A political report on the real reasons why energy bills are rising.
Written by Tahlia Moses
The temperatures this summer won’t be the only thing rising, will our soaring energy bills continue to sizzle Australian household’s pockets as well?
After 7 months of the Albanese government, Australians have realised a major election promise of a ‘$275 reduction in electricity prices’ that was run throughout the May election campaign, with intent to ease the failures of the previous Morrison government, was nothing more than hot air.
After the previous government's inaction on pursuing renewable energy sources, the current government is also showing that very same lack of pragmatic reasoning for their budget cuts and campaign lies. Jim Chalmers delivered the federal budget on the 25th October, during the National Press Club Address, and it was implied that the Labour party had kept their promise on the $275 household power bill reduction. After receiving a question following his federal budget proposal, the Treasurer was asked by Nine News Network reporter, Charles Croucher ‘Should Australians still expect the $275 off their power bills?’ Chalmers replied ‘Yep, it’s in the budget’. However, if we take a look at the federal budget the Labour party delivered, there is a failure to see such cuts included, and quite the contrary, power price increases are clearly forecast. Chalmers recently apologised claiming he ‘misheard’ the question.
After 97 separate calls on reducing household costs of energy during the Labour election campaign earlier this year, Jim Chalmers confirmed the 20% rise this year, and 30% rise in costs next year. Deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, questioned Albanese on this, with his response rejecting the premise of the question, followed by:
"But I agree with the statement that the cheapest, most reliable and cleanest energy on the planet are renewables. I agree with the statement the cheapest way to deliver electricity today is not coal, it's not gas, it's certainly not nuclear, it's wind, solar, backed up by pumped hydro and batteries.
"So if you care about cheap energy and reliable energy, then you're looking at wind, solar and pumped hydro.”
Mr Albenese went further to claim the price hike was the result of former Coalition failures of investment, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine fuelling international inflation.
Party politics aside, there is one thing clear. The campaign on cutting household energy price bills was a lie, and the government is backpedalling trying to acknowledge it. Not only this, but the actual severity of the renewable energy crisis and the uncommon, but undiscovered idea of; is green really that clean?
To put it simply; Australia needs renewables. However, it is hard to perfect their implementation and there are several flaws in the Albanese implementation, which have caused the energy price rise.
Currently, there is a huge rate of prematurely shutting down older energy sources instead of putting money into maintaining them and keeping them operational. The end of life period for older energy sources is happening much sooner, yet renewable energies are not fully on tap yet.
This is creating a gap in the efficient continuation of power supply.
What's the answer? Well, I propose the adequate reasoning would be to either bring renewables on quicker or extend the life of our older sources until the renewables are properly implemented so we have a stable and affordable power supply.
The renewable energy sector is highly flawed at the moment. It was just a mere 5 months ago that we were being told to turn off our washing machines and printers when not using them to take pressure off our power supply, yet our government expects us to run a country with expanding demands such as electric vehicles, off this same energy grid? Europe is experiencing the very same pressures Australia is facing now, and there are instances where increasing power prices are causing elderly pensioners to make harsh decisions as to forgo heating or cooling due to increasing power bills or putting food on the table.
On Albenese’s point about the Russia and Ukraine conflict being responsible for this, whilst some parts of this are true, the majority is a deflection of responsibility. Is the war driving up the price of gas and fuel? Yes. However, the government continues to send the majority of Australia's energy offshore. Our mining companies are going straight to overseas companies in China and India. Now, Australia doesn’t have enough supply for its own people and we are being forced to buy our own natural resources back at inflated international rates. The easiest solution would be for the government to implement a local preservation rate of 10-15% for domestic use, and the excess as an export. This has already been positively implemented in Western Australia. That being said, there is a theme of hypocrisy in saying that if the government was so focused on going renewable to be clean, why continue to send the very same energy we are banning to the countries causing the most harm, and be happy to make taxes off the back from it?
While both sides of politics are to blame for the current energy turmoil we are facing, at what point do we put blame on one side and prioritise the people of Australia alongside the environment?