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The insane pinball game that masquerades as Coalition energy policy

Three years ago, then Treasurer Scott Morrison declared the government was not interested in subsidising any source of energy.

The days of subsidies in energy are over, whether it is for coal, wind, solar, any of them,” the treasurer said.

“That is the way I think you get the best functioning energy market with the lowest possible price for businesses and for households and that is what the national energy guarantee and our energy policies are designed to achieve.”

Fast forward to this week when Keith Pitt, the minister for resources, water and northern Australia, blocked a loan for the Kaban green energy hub which had been approved by the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (Naif) in January.

The blocked funding would have helped build a 157-megawatt windfarm and 100MW battery and included a 320km transmission line upgrade.

Pitt’s reason for overruling the decision was that investment in “mature technologies” like wind and solar energy would be driven by the private sector whilst the government’s policy was to support dispatchable generation.

I’m not sure what Mr Pitt thinks batteries are for.

Instead of giving a loan to a commercially viable renewable project that would have employed about 250 people in its construction, the government has announced hundreds of millions in direct funding to the already very-profitable gas industry.

In March, the AEMO published their Gas Statement of Opportunities in which they said:

“Industrial demand for natural gas is not forecast to grow in the next 20 years, and could potentially reduce significantly as industrial users in the gas sector start to decarbonise.”

Head of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, says increasing gas supply won’t bring prices down “when there are a whole lot of other things around that are cheaper in price, like wind, solar and big batteries, like pumped hydro and we’ve got Snowy 2.0 coming.”

“Nobody is going to build it from the private sector because it doesn’t stack up. Because it’s expensive power, it’s hard to see it makes commercial sense.”

After years spent trying to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the government is now trying to change the legislation to redirect money into their own preferred technologies, including carbon capture and storage, gas generators and hydrogen produced from fossil fuels.

In typical Coalition fashion, Angus Taylor has stacked the board at ARENA with handpicked appointments that he hopes will do his bidding.

Meanwhile, in March, the European parliament voted to forge ahead with carbon levies on products from countries with weak environmental laws.

Two senior European officials said the transition to green technologies would drive power shifts away from those controlling and exporting fossil fuels, mainly referring to oil rich countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, suggesting that traditional fossil-fuel exporters would need to diversify their economies and free themselves from the “oil curse” and the “corruption it so often fosters”.

As Professor Warwick McKibbin pointed out, “The economic cost of a carbon border adjustment mechanism is nothing compared to the issue Australia will have to deal with economically when its fossil fuel export industry dramatically declines over the coming decades. There needs to be a reopening of the debate on how to create a world-leading framework for climate and energy policy in Australia.”

Despite all the dire warnings from climate scientists, the direction suggested by energy experts, the agreement from economists and the business community, and the threats of trade sanctions, a handful of politicians in Australia have put their short-term vested interests in front of the inevitable action we must take to tackle this global emergency.

Why is it that everything to do with the pandemic is predicated on “the best medical advice” but, when it comes to the health of the planet, it’s all about the profits for political donors and the electoral prospects of a few politicians?

When we have idiots like Matt Canavan, whose brother’s coal company recently went broke, saying “Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to,” what hope have we got?

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  1. Gangey1959

    “Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to,”
    Yeah. Right. So the sun only shines during the daytime.
    Goddam, I’d never worked that out til now. And it’s only windy when the wind blows too. I must be slow.
    Is that why my lights only shine when I click the switch, or my car only starts when I turn the key( mostly) ??
    At least heygoogle does its thing any timeof day or night regardless. Except when the power goes out. Again. Bloody coal……

    The lnp politicians are the dole bludgers of Australia’s employed people. They only turn up for work when the cameras are on.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Conservatives are the greedy, the frauds and impostors, the liars, propagandists, dogma dealers and devious drongos, who want to conserve culture from a past they already perverted, corrupted, stained. Ennobled, rich, powerful, influential, pushy, imperious, they control and enough is never enough. The past is a record of constant murder, occupation, theft, conquest, humiliation, racism, slavery, subjection, oppression, with wealth to the predators and elimination to many a “loser”. So, we now face an unprecedented quarrel over the future, our lives being at stake, and conservatives will gamble that others will sacrifice lives and wealth while they stroke on to the end. Controlling parties, politics, law and regulation is easy, with money, seduction, enlistment, recruitment, reward all playing a part in the perpetuation of indifference, vanity, greed. Only a mighty effort by the ordinary folk who have all to lose may, MAY, just save a threatened future getting irremediably built in to our future. We need foresight, planning, decency, not rigged cronyism and ignorant dodging by deviates, especially the saturated superstition shitskulls like the P M and his close associates.

  3. guest

    Kaye, The whole Coalition “pinball machine game” is about energy, but embodied in that is a climate change policy which indicates that the Coalition has no idea what it is saying.

    For a start, it claims that it is doing more than more than so many countries of the world to reduce carbon emissions, even as far as zero-net emissions by 2050, but at the same time claims Australia will be selling its coal well into the later part of this century.

    Why the burning of fossil fuels so far into the future is allowable is not clear, except that the claim of the IPA attached to Coalition thinking tells us that global warming is not catastrophic and the IPPC is being far too alarmist. Yet, when we read introductions to “Climate Change: The facts 2017 and 2020, both edited for the IPA by Jennifer Marohasy, we are told that there are “anomalies” or lack of agreement amongst contributors to those denier publications, the hope is that any contradictions will be “reconciled” some time in the future. How that will happen is not even hinted at.

    In other words, the Coalition’s climate/energy policy is a schemozzle and an intellectual disgrace. And yet there are people who foster it and promote it as some kind of fits-all explanation.

    An example is the claim that every day the day temperature rises from minimum overnight temperature to a higher temperature later in the day, more than a mere one degree, and mostly with no harm done.

    Is that not a wonderful brand of “science”?

  4. pierre wilkinson

    Just when you think that this corrupt, incompetence of a government could get no worse, they stoop to even lower levels of inadequacy….
    we so need a federal ICAC and an election before they totally annihilate any credibility that remains

  5. Florence Howarth

    Is it really about climate change any more? About jobs? About clean renewables? I suspect those issues no longer count.

    The choice now is to choose what is the cheapest, most efficient & job-creating energy now comes from renewals. Solar, wind, tidal, pump hydro & many more in the pipeline.

    Coal served us for more than a couple of centuries is passed its use-by date. Coal killed unknown thousands. Destroy the environment in which people lived. Dirty, dangerous coal no longer needed.

    Coal is gone, along with one hopes, oil which also destroys the environment, led to most of the wars last century.

  6. GL

    It’s all about money, staying in power for as long as they can, money, and getting a cushy lobbyist job (disguised as something innocuous, like being a “Consultant”) in the very corporations and big businesses that they have happily taken donations from for years when they leave Canberra. It’s about lining their pockets and bugger all else.

  7. DrakeN

    The “Rapture”.
    Remember the Pentacostal “Rapture”.
    The “End of Times” and all that.

    Don’t look for logic, even contorted logic – there is no logic in our Commonwealth Government of Australia, in our commercial and financial processes, nor in any religion.

    Logic is notable by its absence in the behaviours of so many within the general public, too.

    To someone with a scientific/engineering background like me, the denialism of logic, research, analysis, observable fact etc. is a clear indication that the cancer which is metastasising across all of our planet’s ecosystems – humanity – seems doomed to consume its host.

    I fear for all of us.

  8. Terence Mills

    The NAIF’s eligibility criteria for funding are clear and this project fitted that criteria :

    The infrastructure that NAIF can finance is wide ranging and includes assets that facilitate the establishment or enhancement of business activity or increase economic activity in a region. Examples of the sectors that NAIF can support include, but are not limited to, resources, airports, ports and rail, agriculture, water, energy, social infrastructure (including property, tourism, education and health), manufacturing and telecommunications. Eligible projects must bring new capacity online either through the construction of new infrastructure or by materially enhancing existing infrastructure.

    The decision by Pitt to go against the NAIF’s selected project smacks of blatant political and ideological interference.

  9. guest


    You and people you know might understand the direction to be taken with “dirty, dangerous coal”, gas and fossil fuels. And there are many people who understand and agree.

    But there are many people who disagree and make their views widely known. Kaye is writing about such people – and they often have some clout and can influence important decisions. That is why Oz is behind in dealing with carbon emissions and the cry is for selling coal and gas because they are big earners for Oz – and people are employed and their communities rely on coal and jobs.

    All that despite the fact coal is in decline and is becoming a stranded asset. There is strong advocacy for coal well into the future.

    These people do not want to hear anything against coal and fossil fuels. They have made careers out of it. Politicians can retire as advisors or lobbyists for fossil fuels.

    See how even Labor has offered support for coal in order not to frighten voters in the next election because they know that, if they cannot win the election, they cannot have power in government. The Coalition must not be allowed to get away with so much as it has in the past six years or so.

    But there are many people who will allow it because political propaganda is a powerful tool used to fudge the political process. See how anything perceive to be against the Coalition, anything “of the left”, is ridiculed relentlessly ad nauseam with criticisms no matter how ridiculous.
    The attack on climate change and global warming is of that ridiculous kind.

  10. Pete Petrass

    If only there were some way we could stop them destroying us, our country, our environment and our future. Aside from the obvious “just vote them out” which in itself is getting more and more difficult because of the sheer amount of stupid out there these days, there just doesn’t seem to be anything we can do. The best I can think of is to just pack my bags and move to another country.

  11. Kaye Lee

    What truly flabbergasts me is how the Coalition can say one thing one year and then do a complete 360 a bit later and voters don’t seem to notice, judging by the polls that put the Coalition in front.

    Having abandoned any concern about debt and deficit, they are now throwing money around like there is no tomorrow.

    Having forcefully said that they would not subsidise any energy source, they are spending millions to try to prop up the dying fossil fuel industry.

    Having lampooned Labor for their electric vehicle policy, they are now banking future emissions reduction credits on a hoped-for expansion in the market.

    In 2014,: “Video game developers have taken a $10 million hit in the federal budget with the axing of the Australian Interactive Games Fund.” In 2021: “the government is planning to introduce a 30% digital games tax offset as part of new investment incentives”

    To list everything this government has defunded and then refunded, all the turnarounds over the last 8 years, would take volumes.

    That’s what happens when you don’t have a plan.

  12. Andrew J. Smith

    All well and good, though as one commenter suggests, the IPA being influential, especially being part of Koch’s Atlas Network, delaying tactics and strategies to avoid constraints, extending income streams, are straight out of the Koch playbook (so nothing new).

    One learns more from DeSmog blog Canada about Australia and related personalities, tactics, strategies and policies, or not, than Australian media. Most Australians, even influential, know to keep their mouths shut on such issues and focus more on oneself, sport, entertainment, religion and ‘prosperity’.

    Here is the DeSmog link to the IPA but misses one important detail, Atlas Network membership, while some US based support appears to have helped the weaponisation of the IPA in the ’80s/’90s e.g. Olin and Bradley Foundations well known to investigative journalist Jane Mayer of Dark Money fame, in the US…..

  13. Kaye Lee

    Angus Taylor is great at making announcements with no basis in fact.

    I find this one interesting….

    “Getting the technologies of the future right will support 130,000 jobs by 2030, and avoid in the order of 250 million tonnes of emissions in Australia by 2040….The Government expects to invest more than $18 billion in low emissions technologies over the decade to 2030, in order to drive at least $50 billion of new investment over the next ten years.”

    That’s pretty specific quantifying of “future” technologies and hoped-for private co-investment by Angus….and about as believable as his claims about city councillors’ travel expenses.

  14. Rossleigh

    The Financial Review yesterday suggested that the upcoming Budget was a “Labor” high spending one, but that it was appropriate for the circumstances. Still, the subtle suggestion is that it’s Labor that’s adding all that money to our debt even though they’re in Opposition.
    This is why it’s so hard to defeat the current government with logic. Everything is manipulated to make it seem like they’re the sensible managers and Labor/The Greens are the radicals. When renewable energy was first looked at as alternative by Labor, it was “experimental” and unlikely to be viable so we were wasting money, but now it’s the new technology like hydrogen that’s the answer and the renewable sector should be able to stand on its own two feet, while gas needs subsidies because, well, we need something to get us through and gas is something that we have an abundant supply of… if you ignore the shortages caused by the fact that we export so much of it.

  15. wam

    Super sane logical destruction of a sneaky, corrupt and climate disastrous, policy, kaye. It is not worth a vote yet but it is close and we can hope some media can raise such questions with the pollies. Sadly “as believable as his claims about city councillors’ travel expenses.” is the still truth. For somehow such blatant lies are believed.
    close rossleigh bashing labor at every chance is still scummo’s best weapon.

  16. Ken Fabian

    “The Government expects to invest more than $18 billion in low emissions technologies over the decade to 2030, in order to drive at least $50 billion of new investment over the next ten years.”

    That $18 billion would buy 200 Tesla Big Batteries (SA’s Hornsdale Reserve) outright!

    As an incentive, at say, 20% of cost being subsidised… that might get us 1000 Big Batteries! Insignificant? That would support enough wind and solar to take us most of the way to zero emissions right there. Several could be built and operating and reducing Australia’s emissions before the next election. A commitment to batteries would also drive growing demand for Australian minerals apart from fossil fuels – and support the several serious proposals for battery manufacturing in Australia. But no. As in NO, NO, NO, that would be bad for gas and oil and coal. Global Warming? This LNP government does not care about global warming.

  17. Terence Mills

    What has been increasingly the apparent is that the coalition have a much better PR and spin department than Labor .

    Either Labor are not getting or seeking the media exposure or are too lazy to be bothered and it will hurt them in the polls.

    How many times have I seen Matt Canavan in a hard hat and hi-viz shirt – it’s almost as if whenever he engineers a media event he does a superman act, finds a phone booth and appears magically masquerading as a working man. Give us a break, he’s a politician !

  18. Kaye Lee


    I made that comment on Canavan’s facebook page where his profile pics are of him pretending he’s just emerged from ‘down pit’, complete with a dirty face. When I look at the dirty face pics I have an image of someone (like Peta Credlin) going up to him and smearing his face with coal dust to prepare for the photo.

    His latest post…..

    “We don’t tell other countries what should be on their national agenda, so we shouldn’t bow to calls from other nations to end our use of coal.
    We should be putting Australia first and building a new HELE Coal Fired Power Station to help bring electricity down and reboot our manufacturing.”

    One reason that Labor cannot compete is the playing field is bald-faced lies. You can refute them until you are blue in the face but their lies are promoted by right wing media and believed by many

  19. wam

    True lies are vote winners, against an honest approach, cuckoo, and are only beaten by sex, violence or controversy. Labor needs to use people, like Kaye, to excite the morning shows into asking questions that cause controversy. ps Words from one of my rabbottians:(the last point is why Scummo could ban Indians and the noisy white men in India show why he is back flipping. A not inaccurate description of stereotypes? Telephone Survey Last month, a worldwide telephone survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: Would you please give your honest opinion about possible solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world? The survey was a complete failure because: In Eastern Europe they didn’t know what “honest” meant. In Western Europe they didn’t know what “shortage” meant. In Africa they didn’t know what “food” meant. In China they didn’t know what “opinion” meant. In the Middle East they didn’t know what “solution” meant. In South America they didn’t know what “please” meant. In the USA they didn’t know what “the rest of the world” meant. And in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Great Britain everyone hung up as soon as they heard the Indian accent.
    And I don’t have a phone!

  20. New England Cocky

    What makes this whole COALition North Queensland coal fired power station strategy irrelevant is that Cannon Brookes of Atlassian fame is a principal investor in the Mt Isa solar Farm that is proposed to export energy to SE Asia.

    So running a powerline across Northern Queensland would be simple solution to ALL future energy requirements for North Queensland ….. AND it would be built by a private investment corporation funded by forward thinking foreign banks.

    UNLESS the COALition misgovernment proposes to 100% fund their coal-fired power station it is very unlikely that any Australian or foreign banks will finance ANY COAL FIRED PROJECTS in the future, leaving Australian taxpayers with a stranded asset having only scrap value.

  21. Terence Mills


    It makes the decision by the Morrison government to veto public funding of a windfarm and battery project in northern Queensland, all the more worrying.

    The Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (Naif), in January approved up to $280m funding for the Kaban green energy hub 80km south-west of Cairns.

    Keith Pitt, the minister for resources, water and northern Australia, blocked the loan in March. In a letter to the head of the agency, Pitt said the development would not provide “dispatchable” generation into the national electricity market and he was “not convinced” it would lower power prices. As Kaye Lee has noted, ‘dispatchable’ includes ‘batteries’

    This was done by a government minister who had been heavily lobbied by coal interests.

    Under the NAIF legislation the minister can reject a financing proposal by the NAIF Board :

    5) However, the Minister may give the rejection notice only if the Minister is satisfied that providing the financial assistance would:

    (a) be inconsistent with the objectives and policies of the Commonwealth Government; or

    (b) have adverse implications for Australia’s national or domestic security; or

    (c) have an adverse impact on Australia’s international reputation or foreign relations.

    It seems that the minister chose 5) (a) to reject the proposal : that is they don’t want renewables to get in the way of coal ventures in the region.

  22. Williambtm

    All of Australia’s regulatory authorities fail in the role they have been appointed or commissioned to achieve.
    Never mind that they continue to hold their appointment yet have no means to rein in the dishonesty and failings of our Federal government.
    Constantly published misleading information, along with this government’s outright lies being spruiked, are being championed by Australia’s mainstream media.
    Question 1.
    How can this non-fidelity form of national news presentation continue to be transmitted over and above what they are chartered to deliver?
    Question 2.
    How can one come up with the means to unite the people of Australia in declaring war against the L/NP illegitimate governance over all in our nation, to bring a halt to the treachery being thrust upon our nation’s people?

    Make no bones about it; there seems no way our parliamentary system has the means or capacity to combat the evils arising from Australia’s L/NP party government.
    I invite the opinion of all who can respond to the people of Australia’s real-time dilemma.

  23. Kaye Lee


    Watch this hilarious exchange with Keith Pitt about batteries providing dispatchable power.

  24. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, that is truly comparable to Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First?” Or perhaps Neil of Sydney trying to tell us why Rudd and Gillard were so evil.

    Yup. It was that bad.

  25. Kaye Lee

    If you want bad, have a look at Matt Canavan’s facebook page. He is spending budget day posting snarky photos of Malcolm Turnbull. Not to mention the rest of the crap on his page – a fact free zone to rival Craig Kelly.

    I rang his office to ask the source of his claim that abortions had risen by 58% since it was decriminalised in Queensland in 2018. A young man promised to ring me back. Instead, my local member’s office rang me unsolicited a while later to ask me if I had any local issues I wanted to discuss.

    From what I can ascertain, Matt read it on a sign at the anti-abortion rally he spoke at the other day. Well, when I went to the March for Justice, I read a lot of signs about Christian Porter…..doesn’t necessarily make them true. One would think if Canavan had some actual figures to back up his claim (other than the sign he saw), the young man would have rung me back.

    Matt will also be introducing a bill to ban sex selection abortion in Australia – even though it is already banned unless there are sex-linked genetic condition concerns.

    I could go on about the posts on his page except it is giving me a headache…the kind where you wrinkle your brow going “WTF? that’s crap”.

  26. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, I couldn’t help myself… I visited his Facebook page. I must admit there was a lot to like there: the comments calling out his bullshit. 😀

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