Australian news, and some related international items

Finkel Energy Review – a test of Australia’s political system

Does our political system still work? Finkel test will provide the answer, Guardian,  Katharine Murphy, 16 June 17 Neither the Coalition nor Labor has the perfect solution for a pressing energy problem that is affecting everyone in the country “…..The challenge imposed by the Finkel review is more substantial than whether Australia should adopt a clean energy target to deliver policy certainty and help reduce carbon pollution.

I’ve said before it is a litmus test of whether our political system still works.

The case for action is obvious. Australia needs an energy grid that functions and we need to reduce carbon emissions. No ifs, buts or maybes – for any responsible government, that’s the task.

But climate policy remains a form of political kryptonite. Rational action must always run the gauntlet of, first, the blowhards of the reactionary, hate-spewing media, intent on substituting culture war for fact and wrapping their thuggishness in a cloak of victimhood; and, second, the lingering fog of special interests.

Past dynamics have poisoned this debate so comprehensively that we are now reduced to squabbling over a third or fourth best policy option to solve a pressing problem that directly affects every person in the country.

That’s what a clean energy target is. It’s not a magic bullet, or a perfect solution that has fallen, fortuitously, from the sky.

In fact as policy goes, it’s pretty suboptimal.

It’s what you get when you reach a policy nadir so shameful that even the immaculately suited short-termists, who worked to sink Labor’s carbon price a couple of years ago, are too embarrassed to own their own misjudgment, and are largely lining up on the side of action.

So, as both contributor to the sum of these parts, and inheritor of the consequences, the Coalition has to work out whether it can set aside its taste for lethal factionalism, for jostling, preening and indulging its own operatic yet entirely dull and predictable feelpinions – and remember that the voting public wants answers……..

in the real world, it’s clear that no one wants to build a new “clean” coal plant, given the risk of it being a stranded asset. Governments could, of course, intervene if they were inclined to make a deeply stupid investment more attractive, but the economics of coal investment won’t shift decisively as a consequence of coal-fired power operators being eligible for a small proportion of certificates under a clean energy target.

With that in mind, hard heads in Labor will say sign on, because we have to hold coal seats ourselves at the next election, we are only really talking about theoretical coal, and we can also reserve the right to adjust the scheme in government.

But that won’t be the universal view in the opposition.

For MPs defending seats targeted by the Greens, defending support for a clean energy target with coal in the mix is a pretty tough proposition.

Labor has been trying to hover at a point in its own climate policy deliberations where it can sound negative about coal without totally abandoning coal.

But at some point that artful levitation will have to end – and clear lines will have to be drawn.


June 19, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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