Without Energy Security Australia’s National Security Is Exposed

Written by:
1 November 2023
Without Energy Security Australia’s National Security Is Exposed - Featured image

“Australia must recognise that national security is not achievable without energy security. Otherwise, we will be an unreliable supplier of energy with an unreliable system, dependent on vulnerable supply chains,” said Scott Hargreaves, Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs in London today.

The IPA’s landmark report, Energy Security is National Security: A framework for better energy outcomes in Australia, written by energy expert and University of Queensland Adjunct Professor Stephen Wilson, details how energy security and national security are interwoven.

“Over the last two decades, Australia’s energy policy has moved from a narrow focus on market operations to an even narrower focus on greenhouse gas emissions. Both will remain relevant, but Australia and the energy system will only survive if we put energy security first,” Mr Hargreaves said.

At the launch, IPA Distinguished Fellow and former Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott AC, said that running our power system to reduce emissions rather than produce affordable and reliable power was now putting national security at risk.

“We aren’t just impoverishing ourselves but also letting down our allies, like Japan, if we don’t keep developing our fossil fuel resources,” Mr Abbott said.

“The comprehensive national security strategy we need is not just about defence. Energy security is vital if we are to remain a free and independent nation.”

Adjunct Professor Wilson, who has advised governments and energy companies in Asia, Europe, and Australia, found energy security in the electricity market has been so neglected that episodes of physical system failure are now increasingly likely.

“In Australia, we seem determined to test our electricity system to destruction. More than twenty years of meddling by policymakers has left the National Electricity Market so corrupted that it is no longer capable of bringing forth the most appropriate energy mix. Deeper reform is needed, in addition to Australia becoming truly fuel agnostic and removing prohibitions on nuclear energy,” said Adjunct Professor Wilson.

Also speaking at the launch of the report, Dr Tim Stone CBE, Chairman of the Industry Advisory Group for the UK Government’s Great British Nuclear, said the current pursuit of net zero by building out renewables whilst ignoring nuclear was a “slow motion train wreck”.

Dr Stone, who also advised the South Australian Government’s 2016 inquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle, said there was a nuclear renaissance going on in the northern hemisphere, and Australia was engaged in self-destructive behaviours by continuing to prohibit nuclear.

Scott Hargreaves, Executive Director of the IPA, said the report provides a new and robust definition of energy security to guide future research, that “energy security is the power to be free and do work.”

“Our aim to is to establish a Centre for Energy Security, to move beyond mere critique and establish something more lasting that will take us beyond the current manias for ever more renewables and performative actions on net zero,” Mr Hargreaves said. 

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