Documentary questions Australia’s energy future

documentryAUSTRALIAN entrepreneur, businessman, aviator and political activist Dick Smith has added filmmaker to his list of credentials with the release of his new documentary Ten Bucks a Litre. A self-proclaimed fossil fuel addict and one of the country’s largest individual energy users, Mr Smith spent a year investigating the potential consequences of Australia’s energy consumption.
“With Australia sourcing more than 80 per cent of its crude oil needs from overseas, I believe we must be one of the world’s most vulnerable economies when it comes to fuel security,” Mr Smith said in a statement.
“Australia’s economy could grind to a halt in a matter of days if there was a major disruption to the world’s energy markets.
“Our governments have been incredibly slack when it comes to ensuring Australia has an effective stockpile of liquid fuels. Our hospitals and emergency services would last less than a week if there is a serious problem with Singapore’s oil refineries.”
In Ten Bucks a Litre, which aired on ABC1 on 1 August, Mr Smith travelled around the nation trying to make sense of the complex subject.
“I’m worried that we are not being realistic about our growing energy needs or taking the right steps to prepare fo the future when the world will become increasingly desperate for power,” he said.
“I’m certain the era of cheap energy, which has built the modern economy, is over. What comes next? We don’t know, but it is bound to be much more expensive.” This expense is one of the key focusses of the documentary, which speculates that because Australia is the world’s
biggest coal exporter – and will soon be the world’s biggest gas exporter (and therefore an “energy super-power, bigger even than Saudi Arabia”) – domestic supplies are likely to dwindle causing not only increased prices but shortages within the Australian market.
“There is the very real chance that NSW, for instance, could face severe gas shortages as soon as 2015,” Mr Smith said.
He also explores alternative energy options such as nuclear, solar-thermal and biofuel from waste products.
“We need to be bold if we are to become a world leader in alternative energy for the future,” he said.
“I believe Australia has some tremendous opportunities to build a sustainable energy future, but we just aren’t making the right decisions. None of our options will bring cheaper energy, I’m afraid, but putting off the hard decisions will only make things worse.
“I hope energy will be debated properly in the coming election—but I doubt it.”