ACT Election Candidate Survey - Mike Hettinger

ACT Peak Oil has sent a survey to ACT Election candidates. This is the response from Mike Hettinger, Labor candidate for Molonglo. It shows an appropriately wide-ranging approach to the problem of Peak Oil.

  1. How would you address the need for food security in the ACT?
  2. With imminent production issues due to peak-oil affecting the costs of transport and fertilizers, we need to increase the capacity of the ACT to produce ecologically sustainable food products. Obviously, a range of goods will still need to be transported in, but we should look at the food supply industry using ecological, economic and health measures. I would support increasing the harvesting of kangaroo meat locally, as I understand the kangaroo population across Australia is drastically increasing due to introduction of our agriculture processes, making feed (farmed crops) availability and survival rates much higher. It is less resource intensive, less degrading to our soils, reduces the need for culls that are not then put to any productive purpose and is ecologically more sustainable.

  3. How can the ACT deal with public transport equitably, given that petrol is going to go up in price and current urban design is planned around private cars?
  4. The ACT should introduce a rapid transit system in a staged way after conducting an international design competition, as has been done for many of the landmarks in the ACT, that permits world class designers to put together a coherent plan. This will ensure that the process is transparent, and ideally the people of Canberra should be given a referendum on the issue to select the preferred project after an adequate period of open discussion.

  5. What plans do you have to rapidly move the ACT to a low carbon/renewable energy economy?
  6. I have made personal commitments to reducing my impact, by using Greenpower and evacuated solar water heating.

    I believe opportunities for all Canberrans should be provided to take positive action on climate change, such as the FiT, rebates for energy efficiency devices and ensuring any new public transport system is powered by 100% emission free energy, made available 24/7. This is possible through modern advanced energy storage technologies, or pumped mini hydro, that are available now to the utility market. The "old" view that renewables are not suitable for reliable power without being supplemented is no longer true.

  7. In what ways can market mechanisms assist in preparing for high fuel prices and even fuel shortages, and in what ways can they inhibit?
  8. It is my view the ACT should introduce incentives to encourage public transport and emissions free personal transport, such as bikes, walking, electric vehicles.

    On key incentive could be applying a staged registration system, so people can generally leave the second family car in the garage. Of course, the system could be available to any personal vehicle. The registration cost to be paid for those who opt-in would be significantly reduced by limiting use on that car to, for example, Friday from 5pm until Monday 8am, which is easily detectable by enforcement agencies by providing motorists a unique style of number plate.

    In special circumstances, the motorist may SMS, phone or hop on the internet to get a day pass to use the vehicle, as people do for the tollways in our major cities. If enforcement agencies run a rego check, they will see the day passed noted on their computer displays.

    This process will introduce a more equitable cost sharing model for public transport users, as they aren't faced with the disincentive of paying a full registration on a car they leave in the garage. Higher patronage on public transport reduces the gap between the revenue and operating costs, so it should be encouraged. By members of the community choosing to leave the car at home, it will reduce the need for expensive new road infrastructure and make the maintenance budget go further, giving the ACT a better standard of road maintenance.

  9. What are your ideas on diversifying the economy of the ACT and its region so as to reduce our dependence on long-distance freight for everyday items? Apart from Government, what sectors can the ACT economy afford to have less of, and what might it need more of?
  10. As I have been campaigning for a Smarter, Greener Canberra, I believe we should try and apply our significant capability in the academic community to develop a thriving industry based around making daily tasks less energy intensive and more productive. For example, the production of low embodied energy products for construction, more ecologically friendly food sources, technological systems. All of these require detailed knowledge of processes and material and can apply the knowledge of our valuable members of the academic community to producing better conditions in the ACT and generate export income. It could also result in improved prospects for employment in the ACT in the manufacturing sector.

  11. Are you concerned about the potential for ad-hoc policy responses (e.g. biofuel mandates) to do more harm than good? Will you prepare and publish far-sighted policy - that explicitly acknowledges Peak Oil - so as to avoid implementing panicked measures thrust upon you by doomed/opportunistic business sectors?
  12. This is of great concern to me. For example, bio-fuels are the fool's gold of energy; they will simply take up valuable agricultural land, water and be energy intensive through the addition of petroleum based fertilizers.

    This will adversely impact other sections of the economy by pushing up food prices due to competition for land between agriculture and fuel production.

    This is my greatest concern in this area.