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Weatherill tears strips off Frydenberg for renewables “trash talk”

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South Australian premier Jay Weatherill has savaged the Turnbull government’s newly announced plan to expand the New South Wales Snowy Hydro scheme as “a $2 billion insult” to his state, and an admission of failure on national energy policy, in an extraordinary toe-to-toe stoush with federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg on Thursday.

The heated exchange unfolded at an Adelaide press conference for the “power on” of AGL Energy’s South Australia virtual power plant project, as a visibly uncomfortable AGL chief Andy Vesey watched on.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 11.16.07 AM

Weatherill, who later told reporters he had no idea the federal energy minister would be attending the event, said he was sick and tired of South Australia being “trash talked” for its leadership in renewable energy, and now was expected to stand next to Frydneberg and play “happy families”.

“I’ve got to say, it is a little galling to be standing here, next to a man that’s been standing up with his prime minister, bagging South Australia at every step of the way over the last six months, to be standing here on this occasion, him suggesting that we want to work together. It is a disgrace.

“What we have is a national energy market that is broken. We had a PM that came in here to this state during the course of the last election campaign, celebrating our leadership in renewable energy, and then taking the credit for it through his own RET.

“And for you to then turn around, in a few short months, when there’s a blackout, and point the finger at SA for the fact that our leadership in renewable energy was the cause of that problem is an absolute disgrace.

“And (now)… standing here… trying to take credit for some small scheme that goes nowhere near fixing the size and the extent of the problems that have been created in this state is an outrage.”

He then responded to the Coalition’s panning of his $550 million energy plan unveiled on Tuesday, which the Coalition described as a $550 million admission of failure, and criticised it for pre-empting the Finkel review.

But on Thursday, the Coalition also pre-empted the Finkel Review by announcing a $2 billion plan to expand the Snowy River scheme’s pumped hydro capabilities.

“(The Snowy Hydro announcement) shows that the commonwealth government are in a white knuckle panic about its energy policy. It’s a $2 billion admission that the national energy market is broken and there needs to be public investments to actually fix it up.

“And that’s exactly what was at the heart of our plan. We’re not going to wait four to seven years, though, to invest in some Snowy Hydro scheme. We’re investing here so that South Australia can be self sufficient.

“While this is a positive occasion today, it is my first opportunity to stand next to Frydenberg – I’m sick and tired of getting criticism across the airwaves. We cant wait for Snowy Mountain Scheme … South Australia has to go it alone.”Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 11.27.17 AM

On the subject of the Finkel Review on energy security, Weatherill said that for Frydenberg “to stand here and say that we should wait for the outcome of an inquiry that he has nobbled, is, to say the least, galling.

“When the PM and the minister recover their courage and advocate for what is the right policy …when they recover their memory of what is the right thing to do, I will support it.”

Frydenberg, who later described Weatherill’s comments as “childish” and “pretty unacceptable”, responded at the press conference by employing the very same trash talk that triggered the outburst.

“The premier made a $550 million admission of failure just days ago,” Frydenberg said, repeating an earlier assessment of South Australia’s recently announced energy market reforms.

“He has a lot of explaining to do on why the lights went out in his state, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times.

“He needs to explain why people are paying nearly 50 per cent more for his electricity than others in national electricity market,” Frydenberg continued.

“He has to explain why he boasted about creating a big experiment here in South Australia and now they have to reach into their own pockets …to solve a problem that they created themselves.

“I feel that for the premier to come and crash tackle us at this (AGL and ARENA) announcement … shows how desperate he is.”

Frydenberg, who outside the press conference suggested the outburst might cost Weatherill his job – “perhaps Tom Koutsantonis will be the next South Australian premier” – also told the ABC he didn’t realise Weatherill would be there.
  

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  • David leitch

    Yep. These are guys managing the NEM through COAG.

    • chrgordon27

      Yeah, “managing”, via un-healthy competition.
      To hell with collaborative bi-partisanship.

      • Trent Deverell

        Confusion say…..Capitalist greed will eventually consume itself and then require socialism to step in and clean up the mess…

        On the other hand just cut to chase and find a strong leader, like many in bygone eras that would would have invited the Energy CEO’s to a meeting and proceeded to proverbially shot one every few minutes until they accepted an attitude change as the only way to stay alive..

        Problems can be solved quickly and simply….

        • Kevan Daly

          Good one. However at this website you should have used /sarc otherwise you will be taken seriously.

  • trackdaze

    Points to all for being at the 5Mw Virtual Power plant.

    They are both right. SA should be applauded for taking action that the Federal can’t or won’t which is needed imminently.

    Add the Feds should be encouraged in doing some very light headkicking with the gas majors & nation building with upscaling snowy hydro. With a timescale of 3-7 years its evident SA needed to act unilaterally.

  • brucelee

    Tori Governments snowy scheme may push Weatherhill further and faster down the energy storage path to take the political glory/capital for proving it works. The Fed-Snowy chess move may work out very well for SA consumers if this happens.

  • Rob

    Give em hell Jay! Jay Weatherill for PM!

    • Brunel

      But why did Jay not save the car factories?

      NSW charges foreigners extra land tax to make houses cheaper for Aussies than they would otherwise be.

      SA refuses to tax foreigners extra, but doing so would raise revenue to help buy back the grid.

      • Rod

        Nothing could have been done to keep the car makers. We were already subsidising them, for longer than we should have IMO.
        The high AUD and wages were probably the main reason as well as our small local car market with much more choice of foreign vehicles.

        Adelaide’s real estate is no where near as expensive as the Eastern States which seems to suggest that, other than apartments, we don’t have excess foreign buyers.

        • Brunel

          The AUD was high temporarily and has come crashing down.

          Wages again? Not electricity prices?

          Tiny Sweden makes cars.

          • Rod

            Well, technically Australia is building the submarines. No argument from me on the waste of defence spending.

            Yes, worst outcome ever. Pyne and therefore LNP getting back in.
            I haven’t had a look at the figures but I think Xenophon helped.

            GMH expressly ruled out energy costs as a reason for leaving.

          • Trent Deverell

            Interestingly Sweeden is home to Kockums they who sucked us dry with over-priced and less than functional Collins class ….

            Damn it imported miiltary gear is always overpriced!!!

        • Trent Deverell

          The simple fact was that Ford, Holden, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi didn’t want to re-invest in their Australian facilities, not least management made decisions that meant they were making the wrong models (not enough volume) for the global market.

          In the end there will be a point in time that even the Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese workers demanding a raise from $2/hr will be deemed too expensive and replaced by robots, as it is all about milking maximum profits…..

          That is a fact, and is actually happening with the manufacturers returning to the States having built new robot factories, often funded by dubious state funded support packages…. but they also need lots of cheap and reliable power and stable political environment!!.

          • Rod

            Must confess, I’ve always liked hatchbacks but good luck getting a local one. Ended up getting a Fiesta and Focus (German made) 6 years ago.
            Although the Cruze did well when they finally realised people might like something smaller.
            Having said that, light trucks (Hi-ace etc.) were the biggest seller last year.
            A very fickle market and hard to predict.

          • Trent Deverell

            and looking back….

            Ford’s then CEO thought the Australian business was all fine and dandy building just Falcons, thus disbanding the local Telstar range just as small car market starting to going gang busters as reflection of global change spurned by the 70’s oil crisis.

            Holden pretty much made the same mistake as once upon a time Rodeo’s were made in Australia, but all that went to Thailand when the nit whits signed free trade agreeements and shelved import tarrifs…

            Unsurprisingly Toyota Hiluxs along with Cruisers, Tritons, Couriers all featured on the best sellers and not one model produced locally on the back of the mining boom, and they certainly weren’t cheap, as anything with a front diff typically costs north of $40k and well beyond, so someone was making a profit…

            Likewise Nissan and Mutsubishi went off-shore sighting they could import everything and sell the stuff cheaper, which amounted to a load of cock snot, when 40 other brands then entered the de-regulated market and killed their previous market share.

            It has only been Toyota that had a go at Hybrid Camry in recent years.

            It amases me that given so many boats come loaded up with Hiluxs and all sorts of automotive hardware, that we then send the specialised boats back basically empty.. what a waste, given a well timed re-investment would have seen our capability could have been turned over to EV’s, (and legacy RWD platforms) given our geographic disability being mute as the boats decks were going back empty to all corners of the world.

            but to finally relate this all back to energy policy, if one added up all the electrical demand from the former car plants, and related automotive parts and sheet metal works across Victoria and South Australia, they would have been ample demand to keep Port Augusta and Hazelwood at a fair clip.

            Unfortunately when those energy customer industries closed up the writing was on the wall and with the double bunger of cheaper renewables moving in, well the stability of the business case belonging to fossilised generators operating in an over supplied market was always going to be troublesome, and obviously some have re-sorted to exploited the NEM market to scavenge a return..

      • Trent Deverell

        Well given Jay was amongst the many who got my Silicon Solar’dier email last month, it is most heartening to see Part 1 looking 99.99% certain to happen.

        As for Part2 given the apparent head-line worthy interest by Tesla who have leap-frogging efforts by several homegrown storage providers, who knows the Holden factory might yet get a re-badging and the local workforce re-tasked making EV’s and/or battery banks, which is where the Holden, Ford and Toyota, Nissan and Mitsuibishi should have been heading 10-15 years ago with their Australia operations.

        But hey Ford’s Jack the Knife was the big man back then, and as fate would have it he is now the over-paid chairman of BHP….. the same mob now bitching about $100M of lost profit from O/Dam, despite having spent 10 years wasting everyone’s time with on again off again mine expansions and most significantly they had all that time to have secured ownership of the now closed Port Augusta PS…. or have put something like Jay’s energy solution in place.
        Australia might well claim to be the lucky country, but about time the idiots running the show were shown the door.

  • Rod

    Would love to see the footage.
    Sounds like Weatherill was thinking on his feet and Frightenberg was left fumbling with the tired old FF script.

    • Footage at bottom of article

      • Rod

        Thanks just saw that. Doh

      • solarguy

        Message says media could not be played Giles. Hell do ya think the Feds have control. LOL.

        • john

          You could try the abc online it may be available there.

          • solarguy

            Cheers John.

        • Have replaced with working video!

          • solarguy

            Cheers Giles. Watched the video, Jay seemed more calm than I expected. In any case it was great.

    • MrMauricio

      ..and whats the basis of THIS wild Frydenberg claim?
      “He needs to explain why people are paying nearly 50 per cent more for
      his electricity than others in national electricity market,”

      • Rod

        Ah, but your average muppet will believe it rather than investigate.
        Alternative facts.

        • MaxG

          Unfortunately the new way of running things… remember “public relations’ was originally called ‘propaganda’…

      • MaxG

        No, he won’t, he will blame labour and SA for it — this is his style; look what he said afterwards, about Weatherrill to loose his job… seeding his spin.

  • George Darroch

    Wow.

  • solarguy

    Further confirmation of a Federal government conspiracy against RE.
    Good onya Jay and keep the pressure on the cheeky bastards. I don’t know how you stopped yourself from dropping the smug bastard, if looks could kill, hey!

    • Joe

      I’m from NSW, ‘the coal capital of Australia’. Renewables are the future and I just loved Premier Jay giving it to Turnbull’s ‘hand puppet’ aka the Frydenberg. Just a week ago it was Big Mal with his wet dreams of ‘Clean Coal’, ‘Carbon Capture and Storage’, ‘High Efficiency Coal Power Stations’ and on it went but then Premier Jay and Treasurer Tom turned it all upside on Tuesday. In desperation Big Mal kills off his Big Coal wet dreams with his on the run thought bubble of Snowy Hydro 2.0. NSW and Victoria are also the co owners of Snowy Hydro but where were they with Big Mal’s announcement….they knew little or nothing about it all. Snowy 2.0 can’t happen without agreement of all 3 co owners. But back to SA and Premier Jay who is on the right track with the energy transition. If only he would reconsider his new Gas Plant idea. Leave the farmers alone with this royalty for gas business. Jay my man, it’s got to be Bio Gas or Bio Mass more power to you son / sun !

      • Joe

        Where is Scotty Morrison now with his lumps of COAL in Parliamnet ???????

        • solarguy

          At home with his little black wonder rock, tossing off!

      • solarguy

        I couldn’t agree more Joe.

  • Miles Harding

    We shouldn’t forget the expensive gold plating of the networks. It was the same sort of process that has led to the generators gaming the system to the detriment of the customers (the public) who paid for it in the first place.

    If there’s one thing that the previous decade has shown me, it’s that the operators of the power notworks are not fit to direct their construction or operation.

    This mess is the result of Fraudenberg and other’s laisesz-faire government poilcies that gave the robbers the keys to the vault. Jay Wetherill was absolutely right to rip strips off the Him. I’m only sad that I wasn’t there.

    • john

      Remember the inquiry where it was pointed out a $300 million substation not even hooked up to the grid.

      • stalga

        ??? Where?

  • john

    How on earth organised this event?
    The PM the minister have both been pointing to SA for months and bagging them.
    Some one should have realized having both on the same stage at the same time was not going to be a very bright idea.

    • Ray Miller

      Maybe they did and was organized that way to expose the emperor with no cloths.

    • Chris Fraser

      That was likely because of some dull-witted back office functionary who didn’t know about the Fed-State slagging off that’s been happening for the last few months.

    • stalga

      Weatherill admitted he crashed it. Someone needed them to call them out. Direct action.

  • Chris Fraser

    Jay Weatherill is quite correct in that SA would unlikely benefit from Snowy 2.0 to fix its own needs. It will take a long time. Snowy 1.0 took 25 years and SA needs investment now. The Federal LNP probably had an announcement like Snowy 2.0 up their sleeve for the sake of an announcement but having very little in the way of a plan. Now SA has forced their hand and good on them.

    • Joe

      ‘Clean Coal Mal’ hasn’t passed first base just yet. He mentioned “Feasibility Study” to be done first. Here in NSW, Environment Minister Minister Don Harwin was quizzed at length by The ABC and all we got was “Feasibility Study” has to be done first.
      What Big Mal was talking about has been looked at before but it was canned.
      My tip is that Big Mal’s wet dream of Snowy 2.0 will not go ahead. Battery storage is proven and it is here now and ready to roll out at scale. Like Premier Jay said, none of this waiting business of Snowy 2.0 which does nothing to help The Great State of South Australia because even if Snowy 2.0 is a goer it will take 4-7 years to build.

  • Ray Miller

    Who could have organized a better media event?
    With AGL (origins in Australian GAS Light) in a 5 MW battery storage project in SA, having Jay say it is insignificant, after the announcement of a 100MW of battery storage to be built in under 9 months. On the same day as an announcement of 50% expansion of snowy hydro scheme, a day after a emergency gas summit, after a record number of large renewable projects in QLD and NSW. AEMC sitting on the 5min rule change in a last ditch effort to hold the tide back, AEMO having made some very major stuffups under pressure, many gas generators being intermittent at critical times over the last couple of months. Then Australia having many temperature records broken last summer, then today a report in Nature on the Great Barrier Reef in its final death march, over a 1,000 km of mangroves dying, all due to our warming world by burning fossil fuels. Our Queensland Premier off trying to get Adani to get the largest coal mine in the world happening..
    Crisis what crisis?

    Am I alone in questioning the sanity of many of our political leaders?

    • solarguy

      Kind of gets you angry doesn’t it.

    • Farmer Dave

      Great summary, Ray. You are certainly not alone. Our “leaders” are blinded by ideology and befuddled by econobabble.

    • john

      No you are not Ray.
      I did comment on The Conversation about the Nature article but mentioned the said Empirical Evidence person so it was deleted by the moderator.

    • Joe

      Hollywood should come on over a turn it all into a movie…could be one of those ‘based on true events’ blockbusters.

    • Trent Deverell

      Australia the lucky country run by a idiots at present!!

    • MaxG

      No, you are not alone; but a lonely voice of sanity, which cannot be found in the Australian population, who has to take it on the chin for having voted these clown into power.

    • stalga

      I don’t question their sanity Ray, I question their motives and integrity.
      PS: Those mangroves are dead.

  • Rob G

    One of the most enjoyable take-downs I’ve seen in ages. Frustration on the Federal position has been at breaking point for sometime now. The endless ‘bagging’ of SA in Question time and to the media had to be called out and Jay did a great job. His frustration is being felt by many.

    • Joe

      Destined to be one of the greatest ever political takedowns. Memories of Senator Scott Ludlam with his ‘Welcome to Tony Abbott’ speech in Parliament a few years ago. But Premier Jay gets my ‘GOLDIE’ for doing it with the Frydenberg standing next to him, nowhere to go for the Frydenberg. PRICELESS !!.

  • dean micic

    Jay Weatherill , tilt my cap to you buddy , job well done , not only in your beliefs and fundamentals , but standing tall in the face of advisory . Along with social media , being the instigator in far more knowledge to the common person instead of the pathetic tv news corps , that rarely give you the real story ,I feel this government has finally realised they have to change their shitty tune and get on the program , the information is coming out and people are frustrated and extremely pissed off with this government it’s complete lack of vision and it’s pandering to the toxic economy of coal and coal seam gas, there is a long way to go before I will be giving them a pass mark , The thing is, if we all stand tall and educate , and talk about these issues more , more positive directions and outcomes will evolve , there is hope still , but we need to keep this government and all politicians more accountable !!

  • shindig

    pure gold. And as if Frydo has any influence over his job

    • MaxG

      They will try… they put Pauline in jail, and now took their preference in WA — what a bunch of hipocrits!

  • MaxG

    I urge you to watch the short 1m7s video (posted somewhere in the comments, and here for completeness sake) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-16/josh-frydenberg-jay-weatherill-verbal-biff/8359056 — and watch the body language, or more so facial expressions of those around… Frydensmirk turning redder, and fuming… you’ll love it. PRICELESS.

    • Geoff

      mate Josh didn’t have a leg to stand on! the responses he made were absolutely pathetic. He should have just walked off set instead of trying to counter and make himself look more of an idiot!

      • Rod

        “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”
        Usually attributed to Mark Twain but I will remain silent on that.

  • Geoff

    Just watched it again. Bloody brilliant! Jay for PM!!!

    • Joe

      Premier Jay…”Lets make South Australia Great Again”

  • humanitarian solar

    Interesting. Josh having a cooperative attitude. Jay understandingly holding onto past resentment at being blocked at every attempt to move forward. Looking forward to the next instalment of the Jay and Josh visioning of the grid. Bit disappointing for Andy, having his launch taken over by political conflicts and bad feelings.

  • stalga

    I think Weatherill crashed the press conference because he knew it was almost certain Freydenberg would have taken a few cheap shots again. He did anyway after the dressing down, but he only confirmed thst the criticism was justified.

  • Les Johnston

    That was an impromptu opportunity to say to Frydenberg what I have been thinking for ages. The Federal Government has failed to plan the energy future for all Australians. The Federal Government runs the regulation of the power sector and with that goes the responsibility to plan. The predicted shortfalls in energy security are obvious due to the age of the fossil generators. Thanks to the SA Premier for taking Frydenberg to task. Frydenberg’s response shows he is blissfully ignorant of his responsibilities.