Malcolm Turnbull has blasted state Labor governments for imposing “ideological” renewable energy targets, describing the South Australian blackout as a “wake-up call” to focus on energy security.
The Prime Minister accepted fierce winds and lightning strikes were the “immediate cause” of the statewide power failure, but there was “no doubt” that the “extremely aggressive” shift to renewables had strained the electricity network.
“I regret to say that a number of the state Labor governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Launceston.
“Energy security should always be the key priority. If you are stuck in an elevator, if the lights won’t go on, if your fridge is thawing out … because the power is gone, you are not going to be concerned about the particular source of that power. Whether it is hydro, wind, solar, coal or gas, you want to know that the energy is secure.
“Let’s take this storm in South Australia … as a real wake-up call. Let’s end the ideology and focus on clear renewable targets.”
However, Bill Shorten said it was “poor form” for the Coalition to make political points about renewables while the crisis was ongoing in South Australia.
“This is a super-storm, 80,000 lightning strikes. That didn’t happen because of the renewable energy target; that’s the weather,” the Opposition Leader said.
“Our fellow Australians are struggling through a massive storm and the clean-up and you’ve got the government in Canberra trying to play cheap politics. Really, this country decides better.”
Mr Turnbull said he wanted Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg to open negotiations about achieving a single, national renewable energy target ahead of a summit of state and territory leaders.
“We have emission reduction targets we have agreed to in Paris. They are substantial. I have been thanked by world leaders, President Obama no less, for the contribution that we’ve made,” he said.
“We should focus on those and stop the political gamesmanship between the states. We’ve got to recognise that energy security is the key priority and targeting lower emissions is very important but it must be consistent with energy security.”