Nationalising grid would be ‘irresponsible madness’

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg
Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg

Bill Shorten’s refusal to rule out nationalising the electricity grid is “illogical, irresponsible madness”, according to Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

In an opinion piece published in The Australian this week, Mr Frydenberg referred to a joint conference Mr Shorten held with ACTU president and Labor candidate for Batman Ged Kearney who said nationalising the grid was “worthy of consideration”.

“Put to Shorten that this would destroy Australia’s proud reputation as a global investment destination, the best he could say was that it was unlikely to happen, not that it was a bad idea,” Mr Frydenberg wrote.

“It’s one thing in Australia for the wacky Greens to be proposing nationalising the grid — this can be dismissed alongside the other policies they found at the bottom of the garden like abandoning ANZUS and bringing back death duties — but it’s another when it comes from the mouth of a powerful union figure running on Labor’s ticket in a critical by-election.

“Not only has the Productivity Commission found privately owned electricity assets ‘are better at efficiently meeting the long-term interests of their customers’ but to spend the amount required to nationalise the grid would be illogical, irresponsible madness.”

Mr Frydenberg said recent Australian Energy Regulator (AER) figures reveal it would cost up to $50 billion to nationalise the networks and interconnectors alone.

“Nationalising electricity assets not only would put the taxpayer on the hook for the acquisition costs but also for future capital expenditure,” he said.

“For the Australian electricity sector, this number exceeds $200 billion, based on scenario planning by Energy Networks Australia and the CSIRO as to the level of investment required in the grid by 2050.

“Are Shorten and Kearney serious? Are they really prepared to ask every Australian household to stump up almost $30,000 extra, inevitably through higher taxes, to achieve an ineffective socialist ideal?”