We are paying the price for a lost decade of energy policy

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THE COST OF POWER

We are paying the price for a lost decade of energy policy
Anthony Albanese’s promise to reduce electricity prices may be as illusory as Tony Abbott’s promise to reduce costs by repealing the “carbon tax”. It’s debatable they were “lying” because both had modelling that supported their propositions.

However, what is beyond debate, is that Abbott’s furphy provided the framework for a lost decade of energy policy inertia leading to the diabolical mess that we are now in. This is recognised by peak bodies from business, unions, agriculture, industry, transport, academia, etc.

Now, Australia needs a unity ticket on action to focus on managing pressing medium- and long-term issues, rather than playing trivial pursuit.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington

Stuck between rising demand and faltering supply
Increasing coal and gas prices, and unplanned coal plant outages, have contributed to the surging wholesale price of electricity during the September quarter. However, another significant and important factor is rising demand, with the recent colder and less sunny weather being one factor.

Governments must do whatever they can to encourage new investment in and deployment of renewable generation as quickly as possible if they want to contain electricity prices. They must do so while being wedged by increasing demand and faltering supply.

Whenever Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor complain about high electricity prices, we should note that they have just had nine years in government to address the problem.
Andrew Rothfield, Northcote

Kennett comments show he’s learnt nothing
The favourable energy supply and price situation in Western Australia proves the wisdom and foresight of its leadership in the mid-2000s in refusing to privatise its energy, calling the vested interests’ bluff.

It also highlights the lack of those qualities in Jeff Kennett when he privatised Victoria’s SEC a decade earlier, steamrolling the voices of reason that predicted the very consequences of increasing private profits, consumer costs and deteriorating service we have since experienced here, only now more acutely exacerbated; in fact, the opposite of the purported benefits touted to justify privatisation.

Kennett’s recent criticism of Daniel Andrews’ plan to retake control of the state’s energy supply demonstrates that after 25 years he has still learnt nothing from that error.

Perhaps if there were more substantial personal consequences for leaders for such damage apart from the wet lettuce slap of simply losing office, that may aid in learning necessary lessons.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong

It’s all win-win here
I’m not concerned about gas and power bills as we have solar panels which generate up to 5500W and an electric heat pump hot water system. Hence our power bill is always in credit except for one occasion this winter when it was $7.

When I buy an electric car it can be charged from the solar panels and we’ll avoid the cost of fuel. It’s all win-win.
Len Cox, Forest Hill

THE FORUM

We must accept this
Your editorial, (“Dire prospects if we let China ties unravel”, 27/10), refers to China’s view of its place in the Pacific region as being its “manifest destiny”, together with what appears to be its ultimate intention to exclude other powers from its hemisphere.

There is a strong parallel here to the United States’ realpolitik foreign policy since the early 19th century, encapsulated in its Monroe Doctrine of 1823.

Difficult as it may be, current realities are leaning towards Australia having to acknowledge that China has a legitimate “sphere of influence” analogous to its prime competitor America’s historic relationship with its own regional neighbours.

Aligning too closely with the Pacific military and diplomatic agenda of the US is leaving Australia open to a valid charge of hypocrisy. As you state, we need urgently to develop a constructive and nuanced relationship with the emerging leviathan, China.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

I answered the question …
Your report of the recent year 12 VCE English Exam (“Sore students complete an English epic”, The Age, 27/10) shows the questions asked in respect of the books Nine Days by Toni Jordan and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen were very poorly worded.

Students were given a statement about each book and asked “Do you agree?”. A student answering “yes” or “no” would be 100 per cent correct, however, such an answer would probably not have gained top marks.
Surely the questions should have been along the lines of “Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement”.

Questions, particularly for an English exam, should be better worded.
Tony Wheeler, Templestowe Lower

A pertinent question
Thanks to Bianca Hall for asking the Liberal candidate for Richmond, Lucas Moon, where the medically supervised injecting room would go should they win government (“A pitched battle for Melbourne’s progressive heart”, 28/10).

After four years of opposing the facility, they haven’t provided an alternative location. Another key question is how they will manage increased public overdoses and fatalities in our community if it closes.
Judy Ryan, Abbotsford

Apply the scalpel
Business continually demands less government interference – lower taxes and red tape (that is, protection for employees, consumers and the environment). However it also expects rapid, massive assistance when shocks hit the system whether self-inflicted (the GFC) or external (COVID-19).

This assistance then causes long-term problems to government finances (deficits, borrowings and welfare spending) while business returns to making profits and bonuses.

The current shock – conflict in Ukraine – has produced winners (commodity and fossil fuel suppliers) and losers (all business and household energy consumers) and the government is also a beneficiary through increased taxes from the corporate winners and GST from everyone else.

While the Reserve Bank bludgeons inflation with interest rate hikes, the government should use a scalpel to further increase its revenue from the corporate winners (a super-profits tax) and use these windfall gains for budget repair and reducing energy costs to all as promised. Come on, Jim Chalmers and Anthony Albanese, be clever and brave.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

When did it change?
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said in his reply to the budget speech (“Dutton blasts ALP on energy vow”, The Age, 28/10) on Thursday night: “We will have a clearly defined, positive and bold plan ahead of the next election to take our country forward.”

Surely they had plans at the May election? If they did, then what has the Coalition ditched? If they didn’t, then perhaps that is why they lost.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Please explain
It is disappointing that Medibank continues to alert its customers against falling for “phishing scams” without in any way explaining what a “phishing scam” is and how to recognise such a potential scam.

It’s nice to know, of course, that Medibank apologises “unreservedly” for its data breach – but how about providing customers and ex-customers with some practical, easy-to-understand education on these scams and how they work, rather than merely brandishing a technical term which, for many of those potentially affected, will be little more than gobbledegook at the moment?
Peter Dann, Blackburn

A costly mistake
If indeed a juror ignored the advice of the judge and undertook their own research (during the Lehrmann trial in the ACT), surely this should trigger a review of future court cases and the potential introduction of significant fines or community service for such behaviour?

This one reckless act causes enormous stress for all parties involved, not to mention significant cost to the Australian taxpayer.
David Metcalfe, Newtown

Give them the option
Following dismissal of the jury in the Bruce Lehrmann trial in the ACT, due to a juror being found to have obtained relevant material that was not actually included in the trial, one has to question the process of current jury trials, where jurors are permitted to go home during the overnight breaks in their deliberations.

How on earth can we the people and judges ever be satisfied, “beyond reasonable doubt” that jurors strictly adhere to a requirement not to conduct their own research at home during breaks, surely that’s impossible.

If the ACT specifies that rape trials must be conducted in a trial by jury, maybe it’s time to change this and allow a defendant to opt for a trial by judge only, that would definitely guarantee impartiality so that justice is not only seen but done.
Will Muskens, Bardon, Qld

Restoring some balance
Since the days (more than 30 years ago) of Australia’s highest union membership and where collective bargaining was commonplace, the pendulum has swung way back in favour of the employers and corporate profits and CEO pay packets have become obscene.

Wage theft has basically become the business model in industries where workers have no representation and the line between inflation and price gouging is increasingly blurred.

Good on the Albanese government for doing something to address this problem.
Russell Brims, Bentleigh East

Stop this treatment
The federal budget has allocated tens of millions of dollars to continue offshore incarceration. This at a time when there are many urgent needs in the community.

Your correspondent (“Cruel and irresponsible”, 28/10) points out that almost $12 billion has been squandered on punishing asylum seekers who have only sought to escape imprisonment, torture and often death at the hands of tyrannical regimes.

We once had a reputation as a country of refuge and welcome. This has been destroyed, by both the ALP and even more by Coalition governments. Processing of refugees must be accelerated and they must be cared for and absorbed into the community.

Let us stop this selfish inhumane treatment and show we can be generous and value our fellow human beings.
Gael Barrett, Balwyn North

A recipe for inaction
It is no surprise that Jim Chalmers and the Albanese government are slow off the mark in responding to the energy bill rises.

The influence and success of decades of anti-government, anti-regulation and anti-taxation ideology have reduced the capacity, confidence and effectiveness of governments in Australia and around the world.

Just when we need strong and decisive governments to deal better with global warming, inequality, inflation, economic development and more, we do not have them. Our challenges (and opportunities) have got bigger just as our ideas and policies have become smaller.

It will take the concerted will of the people and new and better leadership to get us off the too-little-too-late trajectory and treadmill.
Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, SA

AND ANOTHER THING

Politics
Peter Dutton keeps reminding Australians why we voted for a change of government.
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Credit:

Thanks to Treasurer Jim Chalmers, I’m getting a better understanding of TV ads that implore me to “gamble responsibly”.
Gordon Thurlow, Launceston, Tas.

Politicians are paid to debate legislation, not to berate and ridicule.
Merryn Boan, Brighton

Apparently the $275 reduction in power prices was not a core promise.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

Nine years of Coalition energy policy have contributed to high power bills yet just a few months out from the last election Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has the temerity to blame the Albanese government for the situation we find ourselves in now.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

School funding
Daniel Andrews, I want my taxes to be spent on public education not any alternative systems or schools based on individual choice.
Dianne Foggo, Kyneton

Furthermore
Dead right, “They just got on with it” (Letters 28/10). The SEC provided service, trained apprentices, future planned, there were no rip-offs and profits benefited us all. Bring it back.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

Do we really believe if we let gas companies extract more gas they will sell it in Australia at a lower price? Maybe we could extract flying pigs at the same time.
Patricia Green, Glen Waverley

Jackson Graham laments the disappearance of Doctor Who from the ABC (“Time’s up for Doctor Who on ABC”, The Age, 27/10). For many of us, it is the evocative sound of the blue police box and that ever-chilling “exterminate, exterminate”. Vale, Doctor Who.
Anne Kruger, Rye

Finally
I have just received a card in my letterbox telling me that a vote for a teal candidate will help re-elect Daniel Andrews and encouraging me to vote Liberal. Who organised this chook raffle? There is no declared teal candidate in Brighton.
Rod Watson, Brighton East

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