JOHN MENADUE. A little bit of honesty would go a long way in energy policy.

We really do need some honesty from the media on energy policy. The fact is that Coalition policies have failed for at least eight years and are largely responsible for our pending crisis. Media cover-ups for failed Coalition policies will not change that fact.

The newspapers this morning have been screaming about the need for a bipartisan energy policy. The AFR told us ‘Looming energy crisis cries out for bipartisanship’.

What hypocrisy and dishonesty!

The real problem has been the failure of Coalition policies for eight years – whether in Opposition or in Government. The call for bipartisanship is a threadbare cover to hide the failed climate and energy policies of the Coalition, business interests and the fawning corporate media.

The Coalition opposed an emissions trading scheme and a carbon tax. We can all recall the scandalous scare campaigns that Tony Abbott and his colleagues ran on these issues supported strongly by most of the media – particularly the Murdoch media.

In order to win the prime ministership and to retain his position, Malcolm Turnbull abandoned what we thought he believed on climate change and energy policy. Over night he became a strong supporter of coal-fired electricity generation and an opponent of renewable energy.

Failure of Australian policies on energy has been largely due to the Coalition. The ALP has been much more on the right side of history. But the media infers that the ALP is as much to blame as the Coalition.

Take gas policy, which is very much in the news again. At the last federal election in 2016, Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, said

If elected, Labor would follow the lead of other gas-rich nations like the US and Canada, and introduce a Domestic Gas Interest Test for new or significantly expanded natural gas export facilities. The basic idea would be that every time a company wanted to create a new gas project an independent board appointed by the Treasurer would assess what impact it might have on the national interest.

That policy announcement was somewhat tentative, but it did envisage a gas reservation policy. Such gas reservation policies are pursued by every major gas producing nation in the world, including the US, Canada, Indonesia, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Algeria and Malaysia. Unfortunately, Western Australia is the only state in Australia with a gas reservation policy.

We really do need some honesty from the media on energy policy. The fact is that Coalition policies have failed for at least eight years and are largely responsible for our pending crisis. Media cover-ups for failed Coalition policies will not change that fact.

Two years ago in Pearls and Irritations, I wrote an article ‘A rigged gas market’. The economic purists didn’t like it, but it pointed to the pending problems in the gas market. Those problems are dire today.

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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