MUNGO MACCALLUM. Angus Taylor’s thought bubbles: from the second rate to the already discredited

Our current government has become inordinately keen on producing road maps, and its most recent cartographer is our constantly embarrassed and embarrassing energy minister, Angus Taylor.

Taylor’s hand picked team in the draft room has developed yet another version of what he misleadingly calls an emission reducing strategy, but which even he quietly admits is actually a formula – or at least a cloud of thought bubbles – aimed at shutting up the activists while not seriously affecting the economy, by which he means no new taxes.

Instead he will rely on technology, which he apparently believes comes at absolutely no cost. Our innovative minister has just invented the free lunch.

As you would expect from Taylor and his motley collection of bureaucrats and rent seekers, the result is a grab bag of possible solutions ranging from the second rate to the already discredited. In the first category comes a reliance on gas as a stop-gap measure until renewables take over, and in the last soil technology and carbon capture, which have both already received lavish government funding with no discernible outcome.

And of course there is the obligatory nod to nuclear power, as unrealistic as the crusade by the zealots has always been. At least the madness of funding a new coal-fired power station in the north, as demanded by the Queensland mafia, has been quietly shelved – well, for the moment.

Hydroelectricity and battery storage – Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.1 – get favourable mentions, but there will be no real money for the established renewables – solar and wind, which we are told can now stand on their own feet. There are a couple of encouraging signals for electric vehicles (but not for a while) and hydrogen power, the only idea that seems to be taken at all seriously.

But the real, the proven solution for reducing emissions is not even on the table. Any hint of emissions trading, as it is now being re-embraced in most other parts of the civilized world, is anathema to Taylor and his party of denialists. This is right outside his road map, indeed outside his chart of the known world. Here be dragons.

Last week’s announcement was not even a real road map – others described it as a discussion paper for a road map, barely a glint in the Cabinet’s eye. And like most of the wizard wheezes devised by Scott Morrison and his bumbling bunch of ditherers, it is not about policy, but about options: we’re certainly not committing to anything, but we are letting you know that we are thinking about this and when we get round to doing something about it, in due course, we will probably let you know.

That is, if we can find someone to tell us the date. Taylor’s press handout was marked 21 June – premature certainly, but perhaps looking forward to Midwinter Eve – the shortest and bleakest day of the year. Maybe he has the idea is that it can only get better from here. Or maybe he needs not only a road map, but a calendar.

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Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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8 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. Angus Taylor’s thought bubbles: from the second rate to the already discredited

  1. Avatar Ed Cory says:

    It is pretty evident that intelligence is not one of the criteria for a Rhodes Scholarship, and hopefully there are many of his fellow recipients cringing at being associated with this embarrassing performance. For the critics of that institution, this is a masterclass, nearing Abbottonian heights.

    For those of us who just want good public policy, we can only despair.

  2. Avatar Philip Ludington says:

    “Taylor’s press handout was marked 21 June ” Either that’s what the Sydney City Council website said it was OR the press release, along with the ideas, is the same one that they have been recycling for years – its just that the young liberal/IPA intern in our hero’s office didn’t check before the release… as usual.

  3. Avatar Gerald Lynch says:

    Although the Minister probably had more antiquated technology in “mind”, perhaps it is time to seriously reconsider nuclear power in the new/old rediscovered form of molten salt reactors. ANSTO seems to be toying at the edges of this and there’s a lot of work proceeding overseas which looks promising in several aspects, particularly safety, scale and ability to reuse waste from existing stockpiles. Not practical yet perhaps but not something we should dismiss out of hand. The other technology which seems to have slipped past the radar of the Minister is geo-thermal which at one point was seen as possibly saving us all because of apparently huge resources in this country. What happened to that? Did it all cool down?

  4. Avatar Ken Dyer says:

    As Penny Wong said, “This is the 19th “policy” document by the Coalition Government. The 2008 CPRS White paper remains the benchmark about what should be done.

  5. Avatar Stephen Saunders says:

    Even NineFax temporarily suspended the Hartcher billets-doux to Morrison, for Crowe to detonate this one. Yes, it is rather like shooting fish in a barrel.

    The market’s decided on renewables, while our “let the market decide” government trots out gas and carbon-capture. Dreaming ’bout that Bakken Shale.

  6. Avatar Barry Reynolds says:

    How this jock strap skid mark remains a minister has got me buggered.

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