ANDREW CARSWELL: Victoria’s energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio is a lonely rebel with a dangerous cause

Andrew Carswell
The Nightly
4 Min Read
ANDREW CARSWELL: Victorian Energy Minister Lile D’Ambrosio stands alone among Labor counterparts who have re-embraced gas as key to reaching net zero.
ANDREW CARSWELL: Victorian Energy Minister Lile D’Ambrosio stands alone among Labor counterparts who have re-embraced gas as key to reaching net zero. Credit: Diego Fedel/AAP Image

And then there was one.

One obstinate Energy Minister, surrounded by a chorus of Labor counterparts who, brutally mugged by reality, are now finally beginning to speak sense on energy policy.

It appears Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s beleaguered Energy Minister, cannot bear the thought of clambering down from her ideological hobby horse and admitting she was heading in the wrong direction after all.

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And that the State’s once vibrant economy has been weakened by her hasty gallop away from sense.

Why be pragmatic when you can be stubborn?

So there she sits in the saddle, reins in the hands, charging headlong into another climate war, trying desperately to rally the troops, but failing to see that every other Labor premier, treasurer and energy minister across the country has dismounted, and left the battlefield.

A lonely rebel with a dangerous cause.

Victorian Minister for Climate Action Lily D'Ambrosio speaks to media during a press conference in Melbourne, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. (AAP Image/Diego Fedele) NO ARCHIVING
Victorian Minister for Energy and Climate Action Lily D'Ambrosio. Credit: Diege Fedele/AAPIMAGE

While Labor leaders across the country have opened their arms to re-embrace gas, hailing the energy source as playing a pivotal role in reaching net zero, talking up the need to increase supply, D’Ambrosio stands unrepentant in her anti-gas dogma.

While her contemporaries move to bolster their energy grids, boost system reliability and employ all viable energy options to the vital task of providing energy security and lowering emissions, D’Ambrosio remains fixated on an electric-only approach that is now so removed from the sensible mainstream, it has become cultish.

For some ungodly reason, there is a visceral hatred of gas within the Victorian Energy Minister that not only defies logic, but sacrifices science, engineering, economics and common sense on the altar of ideology. It is nothing more than a bribe to inner-city trendies, to beckon them away from voting Green, while defying the views within her outer suburban electorate that is reliant on gas.

Not that she would hear those views regularly. She doesn’t live there.

This strange denigration of a key solution to climate and energy policy is now causing enough consternation within the Victorian Government that its controversial Gas Substitution Roadmap is quickly becoming the Energy Minister Substitution Roadmap.

It is a matter of time.

Because the world has moved on from the fire and brimstone histrionics of narrow-minded climate warriors pushing their own agendas and refusing to admit they are wrong. Australians are clear-eyed on energy policy, understanding that the important task of reducing emissions need not come at the expense of reliability and affordability. You can tick all three boxes, if your pace of change is ambitious but achievable.

And they are aware that no other country in the cosmos is attempting to do silly and destructive things on energy policy, such as kissing goodbye to gas or shutting down coal-fired power plants prematurely. Not even in uber-cool Europe. So why on earth would we?

A kitchen stove gas ring
Most Labor leaders across the country have opened their arms to re-embrace gas, saying it will play a pivotal role in reaching net zero. Credit: Joel Carrett/AAP

Thankfully, most Labor leaders are catching on. Certainly, the writing on the wall was in large font, bold text and underlined. And Australians should be relieved at this sudden outbreak of common sense.

The Albanese Government led the charge with its Future Gas Strategy. After years of smashing up Scomo over his gas-led recovery, Labor decided to copy it, having realised that getting to net zero without gas was an impossible task without wrecking the economy.

Capital Sensible in NSW, Premier Chris Minns, didn’t panic when it dawned on his Government that closing the Erraring coal-fired power station next year would leave the State short of energy. He funded a plan to keep it open. A triumph of common sense over ideology, unless you love dinner by candlelight, without the romance.

Both Minns and SA Premier Peter Malinauskas were asked last year whether they would follow Victoria’s ban on gas connections to new homes. Both laughed. At Victoria.

When WA Premier Roger Cook was asked last week about the importance of gas, his newfound wisdom caused an earthquake in Labor’s electric left. Twitter is still smoldering.

“Australia produces 1.3 per cent of global emissions, Western Australia is less than 20 per cent of that 1.3 per cent. So the task of decarbonising our economy is an important one … but we can’t do this in isolation of assisting our trading partners to decarbonise their economies as well.

“Last I looked, we are trying to save the planet, not trying to save Western Australia. So therefore, we really do need to double down on making sure we understand the important role that that gas will play as part of that incredibly ­important journey.”

And the truth will set you free.

Even D’Ambrosio’s two bosses are turning their backs on their Energy Minister’s dangerous frolic, putting a timer on her tenure.

Premier Jacinta Allan finally admitted last week that gas had a crucial role to play, and that households and businesses that rely on gas had to be supported, given diminishing supply.

Deputy Premier Ben Carroll was a little more direct. At D’Ambrosio.

“We’ve got gas in our home, and for a number of reasons, we are keeping it.”

And so say the vast majority of Victorian households.

Andrew Carswell is a former adviser to the Morrison government. He has clients in the energy space.

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