1. Electric shock
The big story in Australian politics this week was the shocking state of the political debate on electricity. Giles Parkinson says, when you thought it couldn’t get any dumber, it did.
‘People will die due to renewables’, said Turnbull government MP Craig Kelly.
Commentators who don’t understand the grid should butt out of the battery debate, said Ketan Joshi, a communications consultant for the renewable energy industry.
At a meeting on Friday COAG Energy Council, adopted 49 of the 50 recommendations of the Finkel Review. Remember Alan Finkel was reporting to COAG, not to the Turnbull government. Only the Clean Energy Target (CET) remains unapproved.
There is a tendency to say that the CET is the most important recommendation, but arguably it is the least. At whatever level it’s set, no-one in their right mind will build new coal.
Alan Pears at The Conversation says The National Electricity Market has served its purpose – it’s time to move on. He says the action is now local and decentralised, the states should take the game back. However, he does see a role for the central market operator.
Seems to me the states are taking the game back, as their voters will hold them accountable, but the new configuration of the central operator is such that I think it could operate perfectly well with any number of diverse agencies, especially states that are signed up to its role. In Audrey Zibelman, the new AEMO CEO, we have a key executive who in a former role worked with a company supplying electricity to 13 states in the USA. Then in New York she supervised a transition to a decentralised grid. She must be OK because Alan Jones says she’s a lefty, and a warmist who should be “run out of town”.
Minister Frydenberg has been spending his time bad-mouthing the states, suggesting he is the fixer. He may be less relevant than he thinks.
He’s been blaming the states and renewables for blackouts and rising prices. The New Daily report today links to The Australia Institute study that fingers policy uncertainty and rising gas prices as the main drivers of electricity prices.
Meanwhile what is likely to save us from frying next summer is not coal, gas or renewables, but demand response, according to aforesaid Ms Zibelman.
2. Green gone
Spare a thought for Scott Ludlam, who unbeknown to him was still a Kiwi, and as such ineligible to be elected to parliament in Australia. He left NZ when he was three, arrived here when he was nine or 10, thought it was sorted when he was granted citizenship in his mid-teens.
There is a mystery now as to who was checking up on him. Apparently not a pollie or a journo.
He was well-respected, I think, and will be missed.
Meanwhile the Greens have worked out a modus operandi that allows Lee Rhiannon back into the party room.
3. Getting real about protecting workers
There is an argument that work on the modern world is too fluid for unions to have an impact in protecting the rights of workers.
In the Amazon thread John D linked to an article about calls for national labour hire regulation in view of what Rosie Ayliffe found when she came to investigate what happened to her daughter Mia Ayliffe-Chung who was attacked and killed in a backpacker hostel in Queensland in 2016.
Earlier this year UTS professor Jock Collins The Conversation looked at the situation of the temporary workforce provided by international students. In 2016, Australia took in a record 554,179 full-fee paying international students. In addition there were about 250,000 temporary migrants on working holiday maker visas.
The Australian Story program was a gut wrencher, making it difficult to be proud to be an Australian. Governments are meant to protect the vulnerable.
4. Trump never fails to disappoint
Trump reckons it is perfectly normal to get your daughter to stand in for you at a G20 meeting when you’ve got better things to do.
Seems it’s perfectly normal too for his son to meet a Russian Lawyer to get dirt on your opposing presidential candidate. It’s OK, apparently, because he didn’t get any dirt.
Meanwhile Trump Jr. hired a lawyer to protect him from himself.
I’m sure President Trump was glad to get away to France, sending images back of him being close and persoanl with president Emmanuel Macron. Then we get this via Kate Halfpenny at The New Daily:
He tells French First Lady Brigitte Macron, “You are in such great shape. Beautiful.”
As Halfpenny says:
- You could almost see the speech bubble above his head: “For your age.”
It was creepy and ham-fisted but this about sums it up:
- This was Trump, as awkward as ever when unscripted, trying to be polite and getting it horribly wrong.
In his mind—and he might not have had a nap before meeting the Macrons—he was probably just being nice to the pretty lady. No offence intended.
Trump did hint he may change his tune on the Paris agreement, presumably because you can do more harm from within. Would you believe, the US is on the group supervising the UN Green Fund, where they can promote the use of coal in developing countries. There’s more at The Times.
5. Turnbull too
Turnbull has been carrying on too, telling everyone what a wonderful job he’s been doing, and upsetting his conservatives by claiming to be in the true liberal spirit of Menzies.
So far it’s not helping in the polls. In Newspoll he was stuck on 47-53 behind Labor, while Essential has the gap opening to 46-54. And his personal ratings, once stratospheric, are sinking towards Bill Shorten’s on Newspoll and have gone past him on Essential, where he’s now -12 to Shorten’s -8.
Today Turnbull is telling the faithful at the Qld LNP state conference that those who think coal has no place in our energy future are “delusional”.
Unfortunately almost no-one in politics is saying that. Meanwhile tomorrow the Qld LNP consider whether we should dump the Paris Agreement, and whether ABC funding should be withheld until it corrects its bias problem.
Be careful what you wish for, is my advice.