JOHN MENADUE. A little bit of honesty would go a long way in energy policy.

We really do need some honesty from the media on energy policy. The fact is that Coalition policies have failed for at least eight years and are largely responsible for our pending crisis. Media cover-ups for failed Coalition policies will not change that fact.

The newspapers this morning have been screaming about the need for a bipartisan energy policy. The AFR told us ‘Looming energy crisis cries out for bipartisanship’.

What hypocrisy and dishonesty!

The real problem has been the failure of Coalition policies for eight years – whether in Opposition or in Government. The call for bipartisanship is a threadbare cover to hide the failed climate and energy policies of the Coalition, business interests and the fawning corporate media.

The Coalition opposed an emissions trading scheme and a carbon tax. We can all recall the scandalous scare campaigns that Tony Abbott and his colleagues ran on these issues supported strongly by most of the media – particularly the Murdoch media.

In order to win the prime ministership and to retain his position, Malcolm Turnbull abandoned what we thought he believed on climate change and energy policy. Over night he became a strong supporter of coal-fired electricity generation and an opponent of renewable energy.

Failure of Australian policies on energy has been largely due to the Coalition. The ALP has been much more on the right side of history. But the media infers that the ALP is as much to blame as the Coalition.

Take gas policy, which is very much in the news again. At the last federal election in 2016, Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, said

If elected, Labor would follow the lead of other gas-rich nations like the US and Canada, and introduce a Domestic Gas Interest Test for new or significantly expanded natural gas export facilities. The basic idea would be that every time a company wanted to create a new gas project an independent board appointed by the Treasurer would assess what impact it might have on the national interest.

That policy announcement was somewhat tentative, but it did envisage a gas reservation policy. Such gas reservation policies are pursued by every major gas producing nation in the world, including the US, Canada, Indonesia, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Algeria and Malaysia. Unfortunately, Western Australia is the only state in Australia with a gas reservation policy.

We really do need some honesty from the media on energy policy. The fact is that Coalition policies have failed for at least eight years and are largely responsible for our pending crisis. Media cover-ups for failed Coalition policies will not change that fact.

Two years ago in Pearls and Irritations, I wrote an article ‘A rigged gas market’. The economic purists didn’t like it, but it pointed to the pending problems in the gas market. Those problems are dire today.


John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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7 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. A little bit of honesty would go a long way in energy policy.

  1. Avatar John Thompson says:

    I have a major concern that the current government will pressure the states like Victoria that have banned CSG exploration and extraction to lift the ban so that more gas can be provided to this already dysfunctional gas market. Peter Reith, at the behest of the gas companies and their associated exploration companies, has been leading the charge to overturn this ban. (Another retired politician lobbying for yet another industry….)
    The exploration and extraction of gas through fracking and other means is highly problematic in a country where water is so precious. Our groundwater systems which are linked so intricately to our surface water systems (rivers, etc.), are very complex and not well mapped and understood, and we are playing a dangerous game with long term consequences when we interfere with them. Most farmers are well aware of these hazards – though this is another example of the National Party not speaking up on their constituents’ behalf.
    While it may be politically expedient to blame the states for ‘restricting the supply of gas’, it would be a dumb response to let the gas companies increase the supply as it will only mean that more of our gas can be sold overseas at a premium than is currently sold.
    An interesting recent article on the political pressures that can be brought to bear on gas extraction is at

  2. Avatar Julian says:

    Thank you John for another splendid and timely analysis, and little wonder that you upset the “purists” last time.
    I would refer to these coots by an altogether different name.
    In this particular context (but also much wider) is it really too much to ask that the wafflemeister and his team actually do something that benefits Australia and its people – as opposed to the continued benefit that flows to a few privileged insiders – or is that what neoliberalism is really all about ?

  3. Avatar ralph says:

    So true. Under Michael Stutchbury the AFR does nothing much other than the telegraph the latest rent seeking demand from businesses of cheer the LNP. The likes of Peter Hartcher at the SMH simply resort to blaming “the political establishment” which is a sort of “both sides do it” argument. In the same way that whenever an issue has bi-partisan support the media determines that it must, by definition, be good, even when it isn’t. As you pointed out the blame should be sheeted home to the Tony Abbott and the LNP, the Minerals Council of Australia, the IPA, Murdoch media and other hangers on. I mean, Turnbull lost his job as opposition leader because of LNP intransigence.

  4. Avatar BK says:

    I think you are asking a bit too much from the media.
    A good article – thanks

  5. Avatar Philomena Kaarma says:

    Why do we need honesty from the media on the energy policy? I would like to see the government be honest about the energy policy!! This article doesn’t seem to be well thought out.

    • Avatar Malcolm Crout says:

      Did you miss reading the part that the coalition for the past eight years have been dishonest and for almost five of those years they have been in Government? The article links both media and the coalition for being dishonest. I fund it difficult to understand your comment that the article identifies only the media.

  6. Avatar Jaquix says:

    Every word you have written is true! Im sick of the pussyfooting around that the media do, nobody comes out like you have here, and condemns the real culprit for this “crisis”. Malcolm Turnbull suddenly calling it a crisis is rank hypocrisy – when he and his government have done everything they can to stymie the renewable energy sector – and then of course the meeting he is “urgently calling” this week is only of the gas people.

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