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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

A good question « Previous | |Next »
May 22, 2008

it is well known that subsidies, support and spin have gone the coal industry's way and that our entire society is geared towards burning fossil fuels in order to power our homes and economy. It is also well known that this way of providing energy causes greenhouse emissions and global warming.

It is also well known that the Liberals, when in power, did very little about it. The current leadership continues to backpedal on this issue as they seek to 'cut through' by taking the economic populist turn of cheap petrol for everyone. The exception is rebate of $8000 for installing solar panels on households by Howard, which dramatically shifted the goalposts shifted in solar's favour, aimed to reduce carbon dioxide, not give middle-class welfare.

Nelson.jpg Alan Moir

Malcolm Turnbull in his address at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday was able to articulate some of the uneasy questions raised by last week's Swan budget. A key question is: 'How can a government on one hand claim that climate change is our greatest challenge, then on the other hand remain silent about the budgetary impact of an emissions trading scheme, while simultaneously penalising the solar energy industry?'

The story being spun is that the coal-fired electricity generation can continue to be the major contributor to global electricity generation and the world can still restrict carbon dioxide emissions to a level constant with holding climate warming below 2 degrees. Kenneth Davidson in The Age says that the main benefit of the investment in geosequestration is that its promise, no matter how nebulous, provides an excuse for "business as usual" for the highly profitable coal industry. He adds:

Based on recent reductions in the cost of renewable energy and industry forecasts, it is expected that the cost of renewable generation — particularly from solar and hot rocks — is likely to be competitive with fossil-fuel generation with the carbon price of $20 to $30 per tonne already being anticipated by the market.
There is a genuine "infant industry" argument for assistance to renewable electricity generation. An expanding market for solar energy will drive down costs through research, innovation and economies of scale. It was an industry in which Australia had a genuinely competitive advantage up until the mid-'90s when the previous federal government thought it was better to cut government debt than finance developments in this industry, either directly or indirectly through research projects in universities and CSIRO.

Nothing much has changed, except the rhetoric.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:11 AM | | Comments (3)


Christian Kerr has an article in the Australian saying that the Liberals embrace of populiusm (reducing the excise on petrol) is good politics. Who cares about policy? It is irrelevant to an Opposition. He says:

Populism on petrol, helping ute men at the pump and protecting them from tax slugs on their cans of Bundy and Coke mightn't impress the policy cognoscenti, but for the Liberals it's the start of a fightback.

the Liberals are not a credible alternative. Where is the serious ritique of Rudd's first budget?

The scenario of the Liberal Party is to survive disasters intact . That is difficult when they are a mix of various forms of conservatism and liberalism, with members located
from the centre to the extreme right of the ideological continuum, and have no mutual respect for one another.