Australia has a unique opportunity to capitalise on renewable energy

Now is the time to spend on renewables

The numbers that are bandied about nowadays when it comes to debt, deficit and the post-pandemic economy are so large and beyond imagination as to be almost abstract.

It's almost inconceivable that at the beginning of the year, the government of the day was crowing about a future surplus, about driving down debt.

Today, by contrast, all talk of debt has subsided, and there is now a pressing need to start spending previously unheard of amounts to bring our country out of this crisis, and build our way out of the current recession.

But we must take the opportunity to do this the smart way while we can, and emerge a world leader when it comes to renewable energy.

The federal government is set to hand down its overdue budget in October, which will be an opportunity to do something meaningful for the country.

Something that goes beyond simply reassuring Australians that we will emerge from the pandemic ready to embark on a recovery.

It's clear that significant spending is what will be required to keep the economy afloat, and it's worth noting that debt is not the biggest issue on the agenda.

But if we are going to spend billions on infrastructure, we should take the opportunity for big-picture thinking as we take the country forward.

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It has already been said that Australia could build its way out of the deepest recession since the 1930s through a significant pipeline of infrastructure projects, worth $220 billion.

This would transform the nation, deliver jobs and sharply increase the nation's long-term productivity.

With this in mind, investing in renewable energy makes sense for Australia, as we were already in the midst of an energy crisis before there was any talk of a crippling global pandemic.

Renewables, generally, represent a massive opportunity for Australia - one that only exists within a small window.

We need to move soon, or we will simply miss it.

Late last year, the author of the landmark 2008 climate review Ross Garnaut spoke of how the cost of taking action to address climate change had dropped, and that Australia was in an ideal position to capital on the rapid transition to a zero emissions future.

The world has changed immeasurably since he spoke those words in November 2008.

The idea of becoming a global energy superpower, and unlocking cheap energy that could be used to refine raw materials here rather than overseas, now looks like an imperative, rather than an ideal.

The country needs to spend, rather than save. This is a matter of collective action, as well as individual preservation - we have seen how effective this country can be when everyone acts together, with a common goal.

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To this end, now is not the time to throw around tax cuts and call it a day.

It's time, instead, to do something that will actually serve as a positive legacy as we emerge from this crisis - one that will take the country forward, rather than throw it into the doldrums.

The country - and the world - depends on positive action. The time to focus on renewables is now.