Wanted: vision for a secure energy future – The Advertiser

The Advertiser, November 06, 2013

THE recent federal election was a perfect opportunity for the contending political parties to frame a vision for the country’s future.

Unfortunately the major parties gave the impression that they were simply trying to survive the day with the biggest number of ballots.

As a business owner, I want more from our elected officials.

We were named Telstra’s top South Australian business this year, not because we simply tried to get through one month and then the next, but because we have a long-term plan for our business and the people who make that business succeed.

I wonder if either of the major parties would win such an award. Do they have the vision and motivation of a well-run company?

Do they focus on providing the best service and are they always striving to innovate and improve efficiencies?

Often policies are simply carried forward from a previous election, responding to existing government policy and lacking details on how key changes will be costed – especially the cost to business. Where is the vision, the innovation?

And what of each party’s lack of transparency? Costings will be released – but only after the election blackout.

If a business tried the same thing with its clients, it would rightly be investigated by regulatory authorities.

My wish is for our Government – and the Opposition that keeps it in check – to have the vision and smarts to get our economy moving forward.

Encourage small and medium enterprises to grow and hire more staff; don’t deter us with payroll tax. Encourage efficiencies and don’t bog us down with administration and red tape.

And of course, a subject close to my heart: What is the score when it comes to that most long-term of all government policies, the environment?

Just as agriculture allowed us to plan for future security, and the industrial revolution allowed us to engage in mass-production and specialise, an investment in commercialising renewable energy is an investment in our country’s future success and energy security.

Our main source of energy, oil, is subject to international ebbs and flows. Wars, dollar fluctuations and irrational fears drive prices on a minute-to-minute basis, felt by all consumers as they see petrol prices passing $1.50 a litre.

And similar pain is felt by industry as they pass on the prices of the food we eat and the goods we buy for every kilometre they travel.

We talk to business every day, struggling to manage increasing electricity bills.

As a business owner, I want a long-term plan for energy security, and in my view the answer is renewable energy.

Solar, wind, wave and bioenergy provide exciting prospects, either for large-scale production or for alleviating pressures on our oil and coal-driven energy sources.

Labor appears to support the cause – but in reality they cut solar incentives for consumers with barely a month’s notice while continuing to subsidise coal-fired power stations.

The Coalition are intent on scrapping the carbon tax and will cut funding to invaluable resources such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and programs linked to carbon price and emission reduction.

Businesses are increasingly looking beyond the next reporting period for an investment in cost-efficient, commercial solar solutions for the next 10 to 20 years – in some cases, beyond their own career.

It would be refreshing to see a government with the same long-term vision.

Jenny Paradiso is managing director of Telstra’s SA Business of the Year, renewable energy company Suntrix.

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