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The Minister for Fossil Fuels and Fudging Figures must go

Leaving aside Angus Taylor’s involvement in poisoning endangered grasslands, disseminating forged documents to the media to attack a political opponent, and dodgy water buybacks from Cayman Island companies, the Minister for Fossil Fuels and Fudged Figures must go because he hasn’t got a friggin’ clue what he is doing.

In a recently released report, the International Energy Agency said the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war would trigger multi-decade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal while renewable energy continued to grow.

Speaking at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, a virtual meeting of more than 30 governments on the climate crisis, the UN secretary-general António Guterres and the German chancellor Angela Merkel urged that economic rescue packages should invest in climate technologies.

“Where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it must be creating green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth,” said António Guterres. “It must not be bailing out outdated, polluting, carbon-intensive industries.”

Merkel added “The coronavirus shows us that international cooperation is crucial and that the wellbeing of one nation always depends on the wellbeing of others. There will be a difficult debate about the allocation of funds. But it is important that recovery programmes always keep an eye on the climate. We must not sideline climate, but invest in climate technologies.”

So what is our illustrious Minister doing?

Offering up public money, with a good dose of state coercion, to facilitate, fast track, and underwrite fossil fuel projects.

The Underwriting New Generation Investment (UNGI) slush fund short-listed twelve projects for funding consideration including five gas-fired power stations and one coal-fired power station.

UNGI would offer a financial loan, grant funding, or derivatives contracts to provide the project with a revenue guarantee.

In January, Taylor announced the first two projects to receive funds would be two gas generators – APA Group’s proposed 220MW gas generator in Dandenong, Victoria, and Quinbrook’s proposed 132MW gas generator in Gatton, Queensland.

As many analysts have pointed out, this sort of government intervention would likely dissuade other private investments. With plummeting world demand and prices, locking us into guaranteeing their profits will only artificially inflate prices – the exact opposite of what Taylor was employed to do.

Taylor is strong-arming the states to join his fossil fuel push, as reported by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper.

Funding for other energy development in Victoria was contingent on them removing the moratorium restricting conventional onshore gas exploration.

An MOU signed with the NSW government included support for the very old, very dirty Vales Point coal-fired power station owned by Liberal donor Trevor St Baker’s Delta Energy.

Then, at the end of March, the NSW government also gave approval for United States coalminer Peabody to extend operations under Woronora Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to parts of Sydney and areas south.

State governments in South Australia and Western Australia have given big financial breaks to minerals and petroleum companies in recent weeks – exempting them temporarily from having to meet various fees and expenditure requirements in order to “stimulate industry to mitigate the economic impacts of coronavirus”.

But it is extremely doubtful that an economic recovery will be led by an industry whose demand has plummeted.

Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, makes this point:

“We have seen the global oil and gas majors cut capital expenditure programs for 2020 by 20 to 25 per cent just in the last month. Woodside last Thursday put out a statement announcing it was shelving $53 billion of investment on North West Shelf LNG [liquefied natural gas] developments. The next day Origin put on hold their fracking of the Northern Territory. The next day Santos put on hold the fracking of the Northern Territory. You’ve had massive, massive cutbacks.”

He also warns of the danger of stranded assets.

“Australia spent $US80 billion in Gladstone building six LNG trains. They were all modelled on an LNG price more than three times what it now is.”

The Coalition’s fixation with fossil fuels, and their blindness to the direction the world is taking regarding energy, is threatening our economic well-being, our international reputation, and, as one of the countries most exposed to the ravages of climate change, our very existence.

Taylor is not the man for the job ahead.

(PS Who in their right mind would commit to buying oil to top-up emergency domestic supplies and then store it on the other side of the world?)

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26 comments

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  1. Jack Cade

    This man defines the LNP government. He is the high watermark of neo-con lowlife.

  2. Phil Pryor

    A shiskulled shyster from the bush, embracing all the old orthodoxies of thieving, stealing, water abuses, soil degradation, erosion promotion, pesting, infecting, exploiting, short term ignorancing, that is this hopeless excuse for an office bearer. You could mould a better man out of some of his sheep droppings and it would be more fragrant and bear some resemblance to reality. A Taylor is a disgrace to Australia at large while profiteering and seeking shelter among the thieving and exploiting right wing ratbags he knows.

  3. Kaye Lee

    His sister-in-law is a NSW state politician and she did exactly the same thing about a different property – poisoning endangered grassland – and this was after Angus and other brother Richard’s Jam Land were under investigation. She too then called the dept direct.

    “Bronwyn Taylor, the New South Wales mental health minister, personally lobbied the state Office of Environment and Heritage to drop an investigation into alleged illegal native grassland clearing on a property she owns with her husband Duncan.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/28/mp-bronwyn-taylor-lobbied-state-government-over-alleged-illegal-land-clearing-on-property-she-owns

  4. Stefano

    Thanks Kaye Lee for another excellent article that highlights how blatantly corrupt some of “our” politicians are.
    We must have a federal ICAC NOW.
    These individuals must be held accountable.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Then there is the Country Universities Centres program.

    Duncan Taylor, as chairperson and later CEO, successfully applied for state and federal funding. Louise Clegg, Angus Taylor’s wife, is on the board of the centre in Goulburn.

    Bronwyn Taylor was notified within minutes of the grant being approved despite denying that she had any involvement in the process.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/05/nsw-nationals-deputy-bronwyn-taylor-notified-instantly-of-8m-grant-to-husbands-organisation

  6. Peter F

    This is the LNP’s man for the future??????? Shame on them. I had unrealistic expectations that we had seen the last of their madness…….Ha!

  7. Ken

    Taylor buying oil for the Australian reserves and storing it in the US of A is another of his silly ideas.

  8. Kaye Lee

    In May last year, Annastacia Palaszczuk, in order to “hold Adani and the independent regulator to account and to give everyone clarity around who needs to do what and by when”, instructed the Coordinator-General to:

    “Take a stronger oversight role across the Adani approvals process timeline;
    Report back to her by the end of the week setting out a clear plan for timeframes for both the company and the regulator to adhere to; and
    Seek to ensure neither party is responsible for unnecessary delays in the approvals process.”

    http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2019/5/22/coordinatorgeneral-to-set-adani-timeline

    The latest update (published Feb 2) shows that Adani continue to miss the target dates set by the CG.

    Still outstanding are an Interface agreement with Whitsunday RC (target date 30 September 2019), Accreditation as a Rail
    Infrastructure Manager (RIM) and Rolling Stock Operator (RSO) (31 July 2019), and a Royalties Agreement (30 November 2019).

    http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/guideline/cg/adani-outstanding-approvals-milestones-reached-31-01-2020.pdf

    In March, it was reported that the insurance company was considering pulling out

    https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/breaking-news/marsh-to-discuss-ending-support-of-controversial-coal-mine–report-215869.aspx

  9. David Evans

    Another great article Kaye Lee, however the name is Anus Taylor, not Angus. Can only give you 99.999999% because of that, keep up the good work!

  10. Josephus

    With such a degree of selfishness and greed this country’s government is a kleptocracy, not a democracy. SO, that is what the diggers died for, is it?

  11. Aortic

    Thanks again Kaye. A worthwhile Google for us all. DFA the bank that could save Australia.

  12. New England Cocky

    The results of the inquiry into poisoning endangered grasslands:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/30/angus-taylor-jam-land-company-part-owned-illegally-poisoned-endangered-grasslands-investigation-finds?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNTAx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

    Gussie Taylor is unfit to be a politician, but that seems to be the pre-requisite for membership of the Liarbral Nazional$ COALition misgovernment.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Land-clearing approvals in New South Wales have increased nearly 13-fold since the Coalition government relaxed laws in 2016, according to a secret report to the state cabinet by its Natural Resources Commission.

    The commission found more than 37,000ha were approved to be cleared last financial year, almost 13 times greater than the annual average rate across the decade to 2016-17. Approvals jumped more than 70% after the rules covering land clearing changed at the start of 2019, rising from 25,247ha in the final quarter of 2018 to 43,553ha in the first three months of the new year.

    It also highlighted the lack of an effective monitoring and compliance regime to ensure laws were enforced. In a six-month stretch between August 2017 and January 2018 there was 7,100ha of unexplained land clearing. It was 60% of the clearing in that time.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/27/nsw-land-clearing-approvals-increased-13-fold-since-laws-relaxed-in-2016

  14. Matters Not

    So Australia is spending $94 million to buy fuel to bolster reserves, yet it’s still a bit of a magical mystery tour.:

    Crikey has confirmed that the oil is not being purchased from the US government, but from the private sector, with details currently commercial in confidence.

    The Taylor’s office would not say which company Australia was buying the oil from. It was also unable to say when the oil would be purchased.

    A few questions might be in order. What’s the name of the agency doing the buying, presuming the public service is only indirectly involved? Note also that Australia is not buying from the US government. One wonders how many ‘middle men’ are involved and how many clip the ticket as this oil changes hands. A glance at the past shows Angus never lets a chance go by.
    With that in mind, remember, Taylor’s

    visit coincided with oil prices hitting their lowest levels since 1991. During the visit, Taylor also travelled to Texas to meet with top industry executives there.

    So Angus meets with top industry executives there. To what end? Did he keep notes? Write a report? If so, is it available via FOI? Personal belief is that Angus can’t resist any opportunity to ‘grift’ and it’s only a matter of time. All we need is an ICAC, or failing that a Commissioner who’s prepared to find the time or devote resources. So far two Commissioners have failed that test with NSW hand balling it to the FEDS who then dropped it. Perhaps there might be more duty bound Commissioners in Victoria, Queensland …

    First it was water plus storage – now it just might be oil plus storage.

    Oil over water: what is behind Angus Taylor’s $94 million US stockpile deal?

  15. Kaye Lee

    According to rough calculations by the ABC, they are paying $94 million for oil that would barely last us a long weekend. It would take 2 to 3 weeks to get here. And we don’t have the refinery capacity to process enough petrol/diesel for our needs anyway (they store it as crude oil because it lasts longer).

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-01/australian-oil-buy-deal-of-the-century-or-dud/12202852

    Electric vehicles anyone?

    Oh no. not electric vehicles says Angus – and he is willing to tell all sorts of lies to stop them.

    Energy minister Angus Taylor caught out lying again on electric car “housing tax”

  16. Matters Not

    Yes, refined oil (petroleum) only lasts 3 to 6 months depending on how it’s stored. This purchase is symbolic, at best. Just a headline. But it might be counter productive – revealing our vulnerability in any crisis.

  17. Max Gross

    “Who in their right mind would commit to buying oil to top-up emergency domestic supplies and then store it on the other side of the world?” Team Morison!

  18. Andrew Smith

    By the same logic on oil reserves, the present system makes sense, i.e. much of our (partially refined) crude oil is shipped in regularly from Singapore/Malaysia and/or the Mid East? Stand to be corrected, but apparently that’s why e.g. Melbourne (guess elsewhere) has oil tankers berthed at Williamstown supplying ExxonMobil refinery in North Altona by pipeline, and/or anchored in Port Phillip Bay (shuttling in and out).

    Will be interesting to see who the oil has been bought from in the US, surely not the LNP doing a favour for loss making US shale oil producers holding serious surpluses nowadays?

  19. cedric

    Just saying, could there be any grubby fingers leaving a trail on the oil purchase.

  20. Ken Fabian

    Yes, the Minister for Energy and Emissions (Reductions) should go. But let’s not imagine any pick by Morrison as replacement will be better. They will be a pro fossil fuels denier of climate science who sees his/her job as minimising Australian contributions to emissions reductions and obstructing the transition to low emissions. Those who dominate the LNP do not want responsibility for climate change to be a “real thing” – because captains of commerce and industry do not want responsibility and accountability – let alone liability – to be a real thing. I suspect that whilst some of Morrison’s LNP are sincere climate science deniers – sure in their self imposed ignorance and conspiracy theories, that they know better – the majority do know better. But they insincerely don’t care.

  21. Claudio Pompili

    Excellent article Kaye. As to the question “who in their right mind….”… given Taylor’s form, my hunch would be to follow the money. What’s the bet he has shares in companies, twice removed, storing the fuel in the USA that, in turn, are head-quartered in some Caribbean tax haven with an Oxford rowing mate as the lone director.

    And, as today’s forensic article by Jommy Lee demonstrates, Taylor and his family members are very adept at creating and sinking a conga line of shell companies registered offshore that are dodgy as hell (https://www.michaelwest.com.au/angus-taylor-watergate-aml-would-up-in-the-caymans/).

    And to round the picture of Taylor re the attack on Clover Moore… Why would a Federal Minister target a local council mayor? Begs the question ‘cui bono’? Oh wait, Taylor’s wife, Louise Clegg, is aiming to run for the mayorship. I’ve watched enough police dramas to know that she would have to be ‘a person of interest’. That then throws light on the NSW Police disclosing that a very limited number of people had downloaded the Sydney Council annual report on September… when Taylor’s office was pressed for comment there’s the usual obfuscation. Clearly, he’s protecting someone… Oh wait, Louise [crickets]….

  22. Kaye Lee

    The Guardian have an interesting story today about the Australian energy regulator report which says that a power grid that within five years should at times be able to run on 75% wind and solar energy is very feasible.

    “As described by its chief, New Yorker Audrey Zibelman, the technical capacity was already there, but markets and regulations would have to be adjusted. There were no “insurmountable reasons” why the grid could not take even higher levels of renewables”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/03/trouble-with-gas-the-coalition-is-betting-on-the-fossil-fuel-for-recovery-but-the-sums-dont-add-up

    Taylor completely ignored the thrust of the report to say we would have a “gas-led recovery” except the rest of the world aren’t buying it.

    For him to so blatantly ignore all the evidence rings huge alarm bells. I too would be interested in finding out who Taylor is handing money over to and if he, or his extended and very entitled family have any interest.

    PS I note that Louise Clegg bought a property in Sydney in December last year…..

  23. johno

    MN.. does he keep notes? write a report? Barnaby has set the new benchmark for reporting, .. a few texts will suffice for AngusIhatewindmillsTaylor.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Barnaby Joyce claimed a “study tour” travel allowance for his one-day stopover in Malaysia on his way home from the wedding he went to with Gina Rinehart in India.

    “After a private jet flew him to Malaysia, Mr Joyce claimed a $5500 flight home for him and his wife from Kuala Lumpur.”

    The report he filed wouldn’t be accepted from a year 8 student. It sounds like it came from Wikipedia.

    “Malaysia has recently experienced high levels of economic growth which has created urban cities comparable in wealth to cities in developed countries.
    Nonetheless, economic disadvantage remains in some areas, particularly rural areas.
    A key focus for Malaysian policymakers are policies which seek to increase the economic development of rural areas through targeted approaches.
    As Malaysia becomes wealthier the potential for Australia high value exports will increase, particularly of products such as beef.
    A closer dialogue between Australian politicians and Malaysian policymakers could help to foster stronger government-to-government Malay-Australian relations.”

  25. johno

    Woe is us and the environment, with people like this holding the reins. Keep up the good work Kaye.

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