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Day to Day Politics: God give me energy, please.

Thursday 16 March 2017

The sentence stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls:

”However, industry and environment groups were united in calling for the federal government to provide more certainty though a national energy policy.”

You mean we don’t have one, I thought to myself. I read on.

”The federal government has charged Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, to review national energy security and he will report later this year.”

But of course the Prime Minister has categorically ruled out what all the major players believe is an obvious solution.

They being the National Farmers Federation, Energy Networks Australia, the retailer Energy Australia, the electricity provider AGL, the Climate Change Authority, the Business Council of Australia and the CSIRO.

So the question arises that if all of these organisations want an “emissions intensity scheme,’’ (EIS) agreeing it’s the logical way forward, why has the Prime Minister ruled out such a scheme? I mean it’s rare to get a group of this ilk to agree on anything. So why tell them to stick it. Even the Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg agreed with them before the ultra-right pulled him into line.

It’s simple really. Some members of his party have told him that he would be sacked if he pursued that course of action. It’s a pity he didn’t have the courage and zeal of Gough Whitlam. He would confront the bastards. If he only could reinvent his former self. The Malcolm Turnbull who supported a tax on carbon and thought that direct action on Climate Change was a waste of the public’s money. Whatever happened to him? The man of innovation.

All of this can be viewed within a framework of inaction by a Coalition of a coal loving Government unable to look forward to a renewables future, but with a gargantuan capacity to blame others.

Our energy market has been screwed. Privatisation, deregulation, greedy companies and Government are all to blame.

It can be factually argued that inaction by the Federal Government in both the supply of energy and the reduction of emissions is responsible for the current crisis. It lawfully has power over the export of gas, the introduction of an emission’s trading scheme and a national energy policy.

It has now been in power since 2013 but has accomplished little in the way of ground breaking policy of any sort.

The South Australian government, in the absence of any national strategy, is attempting to go it alone. So are others while a dithering National Government sits on its backside waiting for a report from the Chief Scientist later in the year? What was Greg Hunt doing all those years other than telling lies? Of course it would be better if all the states came in under the umbrella of a national scheme for both emission’s and energy supply. However, all they get is abuse and blame. They must be sick of it.

Yesterday morning both Frydenberg and Turnbull were giving the states a serve of inappropriate bullying. Victoria had closed down the Gas industry. SA was bucking the system. Albeit a non existing one. We have enough Gas, that’s not the problem. The problem is that we haven’t saved enough for ourselves. Blame Howard, he did a deal that could only be described as giving it away.

It is bizarre that gas customers in Japan buy Australian gas more cheaply than Australians. Some of this gas is drilled in the Bass Strait, piped to Queensland, turned into liquid and shipped 6,700 kilometers to Japan but the Japanese still pay less than Victorians.

The SA response could well be described as simply trying to treat the symptoms of a non existent national energy policy. Of course they could all be part of the solution but with a government treating them like shit what would you expect.

With great enthusiasm they hand around a lump of coal in the parliament. It’s convenient to mock It and Weatherill every time the national power regulator fails, even if towers fall over, to keep the power on and to blame a massive storm on the SA government as an opportunity for a slogan, “Labor can’t keep the lights on”.

They are attempting to do what the federal government, with good will, and the common good in mind, could fix themselves. Just take the politics out of it, tell the denialist nutters where to go and problem resolved.

Penny Wong commented:

”The last bipartisanship we had on energy policy was in 2009 before Abbott tore down Turnbull. And it’s time Malcolm Turnbull rediscovered some of that, because a sensible long-term approach to this market that frankly the private sector is calling out for they are calling out for leadership.”

Matthew Warren, of the Australian Energy Council said.

”Many features of its (SA) energy plan would be made redundant by effective national energy policy reform,” Warren said. “This would be a win for all consumers and remains the fastest and cheapest way of fixing Australia’s energy crisis.”

The only thing standing in the way of a solution to our energy crisis is a select band of Coalition coal loving climate denialists led by Tony Abbott and a Prime Minister more in love with the stature of the Prime Ministership than doing what’s good for the country.

Nick Xenophon was promoting an energy intensity scheme to manage carbon emissions back in 2009, a policy now supported by everyone from the energy suppliers and the National Farmers’ Federation to the ALP.

Yesterday morning Malcolm Turnbull stood before the assembled members of the fourth estate, looking sartorially Prime Ministerial and said ”Good morning. Today I’m taking national leadership to resolve this gas crisis.” Where had it been all this time?

Rather reminded me of Tony Abbott’s declaration that ”Good government starts today”.

When a leader all of a sudden announces he is going to lead, all sorts of other questions arise. The crisis may not be as bad as he makes out and could be resolved with leadership. It’s just that he is not the right one.

STOP PRESS. Late Wednesday the Prime Minister predictably announces that the gas companies will supply whatever is required for Australia’s needs. In doing so he claims good leadership. It’s just a pity that we don’t in all the Coalitions years in power have a National Energy Policy or an Emissions policy. Shame, shame, shame.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

Peter Dutton says that the $55 million that was spent on a resettlement deal with Cambodia for two refugees was “a good deal”.

He also thinks that if Labor were to win the next election the Stock Market would crash.

The economy would collapse and there would be an inevitable recession.

We are awaiting his thoughts on the potential for a budget surplus if the Coalition wins.

Did you know that in 2008, when new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations, Dutton was the only coalition front bencher to abstain?

On 5 June 2015 Dutton categorically denied claims made by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young that she was spied on during a visit to Nauru.

On 11 September 2015, Dutton was overheard on an open microphone, prior to a community meeting on Syrian refugees, joking about the plight of Pacific Island nations facing rising seas from climate change.

Dutton also attempted to introduce a GP co payment of $7, but this proved highly unpopular with both the public and the medical profession, and the plan was dropped. Dutton was overwhelmingly ranked as the worst health minister in 35 years according to a poll run by Australian Doctor Magazine.

Then in 2016 News Corp Sunday political Editor Samantha Maiden wrote a column critical of Jamie Briggs and Dutton drafted a text message to Briggs describing Maiden as a ‘mad f*cking witch’ but inadvertently sent it to Maiden herself. Maiden accepted an apology from Dutton.

He has had five ministries and hasn’t lasted very long in any.

We deserve better.

My thought for the day

Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. In fact it is incumbent on them.

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  1. Peter F

    I heard the PM say that he had received guarantees that gas will always be made available to electricity producers so ‘that (ie whet happened in SA) will not happen AGAIN”

    He admitted that failure of gas supply contributed to the SA problem. Had been proven was proven when the gas station was started the next day.

    I did not hear the PM say that supply would also be guaranteed to other large business consumers.

    Perhaps this has been added as an afterthought, just like this sentence.

  2. Möbius Ecko

    So now Turnbull is the hero of the nation and a great nation builder. The headlines are screaming it this morning as he announced a 50% $2b expansion of the Snowy Mountain hydro scheme.

    True, it’s just one of the nation building things we need and that have been so lacking in the last few conservative governments, but please forgive me if I’m just a tad suspicious of this announcement and the timing of it. This is not something that is thought up overnight, and especially since it already has a price tag on it.

    As one commentator I read online stated, the government is creating disasters for it to come in with great fanfare to fix. This was a favoured Howard tactic.

    In the meantime his meeting with the gas company executives has been forgotten. Just what did happen in that meeting, and did the executives scamper away chastened and are now ordering many mcf’s of their gas to be pumped into the domestic market instead of going overseas?

  3. Kronomex

    Yawn. Let’s check the papers. Start with spewscrapdotcomdotau, “Australia’s #1 news site”, then go and look at actual news.

    The Donald is pissed off at Snoop Dogg for sending him up in a song as a clown. He disrespects the office of the President, gaol him says The Donald. Wrong. Snoop disrespects the clown in the office.

    Oh for firetrucks sake, Mal Feasance is going, yet again, to start leading the country again. It’s like the song that gets stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of. ‘Snowy Hydro 2.0’ for only $2 billion taxpayer dollars? That figure must be the LNP fantasy total. Meanwhile in the world the rest of us inhabit the cost will be twice that.


  4. Terry2

    In between the lines of today’s news :

    1. The prime minister has ordered a feasibility study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) into increasing the capacity of the Snowy Hydro scheme by up to 50% by the use of pumped-hydro technology. It is a “feasibility study” and should be completed by the end of the year.
    ARENA, which provides financial grants for 40 per cent of the CSIRO’s energy research, was set to be stripped of $1.3 billion in funding as part of the government’s Omnibus Savings Bill still before the parliament.

    2. Gas prices have increased by around 300% in the past two years and are expected to keep on increasing as the price, including domestic,is driven by regional demand ; whilst the suppliers have agreed to commit to continuity of domestic supply they have not agreed to any concessions on domestic pricing.
    Australia’s gas is among the most expensive in the developed world among countries with their own abundant indigenous gas reserves.

    Go figure !

  5. Peter F

    Within the last hour Fran Kelly was told by someone who has worked on the Snowy Hydro scheme that the PM’s idea is nothing new, it was always part of the original proposal, but that it will take YEARS to get agreement between all of the parties before anything can happen.

    Yes, it should have been part of any government plan. But that is exactly the point : there was no plan before Wetherall’s announcement.

    The Coalition has had four years to come up with an energy plan, and all we have had is a lump of coal in Parliament. Pathetic.

  6. helvityni

    Off topic:

    Good news: Dutch PM Rutte beats anti-Islam leader Wilders, 82 per voter turnout,( voting not compulsory)…

    Sigh of relief in Europe… No Trump clones for Holland 🙂

  7. Peter F

    Ok, so, in response to the proposal for a battery system in SA ( one proponent says it could be up and running in 100 days) our wonderful PM drags out a $2bn Snowy Mtns scheme expansion ( ARENA says it could have a 7 year lead time), while denigrating the battery proposal .

    Why the rush, you might ask?

  8. Guest

    I know its such a dirty concept but nuclear power is clean way way to go. only issue being disposal of spent rods. Our cities & population are growing so it would provide a good source of power. Now sit back & wait for the backlash on this comment.

  9. Harquebus

    If the National Farmers Federation, Energy Networks Australia, the retailer Energy Australia, the electricity provider AGL, the Climate Change Authority, the Business Council of Australia and the CSIRO are calling for an EIS then, I am suspicious.
    Any market mechanism implemented to combat climate disruption will be paid for by, as usual, those at the bottom of the economic heap.

    Why is no one considering just powering down? Jobs and growth be damned.

    The laws of physics can not be changed through legislation and entropy is a one way street.


  10. Carol Taylor

    That was umm odd from Turnbull saying that Victoria was “hoarding” onshore gas when it eventuated that at the most, after close to 50 years of exploration, Victoria has at most 6 months worth that nobody would bother developing. This reminds me of Turnbull’ grandstanding on tax reform, a lot of noise deteriorating rapidly to no action whatsoever once there was even one murmur of dissent or scepticism.

  11. Carol Taylor

    Guest, question. In Australia, where are you going to get enough water to run nuclear power stations; certainly nowhere inland..Noosa looks nice.

  12. Michael Taylor

    The Donald is pissed off at Snoop Dogg for sending him up in a song as a clown. He disrespects the office of the President, gaol him says The Donald. Wrong. Snoop disrespects the clown in the office.

    That tweet came up in my feed (even though I didn’t follow him) and I thought I’d wander in and take a look at the responses. I then got stuck there. I couldn’t get away. The responses were a real hoot and I just had to keep reading. And reading. And reading.

    I’m now following him, so whenever I want a laugh I know where to go.

  13. helvityni

    Peter F, I think he wants to look and sound prime-ministerial, not to be upstaged by mere Premiers from the Provinces…

  14. Jan

    And very off topic.Matt Canavan has been rumored to be Kerry Packer’s son.

  15. Kronomex

    I just realised that The Donald is the offspring of Pennywise, a monster that sucks the life and money out of people while using the appearance of a clown.

  16. Maeve Carney

    I’ve been on holiday in Europe last winter (their summer) and there were so many massively huge fields filled with solar panels. If Europe, with their limited space can devote so much to generating solar power, why can’t Australia which has so much more space and considerably more solar radiation landing on it.

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    Gloves off between Wetherill & Frydenberg AGL function SA. Disgraceful performance by Frydenberg.

  18. Michael Taylor

    We saw the same thing, Maeve. All over Europe there were wind farms and solar panels. In Italy, some farmers had given up growing crops, instead, turning them into solar farms. Fields filled with solar panels. Everywhere.

  19. Egalitarian

    Maeve Re Europe Solar, Because Australian is run by an extreme capitalist government.They must keep digging and mining the shit out of our country.For they are Ideologist fundamentalist’s.They’re are a bunch sick bastards.Every building in this country should have solar.

  20. wam

    What a great read today, Lord.
    Perhaps dutton does the raven’s job of testing the waters before sending the doves? Nah no doves allowed only carrion feeders availiable.
    Hasn’t weatheral done some stirring. The boys must think his plan might work so they are in panic mode. So whinge and slag SA but power to the east coast. No extra water to SA till they de-elect labor!

  21. Peter F

    I know its such a dirty concept but nuclear power is clean way way to go. only issue being disposal of spent rods. Our cities & population are growing so it would provide a good source of power. Now sit back & wait for the backlash on this comment.

    I know this is from 2009, but , as we know, the solution to the waste storage problem is always ’30 years away’, which makes this as relevant now as it was eight years ago.

  22. Peter F

    “I know its such a dirty concept but nuclear power is clean way way to go. only issue being disposal of spent rods. Our cities & population are growing so it would provide a good source of power. Now sit back & wait for the backlash on this comment.:

    Should have been in quotation marks, quoting ‘Guest,’ 9.16 am.

  23. Ross

    Well John Spud (Dutton) is being touted as the next in line when Malcolm is knifed.
    The Liberal catastrophe in WA will look like a nuns picnic after the next election if Spud is steering the ship of state. The Liberals would be able to hold party meetings in the back seat of a Volkswagon.

  24. Paolo Soprani

    Firstly can we please have agreement? The Premier of South Australia is Jay Weatherill not Weatherall and its pronounced ‘wether’ ‘ill’. Thank you. Next, the Federal Government is a disgrace. On every level. They are a pointless organization. If they were an employee they would be escorted to the door of the building without being allowed to return to their desk. They are arguably committing treason for allowing our essential natural resources to be made available to a foreign power for a lower price than our citizens are forced to pay here, for allowing foreign governments to raise revenue on said resources whilst we don’t, and for allowing foreign companies to mine our essential natural resources without paying any income tax..

  25. Terry2

    It all comes down to economics, to be viable nuclear has to be cheaper than renewables – solar, wind, tidal, hydro or even pumped hydro – so far with the nuclear waste disposal and storage costs into the future, nuclear in our environment is not cost effective.

    Just a point on pumped-hydro, it is only cost effective if the power you use to pump the water up the hill is cheap. Even then, pumped-hydro power will inevitably be more expensive than straight hydro (as you have the pumping cost to contend with).

    By the way, I think that SA’s reserve gas power facility is good risk management particularly as it will be publicly owned ; Weatherill deserves our support for tackling a problem that the federal government is only now belatedly acknowledging.

  26. kristapet

    I think the “real” Malcolm Turnbull is “the one” that saves himself, before businesses fail, and he jumps out in a “nick-of-time – he is a mirage…….the only person he looks out for, is himself………. expecting, the “real” Turnbull to appear soon, or, expecting him, to stop being a “gutless wonder” is a fool’s errand.
    It is amazing how many cliches come out when discussing this man
    I think the states asserting themselves, show courage and welcome initiative – using renewable energy, wind, solar, Tesla batteries storage etc and it just makes sense to do this, in the face of Climate Change, if only, to use a more environmental friendly, energy technology.
    Cheaper and cleaner too
    Here, Sweden and Denmark show how it could be:

    With NO dramas, just practical solutions, and, Denmark exports their surplus, also, with no drama
    They just get the job of practical management for their country – done!
    I can’t see a constructive outcome from this quagmire of an LNP, plus, now, not PHON, of a government, without policies,
    or, a “Fizza” Prime Minister
    “Sigh”. Indeed.
    “God give me strength”
    Eloquent frustration ……..many are are making this plea with you

  27. Harquebus

    “It is clear why social unrest is increasing in most countries.
    No one is to blame for these trends. They are simply a consequence of the scientific laws of geology and thermodynamics.”
    “Denial and blame will likely lead to tragedy.”
    On the Tragedy of Trends


  28. silkworm

    I listened to Turnball yesterday responding to the energy crisis. It was weasel words and waffle, delivered in an angry voice, and still blaming Labor (Vic and SA), for not opening up their gas fields.

    He said the government has the power to control the market, but he doesn’t have the energy. Ha ha.

  29. Alan Baird

    Malcolm really must wander around making affirmations such as, “I feel great being PM, it’s so good, it’s worth all the character assassination from mine and the other side, ooh, I want hug myself, I’m PM and christ! What’s he want now!? What WON’T I do today?”
    Just a mobile traffic jam to sense.

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    It is still only about about feasibility of scheme. Lot of water to go under bridge before in becomes a reality. Feds only own 13% Snowy???

  31. Florence nee Fedup

    Truth is PM is between rock and hard place. If he is to come up with a feasible plan, he has to admit they should have left Gillard’s CEF suite of bills in place.

    Admit privatisation has led too today’s ills.

    Admit the marketing scheme, along with inferior grid has to be addressed.

    We now need what they call a smart grid. Mostly to do with computer programmes. Need to drop marketing scheme that UK threw out decades ago.

    Regulation needs to be put back in hands politicians.

    I suspect inability to act is more about ideology than money. Many of the answers are more about process than building new system.

    The lies will need to stop if we are to have any cooperation or success.

  32. paulwalter

    Yes. Some simple tweakings of the grid itself, including things like use ready interconnectors and other infrastructures would eliminate some of the problems.

    As it stands SA and now the Commonwealth are up for heavy costs to remedy the fossil fuels oriented neglect of the previous decade, along with the hiving off of control of resources and infrastructures for ideological and political reasons with probably even graft involved.

    THe costs for avoiding fixing the system are high and should not have to be borne by taxpayers while the real criminals get off scot-free.

  33. paulwalter

    Grant me the supreme equanimity not to kick in the TV screen next time I see Frydenberg’s idot face, btw.

  34. helvityni

    I loved Weatherill telling Frydenberg and Mal (absent) some home truths, and he did so calmly, good on ya ,Jay!

  35. paulwalter

    I think he was very annoyed with Frydenberg but kept his temper. A lot of money is now going down the gurgler because people like Frydenberg, Joyce, Murdoch and Abbott would not face realities or twisted problems to their own political or commercial advantage.

    The privatisation ideology and its consequences have hamstrung our necessarily for vested interests, dumbed down country, robbing us of our place as an indep3ndent and rationality-driven nation and alternative energies innovator

  36. Florence nee Fedup

    Media asked Frydenberg if he was uncomfortable. Weatherill under his breath was heard to say, if not now, soon will be. SKY

  37. Michael

    Well I thought I would not see the day when a Labor idea got the treasured LNP (green?) tick – how many years – a record?

    Always knew there would have to be at least one.

    Hang on – could it be they got it all mixed up and are going to pump the water DOWNHILL (rolling coal gathers no moss) after all the NBN has been, in a fit of anti-Labor, Trumble-ised slower – still waiting for Google search for Aus place in world rankings.

    Another day – another brain fart.

  38. amethyst3009

    “Grant me the supreme equanimity not to kick in the TV screen next time I see Frydenberg’s idot face, btw. ”

    Oh, paulwalter, you summed it up exactly for me.

    “Media asked Frydenberg if he was uncomfortable. Weatherill under his breath was heard to say, if not now, soon will be. SKY”
    Thank you, Florence nee Fedup. I missed this aside. I just can’t wait to see Frydenberg squirm. Oh, yes, bring it on!!!

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