Another View of Energy Transition

If we can’t prosper in our sparsely populated, vast, resources rich continent, blessed with sun and wind (not to mention uranium), and practical, intelligent people – we’ll have to hang our heads down in shame before our grandchildren.

But we’ll have to cast off our colonial cringe that subjugates us to almost anything foreign, even a French submarine, at four-times the 1st world benchmark price with all manufactured parts imported from France, and the same story for the British designed frigates and German designed offshore patrol vessels.

And we need to shed the Thatcherism-like religion that we can’t manufacture cost effectively in Australia and we should just be a services driven economy, circulating the earnings from the mining/agriculture exports, with the view that the market is best placed to deliver (long-term) infrastructure.

For example, let’s find a solution to reliability of renewable electricity supply without using (imported) batteries that consume rare resources and pollute the environment on disposal – it’s not rocket science.

We also need to recognise the massive opportunity to regenerate our vast degraded agricultural lands (especially the few hundred million hectares of rangelands), as Minister Taylor has in including soil carbon measurement (by remote sensing) in his five priority low emissions technologies.

This can not only transition Australia to a net negative emission economy by 2050 (with sufficient surplus carbon credits to staple to our exports with embedded carbon emissions, eg, LNG, coking coal, aluminium), but also improve the productivity and health of the agricultural lands, whilst improving bio-diversity and human health, and avoiding environmental damage (eg, chemical nutrient runoff to riparian systems and estuaries/reefs, erosion, etc).

But is our National Leadership capable of the transition, when we can’t break the pattern of practically all Government approved infrastructure spending being based on the self-interested political efficacies of the next electoral cycle?

I don’t expect large corporates in Australia will provide the leadership, as many are foreign owned and are here as rent-seekers harvesting the spoils of our couple of decades of poorly implemented privatisation experiment.

I suspect we will have to learn to live with COVID, which may keep the community’s focus on more self-reliance and a healthier more diverse environment, and drive our self-interested political class to broaden their vison.  Who would have expected “ScMo from marketing”, ‘with a lump of coal in hand’, to come up with the Modern Manufacturing Strategy (MMS).

What an opportunity he now has – to cancel the French submarines and British frigates, avoiding a quarter trillion dollars flowing to France and Britain over the next 40 years – lock-in a process to get suitable submarines and frigates designed and built in Australia, at one-third the cost with over 70% Australian industry content (as per Collins subs and ANZAC frigates) – and commit the surplus $200 billion to the sorts of programs Peter set ourt in his email below and I mention above.