Some of the effects of the war in the Ukraine are already being felt in Gippsland with petrol prices quickly rising to over two dollars a litre. Food price rises will follow fairly soon, as probably will the price of gas. The long-term answer has always been to electrify transport – in fact electrify everything – as quickly as possible which any decent government would have been actively pursuing for many years. This inflation may also bring about interest rate rises .
The Federal government response so far, has been to send coal to Ukraine and to block alumina exports to Russia – the former bordering on the absurd (and corrupt) and the latter probably only of nuisance value. The Feds have purchased coal from their mates at Whitehaven Coal for about $30 million of taxpayer funds when coal is abundant in Poland – Ukraine’s neighbour and Europe’s major coal producer. Shipping 70,000 tons of coal to the other side of the earth is definitely a ‘Newcastle job’. Russia is an aluminium exporter but currently sources 22% of its alumina from Australia. The first of these actions is definitely token. The second is also of token value and only critical in the long-term if the war goes on, since much of Russia’s exports are already blocked. One wonders how much of Russian ‘dark money’ is laundered in Australian real estate? Perhaps this would be a better target for sanctions?
An ABC article quoting various defence experts noted “Australia’s almost total reliance on foreign oil was just as big a weakness…and would hobble the country’s capacity to function in the event of supplies being cut” and that “renewable energy would help strengthen the resilience of Australia’s economy and defence forces by reducing their reliance on fragile supply chains.”
Using green energy from the sun and wind is the quick, most obvious, and easy path to complete energy independence. This path is, and has been, ignored and opposed by our ‘fossil fuel lobby’ controlled governments. With the sudden disruption of the global economy caused by the Russian invasion, we all now suffer the consequences. On a more positive note, the opportunity is here for many of the renewable energy projects in Gippsland to be fast-forwarded. Sympathetic government and active politicians will greatly assist and the aggression of the Russian dictator, inadvertently, may have done us all a favour.