The Big Switch – a review by Nola Kelly

The Big Switch – Australia’s electric future (Black Inc, 2022) by Saul Griffith

This book is written by a man who knows his stuff – it is well researched, comes from a base of years of experience and doing the thing he talks about, and has a practical application. At a time when Australia has a government with no forward thinking plans, this book could provide the answer the country needs to lead us all to a better future.

Saul outlines just what an advantageous position Australia is in with endless possibilities for natural resources, and how with the right legislation and will, we could be a leader and a superpower moving forward in the new, clean, energy revolution.

He shows us how every household could be better off financially with no one left behind due to economic circumstances. He shows us how there would be less noise pollution, less gas pollution, and the health of everyone could be improved. The answer is in electrifying everything, and using our abundant resources to do this. All electric homes using the solar generator on the roof, storage in the battery on wheels (your EV car) in the garage, and a grid designed for sharing.

This book further outlines how Australia could become a manufacturing giant by processing and value adding to our existing mining base rather than just shipping these valuable resources offshore, with the money from them largely going offshore as well.

Green Steel and Aluminium could be made here and sold to the world. Our excess electricity could also be sold offshore. Instead of importing petroleum to drive our vehicles which is expensive and makes us vulnerable and an international security risk, our vehicles could be run on virtually free solar. We could make these vehicles here along with EV charging stations (a technology we are already leading the world in but is being manufactured in the US because there are no incentives here). Our abundant solar can be transformed into embodied energy in the products we sell.

Unfortunately policy reform is needed at a national level and this is where we have become stuck. Without change there is no level playing field for the “free” market. Australia’s electricity laws still subsidise fossil fuels, and it is estimated that tax payers propped up the fossil fuel industry to the amount of around $10 billion during the 2020 -2021 financial year. The states have some control and are making varying efforts to move into the future, but the federal government continues to delay and hinder our progress to a decarbonised economy.

Unless things change quickly it will be a massive economic opportunity lost for Australia, a country that has a great deal to lose from a changing climate. We can all play a part by electrifying everything as much as we as individuals can, demanding access to the products and policy to do this, and by voting for those people who can truly lead us forward to a better life for all.

This is a must-read book. It gives hope and a practical plan for the way forward, something we as a country are sadly lacking at present. I have posted a copy to Darren Chester, our local National Party MP. Let’s hope he reads it! Ignorance is not an excuse.

*Author is a Metung resident. Hopefully there will be a copy of this book in our library soon.