While the evidence for climate change continues to be reconfirmed by science annually and catastrophic events become the norm, I am reminded of the words of Malcolm Turnbull when he was defeated by Tony Abbott:
“Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted.
As we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”
There exists in the Coalition Party Room at least 50% of its members who are fervent climate deniers. They will have nothing to do with the science.”
Now well into their third term nothing has changed. When the world has acknowledged that renewable energy is the most cost-effective means of acquiring power the now conservative Liberal Party are wanting to build a gas-powered power station to:
“… replace the ageing Liddell Power Station by the summer of 2023–24, or else the federal government will have the Commonwealth-owned Snowy Hydro company build a new gas-fired power plant itself.”
Well it’s a threat really, by a government renowned for its almost obligatory stuff ups. Remember the NBN that the experts advised against?
Build it once and do it right, the experts said, but the government, pigheadedly went ahead with technologies now obsolete. The same experts now say they will have to write down the value of the National Broadband Network because it is under threat from 5G mobile technology that will eventually supersede its hybrid technology.
Will it end up as a stranded asset?
You will have read these quotes of mine many times before:
“In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.”
“On the NBN, the problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow.”
So back to Gas. After this re-announcement concerning a gas-powered station it is easy to fathom how all the advice goes against renewables.
Firstly, the threat to bring down the government by the nutter brigade by those renegade back bench MPs is still alive and kicking like a tiger snake in a hessian bag.
Secondly, when all your advisers come from the anti-renewable Murdoch media, the coal industry itself or pro-mining lobbyists with connections to all and every word other than renewable, what would you expect your advice to be?
To open your mind as to who these men are, go here. There are so many mining people in government advisory positions that you could call it a one-sided argument. Note: good leaders listen to all points of view.
So, after almost three terms of governance the Coalition is no closer to an energy (this pithy announcement I believe is about the 19th try) policy or indeed an environmental one.
We’ve had an injudicious and truly madcap debate about whether the government should or shouldn’t buy a clapped out 50-year-old coal fired power plant and a threat that if the industry won’t build a new gas fired one the government will. Now that’s called socialism. Yes, it gets sillier by the day.
Matt Canavan tweeted his disappointment.
The Hunter Valley has the best thermal coal in the world. NSW imports over 90% of its gas. Why don't we just use the coal that is right there and build a coal fired power station?
— Matthew Canavan (@mattjcan) September 14, 2020
I’m told he was almost gassed with nearly 700 replies.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, didn’t mince his words telling RN Breakfast that the plan was more spin than substance:
“There is a plan for new basins that would be years and years away. Basins that are nowhere near connected to the gas network. There is a review of prices. We have been calling for drastic action since 2015, but there is a review of prices to manufacturers.
They talk about establishing an Australian gas hub at Wallumbilla – Wallumbilla is already a gas hub which the energy regulator only said in recent weeks is becoming more and more liquid every month … And in a development that I’m sure has the big gas industry executives shaking in their boots, the announcement also talks about a “voluntary industry-led code of conduct” to give gas customers a fair shake.
Principally, we are talking about our big manufacturers there who have seen gas prices triple over the past five years. I think we’ve learnt over recent years that reliance on the goodwill of the gas companies will not deliver any price relief.”
During the announcement the Prime Minister clearly said; “I don’t care what source the dispatchables come from.”
That got Atlassian Corp co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes a little excited:
Serious question @ScottMorrisonMP.
Are you serious about 1GW of dispatchable generation in Newcastle (quote by April 2021, live by December 2023)… or you're mandating building a gas plant?
If we can do the former _without_ gas, will you say no?
— Mike Cannon-Brookes 👨🏼💻🧢 (@mcannonbrookes) September 15, 2020
What the Prime Minister effectively said is that renewables are so cheap that they don’t need subsidies, but fossil fuels do. Can anyone explain the logic in those words?
Writing in The Guardian last Tuesday Katherine Murphy said:
“So to pull all these threads together, we now manage to find ourselves in this position: the Coalition repealed the carbon price, and hasn’t managed to settle a policy framework to replace it that anyone takes even remotely seriously, which has led to investment uncertainty for many years.”
Wednesday morning I received an email from The Climate Council of Australia. In part it said:
“This morning the Federal Government announced a gas ‘plan’ that really stinks.
What’s been announced?
The Federal Government has just announced it wants to waste millions of taxpayer dollars propping up the dangerous and polluting gas industry, rather than choosing to invest in a plan that will actually rebuild our economy and protect Australians from long-term threats.
The Federal Government’s ‘Gas Plan’ (1) includes the construction of a new gas power station in the NSW Hunter Valley, if the electricity sector does not replace the Liddell coal-fired power station. It would also waste $28.3 million unlocking gas basins, including the Beetaloo Basin in the NT and the North Bowen and Galilee Basins in Queensland.
Why is this gas announcement bad?
Essentially, this would:
- Ramp up fossil fuels. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel, which means this plan could worsen climate change, and lock Australia into dangerous climate impacts, like longer more dangerous bushfire seasons, longer, more frequent and more severe heatwaves and increased coastal flooding.
- Deliver no jobs in the short-term – when they are needed most – pushing up power bills and increasing uncertainty in the energy market.
- Waste taxpayers’ money propping up an uneconomic industry during a recession, instead of using stimulus money to solve the long-term problems facing Australia.”
My view is that this hopeless, climate-denying government has no intention of building a gas-powered fire station. They are trying to bluff the energy companies into doing something unnecessary for their own political purposes.
Phil Corey, writing in the Roy Morgan daily email newsletter said:
“Large energy users have welcomed the federal government’s proposal to build a gas-fired power station in the Hunter Valley if energy companies fail to outline how they will replace the Liddell power station’s output by April 2021.
The policy is aimed at encouraging the sector to invest in new dispatchable energy capacity, but Australian Energy Council CEO Sarah McNamara warns that it may deter energy companies from doing so.
Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute says the government’s proposal is “unnecessary intervention and overkill”, while National Party senator Matt Canavan argues that the government should build a coal-fired power station.”
Like the NBN, they, when it comes to looking the future in the face, the government is unable to accept a changing world.
If there is just one positive to come from the event called COVID-19 it is that vital decisions are now needed that go beyond defeating the virus.
It gives us the opportunity to change many past and present wrongs. The way we use energy and its source, the way we treat the environment, the way we treat our elderly folk, the way we educate our children, the way we conduct our politics and our diplomacy, the way money relates to society, the list goes on and on.
Our decision-makers need to tell us how all these decisions fit into a comprehensive narrative for our future otherwise a very unique opportunity will be lost.
If the government really believes that gas can be a part of our future then it needs to explain just how it fits into their comprehensive long-term energy plan. The problem is: that they haven’t got one.
My thought for the day
If one day in the future our children wake to find our prosperity gravely ill. It will be because Australia’s conservative politicians during the years 2013 to 202? Didn’t believe the science of a changing climate and left you with the consequences.
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