We Need a Power-Water Czar By Viv Forbes
The new Australian federal ministry resembles a giant bureaucracy with 52 ministerial positions selected mainly to look politically correct on sexual ratios, state representations and party factions but with no one charged with solving Eastern Australia’s critical water and electricity needs. PM Morrison needs to create a powerful new position with Ministerial power called “The Power and Water Czar”. This Czar’s job would be to identify, define and remove all obstacles to quickly building one or more new dams to provide hydro power and water into the Darling River basin and to urgently facilitate more reliable coal-fired power in Eastern Australia. Increased coal power could come from renewing Liddell power station and/or building a new modern low-emission coal-fired power station. The initial money needed should be raised by redirection of funds from the unwanted Snowy 2 Pumped Hydro Scheme. Australians seem unaware of the crucial importance of the magnificent Snowy Scheme in our looming power and water crisis. In the midst of a big drought, Snowy Hydro water is being wasted to plug the daily gaps in wind/solar power production and also wasted on “environmental flows”. Water held in the Lake Eucumbene (the heart of the Snowy) is down to 24% and Hume Dam is just 14%.
To placate green-leaning State Premiers the PM should also offer to underwrite a new wind farm in the Warringah (NSW) electorate, a giant battery for a green leafy suburb in Melbourne, and a program to restore sea water flushing of high salinity water for the Coorong/Lower Lakes at the mouth of the Murray River. A likely area for a new dam is along the Great Dividing Range in the Northern Rivers area with water caught on the Eastern side and water released on the western side of the Great Dividing Range; plus weirs along the Darling River. The new coal power station could quickly be built in the Surat/Bowen basin in Queensland, probably Kogan Creek. Or Liddell could be refurbished. The obvious first choice for the position of Power and Water Czar is ex PM Tony Abbott who understands the politics and realities of power generation and water supply and knows his way around the corridors in Canberra. For far too long Australia has placed added demand on water, power and food supplies by welcoming migrants, refugees and tourists while putting obstacles in front of all reliable power and water proposals. This foolishness must cease. To focus on the urgency of these two pieces of essential infrastructure the Power and Water Czar should be given power to negotiate options to acquire land and to over-ride the death-by-delay tactics of extremist environmental and anti-development groups for these two items of critical infrastructure.
“We will surely do it in the end, but how much greater the cost for each day’s delay?” Winston Churchill.