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Cue the show ponies

Malcolm Turnbull has, it seems, decided that the ‘energy crisis’ is all the fault of the Labor Premiers in South Australia and Victoria.

The blackouts in South Australia were due to Weatherill’s fixation with renewables and the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria was due to Andrews’ lack of planning.

That is, of course, total crap.

In early September last year, a few weeks before the huge storm that caused the infamous blackout in South Australia, Jay Weatherill warned that current rules allowed private electricity companies to drive “prices higher by withholding supply”.

This is exactly what happened during SA’s blackouts – the gas-fired power station Pelican Point chose not to supply more electricity.

Tony Wood, energy program director of the Grattan Institute, said after the February blackout, when Engie only had one unit running at Pelican Point and chose not to fire up the second, “If the price for power stays high — at say $10,000 per megawatt hour — and stays there for several hours, (Engie) can make a lot of money,” Mr Wood said.

“But if they start their second plant (sending more power into the system) and the price crashes to $300 per megawatt hour, they don’t make as much money.”

In an attempt to address this problem, the South Australian Government launched a tender to buy 75 per cent of its long-term electricity needs in an effort to increase competition.

A few days after that announcement was made, and still weeks before the blackout, United States-based Solar Reserve chief executive officer Kevin Smith said his company was interested in bidding for the tender by building a solar thermal project at Port Augusta.

The notion that this is a remedy thought up by Nick Xenephon and Malcolm Turnbull is just wrong.

We are also supposed to believe that Xenephon’s demand that pensioners get a paltry one-off payment is some sort of win for energy affordability.

Why doesn’t he just vote against the government’s budget savings measure which cuts the clean energy supplement – $4.40 a week for single unemployed, $7.05 a week for a single person on the aged or disability pension to help them with rising energy prices.  The government argues that, with no carbon tax, these payments are not necessary but they kept the compensation that working people got with the increased tax free threshold.

Not content with blaming Jay Weatherill, Turnbull then turned on Daniel Andrews saying the closure of Hazelwood was “a consequence of the Labor Party’s complete failure to lead on energy.”

“Daniel Andrews has allowed that enormous baseline power station to close.”

In fact it was the French owners of Hazelwood, Engie, who also own Pelican Point, that made the decision to close Hazelwood as it was rated as the least carbon efficient power station in the OECD and was beyond its use by date.  Five of Hazelwood’s eight boilers were desperately in need of major repairs which would have cost over $400 million to make them safety compliant.

As Turnbull and Xenephon prance around announcing more feasibility studies, ignoring that the chief scientist was already conducting a nationwide review, one thing is abundantly clear – the show ponies’ only concern is political posturing.


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  1. PeterStevenson

    The Hazelwood power plant was sold off by the state Liberals under Jeff Kennet.

  2. Kaye Lee

    And it was John Olsen’s Liberals in 1999 who sold off the SA power network, Mike Baird’s Liberals who sold off NSW and Colin Barnett’s government in WA.

    “We are now at the mercy of privately owned foreign-based companies who own all of our electricity assets. Half of your energy bill is the poles and wires. Poles and wires that South Australians built and put in place have now been sold to other companies.’’

  3. Deidre

    We need much more renewable energy with battery storage and much less of Malcom with his “Trump face”.

  4. 1petermcc

    An example of MT going the full Abbott and hopefully getting the same result

  5. Terry2

    Strange, they haven’t yet blamed the Queensland government’s renewable energy targets for the power outages since cyclone Debbie.

    They haven’t even heaped blame on to Gillian Triggs and Sarah McManus – mind you it’s early days.

    I am expecting the Australian to tell us tomorrow that their research shows that pensioners will just waste their $75 on the pokies that’s why it’s just a one-off !

  6. cartoonmick

    Rule No 1: Australia’s energy supply systems need to be owned by Australians and NOT overseas organisations.
    Rule No 2: Pollies need to make decisions which put Australians first, and NOT themselves or big biz.

    I think the most memorable event to come out of SA recently, was the ambush in the garage of Josh Frydenberg by Jay Weatherill. I’ve watched it over and over again. It’s brilliant !!!

    And additionally, from a variety of pollies, there followed an abundance of political thought balloons on future energy supply ideas.

    I put all this Energy posturing together and came up with this 45 second satirical toonimotion, which also shows cartoonists can’t sing (and nor should they ever try) . . .

    It’s here on YouTube . . . .


  7. Michael Taylor

    And it was just after Olsen sold ETSA (Electricity Trust of South Australia) to the Chinese that the major blackouts started.

  8. Dave

    Yes, turnbull and the nxt, sounds like a rock band. No talent, just smooth operators full of shit. What a bloody disgusting lot we have in “government”, think I agree with the Greens leader, turnbull, abbott, hunt and the lnp do have blood on their hands following Cyclone Debbie. Their piss weak “Direct Action”, carbon trading, lack of support for renewables and their puppet masters in coal and other multinationals will surely go down in history as the most disgraceful period in Australias’ political history. $125? Just add that to the other $550 we are still waiting for!

  9. Rhonda

    He’s a stooge operator, a stooge operator

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    Rhonda….. He is a stooge who gets operated on and by, the perfidious LNP. He’s too dumb to realize it. But Getup has wowed to target him at the next elections. If you’re interested, they welcoming anyone to send him an email and perhaps make a donation to counter the business lobby’s propaganda. Just log on to their website for the details.

  11. Harquebus

    The S.A. legislative council would not allow the privatization of our electricity assets so, John Olsen sold a 200 lease instead. Effectively the same thing but, not according to some.

    “Late this afternoon, Labor Party traditionalist Trevor Crothers crossed the floor of Parliament to vote for a long-term lease of the utility to a private operator.”
    “TREVOR CROTHERS, SA LABOR MP: Early this morning at our Labor Party parliamentary Caucus meeting, I informed my parliamentary colleagues that whilst I opposed the sale of ETSA, that I regarded leasing as being a different animal from sale.”

    “The observed outcome supports the conclusion of Quiggin and Spoehr (1998) that the privatisation of ETSA has cost the South Australian public between $1 billion and $2 billion, and that an outcome at the upper end of this range is likely.”

    Search criteria: olsen lease sa power


  12. John Lord

    The word “lying” (in political terms) has been replaced with the more unsubtle reference of “bullshitting””

  13. diannaart

    Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but…. Malcolm Turnbullshit has been authorised to say (by big business no less) that Cyclone Debbie (those BOM people really need help with naming storms) was caused by protests to stop the Adani Mine.

    The B/S is now sooooo effing blatant, these FW’s are leaving themselves with no room to go – except on a series of back-flips that will see them voted out.

    I mean, these defunct drains on the taxpayers’ money cannot continue to exponentially lie, can they? Don’t answer, am trying to remain optimistic.

  14. June M Bullivant OAM

    Crap, Crap, listen to the LNP, they blame Labor for everything, the community will blame LNP for all the things wrong when we change governments starting with Local in 5 months.

  15. Kronomex

    That photo reminds me of Xenophon channeling Quisling and Turnbull doing a pretty scary impression of Mussolini at his best.

  16. Kaye Lee

    A second gas pipeline connecting the Northern Territory to South Australia would not be viable without fracking, the oil and gas peak body has said.

    The Federal Government backed a feasibility study into a north-south gas pipeline in exchange for independent senator Nick Xenophon’s support for company tax cut changes.

    The NT currently has a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while an inquiry into the technique is underway.

    But the NT and SA branch of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said it would not be realistic to have a new pipeline without fracking.

    “The identified new resources of natural gas in the Northern Territory are predominantly in shale rock, very deep below the surface that cannot be produced without fracking,” NT-SA APPEA director Matthew Doman said.

    Construction for the Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline connecting the NT gas fields from Tennant Creek with the east-coast gas market at Mount Isa in Queensland, is expected to get underway in mid-2017.

    Mr Doman said even though offshore gas could be made available to that pipeline, as well as sources of gas in Central Australia, fracking would still be required to sustain it.

    “For the long-term viability of the first pipeline, let alone the construction of a second pipeline, we must be able to proceed with the use of fracking to produce identified resources of shale gas in the NT,” he said.

    Did Xenephon do ANY research before selling out?

  17. Miriam English

    Regarding the Engle generator at Pelican Point not firing up because they could make more money by squeezing the consumers by bringing on an artificial blackout, isn’t that exactly what brought ENRON in USA undone? Executives were busted joking that they’d give California rolling blackouts and brownouts to make a killing on the energy market.

    Private companies should not be supplying essential services except under very special circumstances. They should either be highly regulated (mess up and they’re out on their ear), have to compete with a publicly-owned entity that keeps them in line, or make essential services entirely publicly-owned.

    I’ve been thinking about the problem of bloody pure-market crusader governments always selling off all the assets as soon as they get into office. We need ways to stop that. I’d previously thought the only way is to nationalise them again, paying out the company with a price as undervalued as the price they are usually able to buy it at. There are problems with that. Most governments are too timid, for one. I’ve realised an alternative is is for socially responsible government to always create public-owned corporations that will compete against the private ones. As the public ones don’t have the same need for outlandish profits it can be a deterrent against future asset sales because future buyers of LNP (or Labor) asset-stripping will know that the next time a progressive government gets in they can expect to make bugger-all money when a public competitor gets started up.

  18. Miriam English

    Here is a fascinating read:
    Report by Clean Energy Canada – The Transition Takes Hold

    New investment in renewable outstripped fossil energy for the first time last year. India has the largest solar energy plant in the world now, at 10 square kilometers in size!!! In Europe 86% of new energy added is renewable. In 2016 China added 64 Gigawatts of renewable energy. China has invested $103 billion in renewable energy. Canada gets 80% of its energy from emissions-free sources. Globally,clean energy employed 6.7 million people in 2015. Of those, 2.8 million worked in solar. The number would be higher now. Our dippy politicians look dead-set on making us the poor white trailer trash of the world.

    Coal-powered steam engines!!! Our politicians are imbeciles.

  19. Matters Not

    the public ones don’t have the same need for outlandish profits

    Indeed they don’t! But on the downside, public sector ‘structures’ (broadly defined) are always more ‘bureaucratic’ – always slower to ‘move’ and ‘respond’. The reason is pretty simple. (Good) Public sector activity must be publically accountable. That is, their activity must always involve ‘audit trails’ so that ‘decision making’ can be traced to see who decided what and when and for what reasons. It must be ‘proper’. And be transparent, particularly in retrospect.

    On the other hand, private sector activity proceeds on the basis of minimum accountability. Whatever we can get away with tends to be the guiding principle (if you can call it that).

  20. Miriam English

    Organisations that are slow to change can be an advantage when you want stability, for example in an electricity provider.

    However the idea that publicly owned organisations are naturally slow change may just be the propaganda we’ve been so carefully fed.

    The ABC never seemed particularly hobbled by being publicly funded. They were always trying out experimental series such as Towards 2000, which became Beyond 2000 when commercial networks were so constrained by the profit motive that they didn’t dare try anything new. ABC was always investing its dwindling funds in local dramatic and documentary productions and brought a number of Australian film companies into existence through their patronage. Such companies, like Beyond Productions, which then moved on to the commercial networks where there was more money to be made after the ABC had proved there was a market.

    Applying similar reasoning to an Australian energy supplier, it might sponsor Australian research into improved technologies where for-profit companies are happy to sit back and only buy old, proven technology from overseas and milk their customers.

    Australian telecommunications are an example of the profit motive going really badly. It is one of the most highly over-priced, yet under-performing industries in the world. The standard propaganda is that the free market delivers highest performance and lowest price possible, but it doesn’t seem to really work that way because the carriers quietly collude to keep prices ridiculously high. It is much cheaper to run a mobile phone network than a landline network, yet for customers calls on landlines are cheaper than mobile calls. Landlines have absurd charges too. There is no difference between a phone call to my neighbor across the valley and a call to a friend in Perth, but they get massively different charges. Luckily we don’t have the situation they have in USA where long distance calls have to go through multiple different small monopolies to get to their destination, nor thankfully do we have carriers able to charge both the caller and receiver of calls.

    Private doesn’t always mean slow and private doesn’t always mean innovative. It far too often seems to go the opposite way.

  21. Miriam English

    Damn. I meant “Public doesn’t always mean slow and private doesn’t always mean innovative.

    My usual web browser is messing up and preventing me editing my posts. Damn. Looks like I’ll have to use a different browser for posting to AIMN. Luckily I have 7 different web browsers on my computer because I use them for testing various things.

  22. Kaye Lee

    I am not sure that I agree about public doesn’t always mean slow. It seems to for anything that is important. Mind you if they want to overturn pesky state laws that seek to legalise marriage equality or dying with dignity they move like lightning.

  23. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I read your Clean Energy Canada blurb last night. Another sales pitch that ignores required resources, environmental damage and does not mention that what was accomplished was done using fossil fuels.

  24. Kronomex

    And now the bullshit excuses from Xenophon begin.

  25. Miriam English

    Goes to show you can read something with your eyes closed H. Amazing feat.

    On the point of using fossil fuels to build renewable technology, well, duh! We still live in the end of the fossil fuel age.

    When we’re in the renewable age we’ll use renewables to build renewable technology. Solar furnaces instead of coal-fired furnaces work and can attain temperatures far in excess of those easily obtained by coal, and they do it without pollution or having to pay for fuel.

  26. Mark Needham

    We must do 2 things.
    a. Buy our resources, previously State owned, back.
    b. Never sell them or any others again.
    Mark Needham

  27. Miriam English

    Never selling our state-owned resources is unlikely, given we have a major party which has a fetish about making quick money by selling off our services.

    However always buying them back again, forcibly, and doing so at bargain-basement prices similar to those they’re originally sold for, would make corporations think twice before wanting to cash in on our moronic government’s crookedness and short-sightedness.

    We need to remove the lure to avaricious corporations of wanting to set up a swindle with corrupt politicians. The best way to do that is to ensure that when the government changes they lose the resource and don’t make a windfall profit in the process. Make them feel they’d just wasted a few years with nothing to show for it. Then the next time corrupt LNP (or Labor) politicians want to do a deal to sell our country out from under us for a piddling amount (plus of course a hefty contribution to the party’s coffers and to the bank account of the politician making the deal) the corporation will instead see it as a losing deal for them.

    It would be even better if we could prosecute government ministers who are on the take and to force political parties who receive big bribes to give double that amount to the poor instead. (They’d hate that more than simply being fined by an equivalent amount.) Giving all that money to the poor??? Holy crap! They’d pop a blood vessel.

  28. Matters Not

    Miriam English the notion of ‘retrospectivity’ been exercising my mind of late. Hold up a bank and not be arrested for a decade or so is irrelevant when it comes to ‘justice’. Same with ‘murder’. Interfere with a minor. – it’s legally retrospective. Engage in fraud? Default on a loan. They chase you to the grave.

    Yet if one was ‘once’ a Minister, or even a Prime Minister, who took us to war with disastrous consequences, then the appropriate penalty is deemed to be limited to ‘loss of seat. Hilarious when you think about it.

    Maybe the lesson is – if you are going to be a criminal – then make sure you are an ‘over the top’ criminal.

    Seems to work – because the ‘big ones’ seem to walk free. Just condemned to live with a conscience they (apparently) don’t have. Too easy.

  29. Miriam English

    Matters Not, yes. We need justice to be seen to work. Such big-time crooks who help foist a giant fraud upon the people should be liable for prison time (it’s no use fining them because even though they love money dearly it means little compared to social standing and personal power).

    The Adani mine is exactly such a fraud. It will either be a complete waste of money and steal native land, destroy ecologies, extract a billion dollars from Australia and be a total white elephant, worsening the coal glut to the point that it simply sends broke all the remaining coal companies which are currently hanging on by their fingertips, OR it will do all those things and put billions of tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and send the climate spiralling out of control.

    No honest politician should have anything to do with it.
    If they try to justify it with jobs, well there are many times more jobs in the renewable energy fields. Either they are inept and haven’t done the required research, or they are crooked.

    I think all politicians who push the Adani mine should a) lose their job and all entitlements, including their golden pension b) face prison time. They’re either criminally neglectful, or are bent.

    Incidentally I’ve found a wonderful set of videos on debunking climate change deniers:

    Each addresses a falsehood used by the deniers. I watched the 5 episodes on Christopher “Lord” Monckton last night (even his goddamn name — “Lord” Monckton — is a lie). I knew he was a con-artist, but I didn’t realise what a deliberately lying little weasel he is. Makes me want to attend one of his talks and pull him up on every goddamn lie. He wouldn’t get much said.

  30. Kaye Lee


    Monckton is a hoot (if we ignore the damage he does). One of my favourites is “NO WORRIES, MATE! Australia’s fave Lord puts the bedwetting profiteers of doom at the failed Climate Council straight about global warming.”

    He obviously thinks we are all bogan morons “downunder”.

    I wrote this about Monckton in December 2013. Coincidentally, it was the first time Malcolm Roberts came to my attention.

    Fruitcakes of a Feather

  31. Miriam English

    And if politicians get prison time it shouldn’t be the kind of vacation retreat that Alan Bond had to spend time at. That’s barely any deterrent at all. They should go to general population (GenPop) like any of us would if we engaged in fraud, or willful conduct that killed or ruined vast numbers of people.

    There is a great mismatch. Those who have positions of great responsibility get to utterly avoid the consequences of their criminal actions, effectively giving them no responsibility at all. This is a very dangerous thing to do.

  32. Miriam English

    Kaye, I’d forgotten your article. I just now re-read it, and it was worth the revisit.

    I don’t understand how those people can get away with such bald-faced lies. I know they’ve somehow detached themselves sufficiently from reality that they’re able to believe their own lies, but I wonder how they don’t come undone in the media. Yeah, Murdoch owns most of our media, but there are still others that should be decrying these dipshits. Well, AIMN lets us… so there is that. And YouTube is available with places like

    Unfortunately the information bubble that feeds deniers their own excrement has become a very dangerous thing. Yet people are largely unaware of it. Google learns the kinds of thing people like to search for and feeds their own biases back to them. Deniers will almost never encounter genuine science. And when I use Google the internet looks like a largely technology- and science-driven place, devoid of porn and racism. I have to use DuckDuckGo to subvert my biases because it doesn’t store any of my search results and preferences.

  33. Kevin Michael

    The Mal From Snowy River show was just chook feed for the easily distracted press.

  34. Jaquix

    Both Turnbull and Xenophon have lost credibility. Nothing they say from now on can be counted on.

  35. Mark Needham

    Amazing how the negotiations always revolve around the spending of money.
    Mark Needham

  36. Kaye Lee


    A sovereign currency issuing nation can’t go broke.

  37. Harquebus


  38. silkworm

    H – I found this comment at that helps explain Venezuela’s situation:

    “Venezuela’s inflation is caused by shortages in key consumer goods. The shortages are engineered by the rich, who have been waging an economic war of attrition against the semi-socialist government and against lower classes since Hugo Chavez died on 5 March 2013. The purpose is to cause so much misery for the masses that they blame the government for their pain, and finally join their oppressors (the rich) in overthrowing the government. Then Venezuela can finally return to the way it was before Hugo Chavez, with a savagely repressive government, and an extreme gap between rich and poor.

    Shortages are maintained by smuggling goods to secret warehouses, many of which are in neighboring Colombia. Meanwhile, foreign companies like Toyota and Ford have almost totally shut down their factories in Venezuela. And since shortages drive up prices, the war is extremely lucrative for the rich.

    When Chavez was president (1999-2013) the rich tried many times to launch this war of attrition, but Chavez always outwitted them. Eventually, however, cracks appeared within Chavez’ ranks, as (some) politicians within Chavez’ own party became corrupt, and started lining their own pockets. This caused fissures that the rich began exploiting from the moment that Chavez died. Now some politicians in Chavez’ own party are helping the rich to maintain the shortages in consumer goods. It’s very lucrative, and the traitors hope to have places among the oligarchs in the new order. The shortages sustain a black market in various consumer goods, and also sustain a high crime rate. It’s all part of the imperialist / neoliberal plan.”

    It has nothing to do with a shortage of money. It has to do with an artificial shortage of goods.

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