Flat White

Black gold

3 February 2017

12:03 PM

3 February 2017

12:03 PM

Last Wednesday, attentive readers may recall, Prime Minister Turnbull gave a Press Club presentation designed to re-start his government. It then got drowned in the flood of media about the deal with the US over boat people and Turnbull’s very generous donation to the Liberal party.

In the speech, nonetheless, was an initiative that could well go places. Turnbull said he wants to put more coal into the Australian future energy mix. It is, of course, absurd, that it was ever taken out, by a country exporting it at world record rates.

When I lived in New South Wales I could see from my dining room up to fifty coal ships queuing for loading at Newcastle. The coal sat in a pile where it had been trained down from the Hunter Valley. The bottleneck was only the loading capacity.

I now live in a state, South Australia, where the large coal fired generator was blown up last year and our very expensive and unreliable electricity is increasingly reliant on the sun’s rays and sea breezes.

Somewhere else, someone is using coal from Australia to generate cheap electricity and make cheap goods with which we cannot compete. And we are, of course, de-industrialising and paying for our power through the nose.

The warmist philosophy which has driven us to this over the last decade has Turnbull, of course, as a fully paid up member. But he said that coal was back in the mix! Perhaps he noticed that Trump was on to that too. Shortly, it may be only us and EU sticking with the warmist nonsense, since the US will be out and the other big emitters will be exempt.

The re-adoption of coal as an energy source could yet save him.

But one thought bubble in one speech will not, alone, do the job. Ideally the Libs should dump whatever their RET is now and use Trump as much of the excuse since he is pledged to not ratify the Paris Agreement and to re-open US coal mines.

The Liberals could then put out a load of figures showing the extreme price and reliability problems caused by the current warmist energy policy, and how it’s getting worse.

This would need to be coordinated with Liberal state parties – that could well be a first – and show how they would move policy settings to ensure reliable and cheap electricity, especially in South Australia and Victoria.

The Liberals would also need to make very clear the very high cost of pursuing the present RET for 2020 and Labor’s even worse RET at 50 per cent for 2030. They would also need to itemize what new technologies, particularly with coal, are now on offer and their precise projected impact on price and emissions.

And – this is the bit which Turnbull doesn’t think to do because he thinks he is not a political ‘hack’ – this all needs to be written down carefully, agreed to, and repeated by every Liberal minister, backbencher, operative, supporter, blogger, Facebooker, Twitterer and e-mailer, for the next six months.

Then do an evaluation.

One speech does not a summer make.

Bob Catley, who was a professor and federal Labor MP, now sails quite a lot.

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