Before his defeat, outgoing Premier Jay Weatherill cast Saturday’s South Australian election as “a referendum on renewable energy”. It was. And the result showed Australians will not tolerate unrealistic green energy targets when they produce some of the world’s most expensive power and compromise reliable supply. This is something the Australian Conservatives have been saying for some time.
The Australian newspaper reports that is the lesson Victorian Premier Kevin Andrews and other Labor leaders should take from the party’s defeat on Saturday. In most states, Labor’s RETs are unrealistic.
The other big political lesson from the weekend was the near-implosion of former senator Nick Xenophon’s so-called "SA Best", which is unlikely to win a single lower house seat. The Greens also suffered from internal infighting and failed to win the by-election for the federal seat of Batman in Melbourne’s north - adding to their poor result in the Tasmanian state election the weekend before.
On Friday, The Australian urged South Australians to seize the chance to revive their state’s economy after 16 years of Labor rule. Liberal Leader Steven Marshall - who will scrap Mr Weatherill’s 75 per cent RET promise - has a big job to rebuild South Australia’s energy sector and to cut business costs and government spending.
He must also create a better climate to attract investment and private sector jobs, reduce welfare dependence and over-reliance on federal largesse. The fact he won an outright majority will help him.
After a prominent career in the South Australian upper house and the Senate, Mr Xenophon appears to be following Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus, Clive Palmer, the Australian Democrats and others into the wilderness. Despite his high profile, it would be difficult to say what Mr Xenophon stood for, however, aside from an aversion to poker machines. His voting record in the senate clearly indicated a stronger support for Greens policy positions than any other party.
While he started the state campaign in a strong polling position, his refusal to say which major party he would back if he won the balance of power showed a disturbing indifference to political principles and good policy.
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