Last Friday’s Commentary suggested that the latest Coalition’s Newspoll of 47/53 for the third successive time indicated that the Morrison government was still in serious trouble. I suggested that the additional policy decisions announced by Morrison on climate policy would be unlikely to help close the gap. These measures included acceptance of the Paris agreement and an expanded use of renewable through the establishment of the very uneconomic Snowy2.0 and the usage of “big batteries”. Energy Minister Taylor also claimed the new measures would cut energy bills while lowering emissions but this failed to take account of the additional costs from using the Snowy or from back-ups needed when other renewable are not available. I noted that it seemed unlikely that the Energy Minister would be able to reduce electricity prices except through the adoption of a regulatory system which legally limited the maximum price able to be charged by retailers.
In my Commentary for 17 January I noted that “there is no sign yet of a more comprehensive presentation of Coalition policies even though Turnbull has gone”. Recent developments have now raised the question of what Morrison is actually seeking to achieve as leader of the Coalition. For example, his three day visit to Vanuatu and Fiji, accompanied by his wife, and the announcement of financial provisions for extensive infrastructure and other aid have made it appear an important initiative for Australia