. Now he’ll show up without a credible policy. It’s a national disgrace and (another) international embarrassment (think the French submarine fiasco).

Only a change of government can end a decade of inaction. Labor is ready and, if elected, will invest $20 billion to modernise Australia’s energy grid to spur the production of cheap, green renewable energy and keep power prices down.

Labor will further drive down emissions and power bills by connecting up to 100,000 homes to 400 community batteries across the country.

Labor will provide $10 million for a New Energy Skills Program to tailor skills training to the specific needs of new energy industries.

To make electric vehicles more affordable, a Labor Government will exempt EVs from import tariffs and fringe benefits tax – saving Australian motorists thousands.

The global renewable energy revolution has begun, and Australia has a once in a generation opportunity chance to leap ahead of the pack. This brings the promise of jobs, lower power bills, and reduced emissions. And to do the right thing by future generations.

We deserve a Federal Government that will grab that opportunity and lead us into a prosperous future.

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 28 October 2021.