Australian news, and some related international items

Media toes then government’s right-wing line, rubbishing South Australia’s innovative energy plan

South Australia shows up the federal government … and rightwing commentary, Guardian,  Jason Wilson, 16 Mar 17  The reaction to the South Australian energy plan from the federal government and rightwing media shows just how out of touch with public opinion they are. The South Australian government announced on Tuesday that it would address market failure with the time-honoured measure of government intervention. In addition, the Weatherill government has chosen to continue to rely extensively on renewable energy. Together, these themes in the government’s announcement have provoked the kind of howling rightwing atavism that shows exactly why they are increasingly at odds with the Australian public on this issue.

Cast your mind back to 2016, when South Australia suffered from major power outages. The right took this as a propaganda opportunity for the promotion of dirty power. The problem, op-ed after op-ed from Einsteins like Chris Kennyproclaimed, was the reliance on wind. Magic words like “baseload” were relentlessly defecated into the pail of our energy debate. The verdicts of experts were roundly ignored, if not castigated. It was all of a piece with the madness that has produced Senate inquiries into imaginary ailments and the veneration of inanimate carbon in the parliament.

Sensibly, the South Australians have brushed aside pretty much all of this. Weatherill’s statement laid the blame where it belonged: a dysfunctional national energy market, an absence of national policy, lazy coal-fired generators which don’t maintain their plant, and a perfect storm. Through a mix of public and private initiatives, the government will build in redundancies using battery storage and a 250MW gas-fired plant. And the energy minister will direct the market.

Environmental groups and the Greens are concerned about the continued presence of gas in the energy mix, but even some of these groups managed to give qualified approval. Industry leaders seem relieved that someone is approaching these problems rationally. But the lizard brain faction of the right – encompassing the Australian’s opinion section, certain thinktanks, and the dominant faction of the Coalition – is furious.

In the Australian on Wednesday, their somewhat ironically titled environment editor bravely spun the announcement as a slap in the face for “armchair electrical engineers” who advocate battery power – even though battery power is part of the mix. Coming heartbreakingly close to grasping the idea of market failure, he called it a “slippery slope to further ­nationalisation”………

Fellow travellers in the media like Chris Uhlmann – himself a big fan of the cultural Marxism conspiracy theory – were trying to save face over previous prognostications on the power grid by pretending they were right all along.

From farther out the fringes, the usual clown troupe has clumsily piled on. The IPA took us through the looking glass by accusing the South Australian government of an “ideological opposition to coal”, in between ritual incantations of the word “baseload”. And Malcolm Roberts seemed to think that carbon-reduced power generation posed some unspecified risk to carbon-based life.

The difficulty that the right will face on this issue going forward is a microcosm of their more general problem. Their increasingly fanatical dedication to fossil fuel, and their relationship with miners and generators, is increasingly at odds not only with public opinion, but with the lived experience of many Australians.

Voters support renewable energy, and in turn they want governments to do more to support it. More importantly, they are choosing in droves to supply their own homes with renewable sources, especially with photovoltaic solar rigs. South Australia is second only to Queensland in domestic solar installations, and a greater proportion of Australian homes have solar power than any other country.

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg are not following public opinion as they investigate obstacles for the SA proposal. They are, in effect, pandering to the rightwing tail that wags the Coalition dog…….

The West Australian correctly pointed out that the Australian’s coverage of the state election showed how far adrift it, too, is of community sentiment on a range of issues.

As the reef is bleached, as mangroves die, and as Australia relentlessly heats up, it may be small comfort to know that the Coalition’s perversity on energy might add to its deep political difficulties. But at the very least, South Australia may be showing us how ideologically driven federal intransigence can be sidestepped.

March 17, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media

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