Energy Policy and Abbott’s Leading Role

How to Test the New Energy Policy Coming

It will take time to assess the detail of the forthcoming new Energy Policy of the Turnbull government, but the forward hints in the media leave much to be desired. Remember first that it comes  against the background of

  • the second Newspoll on Monday with a 46/54 TPP for the Coalition;
  • a special Newspoll showing only 63% believe renewable energy subsidies should be continued and only 58% are prepared to pay more (wouldn’t one have expected a higher proportion favouring continued subsidies to help keep prices down?); and
  • a draft report by the ACCC showing that average household electricity prices have increased by 43.7% in real terms since 2007-08 and suggesting that climate policies were responsible for only a small proportion of the increases. The production of this report comes as the result of the Treasurer’s request to ACCC head Sims, almost certainly at the instigation of Turnbull. No explanation has been given by Sims as to why, as supervisor of uncompetitive practices, the ACCC did not make an inquiry much earlier. Yet  the draft report now says that “it is clear that market concentration overall, and the very high market shares of particular generation businesses in some NEM regions, is a risk to wholesale prices”.  Reading the Media Release by the ACCC (see ACCC Report Media Release) suggests that it has been hastily put together by Sims’s own hand.

Note in particular that it says “We will provide recommendations for reform in our final report, which will be provided to the Treasurer in June 2018,” Mr Sims said. The implication is that it would be premature to launch a new energy policy now.

The truth is that the ACCC report is written as a cover for the main real causes of the electricity price increase. In his article today, Terry McCrann rightly says “There is one overriding reason for the soaring power prices: the forced use of ever more renewables and the way this forced use of especially wind has impacted so negatively on both generation and retail prices” (see McCrann on Cause of Increased Prices). It will be recalled that McCrann described Abbott’s analysis in his London address as “seminal”.

McCrann provides one test. A second – and in some ways more important – is John Stone’s OpEd article in today’s Australian (see Stone on GW et al). In particular, Stone draws attention to the references in Abbott’s address to how it

frames that quasi-religious phenomenon within “the broader struggle for practical wisdom … across the Western world” — a struggle that could have us “entering a period of national and civilisational decline”. For “civilisational self-doubt is everywhere” in the Western world: “We believe in everyone but ourselves; and everything is taken seriously except that which used to be.” (Does “marriage” come to mind?) “Far from becoming universal” after the failure of the Marxist folly, “Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself”. While “climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom … only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia … could have made such a religion out of it.

Stone’s conclusion on the address is

“Make no mistake: it will ring around the world, and is already doing so. A (real) political leader, someone of stature domestically and internationally, has pointed to the global warming alarmists and declared that, like the emperor, they have no clothes”. “Beware the pronouncement ‘the science is settled’ … the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages”.

In last Thursday’s Commentary I drew attention to the description of Abbott’s address by Ken Haapala (the scientist President of the US SEPP group) as “one of the best talks given by a politician in decades”. In the weekly newsletter TWTW which the SEPP group widely circulates, the President publishes the sections from the address as the lead item viz

Challenging Green: “In his speech, Abbott challenged the false “climate consensus” and false belief accompanying it that solar and wind power can replace fossil fuels for reliable electrical power generation. Abbott’s speech indicates he now understands the delicate balance required to keep the grid operating. [As explained in previous TWTWs, the electrical grid can be looked upon as an energized system serving all on it, but owned by no one. Utilities may own lines, poles, etc.; but, not the energized system. To function, the grid requires stability, consumers require reliability on demand, and it is the responsibility of the grid operator to balance electrical generation with demand, within a narrow range of error.] In his speech, Abbott brings up many of the weaknesses of the global warming “consensus”.

There would be few, if any, leading politicians who have been “lead” quoted in such a scientific analysis produced in the US for many years, let alone one from Australia. The UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation where Abbott made his address has also made it a lead item in its newsletter, along with John Stone’s article (a copy of which it appears to have obtained before The Australian’s version appeared here!).

Meanwhile, we await the new policy to see whether it measures up to the standard set by Abbott and what the political repercussions might be.

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