War For Australian Business & Families Begins: Government Splits Over Renewable Energy Disaster

PM faces backbench revolt over renewable energy disaster.

 

Subsidised wind and solar sent Australian power prices through the roof punishing households, threatening businesses and whole industries, without respite.

The battle of Australia is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of civilisation as we’ve known it.

What follows is a battle for this Country’s very economic future and the social fabric that depends upon job opportunities for all.

Never, in the field of political warfare, will so much be owed by so many to so few.

The conflict has been brewing for years; but, for too long, the well-meaning stood silent and watched as a band of self-serving rent-seekers hijacked Australia’s energy policy, without so much as a murmur from those in power.

Indeed, there were plenty who went out of their way to assist them.

The Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg is only the latest of a sorry class of politician, with nothing but contempt for the people whose lives and livelihoods depend upon reliable and affordable electricity. Thousands of well-paid jobs, in industries like mineral processing and manufacturing are under immediate, mortal threat.

12 months ago, a National Energy Guarantee was proposed that was meant to restore reliability to the grid, if nothing else. Since then, Frydenberg has handed the policy over to wind and solar lobbyists – who have completely gutted it – turning it into a Renewable Energy Target on steroids.

Recognising that they’ve been duped, a growing number of Frydenberg’s fellow Liberal and National (the junior partner in the Federal Coalition) MPs are justifiably furious at being taken for idiots.

Among them is the head of the Monash Forum, Craig Kelly – who has been joined by the former PM, Tony Abbott. Kelly and Abbott have declared open warfare on Frydenberg and his NEG.

Tony Abbott threatens to cross the floor on NEG
The Australian
Joe Kelly
21 June 2018

Tony Abbott has held out the threat of MPs crossing the floor to vote against the national energy guarantee, warning Malcolm Turnbull not to ignore the Coalition backbench and accusing the government of outsourcing its policy to the Labor premiers.

The former prime minister made his strongest comments to date against the government’s signature energy plan after seven Coalition MPs yesterday spoke against it in the joint party room meeting.

Speaking on Ben Fordham’s 2GB radio program, Mr Abbott repeatedly refused to rule out crossing the floor. He said that Coalition MPs could not “be expected to support a policy that will continue to drive prices up”.

He also warned that the energy guarantee was more about achieving emissions’ reductions than providing power bill relief to households, warning that Mr Turnbull was mismanaging party-room meetings to dismiss the concerns of his own MPs.

Pressed on whether he would cross the floor to vote against the national energy guarantee, Mr Abbott said: “I hope it’s not going to come to that”.

“I really do hope that it’s not going to come to that. But I do think that the executive government needs to understand that you can’t take the party room for granted,” he said.

“I think there’s been a bit of that — a bit of taking the party room for granted.

“For instance, the Prime Minister has developed this practice of discussing legislation at enormous length at every party room meeting before we actually get to backbenchers’ questions and comments.

“Now this is completely unprecedented. When John Howard was the leader, when I was the leader, when Malcolm Turnbull was the leader the last time around, when Brendan Nelson was the leader we always went straight from the leadership statement to the backbench questions and comments.”

Craig Kelly also told The Australian he would not rule out crossing the floor.

“The party room is not a rubber stamp,” Mr Kelly said. “The party room can never be taken for granted. Obviously this legislation like all others should go through the normal procedures.”

Pressed on whether he could cross the floor Mr Kelly said: “Every single member of the Coalition, under the principles of the party … has the right to cross the floor on any piece of legislation”.

“The Prime Minister has exercised that right before. My predecessor Danna Vale exercised that right. I know the former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce exercised that right on many occasions.”

“It is a privileged right that is only used in very extreme circumstances.”

Mr Abbott said that this was a “fundamental failure of process” and argued it was “stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room”.

He argued that the government spent an “enormous amount of time” negotiating with the crossbench, but warned the backbench was being ignored.

“I reckon the government needs to spend a bit more time talking to the backbench.

“Yes, the crossbench in the Senate is important. Don’t forget the backbench, because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation.

“Now I hope it doesn’t come to questions of crossing the floor — I really do. It’s not something that any Liberal would lightly do. But I don’t think we can be expected to support a policy that will continue to drive prices up and which will deny our industries the affordable 24/7 power that they need for jobs to continue.”

Mr Abbott argued that power prices would not come down unless the government was able to get “more affordable baseload power into the system”.

“My other difficulty with all of this is that by saying that we’ve got to get this thing through COAG we’re essentially subcontracting our energy policy … to the Labor premiers,” he said.

“This is a pretty big step. I know that business wants certainty. But the only certainty we’re going to get is something that the Labor Party will accept and what the Labor Party is on about is an even more furious version of emissions reduction than the government.”
The Australian

Craig Kelly: determined to win one for the Australian people.

 

Tony Abbott repeated his declaration of war on Frydenberg’s NEG on 2GB in this interview with Ben Fordham.

Tony Abbott threatens to cross the floor on government’s energy policy
2GB
Ben Fordham and Tony Abbott
20 June 2018

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t ruling out crossing the floor on the government’s National Energy Guarantee.

The Member for Warringah is one of several backbenchers agitating for changes to the government’s energy policy, including pushing for new coal-fired power stations.

“I hope it doesn’t come to questions of crossing the floor, I really do,” Mr Abbott tells Ben Fordham.

“It’s not something that any Liberal would lightly do, but I don’t think we can be expected to support a policy that will continue to drive prices up and which will deny our industries the affordable 24/7 power that they need for jobs to continue.”

Mr Abbott is also taking aim at the government’s processes, hitting out at a “fundamental failure” introduced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull which sees legislation being discussed at “enormous length” before members on the backbench get to have a say.

He says the process wasn’t in place when John Howard was Prime Minister, nor was it established when he was leader.

“It’s a fundamental failure of process and it’s stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room.”

The former PM says the government goes above and beyond to negotiate with the crossbench and the same should be afforded to backbenchers.

“Don’t forget the backbench because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation.”
2GB

 

 

Transcript 

Ben Fordham: Every Wednesday we catch up with the member for Warringah, the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. He’s on the line.

Ben Fordham: Mr Abbott, good afternoon.

Tony Abbott: Ben, good to be with you and your listeners.

Ben Fordham: Just trying to twist the arm of AGL. It’s not an easy thing to do, Mr Abbott.

Tony Abbott: No, no it’s not and good luck. But we’ve got a lot of problems in our energy system and my difficulty is, if you look at the so-called National Energy Guarantee, that’s the policy that the government is taking to the Council of Australian Governments shortly, there’s a little bit about making power more affordable, there’s a lot more about making it more reliable, but most of it is about cutting our emissions.

Now, that’s the problem. I think the government is more interested in reducing emission than it is in cutting prices. And that’s what the public want. The public want prices down, if possible, but certainly they want to end the extraordinary price spiral that we’ve had over the last decade.

Ben Fordham: On Monday you told my colleague, Ray Hadley, “I’m all in favour of a National Energy Guarantee with this fundamental proviso, it’s got to make it economically possible to build new coal-fired power stations”. So is that the proviso that you’re basing your support on?

Tony Abbott: Well we won’t get power prices down unless we get more affordable base load power into the system. Affordable, 24/7 power. The difficulty with the wind and solar power, which is the only stuff we’ve got in the investment pipeline, is that when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the lights don’t go on. And that’s what we need to do, we need to keep the lights on but we need to do it affordably.

My other difficulty with all of this Ben, is that by saying that we’ve gotta get this thing through COAG, we’re essentially subcontracting our energy policy … that’s to say the Liberal and National Coalition’s energy policy, we’re subcontracting it out to the Labor Premiers. Now this is a pretty big step. I know that business wants certainty, but the only certainty we’re going to get at the moment is something that the Labor Party will accept, and what the Labor Party is on about is an even more furious version of emissions reduction than the government.

Ben Fordham: So, just on the issue of certainty, don’t a lot of people who follow your line of thinking on this issue want some certainty from you and other MPs who’ve got similar views to you on this, they want to know whether or not you’re going to put your money where your mouth is and whether you’re going to be willing to cross the floor on this issue. Because if they go to COAG and they don’t have anything in there for coal, and you said, I’m in favour of the NEG, the National Energy Guarantee, with the fundamental proviso it’s gotta make it economically possible to build new coal-fired power stations.

You say the only way to do this is to build a new coal-fired power station because that would make it absolutely crystal clear that we’re in favour of Australian industry. If that’s not provided in the deal that goes to COAG in August, will you cross the floor?

Tony Abbott:  Well Ben, I hope it’s not gonna to come to that. I really do hope that it’s not gonna come to that, but I do think that the government, the executive government, needs to understand that you can’t take the party room for granted. And I think there’s been a bit of that, a bit of taking the party room for granted. For instance, the Prime Minister’s developed this practice of discussing legislation at enormous length at every party room meeting before we actually get to backbencher’s questions and comments.

Now this is completely unprecedented. When John Howard was the leader, when I was the leader, when Malcolm Turnbull was the leader the last time around, when Brendan Nelson was the leader, we always went straight from the leadership statement to the backbench questions and comments. But this has almost never happened since, under the current Prime Ministership-

Ben Fordham: So by the time you get to the backbencher’s questions and comments, all of a sudden everyone’s looking at the clock and they’re thinking, hang on the meeting’s about to wrap up.

Tony Abbott: Exactly. It’s a fundamental failure of process and it’s stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room. Now the other point I should make Ben, obviously because it has to, the government spends an enormous amount of time negotiating with the crossbench. I reckon the government needs to spend a bit more time talking to the backbench. Yes the crossbench in the Senate is important. Don’t forget the backbench, because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation.

Now I hope it doesn’t come to questions of crossing the floor, I really do. It’s not something that any Liberal would lightly do. But, but I don’t think we can be expected to support a policy that will continue to drive prices up and which will deny our industries the affordable 24/7 power that they need for jobs to continue.

Ben Fordham: Don’t we need to hear a message from those on the backbench who believe in the reliability of coal, and don’t all of the people who are in the public at the moment who are worried about that level of reliability, worried about their power bills, don’t they need to hear a stronger message from the likes of you, Mr Abbott, on this. To say, you know what, I’ve laid down where I stand on this, I’ve tried to work within the framework that’s been presented to me. If they’re not going to include this important point in the National Energy Guarantee, I’ll have no choice but to cross the floor.

Tony Abbott: Well Ben, I think what you’ve had is a pretty strong statement from me, and please be grateful for the strong statements you’ve got rather than demand something which might be inflammatory and over the top. The point I make, is that the government has got to sit down and take its own backbench as seriously as it takes the Senate crossbench. That’s what needs to happen.

No government can take its backbench for granted. I didn’t take the backbench for granted when I was Prime Minister, John Howard certainly never took the backbench for granted when he was Prime Minister, and I think there’s been a little bit too much taking the backbench for granted on energy policy.

I defy any of your listeners who have the time, to go onto the relevant website and pull out the documentation on this National Energy Guarantee, and to tell me if they know exactly what it means. You see, the National Energy Guarantee is a set of aspirations, it’s not an actual mechanism. The mechanism, such as it is, is dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of power contracts between providers and consumers, which place very heavy responsibilities on them not to get prices down, but to get emissions down.

And it’s interesting that when you do plough through this document, and try to penetrate the very opaque language that it uses, there are fines of up to 100 million dollars for breaching your emissions requirements but there are only fines of up to 10 million dollars for breaching your reliability requirements. So you can black out a state and face a fine of 10 million dollars, but if you fail to meet an emissions reduction requirement, the fine might be 100 million dollars.

Now I don’t know that that’s too sensible.

Ben Fordham: You say no one wants to cross the floor, and we understand that. There is also a duty element here though as well isn’t there, that a lot of people feel like, okay if this is an important enough issue, and it is, some people are going to feel a duty to cross the floor, in order to back the things that they believe in and also to send a message to the people who voted for them that they regard this to be a vital issue.

Tony Abbott: Well it is a vital issue. I don’t think there’s any more important cost of living issue at the moment than power prices. And it’s not just a cost of living issue for families, it’s also a jobs issue for businesses and for industries.

So it is an absolutely critical issue. Power prices were a critical issue at the 2010 election, they were a critical issue at the 2013 election, and at both of those elections the Coalition went in there saying that we would do what we can to get prices down by not replicating Labor’s emissions obsession, in particular in 2013, by scrapping the Carbon Tax. And the only time power prices have gone down significantly over the last decade was when we abolished the Carbon Tax and there was a 10% drop in power prices over the quarter.

Now that’s got to be the focus of a Coalition government – getting power prices down, so the people can prosper and jobs can increase.

Ben Fordham: Well I’m guessing you’re sending a message to people, and I know you’ve gotta be careful with your language. But someone made the point to me today, they said if there’s no willingness to cross the floor, aren’t they conceding that pro coal MPs are prepared to support the NEG if it gets that green light from COAG in August. I think you’re trying to send a message today to say, no, people are willing to stand up here.

Tony Abbott: And the point I made yesterday that was reported today in the Daily Telegraph, in an excellent article by Sharri Markson, is that it is a big mistake for the Coalition to subcontract out its energy policy to the Labor state governments. Now I’m sure that any energy policy would be better managed by a Coalition government than by a Labor one, but nevertheless we want a policy which is distinctively ours. And that’s why I say that for me, the bottom line is ensuring that we continue to have affordable 24/7 base load power in our system, and the only way we can get that under current and foreseeable conditions, is by keeping our coal-fired power stations going and eventually building new ones.

Ben Fordham: Last question on this and then I’ll let you go. Aren’t you going to be more likely to succeed, on behalf of the people out there listening who really believe in what you’re saying, if you do make it really clear, along with some other MPs who’ve got similar lines of thinking, to say, we are prepared to cross the floor? Aren’t you more likely to get what you believe in if you lay that law down now?

Tony Abbott: Ben, I think that there are very clear signals coming from the backbench and from the party room, that we have to be taken seriously. That it’s not good enough to release these impenetrable discussion documents, go off to COAG, cook up something which the Labor states will support, come back to the party room in August or September and say, you’ve gotta support this-

Ben Fordham: Understood.

Tony Abbott: … It’s a done deal, and if you don’t you’re wrecking the government. No, we are trying in this case to produce a better government-

Ben Fordham:  Understood. Understood. I suppose what it comes down to though is you’re either prepared to do it or you’re not though. And it comes down to that.

Tony Abbott: I absolutely take your point, Ben. I absolutely take your point. But the point I’m trying to make is that the backbench is at least as important to any government-

Ben Fordham: Understood.

Tony Abbott: … As the crossbench, and it needs to be taken just as seriously as the crossbench.

Ben Fordham: I’ve got a feeling this will develop over the next week or so, so I’m interested to see where it goes by the time we speak next Wednesday.

Tony Abbott: Okay.

Ben Fordham: Thanks for your time. Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister, member for Warringah. He joins us every week right here on 2GB.
2GB

Former PM enters the fray with Frydenberg’s NEG the first casualty.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Turnbull’s and Frydenberg’s dilemma is that they are seeking a fantasy solution to 24/7 power that doesn’t constrain the renewable energy industry and there is none to be found.
    Support for 24/7 electricity supply will decimate the Australian renewable energy industry. Some in the coalition seem to comprehend this. Turnbull and Frydenberg still seem to hold faith in the Green dream that 100% renewable energy is possible, or at least a comfortable compromise with a large proportion of renewable energy. There is none, but it seems Turnbull and Frydenberg are not yet tired at throwing money into the renewable energy trough in the hope of a miracle.

  2. Son of a goat says:

    Every member of the coalition should be given the generation numbers of renewable sources in SA from the past week.
    Then the renewable band wagon jumpers of the coalition should then be made explain to their fellow members how can this nation with the closure of further coal fired generation, function.
    How are they are going to safe guard the reliability of supply at a price that the consumer and business can afford.

    As an American judge once said, “the best disinfectant for cockroaches is sunlight.”

    Let’s see how much hair Frydenberg has left when we put an arc lamp on that big forehead.
    Why he might join that elite band of humanity hating zealots known as the bald brothers.
    I’m sure the those zealots would welcome him with open arms and cheque book.
    Why one might live just down the road!

  3. wal1957 says:

    Just cross the bloody floor Tony. It is not that hard a decision.
    The Libs are wrong in backing the NEG. Simple!
    It does not lower prices, it does not guarantee 24/7 power reliability.

    It is bad policy!

    When the biggest users of power have to shut down their
    manufacturing because the power they need is not available, what are the airhead politicians going to say to the shareholders and owners of those companies? What are the politicians going to say to employees who lose jobs as manufacturing decide to close up shop and produce their goods elsewhere?

    This is a no-brainer! Cross the bloody floor!

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