There may be plenty of things to regret about the tumultuous last day of federal parliament for 2018 but the loss of the big stick energy bill isn't one of them.
A key Conservative Party policy platform is against government intervention in the free market and the Australian Financial Review's Ben Potter makes a compelling case for forgetting "big stick" legislation in an opinion piece published this week.
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The bill was - in the words of one competition policy expert - one of the most dangerous "reforms" proposed in recent years: An expansion of Commonwealth powers over commerce and industry unprecedented in Australian history or in the advanced economies with which we like to compare ourselves.
In simple terms, the big stick energy bill was a socialist central planner's dream. It would have empowered the federal Treasurer of the day to name, shame and compel companies to supply electricity contracts to small customers on whatever prices and terms he or she deemed fit.
The Treasurer could also have applied to the court for an order that the energy company sell specified assets. For good measure the bill would also have empowered the Australian Energy regulator to legislate - effectively to regulate retail prices - without going through the usual Council of Australian Government hoops. Another abuse of good process.
And the trigger for the exercise of such sweeping powers?
The Treasurer, acting on the advice of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, would simply have had to form the opinion that an energy company wasn't passing on material reductions in underlying electricity costs to small customers, or was failing to offer them electricity contracts on just terms, or was acting fraudulently, dishonestly or in bad faith, or for the purpose of distorting the electricity market or manipulating prices.
In September this year, Senator Bernardi told the Senate that the UN induced climate alarmist panic is a giant con and nothing is more important to Australians than having reliable cheap power.
To read Ben Potter's full piece, click here.
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