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ABC accuses Labor of being “slave” to high renewables target

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There’s fake news, there are alternative facts, and then there is editorial bias. We expect to see that bias, particularly against climate policies and clean energy, from outlets such as the Murdoch media. But from the ABC?

Last year we took issue – on several occasions, here, here and here – with the ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann’s take on the South Australian blackout, and his rush to blame wind energy and lecture the world about the problems of grid stability.

Now it’s the turn of the new political correspondent for the flagship 7.30 Report, Andrew Probyn, a multi-award winning journalist who on Tuesday night accused the Labor Party of being a “slave” to its high renewable energy target.

probyn

“Malcolm Turnbull is a leader under pressure,” Probyn editorialised (full transcript here).

“The political landscape has changed around him, and he’s seeking to adapt to the voter antipathy with a more punter-friendly pitch. Tackling rising power prices is his first offering to families. This is a pinch point for Labor over its slavish pursuit of renewable energy.”

Whoah! Let’s nip this one in the bud real quick. Is the Coalition really the public defender of electricity prices that Probyn infers, and Labor a slave to some renewable ideology?

Look, I understand how the Canberra gallery can be enraptured with the “politics” of an issue rather than the actual policy details. But is this independent analysis or Coalition propaganda? How about looking at the facts. You can start with actual energy costs.

Australia needs to replace most of its ageing coal plant over the next decade. With what? Even the head of the fossil fuel lobby, Matthew Warren, wrote today in the AFR: “Put simply, you cannot finance coal.” Why? Because new coal fired generation is too expensive.

How about Probyn suggests that the Coalition is a slave to fossil fuels? And drop the “people’s defender” line on electricity prices. Look forward to hearing that sometime soon.

At least Probyn is consistent. Last year he wrote in The West Australian, his former employer: “This is why there is justifiable alarm at Labor’s embrace of arbitrarily setting higher RET targets without declaring how they would be achieved.” Another Coalition talking point.

Probyn should read more widely. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has pointed out that new coal will cost nearly twice as much as new wind or solar, and as we have noted, Warren is not disputing them. RenewEconomy has focused on how it is the bidding practices of the fossil fuel generators, and the  lack of competition that is forcing up energy prices.

More broadly, the CSIRO and network owners report is pretty clear that high renewable energy targets will result in a cleaner and cheaper grid.

Even the much touted AEMC analysis, if you ignore the ridiculous costings of wind and solar, indicates that a high renewables target would be the cheapest option to reduce emissions. But hey, you do have to read more than the summary.  

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  • trackdaze

    There is only one way for cheap electricity in all this political mess.

    Make and store your own.

    • Stewart

      Yeah, it is quite obvious that the libs weren’t near Simon Hackett’s (CEO of Redflow) house when SA were in blackout. His was the only house on the street with its lights on! If Turnbilly wants to talk about energy security he should be talking community battery systems which can be fed by the abundance of solar panels that are in SA (and Qld for that matter).

  • lin

    With statements like “..Labor over its slavish pursuit of renewable energy.”, it would appear that the ABC just might be slavish in its boostering of the IPA agenda.
    Has the ABC failed to note that there is record low sea ice at both poles currently, or that we have consecutive record high global temps? Or that the same scientists who predicted the temperature rise with great accuracy are predicting dire consequences if we maintain our current trajectory?
    For a public broadcaster, they act very much like they are in the pocket of some very private interests.

  • George Darroch

    Sounds like the ABC’s political unit is “a slave” to its new masters in the LNP.

    I’d prefer if our national broadcaster was fact-based, rather than adopting its own alternate reality in which climate change is not a matter of severe concern to Australia and responsible political parties.

  • Nick

    I noticed the same thing at the press club, Bill Shorten, on renewable questions they were always premised on that it was gonna make things more expensive, even though the truth is that whatever we do it will cost money, which has been certainly clear about a new Coal fired power station, which almost no one is willing to support except the government. If anything this government is being slavish in their pursuit on propping up coal, regardless of it being the most expensive option .

    • Stewart

      Its interesting that so called ‘clean coal’ technology, when it becomes available (if at all) will be extremely expensive yet this government is identifying that as one of its agenda items. it can’t even makes its arguments consistent.

      • Nick

        Thats right “clean coal” adds even more cost, but once again the government is putting up a flawed argument that the ABC does not even try to include into it’s reporting.

  • DevMac

    I’m voting for whichever party is slavishly pursuing renewable energy.

    Also, Giles:
    http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/tipoffs.htm

    • Stewart Rogers

      I’ll be voting for the party that pursues a reasonable policy by axing the RET. Why should Australia do anything when the US won’t be soon?

      • Chris Fraser

        Attention readers … there is still some significant difference between the natural resources of the US and Australia.

      • Jonathan Prendergast

        The US currently has 10GW solar under construction due to the Investment Tax Credit.

      • Rod

        I’m with you. Let’s get rid of that pesky RET and replace it with a price on carbon.

        • Stewart Rogers

          If anything a worldwide market based ETS. We’d be paying less than $7/tonne of carbon. Ultimately I’d prefer nothing.

          • Rod

            Ultimately, I’d prefer that global temperatures hadn’t just had 3 years of record highs and climbing. Been outside lately?
            Ultimately I’d prefer my insurance premiums aren’t increasing due to the “unusual” weather events that seem to now be the norm.
            Ultimately I’d prefer sea levels not to rise, ice caps not to melt and polar bears to be able to hunt,
            But hey, that’s just me.
            The carbon tax was working, was cost neutral and would have led to much more RE being installed before FF plants die of old age.
            We were leaders, we are now laggards.

        • Greg Hudson

          Like that really worked last time it was done by Tony WingNut…

      • Mike Shackleton

        If you read the articles and listen to the experts on such matters, pursuing a renewable electricity system will happen regardless of RETs, prices on carbon or any other government policy, because the economics of centralised, constant output generation do not stack up anymore and are only going to get worse.

        The problem is how we change the grid to cope with the new way of doing business. Unfortunately, nearly every state on the national grid sold out the infrastructure to private entities who’s only interest is to maintain the status quo, so they don’t need to invest in new equipment and can continue to send as much profit overseas.

        • Rod

          I sort of agree, however FF receives significant subsidies at the moment. The RET and or price on carbon go part way to make it an even playing field.

      • DevMac

        Why should Australia do anything when the US won’t be soon?

        Because it will set this country up as a world leader in the development, management, and implementation of renewables technology which will be worth billions of dollars to the future economy.

        Just that little trifling reason.

      • L1ttl3j1m

        ….You still think that following the lead of Land of the Cheezel-in-Chief in, well, anything really, is a good idea?

    • Ian

      Nicely said, a slave is a person who has lost all freedoms and is powerless to do anything except their master’s bidding. The slave is the victim and the master the criminal. How crass to use the word slave as a criticism of a person or group’s policies. The coalition’s bullying tactics is akin to that of the slave master- foisting FF on a powerless public.

      At least ‘being a slave to righteousness’ is a voluntary submission to an appropriate behaviour regardless of the personal cost. The prospect of future rewards reaped are based on faith and trust. Trust that if you do the right thing then you will be rewarded. In our case, anthropomorphic climate change threatens to destroy us, investing in renewables may cost a lot now but will reap future benefits, not only in saving our sorry ass ,but will also turn out cheaper in the medium to long run.

  • Rod

    Labor shouldn’t feel wedged on this one.
    A great opportunity to point out Abbot’s lie about us all being $500 better off without a price on carbon.

    • Ken Dyer

      Haven’t you got your $500 worth yet?

      • Rod

        I haven’t had an electricity bill since 2008 when I added a second array so no help to me.
        Although the wife got a tax cut to pay for the big bad carbon tax.
        If they were serious about budget repair they would have rolled tax cuts back at the same time.

  • Chris Sanderson

    It is becoming clearer that that Turnbull’s cuts to the ABC funding and the actions of the new management this government has installed, have created a high level of employee fear about continuing to name the truth about climate change and related energy issues.

    This is among many other issues that alt-right politicians don’t like – such as the influence exerted on this government by the fossil fuel industry, which is never reported in this country as openly as it is in the US.

    What Giles has pointed out is evidenced in the recent changes to reporters on Lateline and 7.30 report. So now who is left to publicly hold this government to account?

    That was demonstrated recently when the ABC Insiders team visited Byron Bay and was asked a related question. Basically the team froze and fobbed it off.

    These events will eventually erode the high level of trust that Australians have long held for the ABC.

    I just hope that people at the next election will remember and vote accordingly.

  • howardpatr

    Political Editor Chris Uhlmann would have his grubby hands all over this.

    Uhlmann currying favours from Guthriethe the LNP’s advisers at the IPA.

    • stalga

      Yep, Guthrie is a big part of the problem.

  • Kevan Daly

    Probyn is doing the ALP a favour. Do you really think that the ALP can take 50% renewables by 2030 to the next election with the coalition promising lower electricity prices? What proportion of the deplorables out there give a stuff about global warming and CO2 emissions when they pay their electricity bills. This is the only issue Turnbull has going for him and he is going to ride it for all it’s worth.

    • Nick

      The only problem is that Turnbull is pushing new coal power plants that are even more expensive than renewable’s, so the whole argument is bunk

    • Chris Fraser

      Why not achieve both ? Reduce your energy bills And your household emissions.

      • Greg Hudson

        Only possible with RE

  • Rob G

    I saw that too… I thought this isn’t the kind of opinion you expect from a journalist. News is supposed to be reported in an unbiased way. It comes on the back of yet another Drum episode loaded with right wing commentators discussing renewables. If I want to watch such uninformed non-sense and hear an endless ideology about “(not very) clean coal” or Warren Mundine’s silly nuclear thoughts then I’d watch sky! Clean up your coverage ABC… your audience is educated and won’t be fooled by right wing trickery.

  • DogzOwn

    ABC RN is suffering also. Sunday morning used to be a pleasure from 6.00 but first hour now shifted earlier, replaced by “God Forbid”(asking is god necessary?) Correspondents report used to be good value, still in the schedule but this week replaced by IPA propagandist Tom Switzer, proposing other than CST for Port Augusta, then his usual right wing mindless chat fest with USA pals after 9.00. Would be wonderful to have a Sunday without politicians, especially religious variants.

  • Alan S

    Christopher Pyne has just gleefully announced that generators with a 5 day fuel storage would be installed at Adelaide’s Osborne shipbuilding facility to ensure continuous supply. You couldn’t mistake the triumph in his voice, almost salivating. Guess what he inferred was to blame.

    • PV believer

      This is just a UPS that has been described. All power dependent businesses have them.

      • Rod

        I don’t have a problem with them having back up, regardless of the fuel.
        But he is talking about millions of dollars!
        He also called SA energy 3rd world.
        He also stated Defence made the request. I would like to see the proof of that one.

      • Alan S

        No it isn’t but I doubt Pyne would know the difference between a UPS and a diesel genset in prime or standby operation. .

  • Malcolm M

    Average age of ABC viewership is 62 years, so their LNP stooges are mainly influencing the older generation who are less likely to change from their previous position.

    The younger generation would be into narrow-casting rather than broadcasting. Those that don’t like renewables would follow “Stopthesethings”, and those that like them “Reneweconomy”.

    • Greg Hudson

      I’m exactly in that demographic, except… Next time I vote it will be Labor.

  • JeffJL

    To be fair, the ALP seem to be slaves to the science of climate change. That is – To avoid likely global significant changes in the weather (mostly for the bad) humanity needs to stop emitting greenhouse gasses.

    This slavishness is responsible for the renewable energy target. So in a way Labor is a slave to the RET.

    I’m good with that.

  • Mike-at-goodbyegrid

    The ABC has succumbed to ever-increasing pressure to peddling the government line. More stupid shows and less critical journalism, who cares about some old-fashioned charter? Throw away your TV and get VPN instead!

    • Ian

      TV’s are a major source of energy consumption, and used to consume baby bonuses, best not to support this outdated technology.

  • diabz

    Send a complaint, I did

  • Les Johnston

    I noticed the Probyn comment and thought he was making it up. When will journalists employed by the ABC provide material based on facts? Opinions based on ignorance need to be disclosed as political advertising..

  • Terry J Wall

    Just more evidence that they suffer chronic corp-speak! Pick up all their views from the wires..

  • JonathanMaddox

    And there’s false balance.

  • hugh grant

    Its very disappointing to hear two ABC journalists who I respect taking the lazy option of paraphrasing the Coalition’s fact free political slogans and positions. In effect, Chris and Andrew are propagating fake news. I have submitted a couple of their statements to the ABC fact check.