Lang Hancock, “‘Phony crisis’ seen as ‘child of politics’,” The Canberra Times, in the supplement titled “Review of the Nation 1979: Energy and Resources,” July 23, 1979, p. 9.
Are we short of energy resources? The answer is a resounding “no”.
Despite incredible political hurdles in most countries of the world, oil reserves, stimulated by rising prices, have kept pace with rising consumption.
And when you consider the low density of exploration in most countries, especially Australia, it is clear that there are enormous resources of oil waiting to be discovered.
Each new discovery makes a fool of some expert, but the supply of new experts is inexhaustible.
Government planners all over the world seem determined to write history, without ever having read any.
The energy crisis is not one of resources. It is a child of politics.
It was conceived by the environmental movement, nourished by the bureaucrats, delivered by the politicians, indoctrinated by the left-wing academics and armed by the militant unions.
Now it has run amok causing shortages, unemployment, inflation and depression all over the world.
Most politicians seem to think that more taxes, more bureaucrats, more regulations, more inquiries and more restrictions will produce more energy. The current crisis is the logical consequence of their irresponsible actions.
They have wasted oil and gas resources by imposing artificially low prices. They have also delayed exploration and such projects as the Alaska pipeline construction with never-ending inquiries, restricted production with excessive environmental and safety regulations and wasted motor spirit with counter-productive pollution restrictions.
Their harsh, erratic and discriminatory tax laws and trade regulations have deterred small explorers and independent refiners, leaving the field totally to the big oil companies.
We are being led into the new dark age by environmental fools with so many tears in their eyes that they can’t see where they are going.
Interfering politicians kowtowing to environmentalists caused our energy crisis. Now the solution being proposed is a megabuck energy program controlled by the same people.
This is like trying to cure a sick man by giving him a more powerful dose of the same poison that made him sick in the first place.
The Americans are showing us the way not to go. They have created a monstrous new Department of Energy.
It has 19,000 employees and a 1979 budget of $12,000 million. This is $2,000 million greater than the combined net income of the top 20 US oil companies (whose profits, by the way, are described in the Press and Congress as obscene).
We are all concerned by the energy crisis, but the above attempted solution should leave us panic stricken.
Above all, we must resist the temptation to create an Australian energy Czar with dictatorial powers and a Gestapo of officials to enforce them.
We have got to start treating causes instead of trying to hide symptoms.
Politics in industry is the cause of our problem.
Therefore we must get politics out of industry as soon as possible.
We need to take a broad axe to Canberra by abolishing price control, wage control, currency control and export controls as well as the bureaucracies administering them.
The discriminatory levies on energy minerals should be dropped and retrospective taxation made unconstitutional.
The Government must bite the bullet and stop the idiocy of Aboriginal land rights so that everyone can start exploration and production, including Aboriginals if they wish to do so on equal footing with every other Australian.
The pampered militants in the union movement and the environmental lobbies must be told that without energy, man himself is an endangered species.
The present ludicrous position in Australia is this:
- Eighty per cent of the Australian continent if young enough to contain oil.
- There are only 15 drilling rigs working in Australia compared with 2,500 working in America, a country of about equal area.
- The few Australian firms who are interested in looking for oil are doing so in countries other than Australia.
- Australia possesses some 27 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves yet it is lying uselessly in the ground.
- We have sufficient tidal power lying unharnessed in the Kimberleys alone, to supply six times the total amount of power at present being generated in Australia by all means.
- Australia is supplying 44 per cent of Japan’s coal needs (the world’s third largest steelmaker) and yet we are needlessly suffering the effects of energy shortages.
Surely it must rank as the greatest single indictment of any administration in the history of modern civilisation that all that we can come up with is Mr Hayden’s suggestion that we should have a national oil company — shades of Pertamina which bankrupted Indonesia (which sophisticated world oil traders would soon rob of their socks), and Mr Fraser having his car converted to LPG (which is derived from oil anyhow).
In short, there is less justification for Australia being subject to petrol rationing, oil shortages or energy crises than any nation on this earth.
Instead of pussyfooting around with red herrings such as solar power (which would take an investment of $40,000 for the average householder to run a domestic two-slice toaster), and with costly, inefficient shale oil conversion schemes and so on, all that is needed is the for the Government to get out of the road and make conditions so attractive that Australia is the most attractive place in which to drill for oil in the world.
We have an example which Canberra should learn from and follow very smartly, and that is that the State of Alaska has illustrated that it could fuel USA for 200 years but for Federal control of much of the land preventing development of its resources.
If the USA de-controlled Alaska, the US could again become an exporter of oil, thus removing power from OPEC to raise prices and throw the world into depression.
Despite the lowness of the present polls, the way is open to Mr Anthony, as head of the Department of Minerals and Energy, to rescue his coalition Government from almost certain defeat, and Australia from depression, by taking advantage of the present artificial energy crisis and initiating action in a positive manner to save Australia, by removing these restrictive Government controls.
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