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Clean Coal, Malcolm’s Principles And Other Oxymorons!

Now, I know that consistency isn’t a strong point with people generally. And I don’t have a problem with people who change their minds. As John Milton Keynes was alleged to have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. How about you, sir?”

No, it’s not as Donald Trump administration would have it, “When I change my mind, the facts change and it’s all fake news anyway, because as Abraham Lincoln said to George Washington, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet!”

I found it hard to reconcile the Abbott government’s insistence that the workers killed installing insulation were the fault of the Labor government’s lack of oversight, while announcing that they’d get rid of all the red tape which slowed down business.

But lately, the Liberals are creating a new gold standard when it comes to saying one thing one minute, then another thing a minute later. Sometimes they’re even contradicting themselves in that same sentence when they tell us that negative gearing doesn’t make house prices higher, but removing it would make them lower.
Most you probably noticed Josh Frydenberg floating the idea of allowing the CEFC to invest in “clean” coal, and I suspect that many of you would probably argue that like it’s allowing QUIT to invest in clean tobacco.

Of course, you do have a strong argument, and I’m not denying that the idea of “clean coal” sounds more of an oxymoron than “Malcolm Turnbull’s principles” or “humble One Nation MP”, but I’m prepared to say that it’s not impossible that we may be able to create “cleaner” coal if we put our minds to it and pour money into researching it. Of course, I’m also prepared to say that unicorns may exist, that Scott Morrison may not be planning to be PM before the year is out and any day now, Donald Trump may announce he’s resigning because he’s done everything possible to get impeached but the Republicans are stupider than he imagined… It’s not the possibility of clean coal that I find inconsistent. It’s a strange idea. But the Liberals do have a lot of stranger ideas, like putting Cory Bernardi on their senate ticket or telling us that One Nation is now more “sophisticated than it was twenty years ago.

No, it’s their recent decree to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that’s the weird thing. Late last year, Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg lectured the CEFC about the need to strive for an annual return well above the bond rates. In other words, they were told that they needed to be investing in profitable enterprises. None of this helping out evolving industries and giving them a helping hand while they become more commercial. Nope, we want commercial decisions which make a profit, and not just a small profit: 3-4% above the interest rate!

So imagine the surprise from the CEFC when they hear that just a few short weeks later, they get told that Mal and his mates are looking at changing the legislation to enable an investment in coal from the fund. The fact that clean coal isn’t profitable is no problem. I almost expect Frydenberg to be telling us that “Field Of Dreams” is the evidence on which they intend to base energy policy, and if we build it, they will come.

Of course, this is on top of the fact that a voluntary levy which coal companies paid to investigate clean coal was used for political advertising. Of course, it’s rather scandalous that the money to pay for the advertising was deducted from state royalties. But that’s not what I found most interesting about the ABC’s story.

No, for me it was this simple statement which the ABC seemed to skate over:

‘With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012. In 2013, the coal lobby changed the mandate of Coal21 to downplay research and allow its funds to be used for “coal promotion”.’

Let me just repeat that first bit for you, “With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012.”

Or let me just put it in bold: With a lack of research projects to finance!

In other words, our government now wants to give taxpayer funds to something that even the coal industry itself didn’t think was worth looking at. The levy was stopped, not because it was too expensive in these hard times for coal producers, but because they had more money than there were projects to fund.

So, if you thought George Brandis was bad when he suggested that asylum seekers were breaking the law, but he wouldn’t tell us which section of the migration act they were breaking because that – like operational matters, on-water events and where they’ve hidden Christopher Pyne – is a secret, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait till they tell us that we can give millions of taxpayer dollars to the coal industry to research something that even they themselves thought wasn’t worth spending money on. Just wait till they tell us that it’s a mistake to be “ideologically driven”, but the coal industry is the way of the future. I mean, didn’t you see those great ads? Not only that, thanks to all the money they’ve been given, they’ll soon be making even better ads. They’ll have Scott Morrison, holding a lump of coal, telling us that it’s only through coal that the Budget will be back in the black, and it’s only the coal industry that stands between us and the Marxists forcing their clean energy ideology on us all. Not only that but they’ll have a row of dancing girls with lights powered by coal – that’s both the dancing girls and the coal.

Coal – if it’s good for humanity, it’s god for the Liberal Party!


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  1. Jaquix

    And there are moves afoot to extend the parliamentary term to four years! Thats good if you have a good government. If you have one like the current one, its disastrous. Think it needs a referendum though.

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes, “clean coal” is an oxymoron only uttered by morons.

    Sorry Rossleigh, that’s as funny as I can be at this moment coz it’s alarming that the powers-that-be are prepared to put the planet’s health further at risk by seeking opportunities for more coal developments.

    I am also very suspicious of assorted political officials from either side of the duopoly who exist in government at local, state and federal levels.

  3. Greg

    I posted on Facebook just before the Abbottt/Turnbull spill about the plan for two more coal stations and that a curtain company was told they would get a green light for the build since one of their sub companies was in the electrical infrastructure business and the parent company made a very grand donations to the liberals , Before that how ever Malcolm was saying (it’s still on the net in video) that clean renewable energy would beat clean coal in both cost and efficiency to run . But these days Malcolm hasnt got a leg to stand on and has only got a month an 1/2 to pull back in the voters or he will be on the back bench (I’v also posted this) . His (well you can only call them his financial backers ) have the far right in their pockets and now he is running scared and for his job , it will be interesting to see how far he is willing to go because the internet never forgets. With more an more back flipping to come and he knows it will all come back at the next election to bite him big time

  4. Kronomex

    Jennifer, I think you mean oxygen breathing morons.

    It’s not about the coal, it’s all about the money that rolls into the LNP coffers from the big end (arse?) of town and the influence that money gives them over a bunch of willing pushbike stands.

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Malcolm Muck is filthy rich with his stash in the Caymans, his harbourside mansion and the farm his father once owned. Also, he presumably has a happy marriage and family life.

    So the only thing Muck has to lose is his Prime Ministership and/or his self-respect and respectability for posterity.

    Those elements make his desperate desire to keep the role of PM more remarkable considering it is visibly ageing Muck and making him more of a laughing stock each day and a dead certainty to caste him as one of Australia’s most stupid and treacherous PMs for selling out his principles on Climate Change, Marriage Equality, Science and Innovation, and the list goes on.

    Muck should take a more circumspect approach and be satisfied that he achieved his life goal of becoming PM. Then he should calculate how much more he will be held in high regard, if he begins to turn the tide of his negative backing down to the RWNJs in his party, so he can let the wider community see that he is indeed capable of putting Australia’s best interests and ethics above his own self-interest of desperately hanging onto PM.

    The history books are more likely to be kinder to him, if he elects to do what is best for Australia and support Renewable Energy industries; aim for 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by mid-century; advocate for social justice issues like fairer Welfare income and conditions; and support marriage equality to name just some needing his representation, which in turn would give him a more respectable name into posterity.

  6. Gangey1959

    Last time I looked, Clean Coal was called DIAMONDs, and if trumbles and his strange bunch of bedfellows to the Speaker’s right (I’m so glad I don’t wake up beside any of them each morning. Imagine our ag or banarnarby or pyney over Vegemite toast and tea) think that Australians are dumb enough to believe that they have got a few million tons of spare sparklers in talcum’s back yard just waiting for the furnace they really have to get their heads examined.

  7. Greg

  8. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Point taken, Greg.

  9. Johno


    Thanks. Mal must have been smoking some wicked weed before that little speech.

  10. lawrencewinder

    The play, “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade” makes more sense than this ruling rabble’s “policy.” Fictions Frydenberg , Truffles, Horse-Shite Coorman, Scummo and Dodo Dutton are all stumbling around in a policy vacuum created by the far right ideological insanity of the IPA and are desperately hoping that they look like they are really achieving something tangible.
    Poor fella, my country.

  11. jim

    As it is coal is cheap only because it is subsidised. Without fossil-fuel subsidies, wind and solar would be instantly cheaper then it already is in Australia today.

    And just who would invest in a new coal plant two decades hence, as the world nears the zero emissions target it has locked itself into through the Paris agreement, boggles the mind, but we’re talking Liberal LNP here so…..

  12. kerri

    Great article Rossleigh!

  13. Matters Not

    our government now wants to give taxpayer funds to something that even the coal industry itself didn’t think was worth looking at

    Indeed! What the industry needed was guidance and tutelage that could only come from the political class. And it has.

    Now, we know that coal can not only be combined with oxygen to generate heat energy with carbon dioxide as an unwelcomed by product, it can also be used much more effectively to generate significant political heat with fear as a very useful and welcomed by product.

    Coal has a very bright future. Methinks it’s the new political ‘black’.

  14. Harquebus

    “The biggest subsidy renewables get are built into the fossil fuels that are ESSENTIAL to make them in the first place….” — Mike Stasse aka DamnTheMatrix.

  15. silkworm

    “Just wait till they tell us that we can give millions of taxpayer dollars to the coal industry…”

    Sorry for being an MMT Nazi, but there’s no such thing as “taxpayer dollars.”

  16. jim

    As it is coal is cheap only because it is subsidised. Without fossil-fuel subsidies, wind and solar would be instantly cheaper in Australia today.

    And just who would invest in a new coal plant two decades hence, as the world nears the zero emissions target it has locked itself into through the Paris agreement, boggles the mind, but we’re talking Liberal LNP here so…..

  17. Matters Not

    Best article I’ve read on new coal mines and their (non) future comes from Pascoe.

    Never mind the politicisation of energy and carbon policy – the market and legal system is moving rapidly to instil the discipline and punishment the government isn’t game to discuss … In keeping with the Paris Agreement Australia has signed and the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) policy development, APRA leaves no room for climate sceptics. Both the obvious physical and perhaps less obvious “transition” risks of climate change are real and present dangers to the financial system APRA is charged with safeguarding

    So there’s no room for climate sceptics . Look out Maurice Newman.

    Spare a thought here for the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) as it considers Adani’s application for a billion-dollar loan to build a railway from the Galilee Basin to the Queensland coast. While being lent on by pro-coal government members, NAIF directors would do well to consider why Australia’s banks seem to have no interest in financing the line. It’s not just a green PR issue – it’s the danger of being left with a stranded asset and directors being personally liable.

    What’s this with personal liability? Directors having to pay up? Can’t be for real? Can it?

    Summerhayes quoted legal opinion that it’s only a matter of time before directors who fail to properly consider and disclose foreseeable climate-related risks are held personally liable for breaching their statutory duty of care and diligence under the Corporations Act.

    The same consideration would weigh heavily on Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) directors if the government changes the legislation to allow CEFC to lend to new coal-powered electricity generators.

    Dear oh dear – personal liability and all that. While politicians have their legal and financial ‘back up’ for ‘government decisions’ made – not so for ‘Directors’. It’s now a new ball game – perhaps.

  18. Ricardo29

    Pedant alert, John Maynard (not Milton) Keynes, Milton as in Friedman is the one to blame for NeoLiberalism. I don’t have anything witty to say about the poor, deluded, directionless LNP but I do hope Bill Shorten isn’t scared into walking away from the 50% RET, as mentioned on Insiders (I think).

  19. Matters Not

    Anyone else noted that under the ISDS provision the (supposedly) sovereign State of Israel is being dragged before one of these ‘kangaroo courts’ because it had the audacity to raise the minimum wage of workers?

    That the TPP was never legislated, is the one (and perhaps only) achievement of the Trump regime to date.

  20. Triestegal

    Carbon dioxy-morons
    (stolen from Guardian comments but too good not to share)

  21. johnlward010

    Misleading and Deceptive Leaders and The Climate Change Misinformation four decades long Campaign
    Please click on URLs to access reference and supporting articles.

    Are you confused by the issues of alternative energy and climate change?
    Here is why.
    The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim MD, PhD recently stated that it was crazy that governments were still driving the use of coal, oil and gas by providing subsidies. “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now”, he said.

    In July 2016, Nicholas Stern estimated that tackling climate change would require investment of 2% of world GDP each year. The IMF indicates that if governments stopped world fossil subsidies of $5.6 trillions per year, it would benefit world GDP a year by 3.8%.

    How did the Fossil Fuel Industry react to this knowledge in 1980?
    The Global Climate Science Communications Plan, written with the direct involvement of fossil fuel companies including ExxonMobil (then Exxon) and Chevron, detailed a plan for dealing with climate change that explicitly aimed to confuse and misinform the public.

    How did Governments and Fossil Fuel Industries collude?
    There is collusion to bring about World Government subsidies of $5.6 trillions per annum (according to the IMF calculations), to create the illusion of low costs and reliable coal generated electricity, and to manage, resist and delay the growing threat of investment in renewable energy as competition to the dominance of the fossil fuel sector.

    There certainly has been a climate hoax that continues today. It is the four decades long campaign by the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to deceive the public by distorting the realities and risks of climate change.

    Why do taxpayer funds subsidise the Fossil Fuel Industry while coal and oil giants pay virtually no tax?
    Malcolm Turnbull has been subsidising the fossil fuel industry with (the IMF estimates) $1,712 per Australian a year or $41 billions of taxpayer funds.
    This includes exploration funding for Geoscience Australia and tax deductions for mining and petroleum exploration. The IMF calculates that Australians subsidisations to the Fossil Fuel Industry account for hidden adverse costs spread out across the states and the ATO, that ultimately, permanently come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

    Why Does the CEFC cause offence to the Fossil Fuel Industry its institutions and the IPA?
    In 2013 Tony Abbott addressed the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). “I want to assure you” he said, “that the coalition will repeal the carbon tax, abolish the Department of Climate Change, and abolish the Clean Energy Fund. (CEFC)”. That was his intent. However, the Legislature (Parliament) twice refused to allow the Executive’s Bill to abolish the CEFC Act to become law. To undermine the purpose of the Act;

    The Executive attempted for two years to alter the CEFC investment mandate, by revoking a provision of the CEFC Act 2012. The fact is any change to the CEFC Act 2012, must be to the original Act. Altering the CEFC Act to achieve the executive’s purpose can only be done by going back to the Senate.

    What is the CEFC?
    The CEFC was set up by the Gillard Government in 2012.
    It mobilises capital investment to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector in renewable energy, low-emission technology and energy efficiency in Australia.
    The corporation operates like a traditional financer, working with co-financers and project proponents to seek ways to secure financing solutions for the clean energy sector.

    Was the aim to change the Law or maximise confusion and demoralise the Alternative Energy participants?
    LNP Ministers have schemed with coal and oil corporations to support coal generation of electricity and attacked alternative energy, by removing all possible funds from the CEFC.
    Treasurer Hockey created a disruption so great that the alternative energy industry collapsed by 88%, mirroring a similar executive incursion into the car manufacturing sector. Prime minister Turnbull caused similar disruption during the 2016 election campaign by pledging a total amount of $6.5 billion, left in the CEFC account to other non-climate change related LNP causes.

    As the PM reallocates funds by disrupting and ignoring the directly expressed objectives of the Act that; The CEFC invests to increase the flow of finance into the clean energy sector.
    Also ignored were the CEFC’s constitutional functions relating to external affairs powers (section 51(xxix) of the Constitution), i.e., giving effect to Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Climate Change Convention, by investing in the development of renewable energy and low-emission technologies that could reasonably be expected to control, reduce or prevent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
    Recently, the Cabinet created a third investment directive to modify the intent of the CEFC Act and in doing so has exceeded its authority, ignoring the need to return to the Parliament to get the required authority from the Legislature. In doing so, committing misfeasance by benefitting the coal & oil energy sector, but causing a deficit to the alternative energy sector.

    Expressed or Implied, which is it?
    Ministers Hunt and Cormann have claimed that the power to issue new investment mandates is implied in section 64(1) of the Act, what they continue to ignore are the express limits placed on them by the Act section 65. As responsible ministers they cannot issue direction that has the purpose or that is likely to have the effect, of directly or indirectly requiring the Board to, or not to, make a particular investment that is inconsistent with the CEFC Act – (including the object of the Act) – which is: The Object of this Act is to establish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
    When will the correct interpretation be made to sweep away this manufactured confusion?
    The level of malfeasance and misfeasance and corruption in Federal and State Governments must be addressed by courts as a matter of urgency. The High Court and Federal Courts are ultimately the only Judicial Bodies with the constitutional authority to address these Executive levels of wrongdoing

    The fundamental rule of interpretation is that a statute is to be expounded according to the intent of the Parliament that made it, and that intention has to be found by an examination of the language used in the statute as a whole. It is abundantly clear that the Parliament that produced the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 intended that the Act not be easily diverted or altered by new directives inimical to its purpose.

    Former Chief Justice of the High Court Murray Gleeson on ’The Rule of Law.’

    The High Court is given jurisdiction in matters in which a writ of mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth. This jurisdiction cannot be altered or taken away by Parliament. It confers on the High Court the power, by making certain forms of order that historically followed judicial review of executive action, to compel officers of the Commonwealth to act according to law. The expression ‘officer of the Commonwealth’ includes the Prime Minister and Ministers, and all public servants. The effect of the provision is, no one is above the law. Thus government officials must exercise their powers according to law. If they do not, then, in the last resort, the High Court may order them to do so The Constitution, which is the basic law, itself declares that the government must obey the law, and gives the High Court the jurisdiction to compel such obedience.
    That jurisdiction cannot be removed or modified except by constitutional amendment.
    Parliament, if acting within the limits of the powers assigned to it by the Constitution, may change the law. The executive government must obey the law. That is what the rule of law means.”

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Matters Not @ 10.00 pm last night re directors’ responsibilities. That is a very good point considering many of those directors are likely Liberal Party donors, who face the risk of litigation for failing in their directors’ responsibilities if their decisions result in “foreseeable climate risks”.

  23. jim

    “That the TPP was never legislated, is the one (and perhaps only) achievement of the Trump regime to date”.
    that alone deserves a carton or three.

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