National Party must come clean on energy pricing

Incensed by ludicrous claims that new coal-fired power plants in Australia will reduce electricity prices, independent candidate for New England, Adam Blakester, is calling on the National Party to come clean on energy policy.

“The member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, is wrongly calling for taxpayer-funded investment into new coal fired power stations and coal supply mining contracts as a way of reducing the cost of electricity,” said Blakester, who brings several decades of experience working on energy and energy-related issues.

“While I agree with MP Joyce that the public and business are demanding lower power prices, his proposed solution of new coal is simply wrong and he needs to stop misleading the Australian public that coal means cheaper electricity.

“Just a few months ago, the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Organisation, released a joint study that concluded that solar and wind, plus back-up, are the lowest cost source of new power. Their findings are supported by dozens more industry and expert bodies.

“In contrast, coal is more costly in every sense of the word: financially plus significant negative impacts on water, climate, air quality, public health, farmland and nature.

“We need political leadership to get on with the hard work of engaging with the public to build understanding and support for a national energy transition that gets us out of this dire situation. We need a policy and plan that considers energy generation and efficiency, addresses affordability and the cluster of crises facing farming, water, climate and nature.

“There is a false economy in holding on to past technology at this time. We need to move into the future as swiftly as we can while doing it safely. To not do so will worsen what is already a crisis.

“There are some additional points which are especially key for New England residents and voters.

“This plan must support workers and small businesses who are affected by this structural change to the Hunter’s energy sector.

There are opportunities for work in the new energy sector. Further development and diversification of the economy beyond this will be required to ensure that there are opportunities for a fair livelihood for everyone affected.

“Secondly, the New England is identified as a Renewable Energy Zone. Some $2Bn worth of renewable energy projects have already been built, making it one of the largest economic developments in the region’s history. Pro-active government support is needed to capture as much of the local employment and supply chain opportunities as we can.

“The backing of the community is essential if new projects are to proceed and succeed. I am well aware that there are a range of responses across the Electorate from supportive to opposed. As an independent candidate, I am truly here to represent the community either way.

“Of course, the conundrum we need to solve together is how to keep the lights on, so to speak, while bringing down power prices and addressing the cluster of other crises at the same time.

“There are communities across Australia and around the world who are achieving this with a properly planned and well considered transition to renewable energy.

“My team and I are asking our Electorate what their preferred solution is.

“The broader take-away from this specific policy issue is the great need for proper political and public governance. We need to work with the best evidence and rationale, not thought bubbles. We need to act in the best interests of the Electorate and all Australians, rather than just a few. We need to focus on both our immediate needs as well as those of generations to come.

“Anything short of this standard is nowhere near good enough.”

~ ENDS ~

For further media information:
Caroline Lumley, Carlum Communications - 0412 897 306
Adam Blakester – 0419 808 900