As 2018 starts it is pertinent to ask whether we might expect an improved performance by the Turnbull government if it continues during the year. Turnbull himself had an article in Sunday’s Herald Sun and the heading to the article implies he is telling us just that, viz TIME TO FOCUS ON FUTURE (see attached, which I could only obtain digitally by first making a phone call to a technician at Herald Sun HQ as, rather surprisingly, they it did not have it on its web). Turnbull also sent me a message personally yesterday - and others too, presumably! (see My Message From Turnbull & use the right clicks).
In Wednesday’s Commentary I suggested that the explanation given by an “expert” as to how Turnbull’s NEG would work, and how NEG would save $110-115 pa in costs, was incomprehensible. This expert (John Pierce) was making the explanation at Turnbull’s request to a press conference whose attendants included Frydenberg and board members of the recently established Economic Security Board (ESB), and whose role appears to be to ensure the provision of reliable power and the achievement of the emissions reduction target of 26-28% by 2030 (the text of the press conference is now attached to Wednesday’s Commentary on my web and is a “must read”). My guess is that the two ministers put together a group of “experts” as members of the ESB who are sympathetic to the need for government intervention to reduce carbon emissions.
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.
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.
My Commentary on 7 August suggested that the Newspoll on that day (a Coalition’s TPP of 47/53) mainly reflected the policies adopted by Turnbull since he became leader of the Coalition and that, unless there is a change in policies, there could be a further deterioration in its polling. I attached an article by Chris Kenny explaining why most of Turnbull’s policies were inconsistent with supposed Coalition objectives.
In my Commentary last Wednesday I suggested that “it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he [Turnbull] is not a genuine Liberal”.
Today’s poll in Fairfax press shows the Coalition at 46/54 on a TPP basis, the same as in the previous poll, but Abbott is down one point at minus 24% on his net rating and Shorten is at minus 10%. In the Australian, Phillip Hudson notes that Howard had a similar experience after his first two years and suggests that it might help Abbott if he adopted a major reform strategy as Howard did by announcing a risky GST.