Australia’s Labor Party was started in 1891 by QLD sheepshearers on strike, fighting for better wages and conditions; over a Century it became the party of ideas. Nowadays, it is unrecognizable, on either score.
A hard-green left intelligentsia hijacked the party, long ago; pushing nonsensical CO2 emissions and renewable energy targets, and an anti-mining agenda that have cost it dearly. Not least the unloseable Federal election in May 2019, when it was shellacked in the regions which depend upon reliable and affordable energy, such as mining and mineral processing.
The modern ALP treats its former base with derision and contempt. Characters like shadow energy spokesman, Mark Butler, function in a parallel universe; his perverse obsession with wind and solar and carbon dioxide gas emissions has helped drive a wedge between those ALP MPs safely ensconced in inner-city seats, plagued with green voting University academics and bike riding, vegan baristas and old Labor stalwarts – like Joel Fitzgibbon – who represent the hardhat and high-viz wearing workers who help generate the wealth that make this country tick.
In the last few weeks, Joel Fitzgibbon has made a name for himself by tackling his insipid leader, Anthony Albanese and berating Butler, among others, for their efforts in making the Labor Party positively unelectable, outside the skinny soy latte zone.
Judith Sloan takes a look at what’s caused an irreconcilable rift between those remaining members of the ALP who understand what the ‘L’ in ‘ALP’ stands for, and those that don’t.
No wonder Joel Fitzgibbon has given up on catatonic Labor
17 November 2020
There has been tension in paradise lately among federal Labor parliamentarians. An almighty blue about climate change involving Joel Fitzgibbon, the member for Hunter, and others in the shadow cabinet ended with Fitzgibbon quitting the frontbench.
The differences of opinion have been apparent for some time, with Fitzgibbon pushing a middle ground when it comes to climate change policy, in general, and to emissions reduction targets, in particular.
The way Fitzgibbon sees it, Labor has presented several policy variants to the electorate over recent electoral cycles, none of which has been embraced. Last year, Labor pushed for an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by 2030, which contrasted with the government’s target of a cut of between 26 and 28 per cent.
The failure by Labor — and this can be sheeted home to climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler — to provide costings of the extreme policy was a factor in Labor’s election defeat. That Butler retains the portfolio is testament to the power of Labor’s factional system.
Labor’s present policy is commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, a position embraced, in theory at least, by a number of countries, state and territory governments and some companies. That 2050 is so far off is a strength and weakness. It sounds virtuous while obviating the need for any immediate costly action.
But the commitment allows activists to pressure Labor to outline the means and timetable for that ambitious target. This is where Labor is having trouble in formulating policy. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese would have been wise to replace Butler. Butler’s made a hash of this and there was an overwhelming case to let someone else have a shot.
From the backbench Fitzgibbon demands Butler be moved; it’s tricky for Albanese to do so lest it be seen as leadership weakness.
The bigger backdrop is that Labor cannot make any useful contribution to the debate about climate change policy under today’s circumstances. The federal government bats on with its technology-based policy approach while various state governments — and the ACT government (pause for laughter) — do their own thing in defiance of the principles of the national electricity market.
Victoria and Queensland have economically damaging renewable energy targets driving subsidised investment in renewables. Problems have emerged around grid stability as well as connecting far-flung renewables installations constructed without adequate transmission links. NSW’s strategy is different, but also carries high economic costs. Its redeeming feature is it emphasises reliable energy. Mind you, it’s a case of government-micromanaged investment with all the gains being captured by renewable energy companies.
Driven by Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean and advised by deeply green bureaucrats, the aim is to push coal-fired plants out by making them unprofitable and insist the capacity be replaced by renewables.
To maintain reliability, it is envisaged that large-scale investments will be required in both batteries and more pumped hydro beyond Snowy 2.0. That development (and cost) of batteries is not at a point to help with reliability — they can help with frequency control — is conveniently overlooked.
Underscoring Kean’s ignorance of the energy market, he has declared gas has no future in NSW, notwithstanding that his government struck an agreement with the federal government to provide an additional 70 petajoules of gas annually in exchange for $2bn. The Premier and Treasurer need to remind Kean of this.
The NSW government should pursue gas-fired electricity as the principal means of ensuring reliability at a competitive price. Gas plants can be built relatively quickly and located on brownfields sites with transmission links already in place. It is the obvious way forward save for the blinkered zealot.
Into this mix comes the unhelpful Integrated System Plan developed by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Based on assumptions of absurdly high gas prices and the absence of any construction cost blowouts of new interstate connectors, the ISP paints a picture of myriad renewable energy installations connected by a new, expensive transmission network.
Now AEMO has lost its lawyer-trained chief executive, we should anticipate some significant modifications to the agency’s thinking as the days of unqualified devotion to renewable energy make way for realistic recommendations based on engineering and economics.
The eastern states electricity market remains a mess, as the states (and the ACT) do their own thing that damages consumers and businesses but confers commercial benefits on renewable energy providers. There is only so much the federal government can do about this destructive behaviour, although the Australian Energy Regulator plays a useful countervailing role.
Meanwhile, we are served up the unhelpful suggestion of an economy-wide carbon price from the newly created Blueprint Institute, a think tank aligned with the Liberal Party’s wet faction. It calls for a carbon price, claiming that “without a uniform price our emissions reduction task will be unnecessarily costly”. But neither the Coalition nor Labor is about to propose that, even if voters receive some compensation, as was the case when the Gillard government introduced its carbon price, also known as a tax.
Moreover, Blueprint’s assumption that all the other interventions directed at reducing emissions would simply vanish is heroic, even for economists. The rest of the paper is simply a plea for more rents for renewables providers — commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, no Kyoto carryovers, taxpayer-funded additional transmission and subsidies for green hydrogen.
The mistake green-leaning politicians and many commentators make is thinking there is some sort of free lunch out there that allows a transition to a less emission-intensive economy with no net costs.
Some admit there will be losers — bad luck to the coalminers — but a just transition will be promised. Others can only see the upsides, often because they are acting on behalf of renewables providers. Follow the money — it’s the dictum that never let’s you down.
via STOP THESE THINGS
November 22, 2020 at 12:30AM