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July 04th 2018 print

Tony Abbott

NEG: ‘The Government is Kidding Us’

From last night's address: 'A government that can build Snowy 2.0, to provide high-cost firming capacity, but can’t or won’t build Hazelwood 2.0 to provide low-cost baseload power for the next half century -- and keep the market honest -- has a consistency deficit'

burning turbineIt takes character to do what’s right and it takes courage to disagree with your peers. On this score, Bob Carter was a good and brave man whose memory we should honour and whose example we should strive to emulate. As Professor Carter found, and later his James Cook University colleague, Peter Ridd also, this is an age that enthusiastically promotes social diversity but often demands intellectual conformity. Both never let the desire for status impede the search for truth.

As Bob told MPs in 2015, “science does not operate by consensus….it is often best progressed by mavericks”. And as he pointed out in his book, Climate: The Counter Consensus, sometimes, we need to “trust authority less and our own brains more”. What could be a more fitting occasion for scepticism about green religion and its policy ramifications than an address in Professor Carter’s honour?

In Roman times, grapes were grown in northern England. In the middle ages, crops were grown in Greenland. And in the 17th century, ice fairs were held in London on the frozen River Thames. So climate change is real alright. For me, the issue has always been: what role does man play, is carbon dioxide the key climate factor, and what might best be done to deal with it?

In government, I thought that we should be prepared to pay up to a billion dollars a year to cut emissions, through the taxpayer-funded emissions reduction fund. I never thought that we should have to pay the $10 billion or so that Labor collected through the carbon tax. That’s why my government abolished it and in so doing delivered an immediate cut in electricity bills of 10 per cent. My government set a 2030 emissions reduction target on the basis that this was more-or-less what could be achieved without new government programmes and without new costs on the economy.

There was no advice then to the effect that it would take a Clean Energy Target or a National Energy Guarantee to get there. Our intention, then, was to monitor developments; and, in the meantime, to rely on market forces to make energy use efficient, and on the emissions reduction fund to keep overall emissions heading down at the lowest possible cost.

My government never put emissions reduction ahead of the wellbeing of families and the prosperity of industries. As I’ve said all along, you don’t improve the environment by damaging the economy.

I have never thought that reducing emissions should be a fundamental goal of policy, just something that’s worth doing if the cost is modest.

I have never thought that climate change was, to quote Kevin Rudd, the “great moral challenge of our generation”.

It was an issue, that’s all, and – at least on the actual changes we’ve so far seen – not a very significant one compared to man’s inhumanity to man; maintaining and improving living standards; and even to many other environmental issues such as degraded bush and waterways, particulate pollution, water quality in the Third World, deforestation, and urban overcrowding.

After all, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, from roughly 300 to 400 parts per million over the last century, has not had dramatic consequences. Storms are not more severe; droughts are not more prolonged; floods are not greater; and fires are not more intense than a century ago – despite hyperventilating reportage and over-the-top claims from Green politicians. Sea levels have hardly risen and temperatures are still below those of the medieval warm period. Over time, temperature change seems to correlate rather more with sun spot activity than with carbon dioxide levels.

And even if carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring trace gas that’s necessary for life, really is the main climate change villain, Australia’s contribution to mankind’s emissions is scarcely more than one per cent.

Of course, we should treat the planet with respect, as it’s the only one we’ve got. But it would the height of folly to suppress living standards, to shrink industries and to drive jobs (and their emissions) offshore…for what was merely a moral gesture.

Yes, egged on by media scare stories and attention-seeking academics, the public are inclined to believe that something is happening to climate…and that something needs to be done – but our children won’t thank us when their power bills keep soaring and their jobs keep going offshore in a futile bid to make the world imperceptibly cooler for our grandchildren.

There have been four big developments since my time as PM.

  • Post the carbon tax repeal, power prices have quickly resumed their inexorable rise, and have now doubled in a decade.
  • Gas prices have increased almost as much and – with too much of our gas under export contract and green bans on new exploration and extraction – that’s made the power squeeze worse.
  • Selective blackouts have become relatively common, with most of South Australia going dark for 24 hours because the wind blew too hard and the interconnector went down.

This bitter experience of expensive-and-unreliable power driving out of the system cheap-and-reliable power, and making it dangerously unstable, had it occurred earlier, would have made the Renewable Energy Target much more renegotiable – perhaps to the point of abolishing all subsidies for new wind farms.

  • And fourth, the biggest change, America has withdrawn from the Paris agreement.

When the world’s leading country withdraws, it can hardly be business as usual. Our 2015 target, after all, was set on the basis that the agreement would be “applicable to all…parties”.

Absent America, my government would not have signed up to the Paris treaty, certainly not with the current target.

What wasn’t widely grasped, even then, is the impact of emissions policy on economic outcomes. Reducing emissions may or may not change the climate ever-so-slightly decades hence, but it sure has consequences for the way we live now. Sure, we can substantially reduce emissions, but if we do, we can’t expect power prices not to rise and we can’t expect energy intensive industries not to close. Sure, we can favour renewable energy – but don’t expect energy that’s cheap while it’s there not to drive out energy that’s there all the time…unless a strong reliability requirement is placed on it.

As the business leaders in Canberra last week to discuss energy policy made crystal clear, we cannot go on as we are.

A few weeks back, high demand on cold days, next-to-no renewable energy, and planned and unplanned outages in ageing NSW power plants meant that the wholesale power price spiked to $14,000 a megawatt-hour and the Tomago aluminium smelter was forced to stop three times in a week.

As the Tomago head said, you can’t run a smelter on weather dependent power, and you can’t run one on base-load gas either because it’s too expensive.

But this is our future – under the National Energy Guarantee – because the emissions reduction requirement means more wind and less coal; and the reliability requirement means more gas and more “demand management”.

This is the predicament we’re in because successive governments have claimed to help the planet by subsidising renewable energy and by imposing emissions reduction targets.

So now we want even more renewable energy – up from 23 per cent to perhaps 36; as well as even higher emissions reduction targets.

Isn’t one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

One of the most important laws of politics is: beware the unintended consequences of what seems-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time.

I’m not sure that the Howard government fully anticipated where the renewable energy target would lead when it first made the decision to impose one.

I certainly didn’t anticipate, as prime minister, how the aspirational targets we agreed to at Paris would, in different hands, become binding commitments.

I didn’t anticipate how agreeing to emissions that were 26 per cent lower in 2030 than in 2005 would subsequently become a linear progression of roughly equal cuts every year over the next decade.

But now that we are more alive to all the consequences of combining energy policy with emissions policy – and now that we do understand that this will define our economy for decades to come – there is no excuse for getting it wrong again.

If we surrender our main comparative economic advantage, cheap power, in what turns out to be a mere gesture because total emissions keep increasing and other countries have either made no commitments to cuts or don’t keep them – future generations will judge this one very harshly indeed.

If the country with the world’s largest readily available reserves of coal, gas and uranium continues to inflict on itself some of the world’s highest power prices, future generations will surely shake their heads in perplexity at such deliberate self-harm.

Now, I can understand why the government would like to crack the so-called trilemma of keeping the lights on, getting power prices down and reducing emissions in line with our Paris targets – it’s just that there’s no plausible evidence all three can be done at the same time. If you read the National Energy Guarantee documentation, there’s a few lines about lower prices, a few pages about maintaining supply, and page after impenetrable page about reducing emissions.

The government is kidding us when it says that it’s all about reducing price when there’s an emissions reduction target plus a reliability target but no price target.

It’s a telling indicator of priorities that the official design document recommends a $10 million maximum fine for failing to maintain reliability requirements but a $100 million maximum fine for failing to maintain emissions reduction requirements.

To the designers of this policy, over-emitting – that no one will even notice – is apparently ten times more serious than causing blackouts that could plunge a whole state into darkness!

All the National Energy Guarantee claims to do to reduce prices is “provide investment certainty” – because this, supposedly, will mean more investment, more competition and lower prices. But each year, generators will have to lower their emissions, and not increase their emissions intensity – and that favours all forms of power generation except the cheapest, namely coal. The reliability requirement might keep coal in for a time – but the emissions reduction requirement will mean that coal keeps shrinking while wind and gas keep expanding.

On my reading, the only certainty that the National Energy Guarantee-as-it-stands would provide is the certainty of emissions reduction.

Each year, providers will be required to reduce emissions by a set amount and to meet reliability standards through a complex web of contracts between providers and big consumers monitored by the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Energy Security Board.

There is a “Procurer of Last Resort” who’s supposed to access “Reliability and Emergency Reserve Traders”, but it’s far from clear who, exactly, will ultimately be responsible for providing the power for this market to operate – as opposed to forecasting, measuring, monitoring and policing the power that this heavily corrupted “market” is supposed to allocate.

The National Energy Guarantee is not a carbon tax, its proponent say, but it is a system of compulsory carbon constraint with heavy penalties for non-compliance – and the emissions accounting, reporting and compliance procedures bear an uncanny resemblance to the tax regime, complete with infringement notices that the Australian Energy Regulator can issue to people who have “the option of paying a penalty in full without there being an admission of breach”.

The government says that it’s technology-agnostic – but clearly investing $12 billion in Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro, plus billions more into sundry renewable grants and loans is bias against coal.

The government says that it wants the electricity market to work – but plainly it didn’t trust the market to deliver pumped hydro and has spent massively to make it part of the system.

The government says that it wants to deliver certainty but the only certainty is that any National Energy Guarantee that’s approved by the state Labor premiers at COAG will be massively ramped up to deliver even more emissions reduction under the next Labor government.

After the Prime Minister and ministers spent months quite rightly attacking the Labor Party for plunging South Australia into darkness with a 50 per cent renewable energy target, it’s remarkable that the government now wants an energy policy that’s acceptable to the state Labor premiers — and is so keen for a deal that the party room will be expected to endorse whatever emerges from COAG.

The National Energy Guarantee can be improved: if it had a price target as well as an emissions reduction target; if the emission reduction trajectory was back-loaded – as MPs were told it would be; and if the guarantee of keeping the lights on didn’t involve making people switch them off.

It is bordering on bizarre that a country which is a source of energy security to others is now envisaging power rationing – not as a rare and unfortunate aberration – but as an accepted part of what’s supposed to be an energy guarantee.

So, really, the only way to make the proposed new system affordable and reliable is to supplement it with guaranteed baseload power.

As the thousand-plus new coal-fired plants opening in Asia and in Germany testify, coal remains the cheapest form of reliable power, but the capital cost of a new plant means that no business will touch one because of political risk. This is not market failure but regulatory failure – and because government is the only entity that faces no political risk and little market risk, the government shouldn’t palm off to the market fixing the problem that governments have created.

A good start to real change would be to threaten compulsory acquisition of the Liddell coal-fired power station so that it can be kept running until new high-efficiency, low emissions plants are brought on line. The now-federal-government-owned Snowy already runs gas-fired power plants as well as hydro ones, so there’s no reason why it couldn’t add to its thermal capacity by building some coal-fired plants to guarantee supply and to drive down price. An alternative might be to go the market seeking the best bids for the provision of 2000 megawatts of 24/7 baseload power for the next 30 years, with the government bearing any carbon price risk.

But, one way or another, it will be up to the government – this federal government – to make sure that old coal fired power stays in the system and that new baseload power comes in to replace it.

A government that can build Snowy 2.0, to provide high-cost firming capacity, but can’t or won’t build Hazelwood 2.0 to provide low-cost baseload power for the next half century – and keep the market honest – has a consistency deficit. To be consistent with the government’s 2013 mandate, the National Energy Guarantee would need recasting to prioritise affordability and reliability ahead of emissions reduction and supplementing by government-guaranteed provision of baseload power.

These are strange times in Canberra when there’s a hullaballoo over modest tax cuts that only take effect fully in six or seven years’ time; while mandatory emissions cuts that start sooner, that mean more for the economy, and whose ramifications will be virtually impossible to reverse are expected more or less to be waved through.

Liddell’s closure in scarcely three years’ time will leave an 850 megawatt reliability gap in the system yet it’s more or less taken for granted that there can be no new coal-fired power stations built now. We’re not just sleep walking towards deindustrialising our economy. We’re jogging towards disaster because no one wants to be the first to say that the emperor has no clothes. As long as we remain in the Paris Agreement – which is about reducing emissions, not building prosperity – all policy touching on emissions will be about their reduction, not our well-being.

It’s the emissions obsession that’s at the heart of our power crisis and it’s this that has to end for our problems to ease.

I know that ignoring international agreements as soon as it’s inconvenient to keep them is not the Australian Way. To our credit, we try to say what we mean, and to do what we say. We’re not like Canada, Germany and the other EU countries which make virtue-signalling climate commitments that they then don’t keep.

When they visited Parliament House the other day, business leaders described Labor’s 45% emissions reduction target as “economy-wrecking”. Even meeting the government’s 26%, they said, would be “challenging”. They all said that they supported the National Energy Guarantee, but what they expect of it is 24/7 availability of despatchable baseload power and internationally competitive prices – while still trying to achieve the Paris targets. Their concern was the economic dislocation already caused by our current climate policy – and, to the extent that they supported the new one, it was as the least bad way to deliver even more emissions reduction while minimising the impact on jobs and growth.

Yet nothing that Australia does to reduce emissions will make the slightest difference to climate, as the Chief Scientist admitted last year.

Of global emissions, China is responsible for 28%, America 15%, Europe 11%, India 7% – and Australia a puny 1.3%.

A 26% cut, to 1.3%, is a statistical blip, so why not scale back our cut to 20%, or to 15%, or to zero; or to whatever would actually be achieved in 2030 through normal business cost cutting and efficiencies plus whatever is delivered through the emissions reduction fund?

Of the four biggest emitters, China and India have made no Paris commitment to reduce their total emissions and America has now pulled out – so when three of the four biggest emitters have no Paris reduction target at all, why should we – especially now that we can start to count the cost…in more expensive cars and in culled herds as well as through more expensive and less reliable power?

Knowing what we know now, we would not have made the Paris agreement. But if we wouldn’t have done it, had we known; we shouldn’t be in it, now that we do.

As things stand, the government has guaranteed – not just promised, guaranteed – that prices will come down, and that the lights will stay on while emissions reductions are achieved. If another government is in office and electricity prices rise or the power fails, most assuredly, it will be this government’s fault because its National Energy Guarantee was supposed to fix everything.

Withdrawing from the Paris agreement that is driving the National Energy Guarantee would be the best way to keep prices down and employment up; and to save our party from a political legacy that could haunt us for the next decade at least. Far from “wrecking the government”, MPs worried about energy policy are trying to save it, with a policy that would be different from Labor’s and would give voters the affordable and reliable power they want.

This the text, slightly edited for online presentation, of Tony Abbott’s Bob Carter Commemorative Address, delivered in Melbourne on the evening of July 3, 2018.

Comments [17]

  1. en passant says:

    In answer to questions Tony quoted our Chief ‘Scientist’ as admitting reducing Oz emissions to zero would have zero effect on global temperatures, yet in conditioned Pavlovian behaviour he continued to repeat the mantra that we should reduce emissions (because it was the right thing to do’). The question that he could not answer (and neither can any pseudo-climate cult scientist, Greenfool or politician is: What is the IDEAL concentration of CO2 that we seek? Like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, we do not know where we are going, so, as the brainless Tinman answered “Then any road will take you there.” So, we currently have no idea what we are trying to achieve, or the CO2 ppm destination we seek to save the world, yet our politicians are willing to destroy Oz sovereignty and our economy to the cheers and laughter of disbelief by the rest of the world?

    the current 404ppm of CO2 we are told by the High Priests of Catastrophe is too high, yet at 280ppm plants cease to grow and propagate so we all starve. So somewhere in the middle must be the CO2 Avalon.

    If anyone tell the world the IDEAL concentration of CO2 – and why, then there is surely a tainted Nobel prize in it for you.

    I researched this subject for two years and concluded that anywhere in the range of 2,000ppm – 4,000ppm was a great improvement with huge benefits and no significant downside – and safe. After all, nuclear armed submarines operate efficiently with CO2 at 8,000ppm and only take action to scrub their breathing air when the level reaches 12,000ppm – so no doubt that retains a fair safety margin.

    • ianl says:

      > ” … So, we currently have no idea what we are trying to achieve, or the CO2 ppm destination we seek to save the world …”

      The stated IPPC “aim” is an increase in global temperature of 1.5C or less. That particular goalpost is moved all the time.

      1) There is no practical hypothesis for determining the atmospheric CO2 level required to achieve this. You are correct in pointing out that this doesn’t even map out the Yellow Brick Road. Try as the activists will, determining the required CO2 concentration is magic, not science;

      2) Measuring “global temperature” is also hopelessly fraught with move-the-goalposts magic. The satellite array went up in 1979 to much acclaim. Much better spatial and temporal coverage was the cry (justified, I contend) … but this technical advance in measurement did not yield the desired temperature increase, so a concerted effort was made to discard it and retreat back to land-based thermometers. The oceans are catastrophically warming was the next alarm but again we had only spasmodic and unreliable measurements of “ships’ buckets” (I kid not) to a depth of a few metres. An array of technically advanced depth buoys, the Argo series, was designed and deployed. These sank to some depth (some up to 1km) and then slowly resurfaced while continuously recording water temperatures. One may have wished for one of these spaced ocean-wide every 5-10km but the Argonauts were a vast improvement … yet again, the results were not according to requirement, so now the only time the Argos are mentioned in public is in some paper attempting to rubbish them. Back to the ships and their shallow buckets;

      3) For about 30 years, we (most geologists) have been saying the things Abbott now says – obviously we had no impact. Nor will Abbott’s speech change anything significant. There is speculation he may cross the floor on the NEG and with only a 1-seat majority, that would have impact. Well, I think he won’t, unless he is totally convinced that the Libs are irretrievably finished with him. Even then, the ALP, or that Bandt creature, may well vote with Waffle for the NEG on the grounds that it’s better than nothing, it will stop the Abbott camp in its’ tracks and it can be amended from the Treasury benches anyway.

  2. Jody says:

    Abbott is hoping to trash Turnbull’s hope at the next election. Right now he’s guaranteeing Labor and 50 renewables in the medium term. Well done Tony. Effective in opposition but pugilistic in government. And finished.

    • Jody says:

      Oh, and signed us up to Paris which he now wants abandoned. What an absolute jerk!!

      • Robinoz says:

        Jody, wouldn’t you prefer a politician – or anyone else for that matter – who makes a decision, even if not based on a deception, who later learns that it was flawed, to overturn it? Or would you prefer he just carry on knowing full well that his earlier decision would lead to catastrophe?

        What would you do?

        • Jody says:

          Not if I was the kind of person who believed he/she was right about everything and lied through my teeth about ‘not sniping’. I say again; ‘an absolute jerk’.

      • mags of Queensland says:

        You really should get your facts straight before writing. The original Paris Agreement signed by Tony Abbott was NOT binding as it had an escape clause which allowed us to opt out if we chose. It was Malcolm Turnbull who made the commitment in 2016, long after Tony Abbott was no longer leader.

        As for trashing Turnbull’s hope of a win at the next election, Malcolm is doing a fine job of that himself and doesn’t need any help from TA. The completely unhinged grovelling to the climate change scam, which does not and will not make any difference to lowering temperatures, is a clear indication that he cares more about his own personal ideology than he does for the welfare of the nation. Those MPs who support this madness are merely seat warmers looking out for number one.

        • Jody says:

          Slip slidin’ away – as the song goes. Abbott did the deal. He started the ball rolling. No amount of casuistry is going to change that fact. “oh, but I didn’t know…”. Uh uh; not going to fly!!

  3. Alice Thermopolis says:

    Qu: “What is the IDEAL concentration of CO2 that we seek?”

    Ans: “The level that maximizes the payment of “climate reparations” – the greatest wealth transfer in history – from the developed to the developing world.”

    When dealing with the smoke/mirrors of domestic/international climate politics, one can lose sight of a key policy driver here.

    The ideology underwriting the UN CC/sustainable development policy/rhetoric is “contraction and convergence”.

    C&C requires that Western economies “shrink” sufficiently to allow developing world to get their “fair share” of a (capped) atmospheric CO2 emission “space”, capped at a level considered “safe” and below current level – or so the UN argument goes.

    Under C&C, for example, Western steel/other industries must “contract” and Chinese/other industries must “expand” until they reach a point of per capita “equality”. Currently assumed to occur around 2030, when China’s vast population is assumed to reach its maximum, at around 1,500 million people.

    Qu: “Why should the West “compensate” countries for their population growth when its population is shrinking”?

    Ans: “Because the West has more money and we want it. We will do anything – promote any nonsense, etc. – to get it.”

    Withdraw from Paris and the whole crazy edifice – designed to deliver a “climate control” caliphate to a vast global virtue-signalling bureaucracy – collapses in a heap.

    That’s why the Foreign Minister spoke out so strongly against Abbott this morning. Paris 2015 is/must be sacrosanct. The political survival/credibility of quite a few folk clearly depends on it.

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has rebuked him, saying Australia “plays by the rules”.

    “If we sign an agreement we stick to the agreement,” Ms Bishop told Sky.

    “Australia wants to be seen as a reliable and trusted global partner — we signed the Paris agreement, we can achieve the targets that we set, and they were deliberately set in a way that we could achieve them,” she said…

    Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraction_and_Convergence

    “Contraction and Convergence (C&C) is a proposed global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. Conceived by the Global Commons Institute [GCI] in the early 1990s, the Contraction and Convergence strategy consists of reducing overall emissions of greenhouse gases to a safe level (contraction), resulting from every country bringing its emissions per capita to a level which is equal for all countries (convergence).

    It is intended to form the basis of an international agreement which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, carbon dioxide being the gas that is primarily responsible for changes in the greenhouse effect on Earth. It is expressed as a simple mathematical formula.”

    Alice

    • mags of Queensland says:

      Julie Bishop couldn’t tell the truth if her life depended on it. She was quite happy to virtually cal TA a liar when it was Malcolm Turnbull and herself who signed our country away. I relish the day when that lying cow loses her position.Malcolm Turnbull has let his animosity to TA to colour all the stupid and costly decisions he has made and refuses to see that his only salvation. There is nothing to distinguish the Co9alition from Labor/Greens and the failures in the polls reflect that – why vote for the copy when you can have the real thing.

  4. Robinoz says:

    Wasn’t it one of the UN’s Lima Agreement objectives to “flatten industry”? It’s working and the global warming deception is very much its ally.

    • Jody says:

      That being the case you can console yourself that you’ve enjoyed the benefits and the legacy of the younger generations’ demands will mean THEIR own reduced standards of living. See if I care!!!

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    Jody

    Most of us care.

  6. Sert says:

    It is an untruth that the lift in electricity prices is largely a result of renewables – they have contributed and one has to separate the amount spent of taxpayers money spent by direct subsidisation. The largest cause of higher electricity prices over the last decade is the gold-plating of the transmission system, and then in the last two years the increase in wholesale prices due to the closure of Northern Power and Hazelwood. Yes I suppose you could blame the closure of those plants on renewables however the greater reason is that they were ageing stations that needed replacing.

    Same with Liddell. It is an old plant which can no longer run anywhere near its full capacity. It needs to be replaced.

    The problem as I see it is that the NSW power plants should never have been privatised and that planning to replace Liddell by a government build and a dedicated coal mine should have begun years ago.

    Governments – both Liberal and Labor – have both been equally irresponsible in not setting aside sufficient capital for this to occur. Instead they have gone for short-term revenue by selling them off. Even before then, they were raiding the profits of these stations and allowing them to run down due to insufficient capital.

    As the years go on people will realise that not only was it a mistake to privatise the power stations but the coal mines which went with them.

    Only five years ago NSW power stations received their coal at cost price. Now that coal is being priced at export and the profits going overseas. We have given away our comparative advantage.

    This is important in another way. In numerous reports comparing coal-fired power vs renewable electricity, costs are significantly affected by whether they use export prices or whether they use cost estimates in the case of a dedicated mine.

    In Qld where there are three mine-mouth operations electricity can be produced at $40MWh and the plants still make a profit.

    In most cases however these reports will use the export price. This is dishonest. If a state government were to build a new coal-fired power plant they should also build a dedicated mine. The coal belongs to the people of NSW and they should have priority to access this resource vs an international coal company.

    There is this unquestioned assumption that the private sector will deliver goods and services at a cheaper price than government. In terms of electricity it has been a disaster. It is something Liberal governments need to face up to and for the people who are likely to lose their jobs if this madness continues (think Tomago and Portland), really have something to answer for. For Labor it is taking the irresponsible position of not replacing them.

    Incompetence is alive and well amongst the three large retailers. Ask anyone who works for them. They are overstaffed and managers are on much more money than what is paid in the public sector. How do they afford this? Well they are making so much money out of generation. It is hardly a perfect market and the imagined effects of a perfect market such as discipline and making wise decisions simply does not exist.

    The other problem is that consumers aren’t these companies’ priority. Profits are. And this is why there is complete silence on the NEG. They make most of their profit on volatility and they are rubbing their hands waiting for Liddell’s closure and the inevitable ups and downs of unreliable renewables. As if they don’t know!

    I hope you are successful Tony Abbott in building new coal fired power stations in NSW and Vic. You are the first person to stand up for the consumer/taxpayer for a very long time. That said the Liberal Party needs to recognise privatisation was a mistake and if new plants are built they need to be kept in government hands along with the capital they need to last a very long time.

  7. Now that I have exhausted my emotional energy arguing the science, then the economics, all to no avail, all I can do now is play the wild card namely, to vote Greens last, Labor second-last, and the Coalition third-last, in the hope that a rabble of rational Independents in both Houses will stop this debacle in its tracks, and I hope that all rational voters will do likewise.