At the time of writing, Australia is in a hopeful position. Strong leadership from state governments has squashed the pandemic curve and prevented significant damage to Australia’s medical system. While lifting restrictions on people’s movement is months away, the nature of Australia’s post-pandemic recovery is beginning to be discussed in earnest.
Surprisingly, Australia’s conservative government has proved willing to embrace economic stimulus. They have also shocked observers by working closely with union officials on their measures. Already three large stimulus packages have been passed. These packages have included a doubling of Australia’s job-seeker payment, one-off cash handouts for pensioners, allowances for instant tax write-offs for business purchases, a massive wage subsidy program, rent assistance, and bailouts for airlines. Legislation has been passed giving the federal Treasurer unprecedented powers to direct government money in any direction. Many vulnerable people (including casual and Arts industry workers) are still missing out, but the government has shown a willingness to spend their way to recovery. In that lies great opportunity and great danger.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is surrounded by voices that support fossil fuels – his staff, his inner circle of advisors, and members of his newly-appointed “Covid-19 Commission”. If the activity of lobbyists in the US is anything to go by, fossil fuel interests will be working overtime in Australia. There are gigantic fossil fuel projects waiting for the go-ahead and ready-made, high-paying jobs will be a valuable selling point post-pandemic. Thermal coal in the Galilee Basin, fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, coal-seam gas in Narrabri, offshore gas in Browse – all these names will become very familiar to Australians in the coming months when the government looks to kick-start the economy with big, “nation-building” projects.
Activity Rating: * Fossil fuels likely to be leveraged as an economic kick-starter
This week has seen announcements from Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, that Australia will buy cheap US oil. A round of government investment in new electricity generation has a 50/50 chance of being spent on fossil fuels and that accelerated extraction of onshore gas will power Australia’s economic response to COVID-19. Despite the government’s backing of green hydrogen and a banner month for the Australian clean energy sector, the signs are not good for a green pandemic recovery.
There is a legitimate fear that Morrison and his ministers are too entwined with the fossil fuel industry, plus they have a track record of ignoring clean energy solutions. With an array of projects to choose from and readiness to spend big, it is expected the government will leverage the situation to their advantage, painting opponents of fossil fuels as un-Australian and stopping a positive rebuild.
Action alert message:
Dear Mr. Morrison,
Big choices will need to be made in the coming weeks. Australian’s economic recovery will need to address high levels of unemployment, low consumer confidence, and avoid shoveling money into monopolies or overseas corporations. Australians have banded together across demographic lines for weeks to squash COVID-19, and have been broadly appreciative of your government’s moves to support workers. Don’t squander this goodwill, and this amazing chance to kickstart Australia’s economy in the right way.
Australia’s renewable energy industry has had a banner start to 2020. From the massive pumped hydro dam in Kidston to South Australia’s accelerated pursuit of 100% clean energy and a record surge in clean energy jobs, the industry is ready to take-off. Angus Taylor’s support of green hydrogen could well create the future energy export industry for Australia. You know the going’s good when Western Australia is charting a course to clean energy superpower status! We urge you to take advantage of the good news and make these areas priorities in Australia’s economic recovery. Don’t let names like Browse, Scarborough, Beetaloo, and Narrabri become go-to’s in the coming weeks. Over-reliance on fossil fuels to restart Australia ties us to industries that are crashing across the globe. Gas, oil, and fracking are not long-term solutions to our problems, and profits will disappear offshore while jobs get automated. Take this golden chance to turn Australia’s future green and clean.
Send Action Alert Message to:
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6277 7700