I have a piece ($) in the Herald Sun today in which I note that the Victoria’s Wonthaggi desalinisation plan, soon to be five years old, cost $19 billion and will never be required. As I say,
The money spent has been irretrievably wasted. To put it in perspective, the Wonthaggi facility’s cost represents enough funds to replace three older coal fired electricity generators thereby future-proofing Victorians against unreliability and the doubling of wholesale power prices that has taken place.
Among the merits of the desalinisation plant, according to then Premier Bracks, were 4,750 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and a $1 billion economic boost to the state.
Unchastened by the experience of the White Elephant desalinisation plant, the Andrews government is directing funding into new areas of waste, namely wind and solar facilities.
Under its recently announced renewables policy, the Premier estimated some $1.2 billion of investment in these subsidised renewables was made in the current year alone. Echoing the discredited prophesies made to justify the desalinisation plant, Mr Andrews claimed the policy will create 11,000 new jobs during construction of windfarms.”
But for every job so created more (2.2 in the case of estimates form Spain) are lost as a result of the higher costs.
Subsidies to wind have forced unsubsidised power stations to close, bringing about the doubling of the average wholesale price of electricity.
For Victorians that doubled price means an annual cost of $2 billion, an impost on the average household of $800 in terms of direct charges and increased costs of goods and services. And, by driving up electricity prices, the subsidies are threatening the future of the energy intensive industries including smelting and paper manufacturing that have created the prosperity Victoria enjoys.
I conclude, “In the private sector, management pays personal penalties, sometimes criminal penalties if shareholders are wilfully misled. Perhaps politicians and the public servants advising them should also be subject to such disciplines.”
In days gone-by, prior to the eighteenth century rule of Robert Walpole, the political chief who later became known as the Prime Minister, usually paid such a penalty, often capital punishment, for “peculation”.
Self-enrichment from the use of office (except in the case of the Clintons) is unusual today and the gallows might be a tad excessive in the modern world. However, it does seem that politicians who knowingly commit to very expensive programs of no value – think desal plants, NBN, rooftop insulation, the renewable energy con, submarine programs – should incur some personal loss rather than retiring on a pension from those they have, in effect, defrauded. Such a possibility would surely have a chastening effect in preventing extravagant policies being put in place, thereby contributing to better government.