David Leyonhjelm on electricity politics

Democracy has an ugly virtue. It makes the problems of government our fault.

Electricity prices are ridiculously high and there is a real prospect of blackouts each summer and winter for the foreseeable future. Politicians are to blame, but so too are voters. Voters want low electricity prices as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions. The lie that they can have both has been sold by politicians, but voters have lapped it up.

I want lower electricity prices and I don’t really care about Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, given what other countries are doing.

For my goal of lower electricity prices to be achieved we need to drop Australia’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent over the 25 years to 2030.

But for this to occur, voters also need to be convinced of its wisdom. Otherwise, a party sticking with the emissions reduction commitment will win government and we will be stuck with both the commitment and high electricity prices.

So here’s my pitch, direct to voters, asking them to agree to drop the commitment to cut Australia’s emissions by 26 to 28 per cent.

We are not succeeding in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions are rising rapidly, with countries that make up more than half of global emissions increasing their output each year at a bewildering pace.

If the climatologists are correct, we’re screwed, and we need to get ready. We need to take every opportunity to make our economy more efficient, so that with stronger production, incomes and wealth we can leave the next generation with assets rather than debts, and maximise our capacity to help people around the world.

A key efficiency we must grasp is the generation of electricity at the lowest cost. This involves removing constraints on coal and gas fired electricity generation and accepting that Australian greenhouse emissions will rise.

Only with least cost electricity will Australian businesses thrive, invest in new assets, and create jobs. And only with least-cost electricity and strong employment will households have the wherewithal to start saving for the next generation and consider extending a helping hand to people in need overseas.

Governments around Australia can also prepare for a new climate future by paying off their debts, to ensure that future generations are not faced with a double burden of a new climate and heavy public debt. Government spending and lending programs seeking to contribute to the 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction commitment are a luxury we can no longer afford.

Despite this pitch, I don’t expect the Coalition will drop its emissions reduction commitment anytime soon, or abandon the associated renewable energy target. In my opinion, this will cost the Coalition the next election.

There will be blackouts this summer and next, electricity prices will remain painfully high, and no new coal fired power stations will be built, so no promise of relief.

Voters would punish whatever party was in power under these conditions, and the Coalition will lose votes to parties opposed to the renewable energy target, such as my Liberal Democrats, and also to Labor.

Despite my pitch, I also don’t expect Labor to drop the emissions reduction commitment or its ruinous policy for renewables to provide 50 per cent of electricity generation by 2030, up from the currently mandated 17 per cent.

Labor fears losing votes to the Greens more than they fear mainstream voters waking up to the conflict between low electricity prices and a high market share for renewables.

So an incoming Labor Government would continue to face an electricity price crisis, would stick to its mantra on renewables, would be unable to avoid blackouts, and would be voted out after one term.

Eventually, enough voters will see the conflict between low electricity prices and too many renewables, and a major party will respond by dumping emission reduction commitments and mandates for renewables. When it does, it will win government.

Good electricity policy need not be bipartisan. If one party sticks with a crazy electricity policy, the best recipe for certainty is a contest of policies leading to the long term consignment of the party with the crazy policy to the opposition benches.

We will eventually get a government that relieves us of high electricity prices, but it might take a while. First, voters need to be convinced.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

This entry was posted in Federal Politics, Global warming and climate change policy, Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to David Leyonhjelm on electricity politics

  1. Tel

    Voters want low electricity prices as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    The surveys show that greenhouse gas emissions rank very low on voter’s scale of important issues.

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/178133/economy-government-top-election-issues-parties.aspx

    I know this is American, but it’s the last issue for Republicans, and the third to last issue for Democrats so I think you can safely say the voters don’t git a $#!+ about greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. struth

    Democracy has an ugly virtue. It makes the problems of government our fault.

    Not this time.

    Australia voted for a right wing government and were lied to by traitors called the Liberal party.

    I am interested in your stance on the U.N.
    That’s who their “commitment” is to, and if you bring this up in parliament.

    We, the voters are not to blame for the last ten years, in federal elections where turncoat politicians lied to their electorates to get elected and turned into compliant little socialists afterward.

  3. struth

    Get out in the real world more D.L.
    You’ve been in parliament too long if you think the majority of voters give a tinker’s cuss about green house gas emissions.
    Beware to always remember that you are being swamped by the noisy minority and MSM there.
    Please don’t fall into the trap that they represent anyone but a very small minority.
    And always be well aware of the feminist inspired world of virtue signalling that we live in.

  4. Evan

    So many basic errors of fact here. For a start, China’s emissions are reducing https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28022017/chinas-co2-reduction-clean-energy-trump-us not increasing at a bewildering pace.

  5. Senile Old Guy

    I know this is American, but it’s the last issue for Republicans, and the third to last issue for Democrats so I think you can safely say the voters don’t git a $#!+ about greenhouse gas emissions.

    Yes, it is only the politicians chase lefty votes.

  6. Roger

    We will eventually get a government that relieves us of high electricity prices, but it might take a while. First, voters need to be convinced.

    Convincing the politicians is the harder task.

  7. Senile Old Guy

    So many basic errors of fact here. For a start, China’s emissions are reducing https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28022017/chinas-co2-reduction-clean-energy-trump-us not increasing at a bewildering pace.

    Why then are all the trend lines predicted to increase after 2016? Very odd!

    (Always check! Leftys distort.)

  8. Aussieute

    Keep an eye out for the Solar “Grand Minima” … there are always two sides to any scientific observations.

    What if we are heading into a period when the sun is going quiet?
    In the past, these periods with few sunspots, such as the Dalton Minimum, Maunder Minimum, & Spörer Minimum, produced decades of global cooling, famine and plagues.

    Not what the rent seekers would have us believe.

    There is more to this than just the weather …. energy demand and requirements will skyrocket – to keep warm, food security will be a bigger issue than we believe, economics of counties will cause issues, and social unrest by those who cannot feed themselves, and demand the guverment MUST DO SOMETHING will go through the stratosphere.

    We’ll rue the day when windmills freeze, cloudy days reduce the solar panels efficiency and the coal remains in the ground and nasty nuclear will take too long to come on line.

  9. the sting

    I asked a couple of State MP ‘s the other day did they know that so called wind turbines cannot make a ”black start ” ,that is start up from dead stopped by themselves [ wind turbines need electricity from the grid to be able to start ] These Victorian MP’s did not know this vital piece of information .Perhaps they should be called electric start wind turbines to help the public to begin to understand the mess we have got ourselves in.

  10. John Constantine

    It is terrifyingly possible that the speed of demand destruction through deindustrialisation, smart meter rationing and simply just blacking out the outback rural tory electorates may prevent the full burden of ruinable electricity falling on the cities.

    If yarragrad escapes blackouts by shutting down heavy industry and punishing the politically non-swinging voter, they could actually get to dynamite more coal power next year.

  11. John Constantine

    The Revolutionary Economic Suicide that the crony political quislings are arranging for Australia will not be called off.

    Bringing down this imperialist running dog colonial racist outpost is the intended outcome. Currently, ruinable electricity is plan A, but there are other weapons in the left’s arsenal.

    The great transnational looting cartels have already bought Australia for a few brown paper bags of cash for the corruptocracy and a few tummy rubs for skeletor bishop from the good and great of Paris.

    It just has to be reduced to a defenceless state for them to take delivery.

  12. mizaris

    Voters don’t give a flying **** about “greenhouse emissions”. BUILD COAL POWER PLANTS.

    Only halfwits now believe in the global warming hoax.

  13. jupes

    So many basic errors of fact here. For a start, China’s emissions are reducing

    China is currently building 700 coal fired power stations in China and around the world. The world is currently building or planning to build 1600 coal fired power stations.

    Australia is building no coal fired power stations as our part of the grand global scheme to lower global temperature.

    We are without doubt a bunch of idiots to believe that sacrificing our economy will stop the world heating. To paraphrase Bob Dylan: “It’s a wonder that we still know how to breathe”.

  14. RobK

    DL,
    In essence, I think you are on a reasonable track to claim that the transition to renewballs is occurring too fast and the experimentation too risky (if this is what you are saying ). One more 50yr cycle of coal at greater than say 50% should shake out the credible technologies. The renewballs have had a vast leg up to date, if they can’t make on their own by now, it’s unlikely they will ever. Same with the illusive battery technologies. There may be an answer one day but early adopters pay the price. There’s plenty of market for battery improvement without subsidizing. Examples include all transport(rail, shipping,air,automotive), remote area power supplies, etc. When the technology comes of age it will be obvious and won’t need subsidies. Pushing experiments in renewballs on this scale is economic suicide.
    Further; as renewables permeate to greater % of the grid there will be gluts of solar energy at sometimes in summer, gluts of wind energy in winter, but there will be periods in spring and Autumn when the weather is low energy on both fronts over a period of weeks and only enormous storage capacity can bridge those times. That will be expensive. During the high energy periods of summer and winter there can be a few days of low input and high demand on the trott. The installed capacity of renewballs will have to be many times that of fossil fuel or nuke plants. The capital cost will be large and there will always be times of glut and shortages due to the vagaries of the weather. I know this because I have owned and operated businesses relying on remote area power supplies (off grid) for about 30 years. You plan your usage a bit like sailing a yacht, and have a backup. Fine for recreation, but not so much for commerce or industry. It’s been tried before.

  15. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    The proletariat must be relentlessly ground between the boulders of rising costs and rampant regulations.

  16. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Australia is building no coal fired power stations as our part of the grand global scheme to lower global temperature white prosperity.

    Fixed!

  17. Nerblnob

    DL makes a good point. Even if you beloved all the CAGW stuff, shutting down coal is disastrously bad policy.

  18. cohenite

    Evan

    #2517908, posted on October 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    So many basic errors of fact here. For a start, China’s emissions are reducing

    China is building more nuclear power plants than the rest of the world combined and has the largest hydro infrastructure. As others have said it is also building more coal plants than the rest of the world; these are ultra supercritical plants which burn hotter and produce per volume of coal more energy and less CO2, as if any sane person could give a flying fuck about increased CO2.

    In short China’s emissions are not decreasing but their rate of increase is declining due to technological innovation which works unlike wind and solar which don’t.

    On a personal note I think alarmists and pro-renewable advocates should have pineapples inserted in their arses.

  19. stackja

    Kev 07 said climate change “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”.
    And Juliar taxed carbon.

  20. Kev 07 said climate change “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”.

    Carrying on precisely from where John Howard left off when he lost the 2007 election.

    And Juliar taxed carbon.

    As a prelude to introducing an ETS, as planned and allowed for in John Howard’s 2007 legislation.

    Please stop trying to sheet home this disaster to any particular political party. ALL of them, Liberal, Labor, Nats and Greens, at both federal and state level, have worked overtime for the last decade to destroy our access to cheap, abundant, reliable energy. They succeeded.

  21. Rafe Champion

    The media watchdog. The cost, supply and use of power across the states. Check out the Coal Tracker especially Units Planned and Under Construction. China 583, India 217, Indonesia 145, Turkey 71, Vietnam 84, Japan 43, Australia 0. To a total exceeding 1500. Numbers subject to change.

  22. egg_

    Voters want low electricity prices as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    Bullsh1t – that’s why they voted for Abbott, and, at least, he delivered on that promise.

  23. egg_

    China is currently building 700 coal fired power stations

    With India close behind.

  24. that’s why they voted for Abbott, and, at least, he delivered on that promise.

    How do you figure that?

  25. Fat Tony

    It comes down to 2 possibilities:

    1. Our politicians are incredibly retarded or
    2. What John Constantine says is correct

  26. Irreversible

    If the climatologists are correct, we’re screwed, and we need to get ready. We need to take every opportunity to make our economy more efficient, so that with stronger production, incomes and wealth we can leave the next generation with assets rather than debts, and maximise our capacity to help people around the world.
    A deep dive into the cynical rhetoric of today’s politics. Total bullshit.

  27. It comes down to 2 possibilities:

    There is a third possibility, Tony:

    1. Our politicians are incredibly retarded or AND
    2. What John Constantine says is correct

  28. DL, if you want my opinion, the Political Class have united and thrown this nation into the midden for nothing else than another two or three years at the Parliamentary Trough.
    Frankly, I’ll crack the bottle of Mumms that’s been in the fridge for a couple of years, if a truckload of mussies drove through the front doors of Parliament and lopped all their heads off.
    The Political Class have no bloody idea just how much they are loathed by the bloke on the six o’clock bus.

  29. Dave Wane

    Given how brainwashed the citizens are when it comes to the “climate-change-thing”, and given that very few politicians have the guts to abandon this entire useless and dangerously destructive “climate-change-thing” – even as much as reducing the crazy “targets”, I would have thought that David would have gone for broke and urged a “Trump-Like” approach.
    To my way of thinking, any appeasement (Chamberlain-like) to the climate-change-armies will only decrease our chances of defeating this menace.

  30. Rabz

    1989.

    1989. I’ll repeat it because that’s the first time I became aware of this laughable, hysterical, fact and evidence free anti-scientific bollocks.

    You know why I knew it was bollocks? Because it was the same bunch of preposterous hippie imbeciles who were screeching back in the seventies that we were all going to freeze to death in a new ice age.

    The giveaway was that even though the scenarios were very, very different, the so-called solution was exactly the same.

    More communism.

  31. Dave Wane

    However I do agree with David that the voters need to be convinced.
    But are the voters way too far “sheep-like” and infected with the very contagious disease of “group-think” that pretty much nothing (even, seemingly the highest electricity prices in the world) will sway them from “saving-the-planet”?

  32. Wil

    No need to convince me, you should direct your thinking toward the people who can influence the future of Oz.
    That means talking to , and convincing the university students, the large group of art degree intellectuals, the Greenpiece brigade and their like, and that other group who have a vested interest in the carbon bandwagon, the public service and the unions.
    Get to it, man. Now.

  33. Myrddin Seren

    After decades of indoctrination through the education mill, the leftist media and the public sector, this is the level of stupidity that needs to be reversed if we are to come back from the abyss.

    From Euan Mearns’ latest energy news:

    …the European Union’s governments and the European Parliament are discussing a draft law that aims to accelerate the shift to clean energy by 2030.

    The proposal upholds the current rules under which power from burning biomass such as wood pellets counts toward green-energy goals and can be subsidized by governments.

    In many ways wood is just very fresh coal,” Alex Mason, senior policy officer at WWF, said

    Too.Stupid.Too.Survive.

  34. Mark M

    Obama’s chief climate adviser on 1920s warming:
    “Its a problem we’re tying to address”

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/ilD6aYvMPZw

  35. Nerblnob

    However I do agree with David that the voters need to be convinced.

    That’s my point too.
    In trying to win the war on principle, you are losing too many ground battles.

    People need to be reminded, again and again, that no matter what they believe (or belove as in my previous typo) , that:

    Shutting down coal generation in Australia is disastrous for future generations (both meanings).

    Subsidising and otherwise rigging the market to favour wind and solar is preventing genuine alternatives from emerging (should there be any).

  36. Yohan

    The average person, even of the left, may not care about emissions reduction, but to the elite establishment class Climate Change is THE animating cause for them. It has become a religious mission for those who profess atheism in all other aspects of their lives. It gives them purpose and a feeling of self righteousness.

    That they get to advocate for all their leftist political positions by fighting climate change is a convenient win win.

    Across the West, mainstream right-wing political parties are obsessed with getting a pat on the head from this elite establishment and not being called the bad conservatives. So to present evidence showing how little the plebes care about emissions reduction will have no effect. The mainstream right mainly care about not being called evil by the media. They will never reverse any of these policies.

  37. OldOzzie

    BAN GAS-POWERED CARS? CALIFORNIA IS THINKING ABOUT IT

    Such a scheme assumes widespread availability of electric cars. Maybe this will happen in the fullness of time, but has anyone considered how to supply the massive amount of electricity to charge 25 or 30 million vehicles in California? It’s not just the total amount of electricity, but also transmission and fast-charging capacity that will need to be built at our current filling stations. A Canadian engineer has walked through the math of the subject, and concludes that to match the energy equivalent of a typical gasoline filling station today, an electric filling station would have to have the 30 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to the electricity use of 20,000 homes.

  38. A Lurker

    The average person, even of the left, may not care about emissions reduction, but to the elite establishment class Climate Change is THE animating cause for them. It has become a religious mission for those who profess atheism in all other aspects of their lives. It gives them purpose and a feeling of self righteousness.

    Exactly right, they believe in and worship a false god.
    The concept that the West must atone for its polluting ways by deindustrialising is very much like the idea of sin and redemption.
    Climate change is now a belief system.
    Any attempts to scientifically show them that they are wrong will be met by cries of denier by their high priests.
    Politicians who believe in it use taxpayer dollars to fund its worship. So much for the separation of church and State.

  39. OldOzzie

    Try putting ‘global warming’ in perspective

    Maybe people should put global warming in perspective.

    In Chicago in July 1995, there were over 700 heat-related deaths. In the twenty years after 1995, there were only 585 total heat-related deaths (less than 30 per year) and over 1,000 cold-related deaths. Does that look like a global warming trend? My guess is that national statistics look similar.

  40. Mundi

    David seems to have forgotten that the government can go into massive debt paying for generators to see us through and avoid blackouts.

    The price of electricity will be insane, but remember, the typical labour voting pleb is pro green, and believes things like when the conversation says only 1% of the power bill is from green programs. Remember these are the same people who upon seeing higher costs of living under massive regulation and market manipulation, readily blame capitalism and negative gearing who all wooes in society and the stagnation of living standards.

  41. The Nation needs Leaders, and we get Trough Snufflers.
    (Yes, I know we have a Bolds and Capitals Budget, but bugger it.)

  42. Tel

    BAN GAS-POWERED CARS? CALIFORNIA IS THINKING ABOUT IT

    Trump might consider a temporary executive ban on fossil fuel supplies into California. Excellent entertainment value.

  43. manalive

    Good electricity policy need not be bipartisan. If one party sticks with a crazy electricity policy, the best recipe for certainty is a contest of policies leading to the long term consignment of the party with the crazy policy to the opposition benches …

    I’m no political pundit, far from it, but I’m not sure that’s the way this will go, there is a lack of ’symmetry’.
    An ALP Opposition will never agree to any energy policy the Coalition government puts up whereas the Coalition will go along with any energy policy the next government (ALP/Green) puts up.
    Only the next ALP/Green government can offer the “certainty” the market needs, sadly.
    This shemozzle is entirely due to the Liberals’ political ineptitude.
    The upcoming South Australian election will be a good indicator.

  44. entropy

    climatologists are not quite the same thing as climate scientists. Just sayin’

  45. manalive

    Shorten will run the country the way he ran the union, it’s in his blood, there will be special ‘mates’ rates’ for energy, industries and businesses will be queuing up to shake his hand.

  46. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    In trying to win the war on principle, you are losing too many ground battles.

    Not just the battles but the entire war.

  47. John Constantine

    Thei friedenberg on sky, maintaining that Australia will continue to submit to the signed international conventions on ruinables, at any cost.

    Ways to cope, rationing being one.

    what rule chnges may be required.

    Turnbull is aware of reliability being an issue.

  48. AH

    Voters clearly do not want to pay for renewable energy and the policies which are FORCING voters to pay for renewable energy confirm this.

    If there was free choice as to energy source then consumers could choose to pay the higher cost for renewable energy if they wished, or they could choose to pay the lower cost for proper energy.

    Clearly the people behind such policies as the carbon tax, renewable energy target, clean energy target and so do not think people would voluntarily pay extra for energy if given the free choice, because they have created schemes that either increase the cost of proper energy so that there is comparatively no price advantage or flat out force the consumption of renewable energy.

    If more expensive energy is truly a popular idea then why do we need to force it on people? If somebody wants to do something then they do not need to be forced to do it. It is very simple. There is no way you can argue renewable energy is the popular wish if you have policies forcing it on people.

  49. Ironing Mike

    I want to be able to choose the mix of renewable/fossil energy I use in the same way that I choose the mix of investments that my super contributions support. Markets are smarter than pollies.

  50. Chris M

    Governments around Australia can also prepare for a new climate future by paying off their debts

    Hahaha you really think they will ever consider doing this? And how, by selling dope or something? Oh, wait…

  51. H B Bear

    No progress on energy policy while the Uniparty is in government.

  52. EvilElvis

    Voters want low electricity prices as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    That may be partially true DL, but only due to the fact that predominantly Labor/green, low socioeconomic scum, public servants, deadbeats and dipshits can vote for low emissions and get there ‘poor me’ fucking subsidies to cover their arses from us productive types.

    Cut the gravy train to the bottom rung of society first, they’ll then take care of the top.

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