Energy Security Board chairperson Kerry Schott told the 150 people attending a public forum on the National Energy Guarantee in Sydney on February 26 and the 500 or so linked through the live webinar: “We’re here to listen”.
But apparently not to the activists from the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), who gate-crashed the event, calling for the proposed policy to be rejected because of its weak carbon reduction target and impact on renewable energy.
The event had just begun when ASEN protesters began sounding sirens and used a megaphone to yell: “Our future is not for profit”. They then took to the stage to unfurl a banner that read: "Don’t reNEG on Clean Energy".
Almost immediately, the audio for the webinar was removed. The webinar was suspended a few moments later adding to the frustrations of many in the webinar audience who had dialled in only to be told that no questions would be taken. So much for listening.
Before she was pulled from the stage, ASEN National Convenor Lily Matchett told the audience the NEG was a failure that will create more carbon emissions and demanded the government stop slowing Australia's transition to clean energy.
It was not a good look for the ESB, especially as the NEG is widely seen as a mechanism to fill the policy gap of a Coalition government that has refused all other policy options on climate and energy. It serves as an apology for federal government inaction and a means of passing the buck on energy and climate policy.
Or as ASEN said in a statement: “The National Energy Guarantee will continue the coalition’s appalling track record of electricity price hikes, energy failures and emissions increases. In their current term, Turnbull’s Coalition government has already overseen an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and electricity prices.
“The National Energy Guarantee is based on a market model that has not worked anywhere else. It would further stall desperately needed reductions in power prices and greenhouse gases.
“It is a giant step backwards when the rest of the world and vast majority of Australians support mass investment in affordable renewable energy.”