What happened to Australia’s once-bipartisan policies favouring decentralisation? Why is every proposal to develop an outback mine, dam, irrigation scheme or a real power station now labelled “controversial” by the ABC and opposed by the ALP/Greens? This coastal-city focus and the hostility to new outback industry (except for wind/solar toys) has surely reached its zenith with the recent state budget for Queensland. The population of coastal and metropolitan Queensland is surging with baby-boom retirees, welfare recipients, grey nomads, tourists, overseas students, migrants and winter refugees. But the outback is dying with lagging industry and many aging farmers retiring to the coast. We are creating a country with no heart. The growing urban and seaside population needs power, water and food.
However two critical power-water-food infrastructure projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades did not even rate a mention in the state budget – an expansion of coal-fired power at Kogan Creek and a water supply dam at Nathan Gorge. The current policy of all major parties is cluttering the countryside with piddling subsidised intermittent power producers like solar panels and wind turbines plus their expensive network of roads and transmission lines. This is inflating electricity prices, and future generations will see this bi-partisan energy policy as a disastrous blunder. It is also a mistake to encourage or subsidise private electricity cartels and put politicians, not engineers, in charge of power generation. The Kogan Creek power station with its adjacent coal mine was opened in 2007. It is connected to the National Grid and integrated with local gas-fired and solar supplies. It was always planned to add another generating unit at Kogan Creek, but twelve long years have passed with no action.