CPAC Australia – Coal Overboard, Nuclear to Appease the Greens?

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From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

To say I’m disappointed with this year’s Australian CPAC would be an understatement.

On a positive note, CPAC USA Chairman Matt Schlapp and and former Trump acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker brought terrific messages of hope, though mostly avoided energy issues. Jay Aeba, Chairman of CPAC Japan, also gave an impassioned speech about why freedom and respect for the individual matters.

There were strong appeals for energy sanity from Alan Jones, a prominent Aussie conservative commentator – an appeal for mainstream Aussie conservatives to wake up and listen (“where are they”?).

ADH-TV speakers reminded us of the terrible treatment of the Jirrbal people by wind farm developers – an issue WUWT covered in July. The objections of the Jirrbal people to the destruction of their rainforest in my opinion are being ignored.

What was painfully missing from Australian CPAC 2023 was any indication mainstream Aussie conservatives have the balls to stand up against the green blob.

Keith Pitt, formerly a staunch coal defender, who has a coal mine in his own region, said not one word about the need for more coal. Keith’s talk was how coal plants could be replaced by nuclear reactors, which would avoid the need for new transmission lines.

Barnaby Joyce, former leader of the National Party, declared his vehement opposition to green energy. But I’m not sure his new found opposition to renewables is credible. As leader of the party in 2021 Joyce declared his support for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s renewable driven Net Zero, a desperate and futile attempt to prevent election defeat by lurching left. In 2016, Barnaby Joyce was guest of honour at the launch of the White Rock Wind Farm. Now Joyce is talking like he always hated renewables. Make of that what you will.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who in 2022 CPAC Australia brought everyone to their feet when he said “yes I am a climate skeptic”, gave an emasculated speech about why everyone should join the party of their choice – but avoided anything which might have sounded like criticism of the new direction his party has taken on energy issues.

Why do I have a problem with the Aussie conservative switch to support for nuclear?

My problem is, they are not talking about supporting nuclear because it is the best choice, or because it will bring down energy prices. They want to support nuclear because they’re desperately trying to appease inner city greens, with a low carbon “solution” they hope their own supporters will swallow.

To give some insight into how absurd the Aussie mainstream conservative position is, in July, the current conservative mainstream opposition speaker Peter Dutton gave a ridiculous speech in which he suggested using nuclear power to firm renewables.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s plan is to use the most inflexible baseload power system, nuclear power, to smooth the volatile ups and downs of a large renewable fleet.

This energy policy is a Frankenstein monster of an energy policy, a political construct rather than a sound engineering blueprint. It cannot possibly work, without wasting gargantuan amounts of electricity. It cannot deliver lower energy prices. In my opinion this Frankenstein policy is a desperate political attempt to create a vaguely plausible narrative which bridges the disunity in his own Liberal (Aussie Conservative) party, about how to respond to public belief in the climate crisis. This policy is not the action of a strong leader, it is the action of a weak leader, who is desperately trying to prevent his party from flying apart.

Speakers like high profile conservative commentator Alan Jones, our answer to Tucker Carlson – he knows the truth. Jones appealed for a “real conservative” politician to come forward and set this right. But nobody in mainstream parties answered his call. They’re too busy jumping at their own shadows, in case more of those terrifying independent green “Teals” appear and strip even more of their weakly held urban parliamentary seats.

The saddest part is, I believe Aussies are ready for a genuine change in direction.

Aussies are currently suffering skyrocketing energy prices, and spiralling inflation and mortgage rates. Industry is on the brink. Mortgage arrears are spiking, as people’s finances reach breaking point. On top of this, we’re likely on the brink of a deep recession, because the Australian economy is deeply intertwined with China’s train wreck of an economy.

The mistruths told by the current government during their election campaign, promises to be good economic custodians, and to bring down energy prices with more renewables, are wearing a bit thin.

A simple, clear spoken commitment to radically slash energy prices, to less than $0.10 / KWh by any means available, using brown coal, black coal, gas, nuclear, whatever works, would resonate with large numbers of Australian people. Right now the millions of ordinary people who have been driven to the brink of financial ruin would be receptive to such a message. Especially with the economics 101 explanation that alleviating energy inflation would also bring down mortgage rates, help secure jobs and prevent people from losing their homes.

But mainstream Aussie conservatives are simply too chicken to grasp the golden opportunity which is staring them in the face, just waiting for one of them to find some backbone and stand up against the greens in their own ranks, let alone outside the party.

Obviously I am only talking from an energy perspective. There were many inspirational speakers, like Pauline Hanson, leader of One Nation, Warren Mundine and liberal (Aussie Conservative) Senator Jacinta Price, aboriginal spokespeople who are vehemently opposed to the government’s attempt to introduce racial bias into the Aussie constitution. I was particularly moved by the courage of the founders of GiveSendGo, who supported the Canadian Truckers during Trudeau’s crackdown on free speech. There was a huge pushback against attempts to outlaw free speech in Australia, except by protected categories of people like academics and government spokesmen.

It was good to catch up with friends I met last year in CPAC 2022.

But on climate change and a return to energy rationality, a sane response to the energy policy madness currently threatening to drown the Australian economy, there was precious little room for optimism.

If you want to see for yourself what I saw, you can watch CPAC Australia 2023 recordings here.

Update (EW): h/t Brian – IMO Alan Jones’ hands are not clean when it comes to promoting affordable energy, a decade ago he joined hands with greens to crush coal seam gas development in Australia.

Update (EW): h/t KevinM, fixed a typo.

Update (EW): I should have mentioned Professor Ian Plimer gave an excellent speech about the madness of trying to control CO2 emissions, and promoted his latest books The Little Green Book for AnklebitersThe Little Green Book for Teens and The Little Green Book for Twenties and Wrinklies. Since Ian Plimer was sitting next to Rowan Dean of Sky News, I said “Why don’t you two write a collaboration book on climate change?”. Fingers crossed.