No, Scotty, gas did not choose itself. You chose it.

Sep 22, 2020

Morrison claimed that ‘gas chose itself’ to replace the Liddell power station. No, be honest Scotty, you and your mates chose gas.

ABC’s Insiders program on 20 September 2020, at 8 minutes 40 seconds:

David Speers: ‘So, when the Liddell coal fired power station closes in 2023 or before, does it have to be gas that replaces it?’

Scott Morrison: ‘Well, gas has chosen itself.’

This is a classic trick straight from the Maggie ‘There-is-no-alternative’ Thatcher playbook. Cover up the political choice you have made by presenting it as a given fact that didn’t, indeed couldn’t possibly, involve any choice at all. A fait accompli – like not being able to choose whether the sun would rise today.

But most situations in politics, business and life in general involve a conscious choice. It isn’t even governments or companies that make decisions. It’s individuals within them that make decisions.

Churchill could have decided that the British Army would surrender in France in May 1940. Kennedy could have decided to invest US$250 billion in civil rights rather than putting Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon. Howard could have decided to say ‘Sorry’ and Rudd could have decided not to. Rio Tinto didn’t decide to blow up the Juukan Gorge rock shelter; one or more Rio executives made that decision. In the case of gas, Morrison and his cronies within and outside government made that decision.

Under questioning from Speers, Morrison then went on to suggest that it didn’t have to be gas provided someone could suggest an alternative that met the government’s criteria. Bearing in mind that I’m no energy expert, the criteria Morrison outlined – reliability, affordable, meets the challenges presented with the closure of Liddell, provides about 250 MW (not 1,000 by Sunday, note), and approved and built in time – seem to open up other possibilities. Whether this represents a considered change of priorities within the government or whether it was simply Morrison scrambling to sound plausible on TV, we’ll probably never know.

But what Morrison’s comments emphasise is that decisions about Australia’s future power supplies involve choices between alternatives and it is individuals, not as he deceptively claimed ‘gas’, that have chosen gas.

There  are alternatives, Prime Minister. Plenty in fact and humans will make the choices.

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