Abbott’s death-wish on industry: Freeze RET, ban wind, build coal

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On same day as major industrial project goes 100% renewables, Abbott calls for freeze on RET, ban on wind farms, and for government to build a new coal generator.

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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)
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On the same day the country’s biggest vegetable glass house project was rescued by a proposal to go to 100 per cent renewable, with wind and battery storage, former prime minister Tony Abbott has outlined his “vision” that would surely mean the death of manufacturing and industry in the country.

In a speech to the influential, ultra conservative Institute of Public Affairs, whose policy manifesto appeared to become the de-facto government schedule in the Abbott years, the member for Warringah unveiled a sweeping series of policies he says the Coalition should adopt to rebuild trust with conservative voters.

According to a report in Fairfax Media, the three energy policy measures were:

  • freezing the renewable energy target at 15 per cent;
  • a moratorium on new wind farms’
  • and for the federal government to potentially “go it alone” and build a new coal-fired power station – ostensibly to put downward pressure on power prices.

According to Fairfax Media, Abbott also called for immigration to be temporarily slashed to put downward pressure on house prices and upward pressure on wages. He also advocated banning all new spending except on defence and infrastructure.

The energy policy highlights the problems that the Turnbull government has in passing even moderate proposals such as the clean energy target, and other rules proposed by the Finkel Review, through the Coalition party room.

This is despite yet more surveys showing overwhelming support for an energy system dominated by renewables, a prospect increasingly embraced by industrial users as they face the soaring costs of a system dependent on fossil fuels.

Abbott leads a substantial rump on far right, climate denying, fossil-fuel believers that is convinced the only way to energy security and low prices is by building more coal generation and stopping renewable energy generation in its tracks. It is getting plenty of support in the Murdoch media.

This is despite the Finkel Review’s own conclusions that wind and solar are far cheaper than either coal or gas-fired generation, including if battery storage or “firming capacity” was added.

This is backed up by real-life experience, the plunging cost of contacts, and some such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance think Finkel got its numbers broadly right, but still highly conservative.

As if to prove the point, a new solar farm is to be built in Queensland at less than half the cost modelled by the Finkel Review.

And on Tuesday, a massive $350 million investment in a state-of-the-art hydroponic vegetable growing facility in western Victoria has been rescued by a contract to supply it with wind and battery storage.

The facility was about to be cancelled because of the soaring cost of gas, but having locked in prices under its 100 per cent renewable scenario, it will now go ahead with some 1,300 jobs and the largest such facility in the country, supplying markets in Australia and overseas.

Abbott, whose period in power was marked by the scrapping of the carbon price and a three-year freeze in renewable energy investment as he sought to scrap, and then reduce the renewable energy target, wants to put a stop to this.

He reckons that a government “serious about keeping the lights on should get another big coal-fired power station into action as soon as possible, and be prepared to “go it alone” if “political risk means the market won’t do it”.

“Maintaining that Labor will put power prices up and that the Coalition will put power prices down will be much harder, though, if our renewable-energy target goes from 23 per cent to 42 per cent, as flagged in [the] Finkel [review],” he said, according to the Fairfax report.

“We should stop any further subsidised renewable power and freeze the Renewable Energy Target at the current level of about 15 per cent.”

 

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62 Comments
  1. ROSSC 2 years ago

    Oh wow this man is deluded. With a public statement like that, going against all the facts can Turnbull please please make a stand against this guy.

    • Chris Schneider 2 years ago

      He is just trying to flex his power as right-wing leader given Pine gave him a right rogering. The right is on the war path because offending ok being offended is unacceptable to them

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      More than deluded I’m afraid, he’s a deluded moron. As for Turncoat, he needs to get public opinion on his side as well as the centre of the LNP, to make a stand. If he were to loose to Mr Rabbit, the RE dream will be hit with a wrecking ball.

  2. Damon Schultz 2 years ago

    The 1970s called, Tony: they want their energy policy back.

    • Chris Fraser 2 years ago

      He is 65 years out of his time.

      • Miles Harding 2 years ago

        And facing the wrong direction, so he thinks it’s the future!

  3. Ken Hickson 2 years ago

    Has anyone seriously and determinedly investigated – and revealed – where Abbott and co are getting their money from to finance this great deception? This is so like what Trump is trying to do in the US, but at least big business there is opposed to his plan. Look at all the technology companies in the US – Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft – who are committed to renewables and energy efficiency. Look at Tesla and GE. Where are the big industry supporters of a clean energy/low carbon future in Australia?

    • Chris Schneider 2 years ago

      We don’t have companies of that size but plenty are, including the power industry.

    • suthnsun 2 years ago

      The question for me is – who is paying Murdoch to take their position- it must be costing them dearly in loss of sales from sensible people. My theory is, it is a three party covert agreement. 1. Minerals industry players pay Murdoch. 2. LNP can say what they like , often in blatant disregard of truth and sensibilities. (And always slowing the ff demise) 3. Murdoch backs them to the hilt in the media on almost everything. This arrangement is a winner for those 3 parties, a disaster for democracy and enlightened progress.

      • john 2 years ago

        I stopped my subscription about 10 years ago and told them then that the paper was now a joke.

      • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

        Rupert Murdoch is a malign influence everywhere he operates.

  4. David leitch 2 years ago

    The latest (and final) Climate Of A Nation report from the Climate Institute states 96% of Australians want our primary source of energy to come from renewables, with 58% wanting renewables supported by storage technologies and 38% preferring renewable energy supported by fossil fuels.
    The report is based on a survey administered by Galaxy Research of more than 2,660 Australians, carried out between 12-19 April this year.
    Other highlights from the report:
    71% of Australians surveyed accept climate change is taking place.
    66% have a high level of concern about climate change.
    74% indicated a high level of concern regarding climate change destroying the Great Barrier Reef.
    87% don’t want Australia to shy away from the Paris Agreement and 61% say we should work harder towards its objectives.
    79% rank solar power in their top three preferred energy sources for the country.
    81% believe individuals and households need to play a role in dealing with climate change.
    64% want targets and actions implemented to achieve a net zero emissions Australia.
    73% want strong action taken on climate change and energy for economic reasons.

    • David leitch 2 years ago

      It surprises me that only 71% accept that climate change is taking place. I guess the other 29% must think the science and statistics are wrong. Like to play em at roulette.

      • Kevan Daly 2 years ago

        Yes, but the next obvious question would have to be:”Do you think the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the main cause of climate change”. Did the Climate Institute think to ask that question?

        • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

          Anthropogenic methane GHG emissions are responsible for one third of present day warming, and the rate of increase is much higher, and has spiked in the last decade or two.

      • Steven Gannon 2 years ago

        Maybe there are “don’t knows in there.”

    • voracity 2 years ago

      71% of Australians surveyed accept climate change is taking place.
      81% believe individuals and households need to play a role in dealing with climate change.

      If I’ve understood that correctly, at least 10% of respondents believe some of us should be doing something to combat something that they personally don’t believe is happening.

      Or perhaps they don’t believe it is currently happening/significant, but will be in the future? Questions like these are always problematic.

  5. Joe 2 years ago

    The gift that just keeps on giving…The Abbott Comedy Roadshow…. keeps on a rollin’. No one takes the dude seriously anymore. He has had more positions than the Karma Sutra when it comes to renewable energy policy. But lately he has stuck solid ‘in a time warp to the past’ for his now beloved little black wonder rock. When the Abbott opens his mouth these days all we need do is laugh.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      I still laugh at the footage of Abbott giving out election leaflets.
      He was tipped to lose his seat until Trumbull stumped up a lazy million to boost advertising in his seat.
      I wonder if Trumbull regrets that investment.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a89c741943c4e055ae91f83b55c041324d92ce5ba493bc905db523ad35307e5b.jpg

      • Brunel 2 years ago

        If Abbott lost his seat, there would be a hung parliament.

        • Steven Gannon 2 years ago

          If Abbott retired and the Libs lost the resulting by-election there would be a hung parliament, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. Hopefully he will lose next time.

      • Joe 2 years ago

        ….a classic example of a Stranded Asset ..no, make that Stranded Liability.

  6. Grant Winberg 2 years ago

    If the Prime Minister could “make a stand against this guy”, he would do so. He cannot because he knows his political life depends on stopping the horrendous increases in energy prices and home prices. He is doing everything he is capable of to achieve this. But the PM is now faced with the apparent certainty of electricity blackouts across SA, Vic & NSW. To recall history, Playford was responsible for converting SA into a manufacturing state with the Playford coal power generator. That was what is now termed (shock horror) government intervention in the market place. But the current SA government appears to be doing the same thing (market intervention) even though it believes wind turbines were not responsible for the SA blackouts. And nationally we have the RECS market intervention. If there is an energy security issue, the Prime Minister needs to address this. All AA is doing is re-hashing policy which has worked in the past – and the LNP will need to adopt proven policies to attract votes. KISS.

    • John Saint-Smith 2 years ago

      What a wonderful post! Unfortunately, it is about 100 years too late. It has become irrelevant in the reality we face in the 21st Century. There is no future in fossil fuels. This has nothing to do with their reliability, baseloadability, or cost (unless we choose to ignore their health and environmental effects, as we have done to our immense cost over the last 200 years.) The simple fact is, we are biological creatures not machines, and we need an ecosystem in order to live.

      • Grant Winberg 2 years ago

        Not prepared to fence with you John. But…above all, we biological creatures need certainty that the lights will turn on, the room will be affordably warmed or cooled and the factory machine will affordably operate – when we want it. KISSing will win votes. Eliminate the gross bureacracy involved in successfully switching on the light. Whether sun, wind or rain or magic black rocks – cut the crap out of the background and let us choose our electricity source with no government guaranteed access to feed the grid or subsidies or REC’s etc. Let the grid absorb access from any source the grid deems appropriate on a minute by minute basis. The grid will deny access as and when the grid does or doesn’t need it.

    • john 2 years ago

      Your quote.
      But the current SA government appears to be doing the same thing (market intervention) even though it believes wind turbines were not responsible for the SA blackouts.
      The reason SA had a blackout was because
      1 The connector was destroyed.
      2 The turbines were not allowed to use flow through under the present rules
      3 The generators could not start

      • Joe 2 years ago

        ……no mention of 20 Towers that were destroyed by the mega storm.

  7. DevMac 2 years ago

    “He also advocated banning all new spending except on defence and infrastructure”

    Hidden in all the other craziness in what Abbott said, since when have the Liberals been OK with spending on infrastructure?

    Government funded infrastructure is communism to the conservatives.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      They have no problem funding freeways.

      • John McKeon 2 years ago

        > “They have no problem funding freeways.”

        It’s probably something in the resonance of “free” in “freeways” that gives them orgasms when they authorise new road works. It fits in with their “free” market fantasies too.

        • john 2 years ago

          It used to do with helping sell cars produced in Austryla oops no cars made there anymore how does that work ?

          • Rod 2 years ago

            Very good point.
            It (sort of) makes sense to encourage car use if your country produces cars.
            It makes zero sense to encourage car use now in Australia.
            At least Trumbull says he is pro public transport.
            Unlike Abbott who dreamed of being remembered as the infrastructure Prime Minister, meaning chief road builder.

    • GraemeF 2 years ago

      Build it with taxpayer money then sell it off for peanuts.

      WestConnex/NBN model.

    • Miles Harding 2 years ago

      So long as that infrastructure is a COAL fired power station or a roadway!

  8. Mark Fowler 2 years ago

    Ah – the man who has done so much to reduce energy consumption in Australia – by destroying the automotive industry.

    Perhaps we could lend him to Ms May to help with the Brexit negotiations and keep him out our hair for a while.

  9. Ken Dyer 2 years ago

    I used to think that Abbott, despite his political stance was a reasonably intelligent man. I am now coming to the conclusion that he is either using this stance for his own political and narcissistic cravings or is indeed, in view of the overwhelming evidence about climate change and renewable energy that he is a complete and utter dunce, and does not deserve to be re-elected. In fact he should resign and retire on his Prime minister’s pension so we can all get on with the future.

    • GraemeF 2 years ago

      I used to see him lurking behind The Lying Rodent licking his lips like a lizard and thought “things could be worse”. Silly me.

      After that I dare not even mention Mr Potato Head’s real name. That would be unforgivable.

    • Brunel 2 years ago

      Abbott and Gillard are both very stupid.

      • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

        At least Gillard knew when she was not wanted and got out of politics……unlike Abbott

        • Brunel 2 years ago

          No she did not. Simon Crean said “PM Gillard has a tin ear” when Crean was in government!

          She only gave the batton back to Rudd 60 days before the 2013 election.

  10. MaxG 2 years ago

    “Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.”
    Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

  11. john 2 years ago

    It would appear that Clown Boots is living up to his name a man removed from reality living in the wealthy area he does not having any exposure to information unless it comes from misfits that are intent on derailing a sensible science based outcome for society let alone Australia.
    This person really is a pathetic blight on society he made a total mess of being PM and wasted for the country the time spent in the job and to think he will now receive some half a million dollars a year no doubt when he retires as a PM.
    Pathetic.
    PS. not sure about the half million.

  12. Mark Roest 2 years ago

    I think it’s ‘ultra-conservative’ identity politics. Surely he gets lots of coal money, and probably the right wing has been sharing the rhetoric that works to create a committed base — in old-school terms, a faction — globally. Several of the other comments are valid facets of the problem. Ultra-conservatives usually want to preserve or create the idea that they rule — especially anyone who doesn’t look, act, or think like them, including women and children. When we win (e.g. bring everyone together and save each other and the planet) they don’t feel they share the win; they feel like they’ve lost.
    Those survey numbers are fantastic; you could try to create an alliance that uses them to make everyone else realize that Abbott and gang are against democracy, and may want to limit even being in the middle class to people who believe in them. Check the likely impact of his platform! Put people on the rack financially with spiraling energy costs, then cutbacks in health care and education, and denial of the lists of everything that communities need to thrive. Do compare and contrast cards. Get out and organize for the soul of the nation!

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      Didn’t he give a speech recently attacking “identity politics” on the left taking over the mainstream?

  13. lin 2 years ago

    “Abbott leads a substantial rump”
    And he is the dimple in the middle.
    Him and his ilk are a lesson in how to run a “democracy” against the wishes and interests of the vast majority.

  14. My_Oath 2 years ago

    His statement about immigration is interesting.

    He should start with a certain broken-down onion-eating failed PM who was born in London.

  15. John McKeon 2 years ago

    One of Tony’s nick names was (and probably still is) “The Mad Monk”.

  16. David Hurburgh 2 years ago

    Hasn’t Giles read the latest AEMO policy recommendation that wind and solar pay their way , in order to enjoy grid support ?

    With the increased penetration by these zero-inertia, inertia-free generators , vital input of Frequency Control and Ancillary Services ( FACS) from thermal and hydro generators is increasingly necessary.

    What a paradox (but a reality), that supposedly “cheap” renewables are resulting in increased power costs, thanks to the need for FACS and standby power, that must now need to be provided by thermal sources that have to be run intermittently at inefficient and uneconomic levels.

    Of course there is an additional call on transmission infrastructure that wind and PV have been getting a free-ride on. They will at long last have to pay their way, after enjoying these shadow subsidies for too long.

  17. Ian 2 years ago

    Which is better, to be forthright and standup for what you believe, lay your cards on the table and call a spade a spade. Or compromise, find the middle ground, placate all sides and get consensus? At least we know where this coalition stands from its most aggressive spokesman. We might ask him why he favours fossil fuels so aggressively, maybe he has a valid point that climate change proponents may be missing.

    The climate change narrative is simple: the rapid accumulation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and its ocean and land sinks is causing a greenhouse effect and leading to temperature rise. This temperature rise is causing melting of ice sheets and leading to sea level rises, and more extreme weather events. This disasterous process is accelerating and there is very little time left to decarbonise our energy sources. We now have the technological means to completely avoid fossil fuel use for stationary and mobile applications and what remains is to put a concerted effort into implementing the changeover from fossil fuels to renewable resources. What is the coalition’s narrative? We should be pressing them for a mission statement because quite clearly it is different to the Accord de Paris.

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      “get consensus”
      That’s a big assumption. ‘The earth is round, can we all at least agree on that?’

  18. AussieJoe 2 years ago

    You would all have to agree with Tony, where would renewables be without the subsidies? Where is the business case on economics grounds? That hydroponic farm could be running on energy from Hazelwood at half the price today.

    • John McKeon 2 years ago

      > “Where is the business case on economics grounds?”

      Ah, so many choices, it’s killing me. For example:
      “AGL Energy CEO Andy Vesey has delivered a couple of energy market home truths and clarifications: renewables will be the only source of new baseload energy in Australia, and coal cannot compete.”

      https://reneweconomy.com.au/agl-says-only-renewables-will-provide-new-baseload-not-coal-85724/

    • Steven Gannon 2 years ago

      Any evidence that electricity prices have doubled since Hazelwood closed?

    • Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

      Except for the small detail that Hazelwood closed because the owners didn’t want to stump up the huge amount of cash needed to carry out the maintenance needed to keep the old girl operating safely. And several more old coal burners are scheduled to close in the next 15 years because of old age.

      There’s “the business case on economic grounds for renewables” for you. Or should I say, part of the business case, because renewables have a multitude of economic benefits aside from just replacing old monolithic centralised generators.

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      Fossil fuels have historically enjoyed 100x the subsidies Renewables have. In USA they still enjoy multiple times the subsidies renewables do and that’s without even amassing the hundreds of billions a year in health, climate and environmental costs. Australia is a similar picture.

  19. Brunel 2 years ago

    Death of manufacturing and industry?

    Abbott, you sent the car factories offshore!

    Abbott and Gillard have no credibility at all.

  20. Miles Harding 2 years ago

    In his ‘mad monk’ training, he was also schooled in the art of dogma, particularly holding on to them, no matter how ridiculous they may become.

    It is possible that the only industry Terrible Tony believes in is that of growing bananas.

  21. john 2 years ago

    I seem to remember this man being know as ” Clown Shoes” seems he is still living up to his name.

  22. Radbug 2 years ago

    Abbott wants Shorten to win the next federal election, because he’ll deprive the man he hates of the prime ministership. It will also usher in a 3 year civil war inside the Liberal Party, which will give Bill Shorten another 3 years. At this rate, I suspect that the next Federal election will be held in 2018, so Shorten, if he’s smart, will be in the Lodge at least until 2024.

  23. Alastair Leith 2 years ago

    The death-wish-for-life-on-earth is strong in this one…

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