Renewable Energy Zealots Furious: Australia’s New PM Determined to Slash Wind & Solar Subsidies and Exit Paris Climate ‘Deal’

Ever rocketing power prices were what scuttled Australia’s suicidal renewable energy policies. The National Energy Guarantee was an effort to expand (exponentially) and extend (indefinitely) Australia’s already crippling Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target.

A mixture of hubris and overreach by those championing the NEG – which included the ex-PM (we seem to recall his name was Turnbull or Trumble or something like that?) – meant that the policy that was meant to save wind and solar in Australia, has ended in tears.

Claiming that doubling the capacity of subsidised wind and solar would lead to 1970’s power prices, the AEMO’s Audrey Zibelman and her co-conspirators called in an airstrike on their own position. You see, everyone, almost everywhere, has heard of South Australia.

The NEG is dead (STT certified it is a corpse weeks ago). The new PM, Scott Morrison gets the pleasure of plunging a stake through its heart, on Monday.

That the NEG lasted as long as it did is almost a miracle. Now it’s gone, what follows is a complete overhaul of Australia’s energy policy.

With Angus Taylor as the new Energy Minister – whose only brief is to cut power prices immediately – the dream run enjoyed by wind and solar outfits in Australia, is well and truly over.

Renewable energy rent seekers are learning that Angus Taylor is no Josh Frydenberg, and Scott Morrison is no Malcolm Turnbull. Where Frydenberg and Turnbull was seen as the renewable industries best buddies, Morrison and Taylor are now viewed as their worst nightmares.

We’ll let The Australian pick up the thread.

National energy guarantee ‘dead’ as Morrison sets new course
The Australian
Simon Benson
8 September 2018

Scott Morrison has declared the national energy guarantee “dead” and will seek endorsement from cabinet to tear up the Paris emissions target legislation when it meets formally for the first time on Monday, as the new Prime Minister moves to stamp his authority over a new policy direction for the government.

“The NEG is dead, long live ­reliability guarantee, long live default prices, long live backing new power generation,” Mr Morrison said in an interview with The Weekend Australian.

In a signal that he intends to steer the Coalition back to a more socially conservative agenda, Mr Morrison said he would take personal carriage of the promised ­religious and freedom-of-speech protections, including parental rights that had been demanded by conservatives during the bitter gay-marriage debate last year.

And in what he claims will be the key economic “fault line” ­between the Coalition and Labor in the run-up to the next election, the new Liberal leader will roll out a wide-ranging small business ­reform program that goes beyond further tax reduction to include industrial relations reforms.

Mr Morrison said the first order of government business, with parliament due to return next week for the first time since the leadership spill, was putting to rest the issue of the Turnbull ­administration’s signature energy policy. The NEG had become ­emblematic of internal divisions within the Coalition and ultimately provided the trigger for the spill that elevated Mr Morrison into the top job on August 24.

“Next week we will be putting to rest the issue of the legislation … it won’t be proceeding,” Mr Morrison said in an interview in ­Albury on Thursday.

“Largely, we are in that position already anyway so it’s not a major shift. But we just need to put to rest any suggestion that this legislation is going ahead.”

Mr Morrison — in a bid to chart a new course on social values, having this week declared that he would attempt to heal the divisions within the Liberal Party with a return to Menzian beliefs — will elevate religious protections and freedom of speech as key planks of a values-based ­Coalition social agenda.

It was this issue that set up a schism in the Liberal Party between conservatives and moderates last year and which has yet to be resolved. “I’ll be taking personal and direct carriage of it … people know my views,” Mr Morrison said. “I gave a set of speeches last year and people know my areas of concern.”

In a departure from the ­moderate-led Turnbull government, Mr Morrison has signalled an unapologetic return to a conservative social policy agenda.

In November, Mr Morrison led a group of conservative ­Coali­tion MPs demanding significant religious and parental ­protections be included in the gay marriage bill. Specifically, he sought amendments that included an “anti-detriment” shield for ­defenders of traditional marriage and strengthened parental rights, including what children were taught at school.

The government has been sitting on recommendations of an ­inquiry commissioned by Malcolm Turnbull last year and conducted by Howard minister Philip Ruddock, who delivered his report to government in May.

Mr Morrison signalled he could go further than the recommendations, which are believed to have been weaker than what conservative MPs would accept.

In the past, Mr Morrison has cited “conscience protections” as a key issue in the debate and has ­labelled the mockery of Christians as a form of discrimination that he would not tolerate.

The former treasurer, however, declared that small business would be the primary economic battleground next year, believing that Labor had abandoned millions of small businesses, including ­“tradies”.

Claiming that the politics favour the Coalition, Mr Morrison will seek to wedge Bill Shorten by daring the opposition to go the polls on a platform of repealing two sets of tax cuts for small to ­medium-sized businesses with turnovers of under $50 million.

“This will be the key fault line … Labor wants every small business in the country to pay higher taxes … every single one,” Mr Morrison said. “Every small business up to $50m, they want all of them to pay more tax. What I’m trying to say is we are not just doing it because of the politics. It will be a broader package …. I want to continue working on tax, but I’m also looking at areas of ­access to finance, the cost of finance for small business … and we are looking at what’s happening in the workplace.”

In another key policy area that has created divisions within the government, an announcement on a population and immigration policy, which had been imminent before the leadership spill, is now likely to be delayed.

Mr Morrison, a proponent of immigration as a key economic driver had put himself at odds with other MPs, including former prime minister Tony ­Abbott, who have argued for ­dramatic cuts to the annual immigration intake, said he wanted an informed debate about the issue rather than a “superficial” one.

He said the debate was broader than just Sydney and Melbourne congestion, with migration ­between the states being a considerable issue for Queensland. “There are lots of things we have been working on that I’m supportive of … we are going to have a discussion about it,” he said. “I’m not interested in a superficial debate … let’s have it on the facts.”
The Australian

That’s right Scott, we’ll bury the NEG right here.

 

Exiting the Paris climate agreement provides the Liberal/National Coalition with the basis for an election winning formula on power prices, and much else, besides.

STT hears that there are a handful of Liberals and Nationals (Turnbull acolytes) still clinging to the Paris agreement, in the same way they managed to cling onto the NEG and Turnbull, right up to their inevitable demise.

What happens in the party room tomorrow, is anybody’s guess. However, if the Liberal and Nationals want to have any hope of retaining government, they need to ditch the Paris climate agreement right now, in the same unceremonious manner that they ditched the NEG. Here’s Chris Kenny on the politics of Paris.

Style is OK up to a point but it’s substance that carries the vote
The Australian
Chris Kenny
8 September 2018

The PM is right to distance himself from the Turnbull policy on emissions

ScoMo sports a rugby league jersey, passes a footy, gives a double thumbs-up to the camera, enthuses about the Cronulla Sharks, calls Karl Stefanovic mate, just like Macca, drops in to the bush in a baseball cap, yucks it up on 2GB and, in case you missed it, tells us again that he’s a “massive” Sharks fan. Toto, we are not in Point Piper any more.

The change in style is everything to Scott Morrison. And this looms as a strategic mistake because he needs to reshape the substance as well.

Morrison is proudly daggy and ordinary, complete with a mortgage and friendly neighbours. Yet politically he is unique — he does not have blood on his hands. (Since Gough Whitlam, every prime minister has had to win their party’s leadership by tearing someone down, with the complicated exception of John Howard who first ended up leader after ­Andrew Peacock tried to dispense with him as deputy.)

Morrison showed in his impressive, unscripted Albury speech on Thursday that, like Howard, he is keen to talk about values. Policies are easier to sell and understand, decisions easier to accept, if voters know what values shape them.

A political professional and a pragmatist, Morrison rightly has discerned that the best way to put some distance between him and the turmoil of last month is to provide a marked difference in tone. He is sharpening the contrast with “Mr Harbourside Mansion” as much as he can — an understandable tactic but, given he believed the party should have stuck with Malcolm Turnbull, it underscores the ruthlessness of politics.

There is much to like about Morrison’s first fortnight in the job. In the blink of an eye he has made the Coalition more connected and responsive. Predicting polls is a fraught business but it is reasonable to expect a delayed honeymoon — and if it appears, he ought to consider riding it to an early election.

Daily leaks have cut across his messages. They seem to have come from Turnbull supporters still in parliament or former staff. Given Morrison was loyal to his prime minister, it is unlikely they are designed to nobble him. The aim seems to be staking out a Turnbull legacy, with Morrison suffering collateral damage, although the greater the failure from here, the more Turnbull supporters will claim vindication.

Still, ScoMo has brushed off these distractions and stuck to his priorities, refusing to go on the defensive as Turnbull was wont to do. This demonstrates how he is a more skilled media communicator who handles even the most aggressive interviewers without rising to their bait.

That’s the good news. On the downside, there are signs Morrison may be making a similar mistake to Turnbull, only in reverse. When he took over, Turnbull needed to make it all about style and not change the substance of the Abbott government because it was fighting on all the right ground for the Coalition. But the new leader couldn’t resist the temptation to remake the Coali­tion in his own image, looking to neutralise most areas of conflict with Labor.

Turnbull looked better on those occasions he took up a cause: fighting for the gay marriage plebiscite, delivering a double-dissolution ultimatum on industrial relations and standing up to Donald Trump over the refugee deal. Eventually he made the fatal mistake of trying to do a bipartisan deal with Labor over climate policy and emissions reduction mechanisms — a move that clashed with the “axe the carbon tax” mandate that propelled the Coalition into government.

Morrison has a different imperative. Stressing his own style is all well and good — as long as it is authentic and especially when it is about being in touch and responsive — but he also must show voters the government has changed in character, in substance. Turnbull lost the leadership because he had taken the party to the left, so Morrison needs to show he is taking it back to the mainstream right-of-centre where it belongs. Climate and energy policy is key.

Much of the work is already done because on the eve of throwing open his position in a spill, Turnbull put his national energy guarantee legislation to one side as he knew a large cohort of his MPs would cross the floor to oppose it. This shelved immediate intentions to legislate the Paris emissions reduction targets and saw the authority drain from Turnbull’s leadership.

But that bill (a bill for an act to amend legislation relating to emissions of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes) has not yet been repudiated as Coalition policy. Morrison and his Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, surely must act to drop it formally when MPs gather in Canberra next week.

Despite splitting the energy and environment portfolios and demanding Taylor drive down power prices, Morrison repeatedly and emphatically has committed the Coalition to meeting the Paris targets. At Albury he said the targets would be met easily, “with no impact on electricity prices at all”.

This posturing could get messy. Already several backbenchers are agitating to withdraw from Paris and former assistant minister Keith Pitt has rejected a frontbench position to argue this stance. Critics portray them as ideologues, whereas in fact supporting cheap energy is practical and pragmatic; it is making costly and futile climate gestures that is ideological.

It is one thing for Morrison to remain in Paris but it is quite another to place great store on meeting the targets. Most other signatories have no meaningful targets to meet or are on track to miss them. Our Prime Minister ought to make clear that if something needs to give on electricity prices, reliability or emissions targets, it is the climate goals that will be disregarded.

Instead he is stuck arguing a contradictory line: that the Paris emissions reductions can be ­delivered at no cost but Labor’s higher targets will be costly. The truth is policies such as the renewable energy target that were ­designed and implemented to meet emissions reduction targets already have prompted the closure of large amounts of dispatchable generation in South Australia and Victoria, driving increases in prices and decreases in security of supply. Arguing the Paris targets have no price impact is just bunkum; it is possible from this point forward only if we ignore how we got to this point. This sort of statement would be called out as a bald-faced lie by Labor, the ABC and most of the press gallery except that they are ideologically predisposed to climate gestures, no matter their cost.

Having seen Turnbull skewered for a second time on climate policy, Morrison must deliver clarity. He needs to remember the Coalition was elected in a landslide promising to undo costly climate interventions, not to implement them. Outside electricity, Paris could play havoc with farming, transport and energy exports.

The government’s attacks on Bill Shorten also need to be more substantial. If there ever was a so-called “Kill Bill” strategy, it was misguided. Whether voters like the Opposition Leader or are suspicious of him is neither here nor there unless it can be parlayed into conseq­uences. It matters that Shor­ten is a cipher of the unions and factions only if we are told what that means for policy. Does this mean borders will be less secure or strikes more common? The Coalition needs to join the dots. If he is a weathervane, will Shorten stand up for Australia’s interest in foreign policy? Criticising Shorten without making these connections can only weaken the attacks and risks flattering him for the attention.

Politics and successful government, ideally, would be all about substance, but we know success demands a combination of style and substance. Increasingly in the digital age, the media demands more of the former and less of the latter. Yet election results usually bear out the fact voters want substance. While the media will always chase fashionable causes and highlight likeable or charismatic leaders, voters tend to go for parties that demonstrate conviction, clarity and competence — leaders who know what they stand for, clearly communicate their agenda and get most of it done without too many mishaps.

If Morrison runs a version of the Turnbull government, only with an approachable and down-to-earth style, he won’t implode but he won’t win. If he backs that up with a few substantial measures demonstrating his government is firmly rooted in main­stream Coalition territory, winning won’t be out of the question.
The Australian

Yesterday’s RE Hero: the NEG spelt political doom for Malcolm Turnbull.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. We can only hope and pray ( for the believers) that Morrison can bring some sanity back into the Australian way of life. I see the biggest problem facing any future Australian government is the education system inhabited and run by mainly apparatchiks who have never been outside the education system and have never had a real job in their lives. Until this is solved Australian society will spiral into a country run on ideology without any sense of reality.
    After watching the “Safe Schools” program being introduced into Australian schools where the whole education system was being subjugated and changed to be totally focused on the reinforcing of any LGBTI tendencies in our children would have to rate with Nazism in Germany in the 1930’s. It was totally unbelievable that the educators and not one Education Minister in any government didn’t raise their voice in opposition.
    As for Climate change, once upon a time the lowly educated public and media used to ridicule the Doom sayers now the highly educated masses worship the Doomsayers as the leaders of our society even the media who once would only print a few lines as some ambiguous sect climbed Mt Everest to escape the coming holocaust is now it’s main follower. Now we are inundated daily with whole page spreads about how the world might or could end in a conflagration of high temperatures, floods, droughts and the Great Barrier Reef disappearing in a few weeks time. How times have changed. Now we have the gullible being led by the highly educated who cannot stop yelling climate change the END is NIGH..

  2. The ABC, or Sydney University Broadcasting Services, are now stating that 100% wind and solar is on the way and is inevitable. Well if this is the case, then they clearly no longer need any subsidies. They can stand on their own two feet.

    The time has come to pull all renewable energy subsidies.

    Thank goodness for SKY News on (WIN). The ABC has at last got some real competition on their hands.

    Your clean energy future?

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Hopefully today we will see Morrison as a true leader of this Nation a leader who takes into account not only what the people want but what is best for the Nation. That is an energy system that provides energy to everyone at a price that is not prohibitive. A system that will ensure the growth of industry which will have a flow on effect of ensuring the people of Australia have work warm/cool homes to come home to with a good meal on the table.
    This can only be done if ‘renewables’ are placed on the back burner and modern clean energy from plentiful local reliable sources is supported. ‘renewables’ have had a good run without being able to meet any of their claims, they have been sucking the kitty of funds dry and it has to stop. No more subsidies unless its for reliable on demand energy supply. Batteries don’t cut it, so there is no sensible reason Turbines or large scale solar panels with batteries will provide secure energy supply when and where it is needed so subsidies should not be wasted on them.
    Hopefully we will start to see some common-sense come from Canberra today and into the near future.

  4. Sarcastic Cynic says:

    Doing a little happy dance in front of my computer and hoping the coalition follows through on tearing up the Paris accord.

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