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

Canberra gaze « Previous | |Next »
December 16, 2011

The media commentators are back to their favourite theme: a dysfunctional Gillard Government and the Rudd-Gillard leadership conflict tearing federal Labor apart. They see deficiencies everywhere, and a disunited government that is incapable of governing in a 24 hour news cycle.

That is their narrative and it is locked in:


Every momentary event is interpreted in order to foster this narrative of a hopeless Gillard Government continually shooting itself in the foot. And the argument for this position? We need an argument to distinguish it from personal opinion or herd group think. Let us turn to Paul Kelly in The Australian and his Beleaguered Labor caught in a perfect storm.

In this op-ed Kelly focuses in on energy politics- and he is referring to the recently released draft energy white paper:

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson put the issue on the line: household electricity prices had risen 40 per cent in the past three years and will continue to rise given the investment required.The point, Ferguson argued, was the imperative for a market-based approach to energy, greater efficiency, privatisation of assets and no pre-determined views about the best clean energy options. The politics are apparent: if Labor imposes unnecessarily high costs on households it will be penalised by a ballot box revolt.Ferguson knows that for too long Labor governments chose high-cost options in the cause of being green and assuming that Labor-voting low-income workers were too dumb to realise they were being played for mugs. That game is up.

So the reason for federal Labor's woes are being green. Australia's comparative advantage of cheap energy is eroding and Australia's locked-in $23 a tonne carbon price is "way out in front of the pack". Kelly adds:
With global action stalled for much of the decade this prompts the question: was Gillard's new passion for pricing carbon driven by Australia's national interest or Labor's political interest in making minority government work?

The answer for Kelly is obvious. It is Labor's political interest in making minority government work--staying in power--- not the national interest. The inference is that a damaged Labor government isn't capable of addressing the competitiveness and productivity hole into which Australia is sinking. They are incompetent.

It's the same old narrative of the 'carbon-tax-will-ruin-the-economy'. What lies beneath the surface here is energy politics. The conservative position is that the Gillard Government shouldn't make the transition to a low carbon economy the Greens are demanding, as it is obvious that Australia's future lays with coal: Australia will continue to be largely dependent on fossil fuels, it will need to embrace uranium and it needs to expand its existing deregulation and privatisation of energy markets (in Queensland and NSW).

The energy right policy is to phase out renewable energy targets because these are expensive and superfluous and not use public funds to pick technological winners (through the $10 billion clean energy investment fund). These green policies need to be removed as they are not the path to economic growth. The carbon pricing will slug Australian businesses at a time when the European economic crisis will hurt Australia's growth prospects. These are the standard talking points of the big energy industry (coal fired generators) who hate solar.

Therefore, as the AFR's weekend editorial puts it we don't have a clear -headed government with a commitment to bolstering Australia's economic defences and prosecuting reforms that increase the economy's flexibility and productiveness.

Yet coal-fired power stations will be retired over the next few years, the cost of solar power is rapidly decreasing, and Australia is well on track to reach its renewable energy target of having 20% of its national electricity generated from renewable sources (using wind and solar) by 2020.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:19 PM | | Comments (9)


Same old, same old from him: false dichotomies, sado economics and the dread of a hiding when father gets home.
Do people still read the OZ, some thing from an organisation that has redefined the meaning of shooting one's self in the foot, over the last year?

Remember the media's inside stories about the Rudd challenge to Gillard's leadership by Xmas 2011? Now its a challenge by Easter 2012 or after the budget.

The media have become set in their view against Gillard and Labor, and it is hard to see that view changing. It's their default position.

If rudd could mask his personality type in public a bit better and take on a deputy role to Gillard the chance of labor getting elected again would increase dramatically. On the same ticket the poll would go quickly to 55%

Andrew Robb says the Coalition's policy stands on four pillars or principles: living within our means; backing our nation's strengths; reversing the nanny state; and restoring a culture of personal responsibility.

Robb says 'backing our nation's strengths means the following:

Minerals and resources comprise our obvious key strength. Agriculture is next, with enormous potential for further growth, but that will never be realised under this government, which is so beholden to the Greens and their anti-development policies.

If mining really was accepted as our No 1 strength by the government, it would not do everything it could to make mining less competitive with the double whammy of a mining and carbon tax.
He adds that we need a positive vision backed by a plan that can be implemented, for example, to build new dams to enhance water security, to support mining and to spark new agricultural opportunities.
This extends to a determination to help develop the north, to create a new food bowl across northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. At present we feed 60 million people, but in the coming decades our aim is to double that figure. The north has a large role to play in achieving that objective.

There is nothing about renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, or a digital economy there.

The big energy companies hate solar because 5 gigawatts of solar PV would have a considerable dampener on peak pricing and remove almost half the revenue the utilities get from those few days of extreme peaks.

On the super peak periods when wholesale electricity costs can surge to $10,000/MWh. The generators earn around one quarter of their annual revenue from the energy price windfall from around 40 hours a week.

Hence the big energy industry's (ie the coal generators ) push to roll back the renewable energy target; and their blocking the upgrade to the interconnector from South Australia to Victoria to unlock the considerable (and cheaper) wind resources in South Australia.

You probably would of had a couple of bills by now since you put your solar panels on. What were the savings?

on the last bill for the weekender in Victor Harbor (around three weeks ago) we were in credit---around $550. It's enough to cover the electricity bill in the townhouse in Adelaide and still be in credit.

The UK government has committed "green" suicide by reducing the UK Feed-in-tariff by fifty percent in the UK. It's going to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work in the green economy.