I have a piece on the Spectator on line addressing Tony Abbott’s latest demarche into political controversy with his weekend address to the Young Liberals. Mr Abbott continues to demonstrate his credentials as an Opposition leader addressing deregulation, Section 18C, curbing union excesses and so on.
He also gets into energy and renewables, saying the 23 per cent renewables share he negotiated is too high and is causing the demise of key industries.
He makes the point that the Liberals cannot feast off the fact that Labor is even worse than them in this vital area of the economy.
But he glosses over the fact that his government agreed to the 26-28 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions Australia signed up to in the December 2015 Paris Climate Change agreement.
That target can only by met de-industrialisation and replacement of coal by wind. He claims as a great victory that the Abbott Government reduced the renewable target to 33,000 GWh from 41,000 GWh. But, aside from the fact that this total excludes the solar roof top subsidised supply, it still means that 23 per cent of electricity comes from wind and large scale solar. Only around eight per cent of the 23 per cent total comes from commercial sources (mainly hydro). The rest is forced upon consumers by regulatory means; it costs three times as much as the coal power it replaces, while driving down the reliability of the system and requiring billions of extra spending on transmission lines.
Mr Abbott points out that the policy is bringing problems to major industrial facilities among them Alcoa, Arrium and Roxby Downs. His solution is to call for a further reduction in the RET target from the level of 23 per cent agreed to by his government.
This is not good enough! Renewables comprise nowhere near 23 per cent of supply as of now but the policy supporting them is already causing price escalation and bail-outs of prized industrial plant. If he is trying to lead the debate he must recognise that the RET as it presently stands is poisoning the productive landscape of Australia. It needs to be totally abolished with no more payments to the unwelcome, uncompetitive, high cost renewable plant it is fostering.
The lobbyists will scream “sovereign risk” at such a suggestion but they have for over a decade enriched themselves by foisting upon a hapless public their high cost product. Anything less than eliminating the toxic renewable subsidies will see a continued haemorrhaging of valued industrial and agricultural processing and the existing cost, mainly levied on households – of nearly $5 billion a year.