Energy crisis – Queenslanders forced to pay the price for 10 years of regulatory neglect
ETU demands urgent review of the National Electricity Market
Following another day of warnings about possible blackouts and price blowouts, the Electrical Trades Union has taken aim at what it describes as 10 years of regulatory neglect, calling for an immediate review of the regulatory frameworks that make up the National Electricity Market.
ETU state secretary Peter Ong said the current crisis was entirely avoidable and highlighted the abject failure of the former federal government to implement a cohesive energy policy and the impacts of rampant privatisation throughout the southern states.
“These warnings of blackouts and supply shortages are symptomatic of private energy companies gaming a system that has for years had plenty of acronyms and boards but very little actual regulation.” Mr Ong said.
Ong pointed to the current situation where Queensland consumers were asked to regulate their own power usage while multinational power companies sought to maximise their profits.
“For the past two nights, while Queensland’s state-owned electricity generators were working at full speed to generate electricity, we had the disgusting situation where following market intervention from Australian Energy Market Operator to put a cap on power prices, private-owned electricity generators actively withheld supply, putting lives and businesses at risk.” Mr Ong said.
Ong also drew attention to the ongoing issues with gas and coal supplies, again highlighting the complete failure of the regulatory frameworks to actually regulate power supply and prices in the interests of Queenslanders.
“Australia is one of the worlds leading coal and gas producers, yet we have the absurd situation where we are held to ransom by multinational, tax avoiding, gas companies who export massive amounts of gas at exorbitant prices while withholding supply to maximise profit in eastern Australia. While we also have coal companies exporting large quantities overseas rather than providing it to generate power.”
Mr Ong said the ETU recognizes there is no quick fix after ten years of neglect by the LNP federal government, but it is calling on the state government to do two things as a matter of urgency.
“We urge minister de Brenni to call on the federal government to undertake an immediate review of Australia’s broken National Electricity Market that is responsible for this ongoing crisis. Secondly, we call on the state government to use the upcoming budget and Energy Plan to accelerate construction of public-owned renewable generation and storage assets.”
Mr Ong said if the federal government failed to move quickly to implement the review and actually provide trust and certainty into the energy market, the union would push for Queensland to go it alone by removing itself from the failed National Electricity Market.
For more information, please call Peter Ong on 0419 721 046 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.