While Morrison says he will not attempt an early election, the New Year is seeing the re- emergence of debate on issues such as border controls. It is pointed out that, while “Labor softened its asylum-seeker policy at its national conference last month by formally endorsing doctor-ordered medical evacuations off Manus Island and Nauru, it remains committed to boat turnbacks when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement.” But Morrison claims “they will abolish temporary protections visas and last year voted to end offshore processing as we know it in the parliament. And they had no clue what they had done’’
Comments now emanating from the PM and Treasurer are alarming. They imply that the Coalition is following a line that is not dissimilar to that adopted by Turnbull and most of the ministers he appointed (some of which have in fact been re-appointed by Morrison). It would not be surprising if Turnbull himself has been consulted on some issues which have emerged since he lost his PM position (Morrison indicated last week that he had been speaking to Turnbull “pretty frequently”). True, some have responded well to Morrison’s more acceptable mannerisms than those attributed to Turnbull, but what counts is the substance of decision-making.
In yesterday’s editorial The Australian concluded by saying that “at some stage we need a serious debate about what we are doing and why” on energy policy (see OZ Editorial on Energy Policy, 12/9). Also yesterday Morrison answered Shorten’s question in the House about why Turnbull has been sacked by telling him to “get over it”. But he is the one who needs to “get over it” – the “it” being Turnbull, who is reportedly still busy from New York telling colleagues to have Dutton’s eligibility to be a minister tested in the High Court. Morrison had no real option but to reject this proposal.
Today’s Media has published two damming criticisms of government policy on global warming and, in particular, its predictions that NEG will result in falls in power prices. These come after yesterday morning’s seemingly desperate attempt by Frydenberg to support NEG including by his astonishing recourse to “experts” picked by Turnbull and himself viz “we are absolutely confident that prices will come down because that’s the best advice of the Energy Security Board which represents the best experts in the field … This is no subsidies. No taxes. No trading schemes. No carbon price”. It’s using existing market mechanisms involving “contracts exchanged for physical electricity”. One pertinent comment I received (from a different expert) is that NEG is similar to a plan by Lenin!
The week-end’s Media assessment of Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee (NEG) is generally favourable, but withTerry McCrann predicting an extremely unfavourable outcome for the Coalition viz “Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The rest of the joint party room voted to endorse the decision, an indeterminate number of Liberal and National members voting for an early retirement. This is the irresistible and even more the irredeemable political consequence of the Turnbull-Frydenberg decision to opt for a policy of (only trying) “to keep the lights on” over a policy of significantly and quickly cutting both electricity and gas prices. Far less, the third, but first-best, option — the option, begging to be embraced by a half-rational government that had the most minimalist understanding of political dynamics — of aggressively aiming to deliver both more and more reliable power and cheaper and sustainably cheaper power”.
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).