Thursday, July 05, 2018

Turnbull repeating mistakes on energy, says Abbott

Tony Abbott has accused Malcolm Turnbull of trying to repeat his failed 2009 attempt to secure a deal with Labor on an emissions trading scheme, and warned that the government is suffering an “ideological fixation” with reducing carbon emissions.

Delivering his most strident attack to date on his government’s own energy policy, the former prime minister has warned Liberal colleagues they risk a ­repeat of a split that almost ­destroyed the party a decade ago.

Less than four weeks before five critical by-elections, Mr ­Abbott has sought to escalate the internal campaign against the ­national energy guarantee ahead of a pivotal August meeting of COAG in which the government will seek support from Labor states.

“Does the Liberal Party nine years on realise the wheel has turned full circle and we are back to where we were in late 2009, with Malcolm Turnbull trying to do a deal with the Labor Party on emissions reduction,” Mr Abbott told The Australian, ahead of a speech tonight to the climate sceptic-think tank, the Australian Environment Foundation.

“It’s not a circle you can square with the Labor Party … it is a fight that has to be won. There can be no consensus on climate change … you either win or lose … and at the moment we are losing.”

Mr Abbott, who lost the leadership to Mr Turnbull in September 2015, yesterday refused to rule out a second stint as leader, claiming that while it was unlikely he would ever be prime minister again, it was not beyond possibility.

In his first set-piece address on energy, to be delivered tonight in Melbourne, Mr Abbott will prosecute a case against the NEG, describing it as the definition of “insanity” and an impenetrable document that would commit an act of “self-harm” on the country’s economy.

“Now, I can understand why the government would like to crack the so-called trilemma of keeping the lights on, getting power prices down and reducing emissions in line with our Paris targets; it’s just that there’s no plausible evidence all three can be done at the same time,” Mr ­Abbott says in his written speech.

“If you read the national ­energy guarantee documentation, there’s a few lines about lower prices, a few pages about maintaining supply, and page after impenetrable page about reducing emissions. The government is kidding us when it says that it’s all about reducing price when there’s an emissions reduction target and a reliability target but not a price ­target.”

Mr Abbott risks being accused of a naked attempt to destabilise the Prime Minister by invoking the events of 2009, when Mr ­Abbott rolled Mr Turnbull for the Liberal leadership, a move triggered by Mr Turnbull’s support for Labor’s ETS.

Last week Mr Abbott’s call for a special partyroom meeting to discuss the NEG was shut down by Mr Turnbull and failed to get support from colleagues. The majority of Liberal MPs support the policy.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has signalled to conservative MPs beyond Mr Abbott and a ginger group that he was looking at an “add-on” policy to the NEG that would guarantee to put more gas and coal into the energy system.

The political stakes are high for the government with a recent Newspoll conducted for The Australian revealing that Labor was now more trusted to deliver cheaper and more reliable power than the Coalition. Last week the Nationals issued a set of demands to Mr Turnbull including the establishment of a $4 billion-$5bn fund for coal-fired power. A majority of Coalition MPs believe the best course of action would be to deliver the NEG and move on from the energy debate, which could become an electoral liability for the government.

Mr Frydenberg has consistently argued that the NEG is the best solution to a decade-long problem by providing certainty for investment through a technology-neutral policy that allowed for the continuation of coal-fired power, which still provides up to 80 per cent of the national grid’s baseload power in high-demand periods.

Mr Abbott and colleagues including outspoken NSW federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly argue that the NEG is an energy-intensity scheme by another name and will lead to the death of coal-fired power in Australia and what Mr Abbott claims will be “the de-industrialisation” of the country.

“Sure, we can substantially reduce emissions, but if we do we can’t expect power prices not to rise and we can’t expect energy-­intensive industries not to close,” Mr Abbott says in his speech.

“But this is our future — under the national energy guarantee — because the emissions-reduction requirement means more wind and less coal; and the reliability requirement means more gas and more ‘demand management’.

“This is the predicament we’re in because successive governments have tried to save the planet by subsidising renewable energy and by imposing emissions reduction targets. So now we want even more ­renewable energy — up from 23 per cent to perhaps 36; as well as even higher emissions reduction targets.

“Isn’t one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

“If the country with the world’s largest readily available reserves of coal, gas and uranium continues to inflict on itself some of the world’s highest power prices, future generations will surely shake their heads in perplexity at such deliberate self-harm.”

Mr Abbott admits he signed up for the Paris climate change agreement as prime minister, having also brought in the Renewable Energy Target, but claims he had only ever envisaged aspirational goals.

“I certainly didn’t anticipate … how the aspirational targets we agreed to at Paris would, in different hands, become binding commitments,” he says in his written speech. “A government that can build Snowy 2.0, to provide high-cost firming capacity, but can’t or won’t build Hazelwood 2.0 to provide low-cost baseload power for the next half century — and keep the market honest — is suffering from an ideological fixation.”

Mr Abbott says that, given Mr Turnbull and ministers spent months “quite rightly” attacking Labor for plunging South Australia into darkness with a 50 per cent renewable energy target, “it’s remarkable that the government now wants an energy policy that’s acceptable to … Labor premiers; and is so keen for a deal that the partyroom will have to endorse whatever emerges from COAG”.


Far-Left Group Threatens Harassment at Lauren Southern & Molyneux Event

A group made up of far-left ideologues known by their Facebook page name as “Yelling at Racist Dogs” published an image where they threaten harassment at Lauren Southern & Stefan Molyneux Events in Australia.

This group is threatening to abuse, belittle, and intimidate those who chose to attend the event as they walk in. Read the full text below:

"The group also warns that those who attend the event may be “doxxed,” meaning personal and intimate information will be released on the internet. An example of doxxing is to release a person’s personal phone number so they are flooded with harassing and intimidating phone calls, and in worse cases, personal addresses are released so in-person intimidation and violence will take place."

There should be nothing stopping legitimate detractors of the speakers to peacefully assemble and proclaim their discomfort with the event, but to threaten violence, intimidation, and harassment is never acceptable from any group.


Rich get richer while poor get … richer

One of the striking results of the survey of millennials released by the CIS last week was that 62% of respondents agreed with the proposition that “ordinary workers in Australia are worse off now than they were forty years ago”. This is so far from the statistical truth that one must wonder what notion of “worse off” those 62% had in mind.

Average weekly earnings of adult full-time workers is not available as a consistent series over 40 years, but we can go back 36 years. Over that period, average weekly earnings rose 45% in real (inflation-adjusted) terms.

A broader measure of people’s living standards is represented by household disposable income per capita, which is available for 40 years. On this measure, there was an increase in real terms of 65% from March 1978 to March 2018. This is a remarkable advance in households’ economic well-being.

The comeback from doubters might be that those figures only measure the average experience and that all the gains have gone to the better-off and none to the worse-off or to ordinary workers. By chance, last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released new data that shed light on this distributional issue.

Once again, we don’t have consistent 40-year data, but we can look at what happened from 2003-04 to 2015-16. In those 12 years, real household disposable income increased on average by 45%. All household quintiles experienced increases above 40%, but the largest (61%) went to the poorest quintile while for the second poorest the increase was 49%. It is also true that the richest quintile gained 56%, but these figures surely demonstrate that while the rich got richer, so did the less well-off segments of the population.

There is always room for debate about whether policies need to be tilted more in favour of the less well-off. But it is helpful to start from a shared knowledge of the facts.


Nigel Farage predicts Rightward change in Australia too

HE’S been dubbed “Mr Brexit” and revels in his status as a political disrupter — and now Nigel Farage has a warning for Australians.

Mr Farage, the former leader of nationalist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and who led the bitter campaign to get Britain out of the European Union, is convinced conditions were ripe in Australia for the same massive upheaval seen around the world.

And he thinks we should brace ourselves as a “global revolution” sweeps the world.

“It’s on course, it’s happening, and I think Australia should wake up to it and understand it because it’s happening … Something is really happening here.”

He was speaking not only about Britain’s impending divorce from the EU and the rise of Donald Trump in the US, but the new governments in Italy and Austria, and political upheaval in Germany.

Australia had the potential to be the same.

“Australia is slightly isolated from all that, partly through your geography, but it is not immune,” he told in London ahead of his five-date lecture tour in Australia in September. He promised audiences would hear about the way he saw the “global revolution” occurring and about the dangers of globalisation — which he believed was fuelling the big political upsets.

The tour website describes him as the “face” of the Brexit campaign to leave the EU and someone who is frequently “widely consulted” for his views on international political issues and populist revolts against the status quo.

“[The] fightback that is going on is a lot more fundamental than [just] short bursts of anger. The whole Western world is changing and reshaping.”

If people thought it was over, they were wrong. “It’s just beginning actually. It’s just getting started.”

Immigration policy was at the heart of what he was talking about it. “I’m arguing against globalisation I’m not saying to pull the drawbridge up but am arguing for the UK to control who comes over it.”

The new Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini alarmed many EU leaders this month when he refused a boatload of migrants entry to Italy — a move Mr Farage praised and likened to Australia’s policy on turning around migrant boats.

“I’ve pointed to Australia again and again. But despite your geography [and isolation] global money can undermine your liberty. They did it to us, they will do it to you. Globalist money is the biggest threat to Australia.”

Opponents argued the nation state was archaic and “doesn’t belong [in the] modern world”. But it was here he believed Australia was at an advantage.

“I think in Australia your sense nationhood is more acute, possibly because you’re somewhat younger and your radar is better than ours. But don’t think [global forces] aren’t any less insidious or dangerous, because they are.”

The anti-Establishment Mr Farage urged Australians earlier this year to “take back” their country and “stand up and be counted”.

That would happen in an instant if politicians forgot who they were working for.

“If people in Canberra start to represent themselves rather than the ordinary people then the revolution will come to Australia.”

Mr Farage said Mr Salvini used to work for him and found it amusing that “all my mates” were now coming to prominence.

They were shunned and derided back then. “At one stage we were on the outer. In 2013 I was having dinner in Washington with a complete unknown, an eccentric guy called Jeff Sessions, who is now Attorney-General, Stephen Miller, who is a Donald Trump speechwriter, and Laura Ingraham who now hosts a major show on Fox. And there was I in this group and we were all fringe of the fringe.”

Mr Farage wouldn’t speak about Mr Trump, other than to confirm he was in close contact with the US President and would meet with him when he came to the United Kingdom.

“I think he needs to have people he can properly trust. And I’m one of them.”

By the time Mr Farage begins his Down Under tour, which also includes an event in New Zealand, Brexit will be closer to being reality.

“I’m a bit schizophrenic about Brexit. Us leaving is everything I campaigned on and it’s going to happen, but what is happening is we are going into negotiations in a lily-livered, weak way. It will mean we won’t reap the benefits for years to come.”

But a bad Brexit was still a good Brexit — and if he was driving the negotiations in Theresa May’s place he would take a leaf out of his mate from the White House’s book.

“I would do a Donald. It would be massively different and it would be all done and dusted [by now]. I would say to them where I wanted it to go, and be reasonable and willing to compromise, but everyone in business knows to get a good deal the other side needs to know [that] you’re willing to walk out the door.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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