Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blind ignorance and political opportunism continue to rule the federal corridors of power

“Some MPs are also concerned that a CET would be too similar to Labor's climate policy and would see the Government lose its edge over the Opposition.” [ABC News, 13 June 2016]

The National Electricity Market (NEM) is said to be the longest geographically connected power system in the world, supplying five of Australia’s eight states and territories with electricity for homes, businesses and industries. It generates around 200 terawatt hours of electricity annually, accounting for around 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity consumption, according to the Australian Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

In December 2016 the Australian Chief Scientist presented the Expert Panel’s Preliminary Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market to the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG).

Six months and one Final Report later, as electricity prices continued to climb and low income households across Australia worry about how they will meet the next power bill, the governing Liberal and National parties are still fighting crazy ideological battles and worrying about their own chances at the next federal election - instead of facing up to the fact that the NEM became highly dysfunctional once the system was essentially privatised as well as the fact that Coalition energy policies are spectacularly failing to meet Australia’s international obligations with regard to climate change mitigation.

I for one am unimpressed with and angered by this display of blind ignorance and political opportunism as I try to hoard my pennies against this winter’s power bill………

Malcolm Turnbull has been hit with a stronger-than-anticipated backlash over plans to introduce a Clean Energy Target in a battle which is fast becoming a test of his leadership, Liberal sources say.
Despite the CET having the support of senior conservatives and other ministers, it did not translate into backbench support late on Tuesday as Coalition MPs at a special meeting discussed the findings of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel and his main recommendation for a CET to be adopted post-2020.
By early evening, sources inside the meeting said only four MPs had so far spoken in favour of Dr Finkel's key recommendation while about 20, including Tony Abbott and junior minister Angus Taylor, were against, and four more unclear.
"It's a slaughter," said an MP inside the meeting "and a lot of the usual suspects haven't spoken yet".
As the meeting rolled on, it was apparent the government would, at the very least, have to design a scheme that enabled so-called clean coal to be designated, in part, as a low emissions energy source. Even so, this is unlikely to placate all the backbench rebels and also runs the risk of Labor withdrawing its offer of bipartisan support because it cannot accept a policy that designates coal as a clean emissions source.
The prospect of doing anything at all is now in serious doubt. Both Nationals and Liberals spoke against the plan, despite it promising to lower electricity prices and the government yet to do any design work.
With Mr Abbott leading a determined group of MPs who believe the government should either do nothing at all, or adopt a scheme giving so-called clean coal equal treatment to renewable energy, senior Liberals said Mr Turnbull cannot risk losing control of the policy process to his nemesis.
Mr Abbott, who had not read the Finkel report, slammed the CET on Monday as a "magic pudding" and "a tax on coal"…..
Labor resolved to oppose the government trying to allow the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in carbon capture storage technology, saying it was "nothing but a hollow gesture to appease extreme right MPs".
Under a CET, existing generators would see out their natural lives and coal use would only fall slightly under a CET.
Climate-change policy has ignited tensions within the federal government, with a group of backbench MPs led by Tony Abbott confronting Malcolm Turnbull over the proposed Clean Energy Target in a special party room meeting.
As one MP in the room put it afterwards: "Malcolm could lose his leadership over this if he doesn't listen to us."….
The disquiet means that Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is likely to have little choice but to significantly modify the CET, as proposed in the Finkel review, to keep the backbench on-side as he finalises the Coalition's policy response, which is expected as soon as the end of July.
The length of the meeting and depth of feeling is likely to cause a re-think by the Turnbull government as it looks to implement a CET, with coal and gas likely to be given more favourable treatment.
ABC News,13 June 2017:
Tensions between Liberal factional rivals Tony Abbott and Craig Laundy boiled over at the conclusion of Tuesday's party room meeting, in which dozens of Coalition backbenchers raised concerns about Alan Finkel's energy report.
The special meeting was called to give Liberal and National MPs more time to debate the chief scientist's recommendations, including the introduction of a Clean Energy Target [CET] to encourage the development of low emission generators.
While the three-hour meeting was described as "positive" and "constructive", the ABC has been told Mr Abbott and Mr Laundy had a "very heated exchange" that lasted around 15 minutes after MPs and Senators filed out of the meeting.
It is understood it followed a minor altercation during the meeting when Mr Laundy took issue with Mr Abbott for interjecting while he was on his feet.
The former Prime Minister was one of about 10 MPs who expressed "serious misgivings" about the introduction of a CET, while a handful spoke in favour of the policy.
The Sydney Morning Herald,  13 June 2017:
The evening's first questioner had nearly summed things up.
"I think many of us will remember four years ago we had an election and saw the Coalition more or less win on the promise that by slashing the carbon tax every family in this country would get $500 back. 
"I don't know about you, but in our family we didn't see this $500. I have seen prices of electricity rising every year since then. And, you know, actually experts around the world are telling us that putting a price on carbon, on pollution, is the most efficient way that we can deal with the challenge of climate change. 
"It actually works, it's very simple - people who want to pollute, that's fine, you want to pollute, but then you pay. Then you reward those who don't. Simple. My children understand that system."
The Australian, 14 June 2017:

The federal Coalition has put its dysfunction on display again.

Always up for a brawl on climate change, Liberals and Nationals MPs have thrown themselves into an internal row that tells Australians to look elsewhere for leadership.

In public, MPs assure voters they have a way to keep power bills down. In private they rip each other to shreds because they do not know what to do.

Tony Abbott interjected so often throughout the meeting that Craig Laundy, a frontbench ally of Malcolm Turnbull, called the former prime minister out and asked that he show respect to those who wanted to speak.

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