Conservatives entrench hard line on energy after poll defeats | RenewEconomy

Conservatives entrench hard line on energy after poll defeats

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Coalition hard-liners to entrench positions on energy following Super Saturday by-election results. Watch the NEG be kicked down the road.

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The conservative wing of the Federal Coalition government is likely to entrench its hardline position on climate and energy policy, following the poor showing in the “Super Saturday” by-elections, making it even less likely that a compromise can be found on the National Energy Guarantee.

Along with the proposed company tax cuts, energy policy is also in the firing line, not a softening of hardline positions as one might hope, but possibly trying to out-do One Nation and propose new coal-fired generators in a bid to woo the far right.

That, at least, was the line being run by many in the Murdoch media on Monday, and then by Tony Abbott as the day drew on.

Abbott was a “rethink” on emissions targets, and not in a good way. And if that sounds completely looney, then only to those who have not been paying attention to energy policy over the last few years.

It is increasingly likely that a final decision on the NEG will be kicked down the road by the CoAG energy ministers, particularly given that the August 10 meeting is an artificial deadline imposed by the federal government.

But the Labor states are under intense pressure, and are themselves reluctant, to sign off on a policy that has a demonstrably woeful emissions reduction target, and may yet contain some booby-traps in the detail of the legislation.

One particular roadblock is the apparent refusal by the Energy Security Board to release the full modelling on the NEG’s impacts conducted by ACIL-Allen, even to the states.

As ITK analyst David Leitch, and many others, have pointed out, the modelling is high selective at best and downright misleading at worst.

The strong showing by Labor – and by the independent Rebekha Sharkie in the South Australian seat of Mayo – may have lifted hopes that the Coalition government’s future is short-lived and will come to an end at the next federal election due by May.

The defeat of Georgina Downer, linked to the climate denying think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, and who refused to reveal her own views on the subject, will be particularly satisfying to some.

But it could also be that the Coalition will take comfort in the fact that a fielding of a “second XI” in the polls, a bit like England’s gamble in the World Cup to secure an easier draw, will lock in the leadership of Labor’s Bill Shorten, a figure that Turnbull may believe is easier to beat come the federal poll.

But Turnbull, the assumed progressive who once vowed never to lead a party that didn’t take climate change seriously, may have to dig further into the climate denialist song book after these polls.

As veteran political journalist Michelle Grattan observes in the Conversation, the poor showing in the by-elections – presented by Turnbull as a choice between him and Shorten, has undermined his authority.

“As he tries to deliver on energy and in other key areas, Turnbull’s party enemies and critics will be encouraged in their attacks – over the National Energy Guarantee, immigration and the like,” Grattan writes.

The future of the NEG is becoming increasingly confused and blurred by various manoeuvrings by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg.

In the government’s briefing to CoAG on the emissions component of the NEG, it attempted to hoodwink the states by offering a “review” of the emissions targets in 2024, even though it insisted that any changes be given with 5 years notice.

It has now, according to the Guardian, offered to discuss the emissions targets at a separate CoAG meeting a few days after the scheduled August 10 get together, but only after the states lock in their agreement on the fine detail.

According to the Guardian, Frydenberg will seek approval for the low-ball emissions target, and the use of offsets which will obviate any need for new investment in wind and solar, just hours before the CoAG hook-up. It doesn’t bode well.

The more likely outcome is that the states will push for a final decision to be put off to a later date, perhaps giving approval to the ESB to continue its work – and maybe to produce the details of some meaningful modelling.

The NEG no longer has the broad support that was once touted by Frydenberg. The farming lobby has woken up to the implications of a weak target for the electricity sector, namely costly reductions demanded of agriculture.

The clean energy industry is also divided between those who believe the NEG should be accepted, for the sake of having a platform that can be built on in the future, and those who insist that nothing would be better than something that raises barriers against future development, and could entrench the power of the incumbents.

Hardliners in the Coalition, of course, don’t want any emissions reductions at all, and are urging the Coalition government to follow the Trump administration out of the Paris accord. As absurd as that sounds, it is no more ridiculous than its insistence for new coal-fired generators.

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15 Comments
  1. john 1 year ago

    I think the outcome from the 5 elections will strengthen the Jack’s.
    Joyce Abbot Abetz Carnarvan Kelly .
    They hate any idea of any kind of emission curtailment, because there is no such thing as GHG effect on climate.
    They will now knuckle down on the LNP to put the past leader in his rightful place as leader.
    Will it work?
    Perhaps yes perhaps not.
    As to any forward looking policy from that mob very doubtful.
    As to a national policy on the best for consumers and citizens from a possible change in leadership, we go from the dithering to the down right derisory.
    What I mean in the long term a derisory outcome for citizens.
    In this age of choosing the worse people to lead a nation are we going to see this happen?

    • howardpatr 1 year ago

      The LNP’s “JAACK Forum” and its many overt and covert climate change deniers and renewable energy technology opponents within the LNP will keep Hypocrite Turnbull on a tight lead and make sure he follows them rather than leads.

      • Joe 1 year ago

        That tight lead on Turnbull might soon be cut altogether as Turnbull looks to be in a spot of Leadership bother in the wake of those by-election results. The Budgie Smuggler in Chief is starting to get a bit cocky again…Tony Time 2.0 is coming.

        • MaxG 1 year ago

          And given the disturbed Aussie population, he has a greater chance then Turncoat to get the votes.

          • neroden 1 year ago

            Not so sure about that. Abbott is widely hated, while Turnbull is merely *disliked*. Don’t underestimate that effect…

          • MaxG 1 year ago

            As you know I hate these oxygen thieves … we have Trump in the US; Abbott it like Pauline; stand-up clowns.

          • rob 1 year ago

            Oh please…. let it happen………..BUDGIE SMUGGLER is hated by so many and Labor will surely win the next election!

  2. Patrick Comerford 1 year ago

    A word of advice Giles I wouldn’t be referencing any of the MSN journo’s such as Gratton in respect of their “opinions” concerning current political issues such as the coalitions attitude to emissions. It’s been absolutely undeniable that these same journo’s have been the coalition cheer squad since Trumble knifed Rabott. Their fake news opinion reporting of Labors By-Election chances shows they are without any credibility whatsoever and even more so when it comes to any understanding of complicated energy policy that has descended into utter chaos and confusion.
    No you always sum it up as it is, your grasp of all the RE and NEM goings on is enough for me to believe your factual reporting over the Canberra press gallery hacks and their bought and paid for opinions.

  3. Joe 1 year ago

    “The NEG no longer has the broad support that was once touted by Frydenberg.” I guess it all depends on your definition of ‘broad support’. If you mean Two Tongues Turnbull, the Joshua himself, John Pierce and his ESB, the energy companies, Rupert’s newsrags and his cheer squad columnists and that posse of business types – The BCA, BHP, IAG – that waltzed into Canberra to get The Monash Forum groupies on side some weeks ago, well then I guess you could call that ‘broad support’. But lets not forget where most of that troupe have been on the issue of RE, the need for emissions reductions and their lobbying for the repeal of Labor’s ETS. The ‘broad support’ is all about holding up RE.

  4. gbossley 1 year ago

    I’d love to see a summary of the history of groups realising they’re on the wrong side of the truth, viz ‘flat earth’, etc and how it washes out. Often I imagine, with bloodshed, and the persecution of those subscribing to new theories.

    Surely there’s so much momentum that the coal lobby is on a headlong path to egg. On. Face. ?

    • MaxG 1 year ago

      You can’t convince the coal fan boys — like the flat-earthers.
      No egg face, the lira and numbnuts party will continue, with the support of the press, to spruik this misinformation.

  5. Chris Fraser 1 year ago

    If the NEG is ratified by the States and legislated, and if there is a Labor-Green Coalition governing both Houses in 2019, I don’t believe RE investment or emissions standards could be improved because of distracting noise and bluster put out by the aggrieved Born-To-Rule Lib/Nats. It will be better to leave no policy, because this doesn’t require amending an existing bad policy. Instead, the Feds should be urging the States to carry on with their RE investment which is much less contentious.

    • neroden 1 year ago

      Yeah. The NEG needs to be killed stone cold dead like the vampire it is. It’s an attempt to prevent the future Labor-Green government from doing anything good.

    • JackD 1 year ago

      Simple request to the State Energy Ministers: Do not accept the NEG no matter how the Coalition dresses it up. Its bad policy all-right. One that’s trying to appease the Far-Right.

      This time no policy is better than a NEG policy. We can all hope that the COAL crew’s days are numbered.

      God help us if they’re not and these nongs get back in.

  6. JackD 1 year ago

    Despite the arrogance of the current Federal Government, the State COAG Energy Ministers need to realise that the Feds are NOT Lord and Master of COAG. They have a voice which will have some backing if they stick together as a cohesive group. Trouble is that the SA and Tas Minsters are Liberals so that may be a vain hope.

    The NEG looks like, feels like, smells like and tastes like, an absolute stinker. It needs to be run though the shredder and started again. It needs to accept our future is one where Renewables gain an increasing share of the energy landscape and not relegate us to the back of the queue.

    How is possible that the UK with its lack of sunny climate, can seriously push ahead with Solar when we in our sun-drenched continent are struggling to harvest the abundance of this wonderful resource? I suppose some Economic Rationalist argument will be made which addresses that question. Another opportunity lost..

    We risk the future of our grandchildren and their grandchildren, if we don’t get this right. How can we possibly expect other nations to do their respective bit, if we don’t do ours.

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