The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has weighed in on the release of the Federal Budget (Budget) by the Morrison Government, calling it a ‘missed opportunity for a clean recovery’. However, the CEC is not alone in thinking the Budget missed out on a golden goose, indeed others are also lambasting the Budget for failing to miss out on the stranded assets.
The CEC says that the Budget “missed the critical opportunity to leverage Australia’s renewable energy sector to kick-start the economy and create tens of thousands of sustainable jobs in rural Australia. Investing in clean, sustainable infrastructure not only produces an immediate economic boost,” continued the CEC, “but also creates long term jobs and industry for regional Australia.”
The CEC did make sure to clap the Morrison Government on the back for such provisions as funding for women in the STEM fields and new initiatives such as the instant asset write-off which is a rather standard response to economic crisis but it will still encourage commercial-scale solar.
However, around the country, particular umbrage was vented about the government’s commitment to a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station in Collinsville and funding for an expansion of Vales Point, described by the CEC as “one of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest power stations”, an allocation that “will only add to investor confusion and uncertainty about the Australian Government’s energy policy priorities.”
😱 can’t believe @JoshFrydenberg & @AngusTaylorMP just gave $millions to prop up a 42 year old coal power station (owned by an LNP donor) that emits as much CO₂ as the _entire_ domestic aviation industry in a normal year.
— 💧simon holmes à court 🦠 (@simonahac) October 6, 2020
The Australia Institute’s Richie Merzian said the Vales Point funding allocation showed once again that coal addiction is hard to kick. The funding is said to be for the coal-fired power station’s reduction in emissions and reliability improvement, but considering the age and life-expectancy of the plant, surely a merciful shutdown is a better use of funds. And let us not forget that the NSW Government sold Vales Point Power Station for $1 million in 2015, and somehow it wound up being worth $730 million in 2017. The ABC described this deal as an “illustration of how Australia’s energy policy chaos is creating unlikely winners and losers.”
Evidently, the NSW Government thought Australia’s trajectory would, rationally, swing toward strong renewable integration, the Federal Government, irrationally, had other ideas. An asset the NSW Government thought would close in 2021 was given a new lease of life to a Coalition donor in Trevor St Baker, and the LNP has given it another lifeline in yesterday’s Budget.
Money for coal clunker just announced #Budget2020
Vales Point coal fired power station in NSW, flipped for a dime so it could be privately decommissioned, is instead getting more government handouts to kick on!
Coal addiction is hard to kick #auspol
— Richie Merzian (@RichieMerzian) October 6, 2020
Independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall OAM decried the Budget for its failure to meet the visionary call for a bold green recovery program, choosing instead the cowardly route of “business as usual.” “It’s time to be brave and bold,” said Steggall, “and secure our economic future to aim for gold. Instead, Australians are getting record debt and spending on ‘business as usual’ measures that will not put Australia on the podium.”
Of course, the Morrison Government had already announced a reduced funding package for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) while Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has been actively attempted to co-opt both ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund fossil fuel projects.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “We owe it to the next generation to ensure a strong economy.” He’s right, the Morrison Government does owe the next generation a strong economy, because this Budget certainly hasn’t paid for one.
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