On the subject of...

Global Politics

12
Oct
2017

Response to Abbott & US Repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan

As expected, the London address by Abbott has led to many critiques, including some that attempt to present his analysis as ridiculous partly be being selective in quotes. I respond to some of these critiques below. Suffice to say here is that the response so far by Turnbull and Frydenberg is basically limited to saying “well he didn’t say that when he was PM” (see Frydeneberg’s Critique of Abbott). Turnbull has refused to comment on Abbott’s address but has rejected any withdrawal from the Paris agreement (see Turnbull to Stick to Paris) But the responses by some backbenchers indicate that Abbott has stirred the possum –and on more than one tree. He has also reinforced (without actually saying it) the problems with Turnbull. In The Australian, Simon Benson points out that the government led by Turnbull has created a policy vacuum and “when the government does finally dump the CET, Abbott will doubtless be there congratulating them for finally listening to him” (see Benson on Turnbull).
10
Oct
2017

Abbott’s London Address & Turnbull Back-Track

My Commentary yesterday accurately predicted that the scheduled AFR Energy Summit and Abbott’s address in London would spark active discussion on energy policy, which necessarily involves environmental policy too. The address at the AFR Summit by Environment Minister Frydenberg indicates that the Turnbull government seems to have made a start at determining what its policy will be, although even after the many statements that “it’s coming” it seems it will not be finalised until the end of the year.
3
Oct
2017

Las Vegas & Widening of Police Assessments But No Gas Policy

Such details as are available for the Las Vegas killer (causing 59 deaths and 527 injuries) do not suggest he was directly influenced by ISIS, although that body claims responsibility (it obviously suits it to claim responsibility for deaths in the US). However, the killer (Paddock, white) may have been indirectly influenced by that body’s jihadist policy of killing those perceived to be opposed to Islam. For details of Paddock’s life, see Vegas Killer’s Background.
1
Oct
2017

Gas Crisis & Fly Me to the Moon

My Commentary last Thursday 28 Sept questioned whether the “agreement” between Turnbull and three big gas exporters to have the latter supply additional gas domestically has solved the gas crisis. Yesterday the media took up the issue, with an editorial in Weekend Australian suggesting that Turnbull has made “an interim breakthrough this week when Australia’s three big gas exporters agreed to fix the ‘emergency’ shortfall that threatens to send prices soaring and shut down factories. A formal agreement in the coming week with Santos, Origin Energy and Shell appears likely to avert dire shortages next year and in 2019. The deal will avoid the need for the government to impose drastic controls on overseas shipments” (see Oz Editorial on Energy Crisis)
17
Sep
2017

Will Coalition’s TPP Hold?

Federal Parliament does not sit again until 16 Oct (and then only for one week) and I assume there will be a Newspoll tomorrow. With Turnbull’s inability to decide an energy policy and the National Party Conference rejecting a clean energy target and voting to eliminate subsidies for renewable, the Coalition’s TPP is unlikely to increase. Indeed, with the No votes increasing on same sex marriage (but still above 50%), and No voter former PM Howard highlighting Turnbull’s failure before the vote to (at least) publish proposed protection for those opposing official legislation endorsing SS on an on-going basis , these last two weeks are more likely to have produced a fall in the TPP. That would be “exciting”.
15
Sep
2017

Our Power Bills

Today’s Australian says that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 23.5% by 2020 will not be changed as part of what is described as Turnbull’s overhaul of energy policy (see Renewable Energy Target). That target was reduced by Abbott when he was PM and the recent National Party Conference voted to “repudiate the central finding of the Finkel review for a clean energy target and eliminate subsidies for renewable to maximise the difference with Labor over surging power bills”, and hence to reject the Finkel proposed clean energy target of 42% of renewable energy by 2030. However, it appears that the halt to increasing the RET mainly reflects the mounting cost of the subsidies, which ran to a remarkable $2 billion just last year and which may already have reached the point where a continuation of the scheme would exceed the RET target without any new investment. There is a reference in today’s report to the likelihood of allowing more subsidies to those whose projects have not been completed. In other words the taxpayer is handing out money to a badly constructed scheme, not to mention the bad decision to have one at all before properly reviewing the basic need for it.
5
Sep
2017

Federal State Relationships Conference, Aboriginal Policies, NK & Iran, Newspoll Confirms Coalition’s Dire Straits

Since my last Commentary I have attended the Samuel Griffith Conference held in Perth from 25-27 August, where a record attendance of about 250 heardpapers on policies pursued by Federal and State governments and the respective responsibilities assumed by them (and the interpretations of the legal system) on various issues. I also took the opportunity to have a subsequent too-brief holiday with my wife, Felicity, at the highly commended Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort at Shark Bay on the west coast of WA (it operates in a protected area).
7
Aug
2017

Assessing the Polling & Turnbull’s Leadership

My Commentary of 5 August included a section on Coalition Leadership and suggested the basic question that Coalition MPs have to face is whether to continue with Turnbull as leader in the event that Newspoll shows no significant change as Parliament resumes. That in fact is what happened, with the Coalition’s TPP remaining at 47/53 (compared with 50.4 at the July 2016 election) and its Primary Vote remaining at 36 (42.1 at July 2016 election). A glimmer of hope was that Labor’s Primary Vote fell by one percentage point to 36 but this is still equal to the Coalition’s and is higher than its 34.7 at the July 2016 election.
23
Jul
2017

Activism by Turnbull

As I experienced a bout of flu, I have had a “enforced” quiet period for a week (my last Commentary was on Monday 17 July). During that past week, however, it was impossible not to notice Turnbull being unusually active on a number of political fronts attempting to improve the Coalition’s -- and his own-- polling. My conclusion is that any improvement is unlikely: rather the opposite.
13
Jul
2017

Some Puzzles About Energy & Climate Policies AND Turnbull

Today’s Australian reports that, at tomorrow’s meeting with his state counterparts, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will “press his state and territory counterparts to agree to 49 of the 50 recommendations contained in the blueprint for reform handed down by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel last month, arguing that they will inject ‘stability and security’ into the market”. He will also “demand that Victoria and the Northern Territory lift their bans on onshore gas development. However “the meeting will not consider the proposed Clean Energy Target (CET), which is a priority for some states and many in industry, because of Coalition divisions over the policy” (see Finkel Not on Agenda for Meeting with States).