“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”
The release of the Energy White Paper, which coincidentally occured about the same time as the realisation of the need for a task force into the drug “ice” told the public some interesting things about the government’s position on energy.
Put simply, it doesn’t have one. It thinks that it’d be best to let “the market” decide. Which if nothing else, is at least consistent with the Abbott Government’s view that “the market” is in the best position to decide everything except how to deal with the “ice epedemic”. For that, we need a recently retired policeman, because, hey, law enforcement agencies have a much better understanding of how to deal with illicit drugs than health workers, economists or even businessmen.
Now those of you who read my blog the other day, may remember this:
“The Australian Government does not support reserving gas for domestic use. Reservation would result in less profitable production, attracting less investment, thereby reducing supply and raising costs.”
But Noam Chomsky once said that the best place to get the truth is the business pages, and strangely they told me something different. (Still Chomsky is a notorious left-winger and we know that means that his opinion doesn’t count, and if decent people had their way, their votes wouldn’t be counted either!) So imagine my confusion after reading this in the Business Pages of “The Age” in Peter Ker’s article.
“The timing of the supply deal will coincide with the peak of predicted gas shortages in Australia’s east coast gas market, as the Gladstone plants begin exporting LNG to international customers, and will allow AGL to buy gas from the southern end of the market and potentially sell it for more at the northern end of the market.”
Now, it does seem to me strange that the White Paper seems to suggesting that gas would be more affordable after the gas can be sold for more. But hey, I’m no economist, and the business pages are boring and not worth reading, right?
Although this little quote from Peter Reith in the same article also caught my eye:
“There is a lot of nonsense said about coal seam gas but here is a group willing to invest large amounts of money into the sector. It goes to show this brand new industry in Queensland is here to stay.
“It is a blow to the greenies because it shows these big companies are making big decisions involving large sums and have confidence that the Australian government will take rational decisions on developing our coal seam gas assets.”
(One presumes he’s using “rational” here in the sense of “economic rationalism” which is best understood by reading Jonathan Swift’s “A Moderate Proposal” where he suggested marketing babies as gourmet food in an attempt to solve Ireland’s twin problems of over-population and their poor balance of payments due to a lack of export industries. Swift’s satire was taken up by actual economists in the 20th Century who, by adding it to a couple of quotes from Adam Smith – I mean, who had time to read a whole book by some guy from a couple of centuries ago – invented what we now call “economic rationalism”.)
Now when Mr Reith’s statement is put beside this statement from the White Paper, it makes an interesting little discussion point for people:
“The Australian Government supports a technology neutral approach to our future electricity and transport fuel supply and will continue to support research, development and demonstration of new energy technologies, while removing unnecessary regulatory and other non-market barriers to future technologies.”
Unnecessary regulatory and other non-market barriers to future technologies???
I’ll leave you to think about that one, because I’m still stuck on trying to work out what “a technology neutral” approach is…
If you wantt to read the whole summary in PDF form it’s here. You’ll also note that there’s a section called “Fast Facts”, which made me wonder whether there’s such a thing as “Slow Facts”.
Although, the phrase “fast and loose with the truth” did come to mind.
But all this talk about energy reminded me of when that man with the grown-up name of “Jamie”, Mr Briggs attacked ANU for divesting itself of shares in various fossil fuel companies. His condemnation was soon echoed by Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey. I even wrote about it at the time. From reading the graph in the article, I can see that Santos shares were trading at around $13 at the time.
Now, I’m the sort of man who’s always prepared to admit when I’m wrong. And when it happens, I’ll let you know. However, in this case, I’m wondering if any journalist will be brave enough to ask any of those investment advisers of Briggs and Pyne whether it would be good for the ANU to buy back their Santos shares. I mean, they are trading a $7.37, so they’d only have to invest about half as much money to get the same number of shares. Or whether they now agree with Credit Suisse who suggested in January that Santos shares were “worthless”.
Ah, memory and forgetting. As I’ve said many times, I strongly suspect that the next Budget will be sunshine and lollipops, with the plan to go to the next election this year, before the fan is hit with the stuff that usually comes out of Joe Hockey’s mouth. Then, when re-elected, they’ll argue that things have changed and we need a mini-Budget to take away the lollipops and block that sun because all the solar panesl are putting our friends in the fossil fuel industry at risk.
But, I could be wrong.
There’s a very real chance that we may actually remember what a dunce Abbott really is. Well, even if we don’t, there’s a very real chance that – during an election campaign – he’ll find ways to remind us!
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