As Parliament left for the six week winter break, major divisions remained within the Coalition on electricity policy, the outcome on which basically depends on what view is taken on climate change. If the view is taken that Australia must significantly reduce emissions of CO2, we will continue to reduce the use of coal to power electricity and instead use the more expensive sources of power which have already caused major increases in electricity prices even though they involve lower or nil emissions. It would also mean an acceptance of a much bigger role of government in the economy, which many see as the real objective.
The debate on energy policy between the Coalition and Labor has seen both up to now adopting the same policy of reducing emissions of CO2 but with Labor supporting a much larger reduction. But we now we see an open split within the Coalition, with Abbott warning that a number may cross the floor and vote against the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In Abbott on NEG he argues that the Turnbull government has conducted a “fundamental failure of process” that has been “stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room”. He argues that the government has spent an “enormous amount of time” negotiating with the crossbench, but warned the backbench was being ignored. “I reckon the government needs to spend a bit more time talking to the backbench. “Yes, the crossbench in the Senate is important. Don’t forget the backbench, because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation”.
I find it surprising that, so far, only three players have acknowledged involvement in the scrabbling (worse than “tampering”) of the ball in the last South African test match. Any of the Australian bowlers who used the scrabbled ball would surely have immediately realised that they were handling a ball that had been scrabbled. At his (incomplete) press conference, David Warner refused to answer questions about whether other players were involved. Darren Lehmann’s decision to resign without holding a press conference meant he did not have any questions posed but he should have known if some form of forbidden activity was being used. The same applies to the CEO of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, who, even if he was told there were only three scrabblers, should have left the question open.
Weekend Australian ran an article by former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, in which, contrary to his usual practice with articles written for the Wall St Journal, he states no outright opinions and suggests no answers because it was “an especially chaotic and jam-packed week” (see attached Rove Asks What is Happening in the US). I have much the same feeling about developments in Australia as well as in the US, both of which leave some important questions outstanding.
Just announced have been some important policy decisions both here and in the US. The US changes are the most important but Shorten’s proposed changes to restore double taxation are of course most significant too (see Shorten’s Tax Breaks). This shows today’s Letters to the Editor , which include one by former Treasury Head, John Stone and are headed“An attack on hard-working savers and job creators”. I envisage that I will include further comments in due course. As to US developments, as Andrew Bolt points out in the attached (see Bolt on Tillerson Dismissal),
So much has been happening since my Commentary last Friday 1 December that it is difficult to sort out what is important and what is not. The surprise improvement in the Coaliton’s polling on 4 December from a negative 45/55 TPP to a negative 47/53 TPP, and in Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating from minus 29 points to minus 25 points, has led some commentators to see this as the start of a recovery for Mr Turnbull (see Crowe on Newspoll). Certainly, by announcing Cabinet approval of the establishment of a Royal Commission into the alleged misconduct of Australia’s banks and other financial services entitiesafter he had previously rejected it on several occasions, Turnbull bought off the threat by a National’s MPto move in Parliament for a public banking inquiry. He also claimed support for the Coalition from the favourable swing of about 12% in Barnaby Joyce’s winning by-election, although he played no part in Joyce’s campaign. And he has been helped by the withdrawal of the threatened resignation by Coalition MP George Christensen (initially kept secret to highlight the “crisis”), who reportedly claimed that Joyce’s win gave the National’s a “reinvigorated leader”.
Turnbull is Finished, But… Today’s media is replite with analyses which, although not actually saying that Turnbull is finished as PM, leave the reader with little else but to conclude that this is the case. Below is a summary of conclusions by several commentators
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.
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).
In my Commentary on Tuesday I drew attention to new reasons for implementing major changes in the Turnbull government’s policies directed at reducing C02 emissions and increasing the usage of renewable.