It feels sometimes that politicians are so intent on beating up the “other side” that they couldn’t even agree the sky is blue or the sea is wet.
Recently in Federal Parliament a cross party consensus on a tricky and important public policy issue made us look away from the point scoring of question time.
Seeing a group of politicians from across the political spectrum come to an agreed position was refreshing.
We all know that the national electricity grid is an important thing to get right now and into the future.
We assume the lights will stay on and the bills will turn up.
At a certain level we get that there are concerns like carbon emissions, aging infrastructure, decommissioning aged power stations, what energy sources are the best option.
Important as electricity supply is to industry, business and individuals the issue the issue is complex and involves many levels of policy and decision making so most of us don’t understand what is a stake if we don’t have good policy direction and a strategy to get there.
All most of us really understand is that we can mostly rely on the the lights staying on and that the bills turn up like clockwork.
We might have a few thoughts about wind turbines, maybe even a solar panel on the roof.
A national grid has to serve biggest cities and the most isolated outback customers.
Obviously planning for our future energy needs is a lot more complex than flicking a switch or paying a household bill.
Just for starters there is the physics and engineering of the power grid infrastructure required to cover a land mass as large as Australia.
Our population is densely packed around the coastal fringe.
But a national grid has to serve not just the biggest cities but also the most isolated outback customer.
There a passionate views about where power comes from and the answers are not straightforward. If the question is “How should we fuel a power station by coal, hydro, wind, solar or nuclear?” the answer is going to be way more complex and nuanced than ticking off one or a combination of those boxes.
Hats off to nuanced understanding and political consensus
The Federal Parliamentary Committee on the Environment was asked to consider these issues, and many more.
It is delightful that after an exhaustive (and likely exhausting!) process the committee ( with members from all the various parties) came up with a consensus approach.
Hats off to Committee Chair, Victorian Nationals member, Andrew Broad, and the rest of the committee for being able to find a non-partisan way through the challenging issue of our future energy needs.
Andrew Broad spoke on Open House with Stephen O’Doherty.