Australian news, and some related international items

Govt scheme to underwrite gas, hydro and coal power needs investigation – Zali Steggall

Zali Steggall calls for investigation of Coalition plan to underwrite gas, hydro and coal power
Independent MP says scheme lacks transparency and government has no authority to introduce it,
Guardian,  Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Mon 27 Apr 2020 Independent MP Zali Steggall has asked the auditor general to investigate a Morrison government scheme to underwrite gas, hydro and coal power, saying it lacks transparency and citing legal advice that the Coalition had no constitutional or legislative authority to introduce it.

Announced in late 2018 after the government abandoned Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed national energy guarantee, the underwriting new generation investment (Ungi) scheme promises public support for new dispatchable power generation projects to increase competition in the electricity grid. Twelve projects have been shortlisted, including six pumped hydro plants, five gas generators and an upgrade to the Vales Point coal-fired power plant.

Steggall has written to the auditor general, Grant Hehir, asking him to consider investigating the program “as a matter of priority”. Her letter refers to research by The Australia Institute, a progressive thinktank, suggesting the program has no constitutional or legislative standing, no guidelines or criteria to assess projects, and its development and implementation did not follow a clear process.

She said despite these apparent flaws the government had shortlisted projects, started “advanced negotiations” to support gas-fired plants in Victoria and Queensland and entered a memorandum-of-understanding with the New South Wales government to support three projects in the state. ……

Steggall, who entered parliament last year on a climate action platform, said the focus on fossil fuels was questionable and there was little visibility of how and why the projects shortlisted for underwriting had been chosen….

“There’s just no transparency or accountability around this,” Steggall told Guardian Australia. “We’ve seen what happened with sport rorts. We’re talking about commonwealth money at a time when we know the economy has taken a hit due to coronavirus, and I think it should be properly investigated.”……

April 27, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

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