Energy policy and programs budget cut

The State Liberals have labelled a decision to cut the budget for the State Government’s Energy Policy and Programs in the midst of South Australia’s electricity crisis as disgraceful.

“It takes a special degree of incompetence to cut the unit that is established to ‘provide policy advice and coordination of energy market reforms, including national market reforms’, during the period an electricity crisis is developing,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.

“Yet that is exactly what the recent State Budget Papers show.

“In 2015-16 the Weatherill Government cut expenditure on the unit by $1.9 million despite the closure of the Port Augusta power stations and a sharp increase in forward contract prices for electricity.

“Every sensible commentator on the power industry was warning that the closure of the Port Augusta power stations would drive up the price of electricity and create market instability yet the Weatherill Government cut the level of policy advice it was receiving.

“It’s little wonder that now the full extent of the crisis engulfing South Australia’s electricity industry has been revealed that Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis doesn’t have a clue how to counter spiralling prices.

“Compounding the mistake is the fact that in the current financial year the budget has been increased by a piddling $0.3 million, meaning it is still $1.6 million less than was spent in 2014-15.

“Rising electricity prices are delivering a hammer blow to investment and job creation in South Australia but the Weatherill Government is oblivious to the need for a drastic change in policy strategy.

“As a measure of the Weatherill Government’s warped priorities it has paid 57 Films a total of $285,900 for making vanity films of the Premier’s overseas trips since May last year.”