We know that we are in the midst of a fast-moving and unpredictable energy revolution driven by technological change and community demands.
We also know that Australia’s electricity system is the biggest single source of pollution in the country because of its coal-dependence but that its institutions have no legal obligation to do anything about it. Indeed in many ways they are actively working against the transition to clean energy.
Energy governance is stranded in the world of 20 years ago and failing to keep up with the demand for change, let alone get ahead of it. It is designed to deliver electrons and gas, not to supply modern energy services -- that is the things we really want like heating and cooling, mobility and lighting, hot food and icecreams.
Australia's energy ministers, meeting as the COAG Energy Council, are collectively responsible for energy governance through the 2004 Australian Energy Market Agreement (AEMA). Decisions that should be exposed for debate and parliamentary scrutiny are made by energy ministers behind closed doors. The community has no effective voice in the process either directly or through ministers from other affected portfolios. The ministerial council itself has no accountability other than to COAG.
AEMA is well past its use-by date. It is not serving the interests of consumers let alone the community more broadly. And it is profoundly anti-democratic. It should be abolished -- that would free up the system and enable us to start the transition to something better suited to today’s realities.