The Australian energy sector: justice, rights and the Australian political context

Stream: Panel 61 - Environmental Politics: Environmental Justice 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


The paper situates the key themes of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ in terms of the energy policy debate in Australia, with a specific interest in approaches to low carbon and renewable energy. The paper draws on the ideals of ‘climate justice’ (Gardiner 2011; Routledge 2011; 2012; Savacool and Dworkin 2014) to examine the relationship between political institutions and policy networks that broadly frame the area. Climate justice includes emphasising the importance of accountability, transparency, social justice and community participation in order to address the imbalances within the energy sector. The paper focuses on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), COAG Energy Council, the Review of Governance Arrangements for Australian Energy Markets and the Electricity Market Review (Western Australia 2015) as key instruments in the development of Australia’s on going energy needs. The paper examines the relationship between COAG and the Review process in order to explore the way in which justice and rights are conceptualised and institutionalised in the energy sector. The paper highlights that both justice and rights in their current frame are inextricably tied to the role of the economy. This consequently orders the debate, allocates value, authority and what counts as valid knowledge in the policy domain. The implications include minimising the relational aspects of human society and the ideals of democracy which emphasise the link between past, present and future generations.


Yvonne Haigh (Presenter), Murdoch
Dr Yvonne Haigh is a senior lecturer in Policy and Governance and is Chair of Public Policy and Management at the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, Murdoch University. Her text: Public Policy in Australia: theory and practice (OUP 2012) is used across Australia and Asia as the key public policy text for both undergraduate and post graduate teaching. Dr Haigh’s research interests cover policy development, public sector ethics, public sector corruption, education policy, housing redevelopment, renewable energy policy and public sector reform; she has published in many national and international journals.