Finkel’s blueprint a way forward

Opinion 2In October 2016, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) tasked the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel to conduct an independent review of the national electricity market to take stock of the current security and reliability and to provide advice to government s on a coordinated, national reform blueprint. This was after the blackout in South Australia, and in the midst of heavy debate about energy supply, use of renewables, and the rising costs to business and community.

On the 9 June the report was made public. It contains over 200 pages, with key recommendations, including the development of a Clean Energy Target, better system planning, better data, cyber threat awareness and work force preparation.

The initial response across business, unions, and community groups, including ACOSS, has been preparedness to consider the recommendations and work through the process carefully. There is agreement that we do have a problem.

Mark Butler and Bill Shorten have made it clear that we will be part of a collective response, acknowledging the professional and collective work of Dr Finkel and the team.

Malcolm Turnbull has defended the government’s record, while George Brandis has praised the diversity of thought within the Coalition, and agreed to listen to the science.

The need for the solid defence of diversity was the outburst of criticism from members of the LNP from the moment that the report was released. Tony Abbot led the response, comparing the Finkel report to the Magic Pudding, Eric Abetz questioned the modelling and the LNP caucus room required extra meetings to develop a position, as yet unknown, though there will be listening to the science.

No report will be universally agreed, but we now have challenge and an expectation from the community that the wasteful and vicious climate wars will be ended and that the Blueprint will be considered.

Claire Moore, Senator for Queensland

A copy of the report can be accessed at http://www.environment.gov.au/energy/national-electricity-market-review

 

Lacklustre policies will do nothing for housing crisis

Opinion 2In trying to defend the Turnbull Government’s inadequate housing plan, the Assistant Treasurer is back to running the same excuses he did before the Budget. Mr Sukkar recently wrote that, “state, territory and local governments pull most of the levers that affect housing affordability” and that “there is simply not enough supply to keep up with demand”.

This narrow analysis will do nothing to get people into secure, affordable housing.

Mr Sukkar was far more bullish before the Budget, saying the government’s package would be ‘extraordinarily large’ and ‘it will be an impressive package, it will be a well-received package.’ Yet the Grattan Institute’s John Daley said “you’ll need a scanning electron microscope to see an impact on prices”.

Whether for home buyers or renters, people on middle or very low incomes, the government’s ‘centrepiece without a centrepiece’, as National Shelter called it, will make little or no difference to the housing crisis. In the case of their superannuation saver accounts, it will make it worse by pushing up prices.

The sad fact is that there was a housing affordability crisis before the Budget, and there will continue to be one while the Liberals are in power because the Turnbull Government has failed to reform capital gains tax and negative gearing.

Fundamentally, the government’s housing policies fail the fairness test. The vast majority of the benefits of negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions go to the wealthiest in the community. The Treasurer’s capitulation on tax makes much of the rest of their package inadequate.

In contrast, Labor is the only party with a plan to increase affordable housing supply and tackle distortions caused by the most generous tax concessions in the world.

Labor’s policy promotes a level playing field for those trying to buy a home. Labor’s policy also supports renters and people experiencing homelessness, particularly the growing number of women at risk of homelessness.

Senator Doug Cameron