JOHN MENADUE. Malcolm Turnbull – the last straw on climate change and renewables.

Sep 30, 2016


Let’s be clear. All the experts tell us that the power blackout in SA had nothing to do with the energy mix – coal, gas, solar or wind. They all tell us that the blackout was due to the collapse of the key distribution towers and lines.

Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull blamed the blackout on excessive haste with renewables and called for cuts in renewable energy targets.  It was part of a continuing war  by the coalition against renewable energy with the ABC now joining in. The Victorian Premier called Malcolm Turnbull’s comments ‘ignorant rubbish’.

With his populist nonsense  Malcolm Turnbull finally and fully embraced the coal lobby. He has taken the final step from a believer in climate change to a sceptic.

In his uninformed political response, he joined political populists like Josh Frydenberg, Barnaby Joyce, Chris Uhlmann and Nick Xenophon. The latter has finally crossed the line in popularism into a crazy world.

Step by step Malcolm Turnbull has walked away from what we thought was his acceptance of the science of climate change. It is a sorry story. Since becoming Prime Minister he has

  • Approved the giant $16 billion Carmichael mine in Queensland. He told us that ‘coal is good for humanity’.
  • In the last budget he continued the $7 million fossil fuel subsidy.
  • Removed funding from Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency.
  • Slammed the door on renewable energy innovation.
  • Slashed CSIRO’s budget with no money for CSIRO’s climate impact research.

The scale of the retreat can be judged by what Malcolm Turnbull said on climate change in his blog on 7 December 2009, after he was dumped as Leader of the Liberal Party,

‘So, as a humble back-bencher I am sure he [Tony Abbott] won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into. 

To replace dirty coal-fired power stations with cleaner gas-fired ones, or renewables like wind, let alone nuclear power or even coal-fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money. 

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money. Somebody has to pay. 

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott “bullshit”. Moreover he knows it. 

It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. 

As we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job, do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human-caused global warning. 

As Tony observed on one occasion “Climate change is crap”, or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling, and the climate change issue is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world. 

The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is “crap” and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental fig leaf to cover a determination to do nothing. 

Tony himself has in just four or five months publicly advocated the blocking of the Emissions Trading System, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS, and if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it.

We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted. ‘ 

Who can be trusted now?

 It’s a sorry story of retreat. We have seen the same pattern on climate change, same-sex marriage and refugees.

As a senior Liberal said to me several years ago ‘Malcolm is never there when you need him’.

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