Carbon issues are seeing some anomalous policy statements on the part of the Government and the Opposition.
The Government is endorsing its carbon tax while expressing misgivings about the Renewable Energy Target which requires 20 per cent (perhaps as much as 28 per cent) of electricity to be sourced from renewables at over twice the cost of electricity from fossil fueled plants.
The Opposition, appears to be moving in the opposite direction in praising the appalling renewables policy while condemning the carbon tax.
The government’s remodeled Euro-linked carbon tax received an endorsement on party lines in the Senate this week. This offers economic aid to the EU while halving the “price on carbon” three years hence. The Opposition minority report was however adamantly against the scheme and expressed similar views to the IPA recommendation, that the Senate “reject the current proposals and seek a non-political examination of the present policies, their costs, and any useful benefits they might entail. Illuminating these costs would be a meaningful step in allowing the Parliament to conclude that the harm they cause is considerable.”
Fissures in the other arm of the policy have come most notably from Labor’s chief whip and former energy minister and Hunter Valley MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. He has called on his colleagues to cut the renewables target “to give households relief from rising electricity prices”. In a statement that must surely have been more than just a thought bubble he said he was even tempted, “ to call for completely doing away with the RET to make up 20 per cent of electricity production by 2020 but didn’t want to create uncertainty for business”.
In a couple of sentences that could have come straight out of the IPA library he says, “Fossil-fuel-rich Australia is now seeking to source one-quarter at least of its energy consumption from renewable sources. Of course, it is our abundance of fossil fuels which in part makes us economically competitive.”
This comes as the “independent” Climate Change Authority (membership including Bernie Fraser, John Quiggin, Heather Ridout, Clive Hamilton and David Karoly – say no more!) has recommended the continuation of the money wasting and competitiveness crushing RET scam. Even this mob, using very conservative assumptions, recognises that the RET adds $65 a year to the average household’s bill and does nothing to reduce the satanic greenhouse gases. And this month the Labor Party’s taxpayer financed “think tank” the Grattan Institute, which previously was calling for long-term contracts for renewable energy, argued that the measure has no place given the carbon tax, and should be repealed.
Furthermore, leveraging off a report by financial regulators on instability that could result from Over the Counter trading generally, Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce, has warned that renewable energy requirements can destabilize the energy market. Mr Pierce, who is a well regarded apolitical professional but with strong ALP links, says because inherently unreliable renewable energy earns most of its revenue from a subsidy and is bid into the market at zero it depresses the wholesale price, which, “can result in deferral of new investment which may be necessary to maintain reliability of supply,”
Unfortunately the Coalition spokesmen have not got the message. A joint statement by Greg Hunt and Ian MacFarlane last week supported the continuation of the RET scam with the absurdly false statement, “The Carbon Tax’s contribution to increased power bills is 30 times the cost of the RET”.
Energy policy, which as Joel Fitzgibbon now says, is crucial to Australian industry competitiveness, remains a plaything of the dirigistes socialistic activists on both sides of the Parliamentary divide.