National electricity market broken - SA Premier calls for carbon price

The national electricity market is broken and there needs to be a price on carbon, Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Jay Weatherill, has told CEDA’s annual Economic and Political Overview in Adelaide.

“I tell you one reason why it’s broken, and that’s the political class in this country have not got themselves organised to put a price on carbon,” he said.

“Every intelligent thinking person in the national electricity market knows that you need to put a price on carbon if you are going to send the investment signals necessary for people to make the investment in new plants and equipment to ensure we have energy security. That’s the simple equation.”

Mr Weatherill said the Prime Minister knows that implementing an emissions intensity scheme will provide a national solution to energy security issues.

“But he can’t do that because he’s got a one seat majority and he’s got a group of crazy right wingers that’ll slit his throat if he even mentions that climate change is real,” he said.


The dispossessed was also a key focus of Mr Weatherill’s presentation given the recent announcements of job losses in SA manufacturing.
“The capacity for us to give hope and a sense of security for people who have been displaced through economic change is at the heart of the current political dynamic that’s going on in this nation,” he said.

As part of the half-day event in Adelaide, Commonwealth Bank Chief Economist and Managing Director, Economics, Michael Blythe also gave his predictions for Australia’s economic climate in 2017.

Mr Blythe said he didn’t think the “rivers of gold” would be returning due to the huge rise in commodity prices that nobody expected last year.
“The point I’d make though – even with the big pull back we’ve seen in coal prices – they’re still 100 per cent higher than they were a year ago, so at the very least commodity prices have bottomed and we will see some modest income growth coming through.”

Mr Blythe said Governments will need to lose their fear of debt in order to support economic activity.

“There’s a pressing infrastructure task here and we do need to rebuild that infrastructure. We can pay for some of it by selling existing assets and recycling the proceeds, as has been happening, but there’s not enough assets to sell and it’s too long a process,” he said.

“We do need to borrow more money and borrowing money to invest in infrastructure, it’s very good in boosting short term growth…and it’s also something that adds to income and productivity over the medium term, and that’s something that every economy needs to see, particularly as the population ages.”


Meanwhile, South Australian Economic Development Board, Chairman, Raymond Spencer focused on the issues affecting his state, including the recent announcement by Coca Cola Amatil that it will end its manufacturing operations there.  

“It’s not government’s role to find all the answers, nor can we simply blame government for all the problems,” he said.

“The unfortunate decision by Coca Cola to close their Adelaide plant was a company decision,” he said.

Mr Spencer said the focus shouldn’t be just on unemployment figures but the wellbeing of communities as a whole.

“With so many uncertainties of economic life gone or going, we must be bold and innovative to create the intelligent jobs,” he said, “We don’t have a moment to lose.”

Following his speech, Mr Spencer was joined by members of the Economic Board of South Australia including Tonsley Project Steering Committee, Chairman, Terry Burgess; University of South Australia, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro; Dr Mike Rungie; Chief Scientist of South Australia, Dr Leanna Read and Professor Göran Roos.