Leading article Australia

Turnbull goes Twin Peak crazy

13 April 2019

9:00 AM

13 April 2019

9:00 AM

Former Prime Minister Turnbull is right about one thing: he’s not in politics anymore and he doesn’t have ‘to engage in peak crazy’.  But far from stopping him, this week he had two bites of the cherry going twin peak crazy.

In his attack on the Prime Minister for mocking Labor’s electric car elitism, Mr Turnbull perfectly illustrated it. He was incensed that Mr Morrison had pointed out that the cheapest electric car in Australia (Hyundai Ioniq $44,490)  is nearly four times more expensive than its petrol counterpart (Mitsubishi Mirage $12,250) and doesn’t have the ‘grunt’ to tow a boat, threatening to ‘end the weekend’ for those who like to throw a tinnie on a trailer and go fishing. Such a comment, ‘could only be made by someone who hasn’t driven one’, Mr Turnbull fumed posting a video of a Tesla Model X ($135,390) towing a Qantas Dreamliner, which may be how the Turnbull family likes to unwind but seems unlikely to take off, so to speak, with your average Aussie as a substitute for messing about in a boat.

Mr Turnbull had earlier joined Labor in attacking Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton for having lunch with Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo. Somehow, this was meant to parallel the career-ending behaviour of former Labor Senator ‘Shanghai’ Sam Dastyari, who tried to help Mr Huang avoid the scrutiny of Australia’s intelligence agencies and spouted lines directly contradicting his own party’s defence policy and supporting the line of the Chinese Communist Party after receiving financial assistance from sources linked to the CCP.

It escaped Mr Turnbull’s attention that Mr Dutton had done the exact opposite, not seeking or receiving a renminbi from Chinese communist patsies and denying Mr Huang Australian citizenship because of Asio concerns about his links to the Chinese government. The buck stops with the PM, lectured Mr Turnbull, seemingly forgetting that it was he who was then prime minister, so if anyone had failed to deal with the matter, it was him. More disturbing was the revelation that Mr Huang was a client of a former Howard government minister and well-known lobbyist who then revealed he had another ten Chinese clients with interests in ‘clean’ energy. Red and Green Chinese are not the only foreigners intervening in Australian politics. The shadowy billionaires behind the Sunrise Project, with links to the Clintons, have been using their wealth to try to shut down the coal industry in Australia and to #StopAdani by funding GetUp! to help a host of independents in the election.

Why stop Adani, one of thousands of coal mines around the world, which simply wants to export high quality Australian coal to India and bring the miracle of cheap reliable electricity into the lives of poor Indians? Activists claim coal kills when the real culprit is indoor air pollution, from burning dung, which kills 1.6 million people globally each year.  Women and children, trapped in smoky homes, suffer the most and half of the children who die are under five years old.  But the compassionistas in the political class don’t seem to care.

So, it’s Groundhog Day again for Adani, which started assessing the environmental impact of its proposed mine in 2010. Originally approved by the federal environment minister Greg Hunt in July 2014 the decision was set aside to consider the plight of the ornamental snake and the yakka skink. Hunt approved the mine again in October 2015, pending approval of a groundwater strategy.  Four years later, after the environment department, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia ticked off on it, the mine was again approved. But in Queensland, Labor’s Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch worries that the approval process may have been rushed; after all, the management plan for the black-throated finch is only on its seventh iteration.

An academic at the Institute of Sustainability at UTS argues that the biggest omission in federal Labor’s climate policy is ‘the lack of a plan to keep fossil fuels in the ground,’ but that doesn’t seem to be hindering Labor, any more than the cost to the economy of styming Adani, estimated at close to $4 billion over a decade.

Coal is the nation’s most valuable export, this year worth around $67 billion.  What does that buy?  For starters, the future of the black-throated finch — without the Adani conservation area, its habitat would be destroyed by wild pigs and it would be devoured by feral cats.

Australian mining companies paid more than $30 billion in company tax and royalties in the last year, equivalent to all federal government spending on education. The Institute for Sustainable Futures might like to contemplate its own sustainability in the absence of that revenue.

It’s no surprise that like Kevin Rudd in 2010, Mr Turnbull seems determined to wage a war on his government all the way to polling day, advocating the climate cult economics that were a hallmark of his prime ministership. But for the voters to listen to him — that would be peak crazy.

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