For Now Dutton Stays Loyal to Turnbull, But …
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.
The outstanding question is whether Turnbull’s responses to the critiques of (in particular) NEG are being accepted as providing satisfactory answers. If not, then Dutton and one or two others could resign from being ministers and, with at least 10 rebels also, Turnbull would be in a position from which he would find it virtually impossible to govern.
Reports indicate that, in addition to Turnbull’s initial “concession” of removing any legislative requirement to reduce emissions by 26% by 2030 (but retain it as a policy), he may be developing a scheme or schemes which would supplement what is in the draft NEG legislation. Astonishingly, that legislation has only been released to Labor and this was done last Wednesday.
As mentioned in yesterday’s Commentary, the main supplementary focus is on controlling prices. As shown in the graph attached to my last Commentary, there has already been a further doubling or trebling since 2011 under policies which would be adopted under NEG. But (importantly) the Turnbull/Frydenberg clique, now supplemented with help from Treasurer Scott Morrison, would need to show how their frequent promises to get lower prices under NEG could be achieved.
In reality, in what is a powerful critique of Turnbull’s policies generally, Terry McCrann’s analysis below suggests that under NEG it is virtually impossible to deliver lower prices. He points out that, to meet the additional renewable target, there will need to be considerable additional investment in generation backups to cover the periods when the wind doesn’t blow. That in turn must add to generation costs, including for the renewable certificates which have to be purchased by retailers. Unless some method of hiding the adverse effects on the Budget, prices paid by consumers would increase further.
Comments by climate expert Alan Moran (see Moran on Turnbull) also suggests that
“To rescue the situation, Turnbull is pretending to focus on prices saying “If we need to use a big stick to lower prices, we will use a big stick to lower prices”. He says he will place the policy changes within the regulations rather than the legislation itself, a measure that will further allow for the flexibility the NEG was supposed to counter. And he is now requiring regulators and the ACCC to publish the price consequences of any higher emissions target. This is utter fraud since, as we can see from countless previous modelling outcomes, the answers provided are what those paying for the model runs want, irrespective of how detached from reality these answers may be”.
It is moot as to how much longer rebels within the Coalition can wait for Turnbull to produce any meaningful answers to existing critiques. The answers so far have added to the opposition from within particularly as they come on top of dissatisfaction with his handling of other policy areas.