Energy and the inertia of Malcolm


In 2014, Tony Abbott (ridiculously) said, “coal was good for humanity.” Scott Morrison earlier this year (childishly) brought a big black lump of coal into parliament for show-and-tell.  Weird.

In July, PM Turnbull – who ironically lost his opposition leadership because of his advocacy for renewables – did a flip-flop and labelled opponents of coal as “delusional”. That’s confusing.

He’s also flouting the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s energy review recommendation for a Clean Energy Target. That’s seems pretty silly too.

And last week he was leaning on the AGL boss to delay closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station in New South Wales. To which the AGL chief executive tweeted, “Keeping old coal plants open won’t deliver the reliable, affordable energy our customer’s need.” Awkward.

Canberra has become a bizarre circus of contrariness and contradiction when it comes to energy policy. It’s left the nation devoid of meaningful or realistic energy policy and the public is paying the price. Literally.

I’m fed up. Even the energy producers are screaming out for clear policy that will trigger the investment they want to make in renewables. They welcomed the Finkel review. The boss of the biggest electricity generator said, “the Clean Energy Target provides a realistic framework for investment”.

So get on with it!

This week marks the second anniversary of Malcolm Turnbull’s second coming. One can’t be blamed for feeling a bit ripped off. We didn’t get the leadership we thought we would – in energy or in a whole range of other policy areas.

Turnbull keeps talking about, “the security of the electricity grid.” But the grid is in such a flaky state precisely because of the Coalition’s inertia.

Given the lengthy lead-time required to build energy capacity, it looks like we’ll have years of rising energy prices and several summers prone to blackout.

Australia’s energy crisis has more to do with internal Coalition politics rather than the inability of clean renewable energy to do the job. Malcolm’s in the middle and he’s snookered.

Please Malcolm. Some time very soon, the nation would like you to come up with a long-term energy policy. Make sure it’s clean. Just stare down those in your party with a deep affection for coal.

It really shouldn’t be this hard.