Turnbull and the Renewable Energy Target

At the minute of writing (1404 Sunday), it looks as if Malcolm Turnbull will replace Tony Abbott as PM tomorrow. Among his many challenges will be climate change policy, the issue that brought him undone last time around. The word appears to be that he will adhere to the platform from the 2013 election, which rules out a carbon price (tax or ETS) but gives him room to move in various directions.The assumption is that this compromise will buy both Turnbull and the climate deniers in the LNP enough time to work out some kind of solution.

What no one seems to have mentioned is that the Abbott government, in defiance of the 2013 platform, has been doing its best to make drastic cuts in the Renewable Energy Target. To the extent that the processes of government are going on during the current mess, negotations with Labor and the minor parties are still under way. Turnbull will have to decide, more or less immediately, whether to keep pushing for deep cuts.

There’s a further problem. Turnbull can’t simply drop the issue and leave things as they are. Abbott’s obvious intention to destroy the scheme has had a chilling effect on investment, particularly in the wind sector. Under the current rules, fossil fuel generators need to offset their generation with certificates from renewable generators. But it now seems unlikely that there will be enough certificates by 2020, which would result in the triggering of penalty clauses. So, the scheme needs some kind of change.

The Climate Change Authority, of which I’m a member put out a report just before Christmas last year, suggesting that the target date of 2020 be shifted out, and that the duration of the scheme be extended past 2030. That’s one possible solution, though not the only one.

The problem for Turnbull is that any realistic solution will instantly enrage the climate deniers, while continuing on the current path will put him in the position of owning Abbott’s broken promises.

34 thoughts on “Turnbull and the Renewable Energy Target

  1. “it looks as if Malcolm Turnbull will replace Tony Abbott as PM tomorrow”

    Not a very good call, although everybody including myself underestimated Abbott.

    It looks like Abbott has increased his support in the party room. Last time he only got 42 votes to Turnbulls 41 or about 51% of the vote. This time around he achieved 61% of the vote; 61 to 39.

    Turnbull would need to prove himself in a major role like treasurer before the party would trust him again after selling out to the left; there are too many better options than him to fill Abbotts spot.

  2. Phoenix

    There is a weird “rule/convention” within the Coalition that the front bench (40-odd members if the parliamentary secretaries are included) all oppose the spill motion, but then they can vote however that like if there is an actual contest. So it is really only the back bench that have any freedom to vote as they choose in the spill motion. Most of them voted for a spill.

    The convention is a bit like a bunch of lemmings marching together to ward off the foxes when there is a cliff just in front of them. Sooner or later it is gong to get very messy. @phoenix

  3. @Jim

    There are forty-two members of the current Coalition frontbench, but seven of those are Nationals, so there are only thirty-five with a vote in the Liberal party room.

    However, given a genuinely secret ballot there is no way of confirming that all thirty-five of them actually did vote against the spill motion.

  4. I know the leadership result at this time but will not comment on that. The leaderships of the parties are immaterial. The substance of their policies is what counts. The policies of the duopoly parties remain inhumane, environmentally dangerous and economically idiotic.

    “A plague on both your houses!” – Shakespeare.

  5. @phoenix
    Actually, PM Tony Abbott avoiding a spill motion does not necessarily demonstrate that everyone under-estimated Abbott; on the contrary, it may be that everyone under-estimated one or both of Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull. See my previous comment:

    Donald Oats :
    If I were Malcolm Turnbull, I wouldn’t contest the leadership if the spill occurs; better to let Tony stew in his own juice for a while longer, let the LNP get almost hysterical with fear, and when a second challenge is made possible, go for it then. If the LNP are in total fear of losing their seats, they are less likely to object to a new PM making a very quick and decisive set of changes to the toxic Tony policies, if they think it will save them from electoral oblivion.
    The difficulties Malcolm had last time were due in part to an ultra-conservative, ultra-freemarket, rump of the LNP, senator Nick Minchin, Andrew Robb, being two of these fellows; they cooked up a plan to snooker him on the eve of agreeing to the CPRS/ETS agreement with the ALP. Although Minchin is gone, there are plenty more like him. This mob would do him in once more, no matter how well liked he was by the electorate at large. So, if he wants the main prize, he may need to chance it and wait a few more months.

    Perhaps the would-be pretenders for the throne have estimated Tony Abbott just fine, and left him there for a bit longer.

  6. I chased up Abbott’s baffling reference to a scandal involving “pink batts”. This turns up to be a monumentally screwed-up scheme for .. home insulation. Not sniffer planes or attack helicopters or corn ethanol, something complicated where there’s some excuse for failure, but home insulation. You’d expect Luxembourg to be able to manage that.

    One Polish (IIRC) wit described late socialism as a scheme for turning the supply of toilet paper into a problem. Is late Australian crony capitalism a scheme for turning fibreglass roof insulation into a problem?

  7. @Ken_L
    Pyne, Abetz and Brandis, you’ve named the three I find most contemptible and revenge against Turnbull would be giving them too much credit.
    More likely craven terror of losing their jobs should MT arise. Of course they may just be rat cunning enough not to martyr him.

  8. James Wimberley, are your training to become a Political Neo- Con?

    The pink batts programme was only ever a scandal in Tony Abbott’s twisted mind. The opposition attack on the government initiative was hysterical in the extreme and used every possible distortion of fact and fiction in the attempt to create credibility.

    The programme was a GFC stimulus with Global Warming Action extentions that insulated the rooves 1 million Australian homes in a very short period of time. During the course of the implimentation there were several accidents and a small number of house fires that were not necessarily a consequence of the insulation. By relative proportion the incidents were below that normally experienced in this industry, but because the federal government had created the initiative it had somehow to be an absolutely perfect application to the belligerent political opposition.

    John Quiggin did a number of enlightening articles on the matter at the time, threads that you would do well to read.

  9. James Wimberley, just to reinforce what Bilb wrote, the home insulation scheme (pink batts) was a huge success and a demonstration of how improvng efficiency can cut carbon emissions and contributed directly to a reduction in wholesale electricity prices. Tragically however, some cowboy installers ignored safety procedures and deaths resulted. I believe as many died as did building the ethane pipe to Melbourne. However, I am positive that as a result of these tragic events, the Abbott government will move to improve safety regulations and monitoring for Australian businesses, just as soon as a sufficient proportion of Australia’s bovine population have jumped over the moon.

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