How Alan Jones made Josh Frydenberg look like a moderate | RenewEconomy

How Alan Jones made Josh Frydenberg look like a moderate

Alan Jones and Josh Frydenberg traded barbs on radio on Thursday. And beneath the bravado was an insight into how far to the right the debate around Australia’s climate and energy politics has shifted.

Photo montage of Alan Jones and Josh Frydenberg put together by 2GB.

The high priest was at it again. 2GB radio commentator Alan Jones had environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg on his program on Thursday and he was giving him heaps:

“You are wedded to renewable energy. You are wedded to green energy … you’re as green, you’re as green as the Labor Party and the Greens.”

And Frydenberg was returning serve with interest:

“Alan, if we could only bottle your rage this morning, we’d have a new energy source.”

Beneath the bravado, however, was an insight into so much that is wrong with Australia’s climate and energy politics, and how far to the right the debate has shifted.

How else can a government that has no coherent climate and energy policy in place, and which has been a trenchant critic of high renewables targets and of states and territories when they try to fill the gap, and absurdly critical of technologies such as battery storage, is branded as left wing and green by ageing white commentators and internal critics.

Jones was fulminating, and absolutely convinced of himself.

“I actually read, you know Josh.  I do the homework,” he insisted.

But what does he read? One suspects, given his ill-informed comments, that they are mostly right-wing blogs and climate denier web-sites. Or the Murdoch media, which often amounts to much the same thing.

Jones’ grasp of historical fact is poor. Frydenberg pointed out that it was John Howard who introduced the first renewable energy target. Jones protested that it was only because he was “panicked” by Kevin Rudd.

The MRET, which aimed for 2 per cent share of renewables by 2020, was actually introduced in 1997 and was junked (because it was too successful and amounted to a threat to the incumbents) well before Rudd appeared on the scene. (Maybe he was confused with Howard’s plan for a carbon price).

Jones also claimed – as so many right wingers do – that re-elected German chancellor Angel Merkel has “stopped the subsidies” and renewable development in Germany and was ploughing ahead with coal,

That’s not true. Germany sourced 36.1 per cent of its demand from renewables in 2017, this is running at around 40 per cent so far in 2018, and the target has just been lifted by Merkel to 65 per cent by 2030.

Renewables still get subsidies in Germany, but rather than a fixed tariff, they bid for them in a competitive tender, like this one this week. Sometimes it reduces them to zero, sometimes not.

And coal is on the way out – the last of the country’s black coal generators will retire soon and the new coalition government is putting together a plan to finally phase out brown coal.  The formation of a coal commission to manage this exit is expected to be announced next week.

But Frydenberg chose not to challenge Jones, although the facts are well known.

Jones then turned to renewable energy subsidies in Australia, adopting the line perpetuated by the likes of the Institute of Pubic Affairs, BAEconomics, and the right-wing media, that these subsidies amount to billions of dollars a year, and will do so for another decade.

This is claptrap, as we have pointed out on many occasions, here, here and here.

Jones reckons that 28.6 million renewable energy certificates will have to be delivered this year at cost of around $85 each, and so that amounts to a total of $2.4 billion, and he also claims that this will continue, or even increase until the scheme ends until 2030.

But the price he cites only applies to the spot market for these certificates, known as LGCs, and the spot market represents just a fraction of the market.

Most LGCs are and will be delivered under contract at a fraction of that price – and in many cases for nothing, such as with the country’s biggest wind farms at Stockyard Hill.

Figure 13 Source: Mercari

And the spot market will crash too, sometime after 2020 if not before because of the over-supply of certificates.  The futures market is already pricing in that crash.

That means the cost to consumers from 2020 to 2030 will be negligible, but the benefits could be significant, as the government has modeled in its push for the National Energy Guarantee – most of the price benefits of $400 a year per consumer come from renewables and the RET

But Frydenberg again chose not to dispute Jones’ claims, saying only “I don’t like subsidies”, and explaining that this was his rationale for the NEG.

Jones then launched into an extraordinary rant against Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott, who had the temerity this month to point out that new coal won’t be built under the NEG, because wind and solar and storage was cheaper.

“This woman” Jones fumed (he appears to have problems with strong women who speak their mind, such as former prime minister Julia Gillard and AEMO boss Audrey Zibelman), “why haven’t you called her in” to explain herself, he demanded of Frydenberg.

“Where is the evidence? Because there is none.”

Frydenberg defended Schott as a woman of substance and character and said she was a “distinguished” figure.

But yet again he chose not to contradict Jones on the detail, or provide the evidence demanded by radio host. That’s a shame, because neither he nor Jones would have far to look.

He could have started with US investment bank Lazard, hailed by Jones only minutes earlier as an institution of international reputation, that were “experts” in the field, and had been around since the 1840s.

Source: Lazard

Experts indeed. In Lazard’s latest report on electricity generation costs, released in November, showed that wind and solar were half the cost of coal, and were still cheaper even when adding storage.

And it should be noted that the Lazard analysts added 10 hours of battery storage to their solar farm modelling, would no-one in their right mind would attach to a solar or wind farm, unless it’s off  grid, because it’s not needed in an interconnected grid.

They could have looked at the Finkel Review, the CSIRO and ENA report on the future grid, at AGL’s estimates of the cost of replacing Liddell, or even the government-owned Snowy Hydro 2.0.

The only time that Frydenberg did argue with Jones about the detail was when Jones’ took to the federal government’s pet project, Snowy 2.0, as a likely white elephant, quoting extensively from a Lazard report on pumped hydro.

Frydenberg was right across the detail on this out that Lazard’s estimates were based on a new pumped hydro storage unit, where new reservoirs need to be built, and where there is only eight hours storage, rather than Snowy’s proposed 175 hours.

And therin lies the problem here.

Frydenberg is clearly across his brief, but only chooses to fight the causes that suit him.

Despite the bluster and the nonsense espoused by Jones and his ilk, and particularly within the Coalition party rooms, Frydenberg and Turnbull refuse to take them on.

Frydenberg offered this: “You can’t be sentimental about the energy system Alan, it is changing before your very eyes.”

Too true. As Frydenberg has said before.

“There’s a dramatic transformation that’s taking place in Australia’s energy system, a once in a lifetime transformation as we move into the world of micro-grids, demand management, rooftop solar and battery storage.”

He has no better argument – what with the plunging cost of renewables and th emergence of storage – to pursue a rapid transition that even the networks and major energy retailers and institutions are talking about.

Turnbull knows this too. And so do their advisors. But they dare not take on the right wing of the party, for fear of … people like Alan Jones. It’s barely credible.

Note: This story is a (partially) restored version of the original which was lost in circumstances as yet unexplained by our web host company. Apologies if earlier comments are missing.

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  1. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    Yep, history shows he’s a ranty mysogynist dinosaur. The handy link to that program is great but I can’t bear to follow it. Psychoanalysts can now show how mistaken beliefs can become facts in his mind …

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Where is the ‘Delete Button’…..for Jonesy.

      • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

        Those ranty tirades are pollution for the ears. Life is too short even without him.

  2. DevMac 3 years ago

    It’s all theatrics aimed at strengthening the governments preferred position. Making “the right” appear to be the middle, or even slightly left, makes the far right appear more moderate.

    I’d wager the kinds of people who listen to Alan Jones don’t have any kind of gift for spotting this kind of posturing.

    This interview was likely masterminded by the Libs in order to make themselves appear more green than they actually are and, more importantly, their opposition seem indistinguishable from the greens; extreme, fringe.

    Frydenberg would happily take a few soft-handed jabs from old mate Jonesy if it would further his party’s political goals.

    All this is evidenced by what Fryndenberg chose to call-out Jones on. ie. nothing about patently incorrect comments about Germany or Wind and Solar actually being cheaper than new coal. Instead Frydenberg says “You can’t be sentimental about the energy system Alan, it is changing before our very eyes.” which is a nothing statement. He doesn’t qualify what’s changing, doesn’t try to educate Jones as to the how’s and why’s – because that wouldn’t play to the Libs plan.

    • Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

      Frydenberg delighted to be (wrongly) branded green in front of Jones’ audience. It’s like being accused of innocence.
      We can all see the Govt is in bed with coal, by their actions. We need a smoking gun to prove it. A 4 Corners episode with recorded back room deal making would be pure gold.

      • Edgar 3 years ago

        And would probably be the death knell for the ABC…

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago


        • Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

          Ye of little faith. It would be the death of coal and the coalition.

  3. Tim Buckley 3 years ago

    Giles, a really insightful analysis.How bizarre that Josh should be labelled Green. His NEG is designed by the Monash luddites to cost consumers even more money by subsidising coal power and slowing the inevitable transition in a deliberate attempt to hold back the tide of technology innovation and deflationary renewables.
    Jones clearly also has an issue with women that management there should correct immediately, totally sexist, insulting and unacceptable. Josh needs to show leadership and stand up for the people working for him.

  4. Alexander Hromas 3 years ago

    Jones has been very vocal in his opposition to a coal mine in the Darling Downs which if opened would be adjacent to a property he inherited some years ago. Typical of this stupid hypocrite NIMBY

    • Mark 3 years ago

      But as Billy Connolly once remarked, “hypocrisy is the vaseline of political intercourse”.

      • Alexander Hromas 3 years ago

        Marvelous can I use it

        • Mark 3 years ago

          I do. Frequently. (with due attribution of course.)

      • maxlyrical 3 years ago

        Thanks Mark!,
        he also said “I feel very strongly about important issues…”
        -More BC quotes on google…

  5. dono 3 years ago

    Josh is not a green and neither are the NSW Greens who believe (or perhaps just state ) that environmental damage can be “decoupled” from population growth.

    • Mark 3 years ago

      I’m not a member of the NSW Greens but they’re quite right about environmental damage and population growth. The relationship is quite complex and the key to understanding it is that resource consumption and energy use are variables, rather than a given. A country, or city, with a higher population, that recycles resources, uses public transport and uses energy from renewable resources will have a lower environmental impact than one with a smaller population that’s profligate with resources, uses coal generation and is heavily car-dependant. I dare say that the Greens’ position on population is more nuanced than you suggest.

      • Simon Holmes A Court 3 years ago

        given that almost *every* other country in the world has a significantly lower environmental footprint per capita than australia, we can and should work hard to decouple population from environmental degradation.

        • Mark 3 years ago

          Absolutely right there Simon. The average Australian doesn’t tread lightly on the earth either in resource or energy use.

      • dono 3 years ago

        I think you mean that in an ideal city the per capita consumption is lower than a real life one. City people tend to believe that if they turn the lights out or ride bikes (which I do ) its lowering their impact . They forget that our imports including $17.9b worth of food had to be paid for with exports of nasty things like coal . And the more people the more damage we do to the world.

        • Mark 3 years ago

          With higher urban densities you can reduce environmental footprints because more sustainable technology and practices (like water recycling, public transport and energy conservation) become economically viable. It’s worth pointing out that the average New Yorker, living as they do in a higher urban density, has a much lower environmental impact than your average Australian living in the car-dependant outer suburbs with their lower density. There’s a real-life city example for you.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          Energy consumption-wise (world-wide), efficiency is counteracting population growth.

          Now assume we had an Australian federal government which was active in promoting efficiency. Big ask I know.

          • palmz 3 years ago

            Just copy what the Vic government is doing it seems to be working quite well, and can be rolled out by state and territory governments.

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            But, for how long?

            Exponential population growth has no limits, but efficiency does and we may be very near (or past??) many of its limits already.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            The world population growth isn’t exponential. As Gapminder has pointed out, the world reached “Peak Child” in the year 2000.

            Efficiency still has massive potential for improvement. Australia for example wastes a huge amount of energy. Poor building efficiency requiring unnecessary heating and cooling, slow rollout of efficient appliances and lighting. There’s a vast suite of energy efficiency measures just waiting to be deployed but most of those measures are just a small part into total deployment.

        • Jonathan Milford 3 years ago

          Some of us don’t forget. We avoid imported food and buy locally grown, to reduce transport miles and provide a healthier diet. Become vegetarian to reduce methane emissions from livestock. Generate our own electricity from solar panels, now with storage so we are prosumers. Reuse or recycle as much as possible to avoid polluting the world, which is the major problem. Before you slagged the Greens, you should have read their actual population policy at

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          This is really the point.
          Food is an inescapable input and polulation growth makes it worse by disconnecting people from the food supply, making processing and transport to cities more costly per capita.

          Shortages or unaffordability cause riots and civil turmoil, as has been the case in the “Arab Spring”.

          While we see population “growth” as desirable, no solution is possible.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Look at the predictions for world population and individual country
      populations by the UN’s demographers (all brilliantly presented by the
      Gapminder Foundation). These population growth numbers are (more or
      less) locked in because the world is already doing its absolute best to
      reduce population growth. The time to argue for further reductions in
      world population are gone (unless you want to nuke big sections of it or
      release a pandemic ?? – do you own a fluffy white cat?) and we now have
      to plan how to make the minimal impact on the environment with these
      known population growth numbers which are (more or less) inevitable.

      • dono 3 years ago

        Hi Ren, I would dispute your argument about the world doing its best to reduce population growth – both sides of our governments are doing the exact opposite as is the catholic church and many other religious bodies. Israel is locked in a demographic war with Palestine, Iran, Turkey and a few others have restricted family planning and the US has cut funding to family planning organisations. And your comment on a pandemic makes me think you are probably a climate change denier since this is going to wipe out more people than any plague.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          On the issue of climate change who gives a flying fuck about Palestine, Iran and Turkey. You are desperate to bring those other things (or anything) into the mostly simple argument of climate change in order to complicate it.

          Just go away, you advertising exec shallow moron.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          How would you “dispute your argument about the world doing its best to reduce population growth”

          Show me a link.

          If you can’t I’m going to ram your own stupid assertion up your arse!

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          Come on dono, don’t be shy!

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          – In Asia (including Australia) the population will grow from 4 billion to 5 billion by 2050 and then stop growing.
          – In Africa the population will grow from 1 billion to 4 billion by 2100 and then stop growing.

          – In the remaining parts of the world the population won’t grow.

          If anyone is concerned about population growth they should be calling for more investment in Africa to lift the people there out of poverty which will automatically reduce their population growth rate.

          Btw I’m not a climate change denier, the furthest thing from it.

          • dono 3 years ago

            Why will it stop growing?
            national duty to keep the …

            Opinion | Israel’s Looming Demographic Crisis – The New York Times


            Jul 25, 2016 – TEL AVIV — On Israel’s Independence Day this year, newspaper … The demographic “war” is over: The number of Arab Israelis will not

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            “Why will it stop growing?”

            Because the poorest 2 billion people are slowly coming out of poverty. These slow improvements to health and life expectancy are driving a slow reduction in fertility rates. The sooner the poorest 2 billion come out of poverty the sooner their fertility rates will fall to around the replacement rate.

          • Glynn Palmer 3 years ago

            As Dono has reported, Trump’s US has imposed the “gag” rule on NGO’s that provide the full range of reproductive services in high birth rate cultures throughout the world.

            Ren you also acknowledge that Africa has a human producing culture. The extreme examples of high fertility rates are: Angola and Burundi – 5.7; Chad – 5.9; Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali – 6.1; Somalia – 6.3; Niger – 7.2. If we agree with Bishop Curry that the answer to the poverty caused by this overpopulation is love for them, we will pour resources into helping these cultures to reduce their fertility rate down to the OECD average of 1.7.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Health is the main controller of fertility rate. In Angola, Burundi, Chad, DRC, Mali and Somalia, life expectancy is slowly improving and fertility rate is slowly falling as a result. Education, particularly for females and family planning also play a part, but the main factor in reducing fertility rate is improvements in health / life expectancy.

  6. CU 3 years ago

    “Alan, if we could only bottle your rage this morning, we’d have a new energy source.”

    That’s great!

  7. PLDD 3 years ago

    I thought the discussion in the Fairfax article was interesting. I felt the majority got it and thought little of Jones. The usual suspects were there promoting nuclear with some weird maths, plus a few climate deniers who where quickly bought up to speed on the facts.

    No one seemed to buy Josh’s “green credentials” and few the governments woeful performance in energy. If Fairfax represents “the person in the street” I think Turnbull et al are in trouble.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      The Joshua, The Energy & Environment Minister who can’t bring himself to install home rooftop solar just says it all about his “green credentials”.

      • PLDD 3 years ago

        Green credentials was in inverted commas to indicate sarcasm and related back to Jone’s comment about Joshie: “You are wedded to renewable energy. You are wedded to green energy … you’re as green, you’re as green as the Labor Party and the Greens”

        • Joe 3 years ago

          No shame in being wedded to RE which Labor and The Greens do understand.

    • Ken Fabian 3 years ago

      Mostly the usual suspects that are promoting nuclear in Australia are climate science denying coal supporters – which means using nuclear to displace coal and fix climate change is NOT their true intention.

  8. Joe 3 years ago

    The Jones, unhinged, deranged….there are no words. Could he, the Jones, please take out from his office cabinet that famous “chaff bag” that he wanted to use some years ago….the time is now Alan, please do the ‘self honours’.

    • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

      He could have been a bible-thumping evangelist in another life. Fulminating in self-righteous anger about the evils of renewables and the goodness of fossil fuels.
      Another interpretation is that he, along with Hadley and Bolt, have made right wing politics their “brand” that they use to keep themselves employed.

      Or he is just a RWNJ.

      • Joe 3 years ago

        What sort of people ‘enjoy’ tuning into the Jones, Hadley, Bolt, Smith etc. Those listeners must just sit at the kitchen table like stunned mullets, swallowing all the drivel and bullshit that these radio dickheads spit out. Can’t the kitchen table dolts do a bit of research and then think it out for themselves?

        • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

          I wish I knew Joe! It would be interesting to know the demographic of his audience. I could speculate but I won’t.

          • Edgar 3 years ago

            I think you’ll find that most of his audience listen from their beds in the old folks home…

          • Joe 3 years ago

            ….are those seniors so infirm that they can’t turn the dial to say…. ABC radio?

        • Pedro 3 years ago

          I dont think the ‘dolts’ want to be educated or be up to speed on current events… the ‘dolts’ want to be entertained by passionate/controversial rants about anything.

      • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

        I may be wrong, but I thought I saw Jonesy on TV in ‘The Handmaids Tale’ last night as pastor, bible in hand marrying a bunch of people…

  9. Tom 3 years ago

    I thought the Institute of Pubic Affairs was Barnaby’s office

  10. Glynn Palmer 3 years ago

    Jones is paid to peddle ultra right wing sheep shit to the bogans, who consume his bile, so that they will be exposed to the advertising that pays his obscene remuneration and profit for the network.

    I don’t intentionally abuse my intelligence by listening to him so I am ignorant as to the details of what spews from his mouth. Giles, I am surprised that you listen to him and take him seriously.

    It is good to see his wealth being challenged by a Toowoomba business family that is suing him $millions in a defamation case regarding the 2011 Lockyer Valley floods.

    • Edgar 3 years ago

      In taking on the Wagners he has really picked the wrong target, and will hopefully find out the really, REALLY hard way.

  11. Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

    This time-poor guy. Just because you are time-poor doesn’t mean you can absolve yourself whilst being a big innocent bastard interloper on this issue.

    Study the issue Jonesy and either become an expert, or stay the fuck out.Your shallow commercial radio crud doesn’t inspire any motivation any more.

  12. Steven Gannon 3 years ago

    Freydenberg would perhaps be the right man for the job if he had a free reign. And as for Jones vilifying yet another woman, we all know he likes the guys more than girls.

    Its good to see him in court presently, being held accountable for a change. Broadcasting laws need to change, that bastard is pure poison.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      Could be a tidy little $’s penalty against the Jones if he loses in court. But I guess the radio station has insurance etc and Jones won’t end up on his arse out on “struggle street”.

      • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

        Chris Masters from 4 corners said he is plutonium. … highly poisonous and virtually indestructible.

  13. Gregory J. OLSEN Esq 3 years ago

    Yep, it was staged. There’s no other explanation. Quite sick really. Let’s end tripe this at the next Federal election!

    • Richard Rambone 3 years ago

      Yes, I cannot wait to throw these corporate-funded morons onto the trash heap of history.

  14. Steve Fuller 3 years ago

    Perhaps the good burghers of Kooyong could encourage Amie Saunders a Senior Associate at Lander and Rogers lawyers to train Josh how to argue his case more effectively. Amie knows Josh very well and sees him regularly.

  15. Peter Thomson 3 years ago

    Yeah, starts to sound like a stitch-up job to make the coalition’s position look more moderate. Alan Jones – Gammon^3

  16. N Page 3 years ago

    Wait a minute. Is Jones accusing Frydenberg of being a shill? Well that is the hypocrisy of the century.

  17. solarguy 3 years ago

    It all sounds a bit staged, this shot gun approach to Frydturd, in an effort to confuse the public with misinformation. I would have loved to have heard the interview.

  18. Ken Fabian 3 years ago

    I understand Frydenberg did a spirited defence of gas too, attacking Jones for opposing CSG. Somehow the zombie idea that gas is a low emissions energy option lives on, embedded in the LNP rhetoric of (very cautiously) taking climate change seriously.

    I’m not sure that “cognitive dissonance” really covers this enduring disconnection between energy policy and taking climate change seriously – heading into the realms of tinfoil hatted conspiracists I think. Frydenberg, that is; Jones’ head already has a climate science reflective coating.

    Unfortunately I think the real story is that Frydenberg, like most of the “moderates”, doesn’t care about the truth, and is as opposed to strong climate action as any coal mine owner but chooses pretence over honesty as a tactic – pretending to take climate seriously sidesteps the need to have nonsensical position on climate science exposed and debated and shifts the discussion back to the economic alarmist fears that are the (other) main justification for inaction.

  19. Charles Hunter 3 years ago

    I think a few more touch-ups of the partial restoration might be in order.

    “Germany sourced 36.1 per cent of its demand from renewables in 207” – 2017?

    “This is claptrap, as we have pointed out on many occasions, here, here and here.” – needs the links behind the three heres.

    “And it should be noted that the Lazard analysts added 10 hours of battery storage to their solar farm modelling, would no-one in their right mind would attach to a solar or wind farm, unless it’s off grid, because it’s not needed in an interconnected grid.” – I do not get this at all. Even if I assume the first “would” is a “which” or “that”, surely that’s exactly what the Hornsdale Power Reserve is, a renewables farm with a battery attached. What am I missing?

    “Frydenberg was right across the detail on this out that Lazard’s estimates …” – perhaps “Frydenberg was right across the detail on this, which is that Lazard’s estimates …”?

  20. howardpatr 3 years ago

    May the Wagner family expose Jones for what he really is and who he represents; the likes of Abbott, Joyce, Kelly and the many RWRNJs in the LNP.

  21. Billyen 3 years ago

    The Good news!
    Jones is 75 and has no children.

  22. Paul Andrew 2 years ago

    “Institute of Pubic Affairs” is it a typo or…?

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