The Speech You’ll Never Hear

It is distressing that this speech extract will only ever be hypothetical. What Australian political leader will utter even the first sentence?

To be fair, I know a few politicians who would if they were given free reign. On both sides of politics.


This government commits to delivering cheap energy to our citizens and businesses. We recognise that cheap energy is at the heart of our prosperity; that it drove the unprecedented changes that saw my parents go from walking to school in barefeet during the Depression, to flying to Europe in their 80s.

We accept that it is our responsibility and obligation to ensure that Australians can access the energy they need to maintain and improve their standard of living.

That can only happen if we consume energy and transform resources. Of course we should use that energy as efficiently and sensibly as possible; but we should have no qualms and no guilt at doing so.

Cheap energy underpins the prosperity that allowed my disabled aunt to live a secure life despite being unable to work.

Cheap energy and resources underpin the technology – the phones, the PCs, the cars, the trains – that each of us use every day, at work and at home.

Cheap energy and resources underpin the drug, agricultural and health revolution of the last 100 years. A revolution that has seen life expectancy go from 50 years in 1890 to more than 81 years today. A revolution that has seen available calories per person increase despite the world’s increase in population. Many of us would already be dead but for humanity’s skills in transforming and using energy.

Without cheap energy and resources we would all be living as humanity had for the previous 100,000 years: in real, absolute poverty. Without the luxury of thinking about anything other than survival.

Australia is blessed with a remarkable supply of energy resources. We have no excuse for asking our citizens and businesses to bear a heavier burden in energy costs than they have to.

Yes, there are tradeoffs and risks. Living any life of consequence has tradeoffs and risks. It is a mark of human courage and ingenuity that we embrace that risk with eyes open, rather than pretending our prosperity, our opportunity, our health and our security are riskless, costless and easy to maintain. They aren’t.

If we want things to change for the better, we have to accept that things must change.

If we want to maintain and then build a better society, we must refuse the exaggerations of people who scream ‘Risk!’ as though that is sufficient to stop us acting at all.

We can act in ways that minimise risks; but we cannot eliminate them. We would be foolish to try. Telling the world to stop spinning is not a viable or responsible policy.

We must also reject the view that humanity should not drive change in our world. Human action is not a sin. Human action is what has delivered the lives that we live. And it has led to a world where we can support those who can’t support themselves, where we can afford to be concerned about our environment, where we can actually consider human flourishing rather than mere survival.

Human action in producing cheap energy and transforming resources is something of which we should all be proud.

It is something this government will support and encourage. And it will do so with an honest appraisal of energy costs, independent of political ideologies that have driven unsustainable subsidies and regulations.

This government will not apologise for putting the interests of people first.


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