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Anti-jobs Abbott digs in against renewables, despite public backlash

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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 16: Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott announces his ministery at Parliament House on September 16, 2013 in Canberra, Australia. Tony Abbot will be sworn in this week as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

As the federal parliament enters the final sitting week for 2016, former PM Tony Abbott has used an interview with Sky News to attack renewable energy in what could be seen as an affront to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership position.

In the interview, Abbott ignored the analysis of the Australian Energy Market Operator and Bureau of Meteorology to blame renewable energy for the statewide blackout that occurred in South Australia on 28 September.

By doing so, Abbott joined the ranks of Deputy-PM Barnaby Joyce and South Australian opposition leader Steven Marshall in misidentifying renewable energy as the cause of the for the electricity fault.

It’s no surprise Tony Abbott is sticking the boot into renewable energy given his track record. Let’s take a look…

Only a few months into his Prime Ministership, Tony Abbott initiated a hostile review of the national Renewable Energy Target (RET). Abbott appointed former Caltex chairman and climate change denier Dick Warburton to undertake the review.

Uncertainty around the national policy framework caused renewable energy investment to collapse by 90 percent over a period of 12 months, and more than 2,500 people to lose their jobs.

The Coalition government’s eventual 20 percent cut to the national Renewable Energy Target diminished the sector’s prospects. It was this attack that led to a public backlash and policy backfire against the Abbott government.

During this turbulent period in energy policy, state and territory governments have emerged as leaders in growing renewable energy jobs and investment.

South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory increased their Renewable Energy Targets during this time. Queenslanders and voters in the Northern Territory elected governments committed to 50 percent renewables by 2030. Victoria’s Andrews government set an ambitious target of 40 percent by 2025 with policy teeth – a measure expected to create 10,000 jobs over the decade.

Friends of the Earth, GetUp!, Solar Citizens, among others, have written an open letter to the current PM Malcolm Turnbull, calling on him to end the blame game and support the community’s vision for a renewable energy powered vision.

Attacks on renewable energy from the likes of Tony Abbott, fossil fuel lobbyists such as Matthew Warren’s Australian Energy Council (AEC), the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and anti-renewables hate-site “Stop These Things” have failed to persuade the community.

Galaxy polling commissioned by The Advertiser found the public overwhelmingly believes storm damage to network infrastructure was the cause of South Australia’s blackout.  Historically, public polling has consistently shown strong support for increasing the uptake of renewable energy.

Everyone knows where anti-jobs Abbott stands on renewable energy. The question now is:

Will sitting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull capitulate to bullying by fossil fuel backers? Or will he stand up for the community and defend renewables? Jobs, investment and our climate are at stake.

Leigh Ewbank is campaign director for Yes2Renewables  

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  • john

    The Dick Warburton was supposed to make finding that the RET was forcing up the price of electricity.
    In fact the findings were it had an underlying downward price shift such that it was worth more to the general community because a minority used their own capital to use RE, and the wholesale price fell more than the cost, oh dear poor old Dick.
    Despite these stark finding good old Dick still found that the RET was bad.
    Rather like your doctor tell you after the specialists report told you the ulcer on your leg was not gangrene he still recommended you have your leg removed.
    As to the said x leader who managed to make an absolute mess of everything he touched the better his electoral council votes differently the better.

    • john

      I am so silly aren’t i in this age of newspeak i.e. post truth, if Abbott says it was all that RE, then of course it was how incompetent of me.
      I had better stop reading outlets that actually publish studies and fact and get into this new stuff the totally made up aimed at the lame dead thinking majority it would appear.

    • Barri Mundee

      Yes that was an “inconvenient truth” was it not?

  • DevMac

    The more media attention Abbott gets, the more likely we are to get sensible climate leadership. Abbott is a force for destabilisation in the Liberal party so long as he’s not leading it. Keep interviewing him, keep him talking, make him think he’s important again and he’ll drive the party into the brick wall with his foot still pressed down as far as it will go.

    It will be beautiful.

    • Hayden

      “Abbott is a force for destabilisation in the Liberal party so long as he’s not leading it.” Yes. And a force for destabilisation while he was leading it. Hence Malcolm Turncoat.

    • Brian Tehan

      Unfortunately, we still have almost 3 years left of these clowns.

    • Rob G

      The minute Abbott takes back the PMship the LNP will be at 40 to the ALPs 60 in the polls. It won’t be called a honeymoon period, but a nightmare period… And the promise of a certain political death for the LNP will hail in a new era of progressive government (and common sense!). Go Tones!

  • Farmer Dave

    Leigh, it is obvious that Malcolm will not take on the right wing of his party, and so I would be very surprised if Abbott’ evidence-free ranting about renewable energy were questioned in any way by any member of the coalition. I have a lot of sympathy for DevMac’s comment about where this is headed, and it is wonderful that the majority of Australians support renewables.

    The bigger picture is that I am worried by the potential for right-wing, simplistic and wrong explanations for our multiple predicaments to gain traction, so please keep up the good work.

  • Rob G

    Abbott has always been out of step with the wider public, now it seems Josh Frydenberg is now carrying the Anti Renewable baton… it will only serve to further erode the LNP.

    • howardpatr

      Frydenberg has been seen as an alternative Liberal Party leader but he now seems at home with Mad Monk Abbott and Trump when it comes to anthropogenic climate change.

      Perhaps it will be climate change that takes him down – just like Turnbull.

      • Hayden

        Yes. And just like Rudd, as well

  • Rod

    A poll this morning had the Greens up to 16% (Primary vote I think) from 10% at last election. That might be a big hint for Mighty Turncoat.
    Worryingly though, the other gainers are “Other” meaning the Looney Hansonites and Xenophoney.

    • neroden

      Xenophon is on the right side when it comes to solar + batteries, so that’ll be tolerable…

      Pauline Hanson, sadly, is so stupid and gullible that she opposes solar, even though solar is absolutely perfect for the population who votes for her.

      • Rod

        How he can be pro solar and anti wind is unfathomable, until you realise there are votes to be had with both positions. He is a vote tart.

        You are correct about Queensland voters and PV uptake. Have you seen the QLD PV generation on the NEM Watch app lately. Huge!
        Yes, if they realise she is anti PV they might vote differently.

  • Geoff

    At the end of the day, abbott is just an old goat stuck in his old ways. He can’t change the rise of technology nor does he understand it. So what ever he says, it’s just plain rubbish and that’s a good point by DevMac. Although the more he relates himself to the liberals the more damage he will do. Shorten just needs to stop walking in turnbulls shadow.

    • trackdaze

      Incentivised to “ave a go” by the rise of the stupidity vote in the states perhaps.

  • Rod

    Can you please use a different photo of the Mad Monk.
    Some of us have coulrophobia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coulrophobia

    • Tobias J

      Just use ad-block. I use ad-block to remove foul images such as Abbott.

  • Alan S

    A bit ironic for Abbott to oppose renewables because if he was on a suitable mounting, he’d make a good vertical axis wind turbine.

    • solarguy

      Nah, wing nuts don’t have enough surface area,

  • Barri Mundee

    Abbott should leave the Parliament and work for his true lords and masters.

    • DevMac

      I don’t think the “pullers of Abbott’s strings” want him anywhere near their actual businesses. He’s the dog you put in the ring to fight, he’s not the dog you take home to the kids.

  • Steve Fuller

    The pro-renewables sentiment in the community is great but it needs to be translated into effective power. Abbott, Hanson and Xenophon trade on ignorance and fear and are always dangerous. Trump and Brexit show how good sense can become meaningless in the face of fear and ignorance.

    Citizens wanting to make a difference in converting sentiment into power need to get active. My choice for my energy is Solar Citizens solarcitizens.org.au what’s yours? Get active to become effective.