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You call that an energy plan?

When Scott Morrison was challenged on Insiders about not having an energy plan, he indignantly launched into what was obviously a prepared comeback.

PROBYN: You haven’t got a policy, there’s no energy policy.

MORRISON: No, no, five things. If you said we don’t have a policy, here’s five things. First, keep gas in Australia for domestic use. B, ensure that retail providers are given Australians the best deal. Three, ensure that the regulatory arrangement, particularly around things like the limited merits review, are outlawed so you don’t have regulations driving up prices. Four, invest billions of dollars in lower emissions and new technologies, and five invest in production, storage –

PROBYN: You’ve got no investment mechanism –

MORRISON: Hang on, I haven’t finished the five points yet Andrew, you said we didn’t have a policy. And five, on storage, transmission, new investment in new power sources, the biggest investment in storage we have seen in the Southern Hemisphere and the biggest one we’ve seen in Snowy 2.0. Now that’s a 5 point plan.

PROBYN: Investment mechanism, Treasurer?

MORRISON: Exactly. That’s part of the fifth point I was just talking about and we seeking to land that. I tell you who’s standing in the way of landing something on a new investment framework – and that’s the Labor Party because they are putting in a no coal ban effectively on landing an agreement. So we’re looking to land an agreement here, but if Labor are going to remain steadfastly about any – any – any concession towards coal, then what they’re doing is putting higher prices on the Australian people.

So let’s have a look at their five point plan.

On reserving gas for domestic use, there has been a lot of talk but nothing achieved.

On 24 July 2017 the then Minister for Resources and Northern Australia issued a Notification of his intention to consider whether to determine 2018 as a domestic shortfall year.

The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia will consult with producers and other stakeholders such as the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission and major gas users. The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia is expected to make a decision about whether to make a determination by the end of October 2017.

The Queensland government, on the other hand, announced in January the release of 58sq km of exploration ground in the onshore Surat Basin with the “strict” condition that any gas produced must be used in Australia.

On Morrison’s second point of ensuring consumers get the best deal, all they have achieved is for electricity providers to inform you when your contract is coming to a close.  That does give you the opportunity to compare deals if you have the time and can wade through what they mean, an opportunity you already have if you have the energy (so to speak).

Morrison’s assertion that regulations drive up prices is hard to accept.  On one hand, Turnbull is saying how huge the gas companies’ profits are and indicating that he wants to intervene in both the gas and coal power markets.  On the other, Morrison is implying that we should deregulate even further because the cost of any compliance must be passed on.

The ACCC, in investigating the gas companies, found cartel-like behaviour in pricing, overcharging for use of pipelines, and the diversion of gas that was intended for domestic use to the spot market for sale above and beyond export contractual obligations.  Obviously we need more regulation, not less.

The treasurer then said they are investing billions of dollars in lower emissions and new technology.

The billions they have spent on Direct Action have resulted in emissions rising significantly.

The removal of the carbon price combined with continued attacks on the renewable energy target and wind farms, and the uncertainty caused by their ongoing support for coal, has seen us lose billions in investment in renewables which could have been up and running before the coal plants started to wear out.

ARENA, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Northern Australia Investment Fund have all been asked to consider funding further investment in coal infrastructure – something that no private company shows any interest in unless it comes with huge government subsidies.

As the Nationals call for a halt to any subsidies or investment incentives to renewables, the government announced another $90 million to subsidise onshore unconventional gas exploration.

“Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan is not only espousing a A$1 billion taxpayer leg-up for Indian coal magnate Gautam Adani to build a rail line but has now called for public money to be deployed for gas exploration in southeast Australia.

It is not as if Exxon and BHP, which operate offshore gas rigs in the Gippsland basin, or other big gas players for that matter, need help from taxpayers for their exploration. But the minister wants to lend them a hand anyway.”

Let’s remember, Exxon, has paid almost no tax in three years on more than A$25 billion in revenues in Australia. Meanwhile, domestic gas prices have tripled.

Morrison’s last point was “the biggest investment in storage we have seen in the Southern Hemisphere” – Snowy 2.0.  The government is proposing spending billions of dollars of public money on something that will take a long time to build, but we do not even have the results of the feasibility study so let’s not bank that one just yet.  I don’t think government spending qualifies as an “investment mechanism” Scott (though it does give you a sugar hit in the quarterly figures).

In short, the government’s energy plan is to intervene in the fossil fuel market, possibly with some regulations we’re yet to see but definitely with huge subsidies and probably loans too.  They want to remove incentives for private investment in renewables but spend a motza of public money on Malcolm’s romantic nation-building notion which will do nothing to help the short term energy crisis.

They want to force people to invest in something that the market has no appetite for whilst creating enormous uncertainty for real potential investors in renewables.  They can’t even get the Clean Energy Target to be considered by their party room and there was no additional funding for Direct Action, or any action on climate change, in the budget.

That’s not a plan Scott.  It’s more of the same that got us into this mess.


18 comments

  1. Jaquix

    I could not watch or listen to Morrison burbling on, on Insiders, so just muted it. Quick read of this post shows that Andrew Probyn made valiant efforts to keep him on track. Obviously the “five things” have been given to them all to use when challenged about their lack of action. All theyve done in 4 long years is delay, obstruct, criticise and blame others. Gaping holes in what Morrison actually said. Ive been wondering too, whats happened to Direct Action (!) Are we still giving millions of taxpayer dollars to people to do what they would have done anyway? Why havent we heard anything about this? I do think this energy area is one that Labor could be more proactive on, but then again, they may be keeping their powder dry until they get nearer the election.

  2. margcal

    I turned off when Morrison came on and watched an episode of Midsomer Murders that I’d recorded a while back. It made so much more sense.
    The Age headlines this morning, trumpeting Morrison’s high polling numbers for economic management, was the last straw. Fairfax, while always supporting the Liberals at the last moment, at least used to give a bit of criticism to the Libs and some praise for Labor. Of late, every mention of Labor has been critical and the Libs are getting a dream run. Fairfax has totally capitulated and become Murdoch with better manners. Since most people don’t get beyond news headlines, that this is cemented in so far out from an election fills me with dread.

  3. lawrencewinder

    What a shambles the ruling rabble are… Scummo’s performance was pitiful.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Yes margcal, I saw that. The gross debt is now over $500 billion and they didn’t have to deal with a global financial meltdown but they still gleefully tell us they intend spending $400 billion over the next twenty years on weapons of war that will be obsolete before we get them and that do nothing to improve the economy here other than, at best, provide a couple of thousand very expensive jobs servicing things we basically only use in war games.

    They spend billions keeping a couple of thousand refugees locked up and billions more using the navy to patrol our North to keep asylum seekers at bay when it would be much more productive to increase the humanitarian intake and open processing centres in transit countries and actually…yanno…..process applications before people die.

    They want to spend billions on coal so we can spend billions more on disaster cleanups.

    Imagine if they just spent some of those wasted billions on increasing welfare payments and increasing the tax free threshold. Economic stimulus combined with some relief for the most needy.

  5. bobs yeruncle

    Let’s remember, Exxon, has paid almost no tax in three years on more than A$25 billion in revenues in Australia”.
    india pays half of the price we pay for our gas.
    how any of our genius political negotiators can hold their heads up beats me.

  6. Kaye Lee

    March 2016

    AGL Energy Limited advises that due to a recent external boiler tube leak on unit 1 at the Liddell Power Station, AGL is conducting inspections on all four units at Liddell.

    As a result of those inspections, AGL has decided to undertake a program of further inspection and, if required, repairs on all four units at Liddell. This will result in outages over the next two months.

    https://www.agl.com.au/about-agl/media-centre/asx-and-media-releases/2016/march/agl-advises-liddell-power-station-outage

    February 2017

    AGL Energy confirmed on Friday two of the four units at its Liddell Power Station had been shut down due to leaks in boiler tubes.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/10/two-units-down-nsw-power-plant

    Liddell has been contributing to shortages due to “transient faults”. It is old and unreliable. Who would buy it 5 years down the track?

  7. James Cook

    Thanks Kaye. I didn’t see the Insiders program but would have turned off if Scomo appeared. I find him the most offensive of all the Libs mainly beause he must sound so sensible to the masses. “Investment mechanism” , when you think about it, is meaningless. But Scomo throws up [sic] these phrases regularly. The MSM don’t seem to ask him for an explanation or for any details. Nor do they come to interviews with any research with which to hold this bastard to account. As a consequence, he and his lieing mates continue to get away with it. Imagine what the polls would be like if the MSM did their homework and got tough with these con-men.

  8. babyjewels10

    Morrison’s nothing more or less than a con-merchant.

  9. Harry

    Ah Motormouth Morrison and his “Gish Gallops” (Gish was a creationist whose tactic in discussions was a rapid fire delivery which made it difficult for others to take in let alone counter his argument).

    Same approach is evident- try to escape scrutiny and of course adopt a manner of perpetual outrage that interviewers have the temerity to challenge his spin.

  10. diannaart

    Leaving aside Climate Warming.

    We do have massive problems with pollution world wide, yet our LNP is for stopping investment into low pollution renewable technology and increasing investment into polluting fossil fuels.

    Beam me up, Scottie, I really don’t like it here any more.

  11. nexusxyz

    What has Morrison achieved to merit those poll figures? Any ideas?

  12. Mark Needham

    The energy problems, we have, are huge. You and I all know what the results are.
    The cause, that there has been too much fluffing and farnarkling going on for the last 10 to 15 years.
    Obvious bit is, we do need ‘base power’. Sad part part is, that politicians have been playing politics, instead of doing the obvious, whilst also planning/developing the ‘new technology’.
    All very hard to do, buried in the fluff and ‘arkles.

    Positive to Negative,
    Mark Needham

  13. wam

    The answers were so glib, do you not think probyn leaked his questions to entice the offspring of a small onto the show? Good to hear jobs and growth is back, labor bashing mixed with shorten baiting and coal obfuscation to simulate leadership. In the absence of an opposition, the comparison is between the senate newsmakers and the lnp.
    You;re right, Kaye.it is not a plan but it sounds so much better than hanson or the dixxxbranbsimkims that trumball’s men have no real problem keeping ahead..

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    PM didn’t appear with Frydenberg. Seems nothing achieved., AGL sticking to original plan to close 2022. Building renewal and storage replacement.

    At PM’s direction, referring to board extending 5 years or selling.

    This has gone past a joke.

  15. Pappinbarra Fox

    I read some years ago that Snowy hydro provided 2 percent of Australian electricity use. If this is still the case the Snowy 2.0 should be called for what it is- no solution at all!

  16. John Kelly

    I thought for a brief moment Probyn had him cornered, but just like all the other sheep, he let him out of the pen.

  17. king1394

    Only last week Morrison referred to the ‘climate hoax’ on Radio National’s Breakfast program. He stands for a ‘business as usual’ response to emissions and a purist trickle-down form of economics. No future here.

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