Environmental disaster beckons

9 Jul 2013


One of the world’s most respected environmentalists has called on Australia to stop “playing politics with energy” before it is too late.

John Hofmeister, the US-based former President of Shell Oil Company – who spent considerable time in Australia in the ‘90s and noughties – says an obsession with short-term political expediency will invariably lead to severe energy shortages and environmental destruction.

Speaking ahead of his opening keynote address to All-Energy Australia 2013 in Melbourne on October 9th and 10th, Mr Hofmeister called for the establishment of an independent Australian Energy Reserve Authority (ERA) that would set future policy direction.

Mr Hofmeister says the Authority – to be run along the lines of the Reserve Bank – “should have between six and 10 governors drawn from multiple fields of expertise, including industry and the environment, consumer and financial interests.

“Appointees would be subject to federal parliamentary approval and they would have 10 year terms, but importantly they would act with total autonomy.”

As he sees it, ERA will have four primary objectives, namely to:

  1. Assure the uninterrupted supply of affordable energy from all sources;
  2. Establish needed infrastructure to move energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed;
  3. Ensure environmental protection to improve land, water and air quality; and
  4. Deliver efficiencies through technology.

He says Australia has achieved nothing bickering about the merits or demerits of a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme.
“Instead this country has a real opportunity to lead the world in solving what has been an unsolvable problem – namely the governance of energy.

“You shouldn’t sit by and play petty politics waiting to see the planet burn before you are compelled to act,” Mr Hofmeister says.

Referring specifically to the toing and froing between Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, Mr Hofmeister says “if politicians are allowed to zigzag the nation through public policy spurts and busts you will end up exactly where you are now in 20 or 30 years, having accomplished absolutely nothing.”

He says he is calling on Australians to demand change by letting their politicians know that what is happening now is nowhere near good enough.

Mr Hofmeister says he will use his address to All-Energy Australia to “raise the alarm”.

“I am intending to do so at the most prestigious event of its sort in the country and I will propose a viable solution.

“Like so many democracies Australia appears to have an inability to solve difficult problems in a timely fashion,” Mr Hofmeister says.


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