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What happened to long-term vision?

What happened to long-term vision?

  Jenny Paradiso | 6 September 2013
Where is either party’s plan for long-term energy security?

A federal election is the perfect opportunity to frame a vision for the country’s future.

And yet this Saturday we are faced with major parties 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 to their clientele? 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 have been 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.

The current government’s views on renewable energy are murky, to say the least. 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.

It is understood the Coalition are still 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.

Where will our future government lead us? Do they have the vision to initiate positive change for our future and our children’s future?

Businesses are increasingly coming to companies like ours to look for commercial solar solutions. They are looking beyond the next reporting period for an investment that will provide a cost-efficient solution for the next 10 to 20 years – in some cases, beyond their own career, and in all cases, beyond Saturday’s election.

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

Jenny Paradiso is managing director of South Australian renewable energy company Suntrix.

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