Shorten slams Coalition 'flat earthers' as incumbents bite back | RenewEconomy

Shorten slams Coalition ‘flat earthers’ as incumbents bite back

The Australian Labor Party and Bill Shorten appear to have rediscovered their climate change mojo, rejecting Tony Abbott’s party of “flat Earthers”. But the Coalition, large vested interests and the Murdoch media have responded with a vicious scare campaign.


Labor leader Bill Shorten appears to have rediscovered his and the party’s climate change mojo – promising an emissions trading scheme, a 50 per cent renewable energy target, and slamming Tony Abbott’s society of “flat Earthers”.

Shorten, in his speech to the Labor national conference in Melbourne, described the attacks on wind energy by Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey as “grotesque”.


He said he wanted more solar panels on Australian rooftops – homes, schools, shops and businesses. He said these would help cut power bills for consumers and put electricity back into the grid. But he also wanted to help accelerate the deployment of battery storage.

“2014 was the warmest year in recorded history,” Shorten said. “The evidence is in, the science is settled. Climate change is not ‘absolute crap’, it is an inescapable fact. And if we take a do-nothing approach, there will be more extreme weather.”

To which he added later: “Climate change is an economic and environmental cancer – and it demands early intervention. Mark Butler is right, this is no longer a question of Australia leading the world – it is a matter of keeping up.

“If the world’s biggest capitalist nation, and the world’s biggest planned economy can agree climate change is a priority – it’s time Australia did so too.

“Mr Abbott’s society of flat-earthers talk a lot of nonsense about Labor policies – but they’re right about one thing. There is, absolutely, a clear-cut choice between Labor and the Liberals on renewable energy.

“Mr Abbott is a throwback to a world that never existed … Out of his depth, and out of touch. Australians deserve better than a prime minister who wants to make them afraid of the future.”

Shorten appears to have polling on his side – numerous polls suggest that the Australian population is warming to the idea of more ambitious renewable energy policies, and although there is suggestion that an electricity price scare campaign could get traction, there is now the prospect that the two major parties will go to a poll with distinctive climate change and renewable energy policies; for the first time since 2007 when John Howard was forced to rapidly adopt similar policies in a failed attempt to stop the Kevin Rudd juggernaut.

Right now, it seems, the Abbott government is seeking to entrench its rearguard position – no carbon price, no increase in renewables, and a big scare campaign. Indeed, environment minister Greg Hunt, who is leading the price campaign, has said the Coalition’s renewables support will cease in 2020.

The scale of the resistance from vested interests has been highlighted by the response to Shorten’s 50 per cent renewable energy plans from the energy industry, big business, and the Murdoch Media.

All are fighting against the idea that coal-fired power stations should close early – at least without major handouts – or that networks should be written down to recognise the fact that ageing assets are being rapidly overtaken by newer, smarter, cheaper technologies.

The Energy Users Association, which represents manufacturers and retailers, said it doubted that Australia could effect such a change, and the policy “ignored the operations of our unique electricity market” which was built on “the back of inexpensive and available energy sources.”

It refused to entertain a write-down of network values, and said houses installing solar and battery storage were simply adding costs to other users.

“These assets cannot be junked, cannot be quickly written off and are paid for by consumers and users still in the system,”  said EUA CEO Phil Barresi, who was a Federal Liberal Party MP for 11 years.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia, which represents networks and power generators, has also reacted fiercely against the proposed Labor platform, particularly the idea of encouraging more renewable energy.

The Murdoch media continued its assault on the policy, with some commentators again dismissing the science of climate change as a hoax, and The Australian‘s economics writer, Adam Creighton, suggesting that the current coal-heavy energy mix was entirely “satisfactory”.

In an extraordinary column, Creighton borrowed a glad-bag full of the Coalition’s talking points about the supposed costs and impacts of renewable energy, dismissed wind turbine manufacturers as “rent seekers” and described renewable energy as a “religion”. His proposal is to “spend nothing” on the energy market and leave coal generators untouched.

The question none of them answer is how Australia proposes to maintain its fleet of ageing coal-fired generation and keep a lid on costs of doing that, and address carbon emissions.

Shorten, however, said that Labor would not be sidelined by such campaigns – as it clearly had been in 2010 when it dumped the carbon price and began a bitter and protracted leadership battle that saw two leaders fall.

“And if Mr Abbott wants to make the next election a contest about who has the best policy solution for climate change… I’ve got a three-word-slogan for him: Bring. It.On.”

Here is Shorten’s speech in full, or at least the bit on climate change and energy policy:


“Creating the jobs of the future, guaranteeing long-term prosperity, ensuring Australia competes in the world must begin with tackling climate change.

Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have fallen in this century.

2014 was the warmest year in recorded history.

The evidence is in, the science is settled.

Climate change is not ‘absolute crap’, it is an inescapable fact.

And if we take a do-nothing approach, there will be more extreme weather.

More severe storms, more aggressive fires, more dangerous floods, longer and more damaging droughts.

Our farmers will face greater hardship.

Our coastal homes will be invaded by rising seas.

The infrastructure cost will be hundreds of billions of dollars.


We can rebuild flooded cities once every century.

We can rebuild fire-ravaged bushland every half-century.

But we cannot do it every decade.

This is not a price the next generation of Australians should have to pay because of this delinquent government.

Climate change is an economic and environmental cancer – and it demands early intervention.

Mark Butler is right, this is no longer a question of Australia leading the world – it is a matter of keeping up.

If the world’s biggest capitalist nation, and the world’s biggest planned economy can agree climate change is a priority- it’s time Australia did so too.

Mr Abbott’s society of flat-earthers talk a lot of nonsense about Labor policies – but they’re right about one thing.

There is, absolutely, a clear-cut choice between Labor and the Liberals on renewable energy.

This Coalition government has done everything in their power to try and destroy Australia’s share in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.

The Abbott-Hockey attacks on renewables are grotesque – and the consequences have been devastating.

Last year, around the world, investment in renewables rose by 16 per cent.

In China alone, up by 33 per cent.

In Australia, down by 88 per cent.

Only a Labor Government can save the renewable energy industry now.

Only Labor can restore the confidence and certainty this government has smashed.

This is why, in our platform we must set an ambitious new goal for renewable energy.

By 2030, our aim is for renewable energy to generate 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity.

This is how we transform our electricity system, build a new industrial landscape and deliver a clean energy future.

I want to see more solar panels on Australian rooftops.

On our homes, our schools, our shops and businesses…

… cutting power bills for consumers and putting electricity back into the national grid.

I want us to develop and apply battery technology, so power from solar panels can be stored in our homes, more efficiently.

I want more Aussie farmers, earning more money, by putting wind turbines on their land.

I want more investors to have the confidence to create more jobs.

And I want Australia to get our fair share of the $2.5 trillion in investment expected in Asia-Pacific renewables to 2030.

A Labor Government will work with businesses and unions to look after workers affected by modernisation…

Helping with re-training and re-skilling for new opportunities in new industries, as Australians find new ways to live.


Boosting renewable energy is at the heart of Labor’s plan to cut pollution.

And instead of giving big polluters fistfuls of taxpayer dollars to keep polluting…Labor will cut pollution with a market solution.

A billion people, and more than 40 per cent of the world’s economy have already embraced the opportunities of emissions trading schemes.

We must give Australian businesses the opportunity to engage with this global market.

This is the promise I offer our nation, today.

A Shorten Labor Government will build an Emissions Trading Scheme for Australia.

And we will not be intimidated by the ignorant, ridiculous scare campaigns that will come.

We will win this fight.

Let me say this to our opponents, in words of one syllable:

An E.T.S is not a tax.

And if Mr Abbott wants to make the next election a contest about who has the best policy solution for climate change…

I’ve got a three-word-slogan for him:

Bring. It.On.”

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  1. john 5 years ago

    The idea of setting out goals to tackle Australia’s GHG output is and will be a divide between the parties.
    Cost evidence is on Shorten’s side however getting the message across will be very, very difficult.
    A well rehearsed list of straw men arguments will be used from hoax to economic and every thought bubble in between.
    At least if this gets to become policy then there will be one aspect of difference between the parties.
    Before it Is mentioned “direct action” is the policy you have when you do not have a policy.

  2. john 5 years ago

    I think 1.4 million installations out of 9 million households is a very sobering figure to contend with not all of who mind have any feelings about mitigation of carbon but hip pocket motives so it is hard to find an argument where the base cost of something is falling and the economic argument is strengthening.
    Actually on every front it would appear that this should be a win for the party if it becomes policy.
    The argument is then about the target figure.

    • Ken Dyer 5 years ago

      John good point. In 2008, there were 8000 rooftop solar systems. The game has changed, solar has halved in price, batteries are here, and the Abbott Government and the Murdoch press are singing the same old refrain.

      We could close every brown coal power station tomorrow and there would be no impact on power supplies.


      • Stan Hlegeris 5 years ago

        Just a detail, Ken. I installed a 2kW system in 2008 at a cost of $20,000, or $10,000 per kW.

        Today you can get a premium quality fully installed 5kW system for maybe $7,000, or about $1,400 per kW. That’s a cost decrease of about 86%, not half.

        • john 5 years ago

          My first quote was $54K for 5 Kw eventually as we can see $7k and it is still falling

        • Ken Dyer 5 years ago

          Thankyou Stan for correcting me. My 3kW system is now nearly 4 years old and I paid a fair bit less then.
          The good news is that an increase to 50% renewables will most likely to be met before 2020, so is the Greens target of 80% I think more realistic?

      • john 5 years ago

        As you may rem I have posted several times especially during the Warburton Inquiry that the effect on base load because of the penetration of RE has been to narrow the gap between high and RRP price and hence the average price of power has fallen.
        Now to replace all Black and Brown coal usage would entail a considerable build that is possible, however do we have the intestinal fortitude to undertake this?

    • John Bromhead 5 years ago

      Lets not mention the 9.7 billion net benefit cost of the solar that has so far been installed.

      • john 5 years ago

        So dividing 9.7 billion by 1.4 million we get $6900 dollars per household is that correct?

        • John Bromhead 5 years ago

          According to the report,
          “By the time the subsidies finally run out, households and
          businesses that have not installed solar PV will have spent more than $14 billion subsidising households that have. Australia could have reduced emissions for much less money. Governments have created a policy mess that should never be repeated”.

          • john 5 years ago

            I do not think the primary aspect is reduction in emission however the saving in expenditure on upgraded transmission substation and new generation is of substantial saving.
            The savings due to suppression in wholesale cost of power is equitable with the costs.
            Business is not subsidising anyone.

  3. Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

    People only need to be reminded that Tony Abbott’s mythical refund due to axing the carbon tax turned to nothing and that on just about every major topic, he has lied or back flipped at some stage. Only the gullible will continue to believe him. The biggest battle will be combating the Murdoch media.

    • phred01 5 years ago

      yes he got rid of the carbon tax but is work on another break another promise of no new tax…….GST to 15% & medicare increase. Only the rich will get a tax break of any substance

      • Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

        I think a GST of 15% on everything with no exemptions and appropriate adjustments for pensioners would be a good thing because it would make the tax more efficient and make those with bigger spending power pay more. As things currently stand, Abbott and to some degree, the opposition, keep talking about lower taxes without acknowledging the fact that increased services require increased taxes. We are currently dealing with a treasurer who believes in magic puddings. I for one would be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant I could access services in a timely fashion. All we have from this government is excuses, denial and blaming past governments for this government’s failures, lies and backflips.

        Sadly, much of the pathetic governance of the Abbott government has been hidden or smoothed over by the Murdoch media.

  4. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    Ah yes, we’ve been here before. Reactions from conservatives are fairly predictable. It’s going to be a rough 15 months.

  5. Reality Bites 5 years ago

    At least Shorten’s big promises take away the focus on his Royal Commission performance. I am sure the CleanEvent employees can recommend him to negotiate some great deals.

    • Roger Brown 5 years ago

      Don’t you mean away from the #Choppergate scandal ? or the illegitimate Pommy PM ? or the adding of $100 BILLION to the debt pile in 2 yrs ? or just the usual Shifty , incompetent , destructive , dangerous , dysfunctional govt. day ?

      • Reality Bites 5 years ago

        Reactions from the lefties also fairly predictable. Or are you talking about the RGR thought bubble, incompetent, destructive, dangerous, dysfunctional govt, who wasted the Howard governments economic achievements? Long way to go to the election and by then Labor will have torn itself apart with refugees, carbon tax and further Royal Commission evidence. Yes definitely Bring. It.On.

        • john 5 years ago

          Just think for 1 nono second
          Which country came out of the GFC with no downturn?
          Which country spent money to ensure this happened?
          If Australia had not put in place a stimulates package we would have seen 15% to 25% unemployment and social disruption however we dodged that bullet.
          Perhaps we should acknowledge another fact that Australia was also helped by a huge demand of base metals at the same time that also helped the world economy.
          This was done to ensure the world economy did not fold up and collapse.
          Myopic inward looking guided by wrong headed ideas is not always correct in the wider scheme of things.

          • Coley 5 years ago

            Don’t know the ins and outs of Australian politics but you seem to have done better than most over the course of the last seven years.
            And as far as I know, your debt wasn’t built up to bail out the bastards who caused the problem in the first place.

          • john 5 years ago

            Very true we did not bail out the People you mention mind they have got off scot free a major fail I say.
            As to Australia it basically has a small economy that is export orientated and is dependant on commodity prices, as to the internal politics it is not exactly very sophisticated.

          • Pete 5 years ago

            Ignore him John. I lived about 70kms north of Cairns for four years. It’s Deliverance country up there and they can’t even play a banjo very well let alone have any idea of what’s happening in the real world – other than what they “learn” from the Murdoch press.

          • nakedChimp 5 years ago

            hey, don’t pull me over the same comb as Freddy up there.. conservative republicans are everywhere, even in your backyard further south.

          • phred01 5 years ago

            This is what what irks the conservatives the people with money weren’t able to screw families that would have been unemployed buying their homes @ discounted prices as happened during previous recessions

          • Reality Bites 5 years ago

            What a load of rubbish. Pink Batts, Building Education Revolution waste. Australia did not dodge a bullet, it was train-wrecked by Labor. Now Shorten wants to go down the same road. Nuts.

          • john 5 years ago

            Australia did not have to build a new power station due to energy efficiency, with buildings and appliances, plus the augmentation by RE.
            The trouble is because there was little effect in Australia they do not realise what the rest of the world had to deal with.
            Some aspects have not helped Australia for instance the high dollar where the AU$ got past parity with the US$; this now reversed and should help exporters but not importers.
            I honestly do not think it would have been prudent to watch the economy in Australia tank and defiantly without China putting in place a huge stimulus AU would have been in dire straits.
            The argument used that helping and economy is flawed has been aired from the New Deal days and still does not hold water.

        • Roger Brown 5 years ago

          Update on the LNP DEBT = $103.7 BILLION They are spending more(%) now than Labor did in the GFC worst days ? The $ .7 B is to cover the LNP travel expenses for the 6 mths period of Parties, weddings and helicopter rides . We are still paying for COSTello’s NO NET DEBT ( $50B in bonds till 2019/2017 at 5.75% / 5.50% ) All they did was piss tax payers money against a wall and give it away to buy votes and buy jets that cannot fly ?(2002) STILL waiting for the jets today and Abbott throws more $BILLIONS at them lemons ? Achievements ? the GST ? the biggest TAX Australia has had . AWB Scandal? Spying on Timor ? Illegal wars ? ETS is not a tax , you cannot trade a Tax ? Labor will put wind turbines on the North Shore coastline and use the old army barracks .

      • phred01 5 years ago

        We can take a lesson from the Govn’t on how to milk the public purse

  6. Kevin Brown 5 years ago

    Labor need to apply the blowtorch to the Coalition’s promise of a viable safeguard mechanism for the ERF. A cap and trade ETS is inevitable if we are to further our emissions reductions beyond 2020.

    • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

      Yes definitely cap and trade. Australia had this worked out in 2009. But that didn’t anticipate the malignant forces that tried to undermine it.

  7. Chokyi Nyingpo 5 years ago

    Giles, have you or anyone else for that matter, created a list of past technologies that did NOT receive any government subsidies for going out of business due to advancements?

    As the Moloch press and the COALition continuously trot out their “but who’s going to pay for all the jobs lost as we transition” excuses, i can think of quite a few oldies that never received anything.

    2 come to mind:

    a) horses to cars – what happened to all the farriers, coach makers etc? Over 8 million horses died in WW1 and the transition to armoured and motorised vehicles became absolute as a result. i seem to recall that one of the best coach makers of that era transitioned to becoming one of Holden’s biggest coach makers without a single penny of government support.

    and so on… to about a century later

    b) fax machines to email and onto instant messaging – has any manufacturer of fax or telephone machines received a single cent from the gov’t in subsidies because of the internet?

    i feel that the Lib/Nat government and their Moloch press cheer squad trot out excuses by only using straw man arguments – coal-fired generators et al do NOT need a single cent of government assistance to transition to a renewable world – if it was good enough for their fathers and grandfathers before them to see the writing on the wall and get out before it got too hard then why on earth can’t they do the same today?

    • john 5 years ago

      You do get the message and that is an interesting way of looking at it.
      It is Murdock not Molock.
      What will happen is this.
      A lot of disinformation will be published and it will say RE is bad but coal is good and if RE is used it will cost you a lot therefore I will protect you by stopping this, so believe in me.

      • mick 5 years ago

        I thought the bloke was alluding to the relationship between the molochs and the eloids

        • john 5 years ago

          beats me mick

    • john 5 years ago

      Holden were coach builders the early vehicles were imported as chassis then local coach builders built the cab and tray, in this case for General Motors.
      Lots of wood used in the early vehicles.
      If it was to be a car the same course was followed, however gradually local metal build was adopted.
      Now of course we import fully built vehicles.

    • Catprog 5 years ago

      Was the internet itself free of government support?

  8. phred01 5 years ago

    simple answer to electricity price scare put solar on ones roof it is cheap these days compare with 6 yrs ago. 8 grand bought 1kw now for about 5 you can get around 5kw

  9. James 5 years ago

    Climate Change deniers must be pushed out of office asap.
    We are running out of time to fix this

    • john 5 years ago

      Not really just have to think about the direction we are going and make some changes

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