Prominent radio Broadcaster Alan Jones has launched an extraordinary and unhinged attack on Audrey Zibelman, the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, saying “that woman” should be “run out of town.”
In a reprise of Jones’ nasty attacks on former prime minister Julia Gillard over the carbon tax, and on the same day that the head of the Coalition’s energy policy committee Craig Kelly said “people will die” from renewable energy, Jones described Zibelman as “ideologically constipated” and “full of rubbish.”
“The woman is a global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines,” Jones said, while repeatedly confusing the name of the organisation she runs. “That woman, watch out for her, she should be run out of town”.
Zibelman was appointed early this year and has impressed nearly everyone in the industry with her drive, clarity and understanding of the issues in how to navigate the path through the energy transition.
Her crime? Her apparent support for renewable energy – which she accepts is the cheapest form of new generation, and her push for smart, demand side responses which she says is cleaner and cheaper than building new fossil fuel plants.
Jones was also apoplectic about Zibelman’s acceptance of climate science – which he rejects – and her comments that the Hazelwood closure would not put Australia’s energy security at risk. Jones described her as a “global warming hoax alarmist.”
Zibelman led the New York state’s ground-breaking “reform the energy vision” program which looked at using localised, renewable energy and micro-grids to boost energy security after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the centralised energy infrastructure and left millions without power for weeks.
Jones’ bombast is well known. But it is of great concern that the conservative attacks on all things clean energy – solar, wind, battery storage, carbon pricing and vehicle emissions – have now turned personal and ugly as the campaign by the fossil fuel lobby and their apologists turns even more toxic.
Conservative commentators, almost all as one, turned their barbs on chief scientist Alan Finkel even before the release of his report, for failing to toe the fossil fuel line.
They have continued relentlessly since the release and when it appeared it may be possible that the Coalition might consider his recommended clean energy target, and as Finkel and numerous others made the point that renewables are clearly cheaper than new coal or gas plants.
Interestingly, Jones wasn’t the only one to attack Zibelman, with Alan Moran, the former Institute of Public Affairs regulatory boss, accusing her of “being a refugee” from Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid.
Jones also led a conservative attack against Tesla found and CEO Elon Musk this week after the announcement of the 100MW/129MW battery storage installation in South Australia, apparently on the belief that it was designed to power the whole state, not just make up any potential shortfalls and boost grid security.
“Elon Musk won’t be able to produce a thirtieth of the energy demand of South Australia,” Jones said, echoing comments made by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg, adding that Musk should also be “sent home” and not paid any money.
Jones was the instigator of a series of extraordinary attacks on former PM Gillard at the height of the carbon tax debate, appearing in Canberra, along with Tony Abbott, amid signs of “ditch the witch” and calling for her to be put “into a chaff bag” and hoisted into the sea.
Jones also led the “wind fraud” rally in Canberra in 2013 which barely attracted 100 people, and forced to admit he “got it wrong” after making ludicrous claims about the cost of renewable energy on the ABC’s Q&A program in 2015.
In 2012, in a humiliating episode, Jones and his Sydney radio station 2GB agreed with the country’s radio broadcasting watchdog to undergo training in fact-checking after complaints about a statement Jones had made about climate change.
Clearly, the training did not work.