Back to 2009: Abbott declares war on everything | RenewEconomy

Back to 2009: Abbott declares war on everything

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Tony Abbott has drawn new battle-lines with interviews and an article that is a horror-show of ignorance, bias, conservative ideology and political dogma. Turnbull’s efforts to appease the right wing has gotten him and the Australian economy nowhere.

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Well, that turned out well didn’t it. Despite prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s desperate attempts to appease the conservative faction of his Coalition government by compromising everything he ever stood for on climate and clean energy, it’s clearly not enough.

foyster abbott
Greg Foyster cartoon

His predecessor Tony Abbott effectively dialled back the climate and energy debate to 2009 by announcing that he would cross the floor and vote against anything that looked remotely like a climate change policy, or represented even the smallest subsidy for renewable energy.

In doing so, Abbott has done what Turnbull dared not in the past two years: jettison Abbott-era policies. While Turnbull was too afraid to make those policies more ambitious, Abbott has now come out and effectively dumped the very policies he put in place: its Paris climate commitment, and the much-reduced renewable energy target.

Abbott has reinforced his assertion that climate science is “crap”. In an interview on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News with climate denier and renewables hater Alan Jones and his former chief of staff Peta Credlin, Abbott rates climate changes as “a third order” issue.

He blames the blackout in South Australia on renewables and, reinforcing his own distaste for renewables apparently formulated from riding his bicycle past a single turbine on Rottnest Island, he says the party doesn’t want to see any increase in wind or solar.

In other words, to hell with the science, and let’s put a stop to modern technology.

“It would be unconscionable, I underline that word unconscionable, for a government that was originally elected promising to abolish the carbon tax and end Labor’s climate change obsessions to go further down the renewables path,” Abbott said.

And he followed that with an opinion piece in The Australian claiming that – despite what the CSIRO, the network owners, Transgrid, the AEMO, the other big utilities and any number of energy experts contend – you can’t keep the lights on AND save the planet.

The whole article is a horror-show of ignorance, bias, conservative ideology and political dogma. Read it if you will.

It picks up on claims made in The Australian about the level of renewable energy subsidies, which are demonstrably untrue. Even the Murdoch flagship admitted its claims were fabricated, if you read far enough down a new article with more confected outrage about revenue received by solar farms.

“No one is against renewable energy, just the $3 billion-a-year subsidies that give it an unfair advantage,” Abbott writes.

“Thanks to political interference with normal market forces, wind generators get a double bonus: high prices for their power when the wind is blowing, plus extra payments via the renewable energy certificates that power companies have to buy but that consumers pay for. “

Again, that’s not true. It is just parroting fake news from The Australian. Read this and this to learn why.

Crucially, the Abbott article says this:

“Even a clean energy target that notionally permits new coal-fired power stations while still subsidising renewables is not going to get baseload capacity built. This is where the Liberal and National backbench might need to save the government from itself.”

In other words, he will cross the floor, and he has a small battalion of what are becoming widely known as RWNJs (right-wing nut jobs) to follow him. There is no polite way to describe this idiocy and destructive behaviour.


Turnbull now has a choice. He can completely fold and do Abbott’s bidding, or he can seek a bipartisan approach with Labor, as he did in 2009 when negotiating the details of the CPRS – a move that cost him his job.

Any such move would require Turnbull to cede ground to the party he has been harassing with Abbott-era slogans such as “blackout Bill (Shorten) and “Brownout Butler”.

And it would represent an about-face over Turnbull’s increasingly absurd campaign to have the Liddell coal generator kept open for more years – a move that would reduce competition, push up prices, and leave the grid more exposed to a catastrophic failure of an ageing, decrepit generator.

Abbott’s declaration of war on just about everything puts him back into the role he played so well – on behalf of the Institute of Public Affairs, the coal lobby, and conservative ideologues – for the six years of his Coalition leadership.

But it also returns Australian industry and the energy sector to the miserable realisation that nothing has changed.

Despite the efforts of the CSIRO, of the Finkel Review, of the patient and detailed explanations of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Abbott won’t accept climate science, and he won’t accept the reality that coal is dying and renewables are cheaper.

The result is an ongoing policy deadlock and higher costs for households and business.

Meanwhile, business thinks otherwise, with the new owners of the Whyalla Steelworks announcing on Wednesday they are buying a stake in Ross Garnaut’s Zen Energy, and will commit to powering the plant with solar, storage and pumped hydro, making a mockery of Abbott’s claim that renewables can’t power steel plants.

And let’s not pretend that Abbott’s intractability is isolated.

The head of the LNP, Tim Nicholls, on Tuesday vowed a Coalition state government would build a new coal-fired generator in the place in the world where it is least needed, north Queensland, while the Victorian Coalition is fighting the state renewable energy target in debate in parliament this week.

This stupidity has other impacts. The Investor Group on Climate Change on Wednesday released a report that found 100 per cent of investors surveyed wanted to increase their green investment, but found policy uncertainty to be a major barrier.

“We are seeing capital continuing to go overseas in the hunt for low-carbon opportunities, with investors strongly signalling that international markets are where they are most active,” says IGCC chief executive Emma Herd.

“This would appear to indicate that those counties that have credible and effective climate change policy are attracting investment from Australian investors”.

And that’s just a small snapshot of the damage being done by Abbott’s unconscionable conduct.

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  1. DevMac 3 years ago

    This is actually great to see. Keep talking Tony, put the pressure on in every way possible and let’s see where the fault lines are, then open them up. Go all the way Tony, go full Kevin Rudd, let it overtake you, become what you so despised and ridiculed only a few short years ago.

    Bring on the sequel to The Killing Season.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      30 Newspoll loses or Christmas, whichever comes first is ….The Killing Season.

  2. trackdaze 3 years ago

    Well At least he’s keeping his word and not trying to wreck anything.

    This guy and all that support him just dont get it.

    American electricity prices are half ours and their coal use is 30%. Ours? 70%+

    • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

      Oz is the land of the quasi monopolies,rent seekers and plain con artists. We pay over the odds for just about everything.

    • stalga 3 years ago

      A gas reservation policy helps.

  3. Julie Mulhauser 3 years ago

    Hi Giles, to make sense of where this craziness is coming from and who benefits I point you in the direction of the Gina Rinehart sponsored IPA.

    IPA head John Roskam posted on their website on 15 September, that ‘the Coalition can win the next election.. [on] the issue … [of] cheap and reliable electricity.

    While your there you can go through their 75 point Wishlist – much of which has come to pass under the current LNP government.

    They haven’t finished. Their ‘Red Tape State’ report calls for the immediate abolition of ARENA, CER and CCA. There is a current Senate Select Committee on Red Tape due to report in December that no doubt will do just that!

    Add this to their advocacy, along with Rinehart’s ANDEV to set up a special Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund – that is the facility for the $1 billion Adani loan. Who else will benefit from the Galilee Basin railway- GVK/Hancock.

    Meanwhile EFIC’s mandate has been changed to lend to domestic resource projects- this is despite a National Commission of Audit recommending EFIC’s abolition because its activities are largely directed to a small number of major resource projects where there is no clear evidence government financial assistance is needed. EFIC may well be used to fund Adani if NAIF cannot.

    As they say – you can’t make this stuff up!

    I have omitted their advocacy to repeal section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – to limit legal advocacy on behalf of the environment and House of Reps bill to change the charitable status of environmental groups.

    Evidenced based policy that benefits civilians is up against a powerful opposition. People need to write to their politicians and demand policy that benefits citizens and not vested interests.

    Taxpayer funds should not go to Adani!

    • trackdaze 3 years ago

      Nor GVK/Hancock.

    • Barry 3 years ago

      Recently watched Noam Chomsky’s Doco – Requiem for the American Dream. The 10 issues he cites as underpinning the rise in inequality apply globally, not least to Australia as Julie points out.
      It’s available on Netfix. Insightful and frightening, I commend it to all, Even our non Late Sipping bretheren might pause and reflect on Murdoch’s and RWNJ motives. Unfortunately not likely.

  4. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    It is time for Turnbull to collect his moderates, and go talk to Mark Butler. Get the numbers for the houses of reps vote for an energy policy.

    • Julie Mulhauser 3 years ago

      Hi Chris, I point you to the Australia Institute research on how the Mining Industry influence our politicians- left and right – state and federal – through a combination of advertising campaigns against them (remember the Mining Tax and the most recent WA elections), a rotating door of staffers and politicians between the mining industry and parliament (LNP the worst but Labor not immune) and lobbying.

      The IPA has a roll call of donors similar to the MCA but IPA even more closely aligned with Gina Rinehart’s philosophy and interests.

      As citizens we need to act like lobbyists and regularly engage with our politicians through letter writing. We also need to demand a federal ICAC and more transparency around donations and lobbyists.

      Shareholders can also exercise their rights by demanding boards end or reveal political donations and change their charters to reflect ethical and societal standards. The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility is behind the call to BHP to leave the MCA.

      • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

        And the former-politician gravy train rort should stop as well …

        • Julie Mulhauser 3 years ago

          Couldn’t agree more!

          Ian Macfarlane and Martin Ferguson both lobby for the mining sector – it’s not confined to one side of politics!

          Matt Canavan- who has been a major spruiker for the Adani loan – when he stepped down from the ministry – posted on his Facebook page ‘that he had been honoured to represent the mining industry’ – so it turns out you don’t even have to be a former!

          But it also works the other way. Assistant minister to the PM Senator James McGrath came from the mining industry into parliament. He’s the guy who told the Senate recently that ‘Coal is good for you.’

          The access and influence the mining industry has on this federal government is enormous. It appears nearly as bad in the mining states. It would go a long way to explain why Qld Labor have given Adani the go ahead.

          • Joe 3 years ago

            I call it Corruption

      • Thucydides 3 years ago

        Absolutely agree. And it’s going to get much worse, unless we all get politically active. Plutocrats and ideologues with greed and ambition have capitalised on Australian disdain for politics. They have infiltrated and captured a large part of the body politic by deploying assets in the media, paid lobbyists and the liberal application of political donations. They have also activated and organised conservatively minded voters, using Tea Party strategies to build a grass-roots powerbase with which to fracture and fragment old constituencies.

        But the struggle is far from lost. The Coalition of the Sane has the numbers and powerful voices of reason (this website among them) – but it really is the critical time now for all hands to the pump.

        Join your organisation of choice and start raising hell!

  5. Joe 3 years ago

    On one hand I am loving the Abbott 2.0 as he is doing it all for Bill Shorten / Labor as they sit back and just enjoy the show….the end of this ramshackle Liberal Government is coming soon and bu y their own hand. On the other hand it is a great disappointment that someone like the Abbott 2.0 chews up so much public attention. It really is a waste of time and effort. There is no logic or fact in what he says, just made up nonsense. What is the saying, “The facts are the facts, you can’t have your own facts”. And yet like Pauline Hanson the media can’t get enough of the rubbish. It is time people just switched the dude off like they did in 30 Newspoll defeats in a row when Two Tongues Turnbull knifed him. The punters are not completely stupid, look at all those homes with Solar Rooftops and there are more rooftop power stations being installed every day. The punters know that the future is with RE.

    • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

      Not all media though. Katherine Murphy in The Guardian today is scathing.

      • Joe 3 years ago

        …the lone voice in the wilderness.

  6. Brian Tehan 3 years ago

    Paul Keating’s assessment of Abbott a few year’s back – “if you don’t make me PM I’ll wreck the place”. He’s sticking to script unfortunately for the rest of the country outside his little band of fanatics.

  7. Cooma Doug 3 years ago

    PM will continue to support what he knows is wrong.
    I dont include Snowy 2 here as it isnt his idea.

  8. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Spineless Turnbull got what he deserved and should have expected from Mad Monk Abbott; the leader of the Coalition’s many RWandRNJs.

  9. Peter Campbell 3 years ago

    And yet polls put the LNP on 47% or so. What is wrong with people that they are not on 10%?

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      Who pays the polls, who makes them, who publishes them?
      Those things are nothing more than paid reports.

      • Joe 3 years ago

        Newspoll…. is Rupert’s baby.

    • Steve159 3 years ago

      That’s the scary thing — just think, you can be on a train or bus, or anywhere in public, and nearly half the people around you are … intending to vote for this lot? wtf?

      Beggars belief.

      • Sally Noel Triggell 3 years ago

        35 years of brainwashing, via our education system and MSM are really paying dividends for the ruling class that is.

  10. Trevor Beal 3 years ago

    IFclimate change turned out to be incorrect then I would still favour renewables on the basis of all the death dealing polution from coal and fracking I worked in a coal fired power house for 10 years and when i go to the local cemetery some the rows of graves read like a shift roster On that basis alone I would tell Abbott to stick his policies where the sun don’t shine

  11. john 3 years ago

    Tony Abbot knows full well the way to get support is to spread FUD.
    This is an extremely persuasive line of spreading information to your follow members of your persuasion.
    So he gets 2 birds with 1 stone both paints the incumbent as not liberal enough and points out how shiny knight he is to ride in to support the lower prices to be delivered by building a coal fired power facility.
    The issue that the new shiny power facility will not lower prices is a side issue, if you think it is; then get up to speed with the way Tony will explain that; as it is due to some kind of subsidy to old green something or other walking sticks or some such/.

  12. Tim Buckley 3 years ago

    Maybe Trumble will realise nothing he will ever do is sufficient to prevent the wrecking ball head of the lunatic side of the LNP from continuing on his merry way. You cant debate or work with a lunatic. This is bizarre to watch, the IPA and MCA have a lot to answer for, serving the .001% “elites” no matter that it is causing the destruction of their own party. Maybe a few more business leaders will follow Andy Vessey’s lead, grow a spine and speak out against the emperor wearing no clothes. One can only hope. Bring on Mark Butler as Energy Minister, soonest!

  13. Barri Mundee 3 years ago

    Abbott favours media that functions as a cheer squad for his negativity about all matters renewable so he hardly ever faces any sort of scrutiny or requests to substantiate his assertions.

    • riley222 3 years ago

      Barri, thats very true and a good point. I can’t recall Abbott ever subjecting himself to real scrutiny. Maybe he has, but all I can recall is his interviews with those that basically agree with him.
      Then again, its not like I follow him real closely, in fact I try to avoid him.

      • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

        I recall very few times he has been on the ABC. On a related matter of the reported head butting incident in Hobart, this could well be a staged “attack” by someone from the NO SSM campaign. This has allowed Abbott to claim YES proponents will stoop at nothing, including violence, to put their case. If on the other hand it was a genuine YES supporter it was a breathtakingly stupid act.

  14. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    Ancient Abbot said yesterday, “Let Labor be the renewable energy party, and let us be the reliable energy party.
    Then the grim spectre of the old, unreliable Liddell power station appeared before my eyes, its longevity to be assured with the expenditure, ultimately of taxpayer money, to the tune of $900,000,000.
    Now Numnuts Nichols, his lantern jaw flapping furiously, proclaims that he will build a whole new coal fired power station, no doubt at a cost that will also beggar taxpayers and particularly Queensland.
    Pardon my mirth, but is this the standard of leadership in Australia. Unfortunately, sooled on by the Murdoch media clowns, it seems that it is. ROFL!!!

  15. Robin_Harrison 3 years ago

    Climate change denial will become less of an obstacle to the energy transition as superior economics takes over. No matter how dirty and desperate they get the days of the fossil fools are numbered.

    • john 3 years ago

      I do not think so Robin as the majority of people watch Commercial TV or FOX and during the day listen to Shock Jocks so the level of understanding is lamentably low.
      Spreading FUD works just tell people this is awful etc. and they listen especially when the message is Fear Uncertainty and Disinformation.

      • Robin_Harrison 3 years ago

        I couldn’t agree more about the general understanding but, eventually, fraudulent BS will have less of a say than their wallets.

      • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

        Fortunately, the people who own and operate the equipment understand the economics.

        I think it’s amazing that we were told electricity networks were better off privately owned by these muppets. We were told private industry was more capable of making good decisions. Now they are trying to make decisions that involve transitioning away from their dilapidated assets over to cleaner technology and the same muppets that sold the assets are trying to tell them they know better!

        • Roger Franklin 3 years ago

          Mike, with the current cost of energy combined with the falling price of Solar and Batteries – there is a reasonable amount of people in a position to take privately owned electricity networks to the next level and install their own. More and more people are discovering that not only is this possible, that it just makes economic sense, plus it supports local jobs and hopefully will drive some innovation.

          Unfortunately in the area of energy policy, Canberra does not seem to be listening to the current energy generators and distributors or looking internationally at what is happening – instead looking to make coal great again! Its like the policy to continue to continue to subsidise the building of large V6 and V8 cars when the market has moved on – something that history has confirmed. Tesla has Australians on their design teams and the Chev Volt was designed in Australia – so we have / had the skills – just a shame that there was little to no encouragement to innovate.

          Educating people starting with our schools is where it is at. Put Solar and Batteries on every school and show our children how energy can be generated. They will take the message home and just watch it spread. Give them the choice of Solar/Wind/Wave generation with storage or burning Coal. I think most of us can guess their answer.

  16. phred01 3 years ago

    Carbon tax gone still waiting for the promised drop in electricity prices

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Those magical $550.00 cheques promised by the Hockey ( the triple dipper ) and the Abbott some years ago…stuck in the mail somewhere ?

      • Steve159 3 years ago

        Yeah, stuck in the mail, because Aust. Post not yet fully privatised. That’ll fix things.

  17. Jeremy C 3 years ago

    You have to realise these peole are fanatics and fanatics never stop.

    Treating them in any other way just helps them.

  18. Peter Wynn 3 years ago

    Seriously, if abbott expected anything resembling respect, he would admit that he was wrong and has descended into a parody of himself. To say what he has said about renewables beggars belief!

  19. Robert Westinghouse 3 years ago

    Let Abbott and Turnbull destroy each other….they were both bad politicians. Well worse than the other bad politicians

  20. Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

    Abbott calls climate change a third order issue. For anybody who understands the implications of an ever rising level of greenhouse gases, it’s the issue that trumps all else. There is no point addressing any other issue if the fix is only temporary until the point humanity collapses under the strain of ecological collapse.
    I would even suggest that the pointlessness of existence among a doomed species causes mental health issues and much lost productivity. A sense of purpose is a huge booster to GDP.

  21. Robert Comerford 3 years ago

    It is a pity only a tiny percentage of adults watch the 7.30 report.
    The mad monk making sweeping statements about the inability of renewables to do the job and a steel works owner saying the complete opposite.

  22. Michael Wakefield 3 years ago

    Ultimately the Consumer will decide what to do in regards to never ending increases in the cost of Electricity and that’s because the Consumer is being taken for a ride by the vested interests that make up the ” Grid “. Tony Abbott can bang on as much as he likes about Coal Fired Powerstations being the backbone of the Grid but unless prices moderate substantially, then, I think, those who can afford to do so will look to other alternatives. Where does it leave us? A smaller % paying an increasing amount to line the pockets of the vested interests. Be they DNSP”S, Retailers or Generators. From where I stand the NEM is F***ked, too much support for the participants and not enough for the Consumer. It will be interesting to see how prices fare during this Summer comming and whether or not the Grid collapses. Tony might winge and lament but he’s eight years too late to avert what is comming. I can recommend to anyone interested that a Honda 2.0 IS Generator will power most of your house but unfortunately not big loads, ie Airconditioning

  23. Ian Cutten 3 years ago

    LP – will this stand for Liberal Party or Ludite Party at the next federal election?

  24. Sally Noel Triggell 3 years ago

    Bipartisan support, how I hate that word. You can not talk sense to people with no sense. The lieberals and their claytons partners will not be swayed. They can not be, for they are owned by others, to change policy would be suicide, their backers would be calling for blood. No they have to hold the line for a few more years yet. Their only hope is to lose the next election, and have Labor do what should be done and then when they get back in they can blame Labor for every thing as they always do.

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