07/03/2017 - 09:49

Labor’s renewable energy vacuum

07/03/2017 - 09:49

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ANALYSIS: One of the sleeper issues in the election campaign is the strategy for renewable energy over the next four years. There has been surprisingly little debate on the issue, which affects householders and business alike.

Labor’s renewable energy vacuum
Labor floated the idea of 50 per cent renewables target by 2030, but then dropped the plan.

ANALYSIS: One of the sleeper issues in the election campaign is the strategy for renewable energy over the next four years. There has been surprisingly little debate on the issue, which affects householders and business alike.

What we know is that solar and wind power provide about 13.5 per cent of the electricity on the state’s South West Interconnected System. The Liberal plan is to increase that to 23.5 per cent by 2030 – a modest goal and certainly achievable.

The Greens are pushing for the other extreme. They want 90 per cent renewables by 2030 – not a good prospect for coal and natural gas.

Labor’s position remains a mystery. What is known is that the party was toying with a 50 per cent target by 2030, but then swiftly dropped that plan.

The opposition is going into the election without a target and, surprisingly, has not been pressured over the issue.

The party’s strategy changed when veteran Collie-Preston MP Mick Murray confronted leaders with the ultimatum that, if Labor went for a 50 per cent target, with the consequent damaging impact on the coalmining industry in Collie, it could start looking for a new candidate for Collie-Preston.

And, as a result of the last redistribution of electoral boundaries, Labor must achieve a swing of 2.9 per cent to actually retain his seat. Only Mr Murray could achieve that.

It had the desired effect. The Labor hierarchy backed off, with surprisingly little criticism, including from the Greens.

The sensitive issue here is that while clean energy has a nice ring to it, the extra cost and reliability are areas of uncertainty. It is alright for the hundreds of thousands of consumers with subsidised solar panels, but in the end someone has to pay. There is always a day of reckoning.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten is keen on 50 per cent renewable power by 2030, if just to keep the Greens at bay. It could become national Labor policy next year.

Should Labor win government on Saturday, will that become policy in Western Australia too? Voters deserve to know.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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