More Ridiculing of Turnbull’s Policies 18/8

Commenting on this morning’s media speculation that he might challenge Turnbull for PM, Peter Dutton said “In relation to media stories today, just to make very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government. My position hasn’t changed from my comments last Thursday.” (see Dutton Says Supports Turnbull). That of course is a short time ago and he has also said that, while in Cabinet, he is bound to support government policy.

Last Weekend for Turnbull?

I suggested in yesterday’s Commentary that Turnbull’s proposals on NEG policy (sic) have created a chaotic situation in which changes now seem to be made almost every day in an attempt to persuade rebel MP’s to re-think their opposition to the policy and avoid resignations by some Ministers. These rebels are particularly opposed to any legislation which seeks to lock in the 26 per cent reduction in emissions under the Paris accord. It should be noted that, while 10 rebels have been publicly identified, there appear to be others who are also unhappy with some of the existing NEG proposals. Former Major General Jim Molan (now a Senator), for example, told Sky News last night that he did not accept any legislation endorsing the 26 per cent reduction in emissions.

Shorten to Save Turnbull?

In today’s Australian, it is reported that attempts are being made by so called “rebel” MPs (said to be 10) to persuade some ministers to resign their positions. This would avoid the requirement that ministers vote with the government and Assistant Minister Keith Pitt is mentioned as a possible resignation (see Possible Resignations by Ministers Re Neg). He and Deputy PM McCormack had apparently proposed establishing a $5bn fund to build “at least three new power stations (presumably coal-fired) under a government-owned company model to keep the cost off the budget books”, but this was apparently rejected by the government.

Samuel Griffith Conference Showed Increased Conservatism

The annual conference of the Samuel Griffith Society , which finished at 1.00 pm last Sunday after starting on Friday evening, was notable for many reasons but most importantly showed through those who spoke and attended that the “conservative” movement is strongly increasing. The expansion in the Society is due importantly to the contribution by leadership from Stuart Wood QC, who is also able to be a leading industrial relations barrister.

More Responses to NEG Modelling

The editorial in today’s Australian is critical of the policy approach adopted by the Turnbull government –“under Mr Turnbull the Coalition seems to think all it needs to do is announce elegant policy and await the plaudits” – but (disappointedly) does not advocate considering any change of leadership. By contrast, while agreeing about the need for policy changes, Andrew Bolt rightly argues that any policy changes needs to be preceded by a change in leadership (see OZ Prescribes Tighter Econ Strategy and Bolt says Change Leader Then Policies).

Questioning Continues Regarding Effects on Pricing under NEG

Today’s Australian reports that the views of three groups in the Senate appear to depend on whether and/or by how much the supposed final version of NEG will reduce costs. Pauline Hanson says she is “strongly against” the NEG and wants to pull out of the Paris accord requiring reduced carbon emissions as coal-fired power stations would deliver cheaper power. Senator Leyonhjelm, the Liberal Democrat, said he wanted to see evidence the NEG would dramatically lower power prices before he would back the deal: “they need to fall by at least 50 per cent to restore competitiveness and take pressure off households”. The Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick said he and Senate colleague Stirling Griff backed the NEG’s goals but their vote would depend on how much the policy brought down power bills: “we would expect on the pricing side for there to be a clear indication of what the savings will be, and that the modelling that generates those savings is released publicly, including all assumptions that were made,” Senator Patrick said (see Some Senate Opposition to NEG).

“Final” Version of NEG But Coal Still Favoured by Many

The Australian reports that the “final” version of NEG has now been sent to the states from where they will soon be leaked (see NEG “Finalised”). This version is to be considered at COAG next month and it appears that it does not include the mechanism for setting the emission reduction target, which are (amazingly) to be set each year under federal legislation. The responsibility for meeting the so-called “reliability obligation” is unclear as to what variation in supply, and from what fuel source, would be “unreliable”. No mention is made in this report of what is expected to happen to electricity prices.