Energy supply plays a critical role in driving the economy of a country. Similarly, it plays a crucial role in meeting the energy needs of the citizens. However, meeting the energy needs of a country has proven to be one of the greatest challenges. This is because the demand for energy is almost always higher than supply.
Australia is not immune to the challenges facing the energy sector. In fact, it is one of the most common election debates in the country. In this light, it is worth exploring the energy landscape in Australia and the challenges therein. Similarly, there are cases of workers rights abuse in Australia that have raised concern about the status of human rights in Australia.
Australia: Protests Over Energy Costs
According to the ABC News, the Australian population faces one of the highest power costs in the developed world. The Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) says that in the last five years, the average energy prices in Australia have increased by 40 %. The ongoing cost of infrastructure, coupled with increased taxation (in particular the introduction of carbon tax) will translate to an increased cost of power. On their part, the suppliers of energy state that the increased cost of energy is due to deregulation as well as various structural factors in the economy. The retiring of old plants and the increase in demand in energy has further increased the problems associated with energy.
Therefore, it is not surprising to find that there a lot of dissident voices who feel that the energy prices are way too high. In fact, there have been several protests in order to change the status quo. The protesters argue that the prices of energy do not create a favorable business environment. Again, the Australian population is not comfortable with the raising network charges. The term network charges refers to the cost of transporting the electricity through the wires and poles.
Another challenge contributing to protests due to energy issues is the fact that some investors in the industry are not honest. Consequently, they end up exploiting the Australian average energy consumer.
Australia: Protests Over Workers Rights
Teachers, doctors, and other health professionals have held demonstrations against the Australian legislation which prevents humanitarian and health workers from speaking against human rights abuse in the country. For example, there are allegations of murder, rape, and machete attack at Australian off-shore detention centers. In deed, Australia’s off-shore detention centers have been known to be notorious people who are seeking asylum.
The Act, which took effect in July 1 2015, prevents contracted workers from giving out information about the conditions that they observe in detention centers. Such conditions include sanitary conditions, diet, and physical abuse. Failure to do so means that such workers risk imprisonment of up-to two years.
The Maritime Union of Australia made a series of protests that were aimed at airing their grievances over the mass sackings by the shipping giant Hutchinson Port, Australia. To make things worse, almost half of the workforce was sacked and informed about the decisions through text messages that were sent late night.
The protectors accused the company of being crafty and strategic in the objectives of making a higher profit margin. Their were accusing the company of down-sizing its labor force, and automation in order to streamline its operations, and de-unionize the force, and all this ends up with making some of the employees redundant.
On March 2015, thousands of furious protesters marched across Melbourne protesting what they termed as “attacks on workers rights” by the Abbott government. The aim was to inform the federal government that all was not well with the workers and that they wanted the government to be more conscious and sensitive to their rights.
Australia ought to adopt a paradigm shift as far as its energy policy is concerned. For example, a strategic and aggressive investment in renewable energy can drastically reduce the cost of power and help in stabilizing the prices. Overall, a long-term solution to the energy cost in Australia lies in developing affordable and sustainable energy solutions.
Similarly, the Australian government has to be more sensitive about the status of its human rights records more so in relation welfare of workers. The bottom-line ist the workers rights have to be respected unconditioned.
- Australia: Protests Over Energy Costs, Workers Rights - December 2, 2015
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