Treasurer Joe Hockey’s recent comments branding wind farms “utterly offensive” and “blight on the landscape” has drawn attention to the Coalition’s views on renewable energy technology.
Crikeyreviewed the position of key Coalition politicians on wind energy in the weeks after the election of the Abbott government in September 2013. It identified one lone pro-wind energy MP—Warren Entsch, Member for Leichhardt—among the Coalition’s ranks.
More recently, RenewEconomy has published an analysis identifying key state and federal politicians who are opposed to renewable energy. Predictably, the list is dominated by members of the Liberal and National parties, including the likes of PM Abbott, Treasurer Hockey and Premier Napthine.
Interestingly, both analyses omit a leading opponent of wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target: Angus Taylor, the Member for Hume.
Angus Taylor is a staunch critic of wind energy and the national Renewable Energy Target. He is also linked to research supporting the gas industry. The omission of Taylor in previous analysis can be put down to his status as a first time MP with little political influence. Yet, with party faithful have branding Taylor a “star” recruit and a “future PM“, he’s someone to watch.
Let’s recap Angus Taylor’s anti-renewable energy activism to date:
Liberal backbencher Angus Taylor has once again targeted wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target.
In a Canberra Times report on the planning approval for the Collector wind farm, Mr Taylor “hinted the RET review would likely prove the undoing of the wind farm industry.” Angus Taylor told the Times
“Projects like this seem set to continue unabated until a national review – which the new federal government has committed to in 2014 – can reveal the true economics behind the industry. The RET review will look into the massive subsidies for wind farms, which are forcing up electricity prices and propping up an economically unviable industry.”
The Member for Hume has a long track record bagging wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target. Taylor even appeared at a poorly attended rally at Parliament House in June opposed to the clean energy technology and the RET policy. It’s no surprise then that Taylor claims wind energy is forcing up bills.
By Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator explores Australia’s new political landscape in an article published by Chain Reaction – Friends of the Earth’s national magazine. Find other thought-provoking articles and support Friends of the Earth by subscribing to Chain Reaction.
The following is a brief assessment of possible trajectories in environmental politics under the federal Coalition government, specific areas where the Coalition can be expected to act, and a summary of some of the key players in the new political landscape.
The first Tea Party government?
John Howard was never an advocate for climate action. Yet we face something different in Tony Abbott. A lot of water has passed under the bridge of conservative politics since Howard’s days. If we want to see what an Abbott government might mean for the environment, we would be well advised to look to the US, where a highly ideological Tea Party movement continues to drive government agendas. Think Sarah Palin, not John Howard.
It seems clear that this government will start to dismantle 40 years of environmental progress and modernisation, as approvals for major projects are passed to the States and Territories. Tony Abbott calls this cutting ‘green tape’. In the real world this means more coal mines, more gas rigs, and more port facilities on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Abbott has long said that his first actions as PM will include the dismantling of the carbon price. What is surprising is the speed at which he is enacting his agenda. There are a considerable number of senior Coalition MPs with profound dislike of all things green. This may manifest as vindictive actions, like the expected lock out of environmental NGOs from government access.
This Tea Party approach is a strategic error. Playing to the climate sceptics and anti-greens will not win fans amongst soft green Liberal voters. It also runs the risk of alienating sections of the business community. For example, if Mr Abbott shuts down the wind industry, he is depriving farmers of reliable income and removing jobs from regional Australia. In short, if this government goes hard against everything green, it will damage the economy at the same time.
When we look at the Coalition’s recent record, we can see they have been forced to keep the facade that they will take action on climate, yet the Direct Action Plan will deliver very little in terms of emissions reduction. It is little more than a slush fund for farmers and the tree plantings by his Green Army will not be a panacea for our rising greenhouse emissions. The anti science agenda suggests that the Coalition is not controlled by economic rationalists any more, because of the evidence that it is willing to protect fossil fuels and mining at any cost. Continue reading “Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse”
At the weekend, Infigen Energy hosted its second annual Run With The Windevent at the Woodlawn wind farm. This year’s fun run around the 23 wind turbines near Bungendore, New South Wales attracted 600 participants–including the Liberal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.
Angus Taylor’s participation in the event is somewhat of a surprise given his track record of bagging wind energy.
Taylor is the poster child of the clandestine anti-wind farm site Stop These Things. The site’s anonymous bloggers laud Taylor for his wind bashing. They describe the member for Hume this way:
ABC News has revealed the members of the taskforce who worked on the pro-CSG Reith Review. The taskforce includes none other than wind energy bashing Liberal MP, Angus Taylor.
As the current Liberal member for Hume, Angus Taylor has followed in the footsteps of predecessor Alby Schultz and is an active campaigner against wind farms. Both Schultz (who is newly appointed Patron to the Waubra Foundation) and Taylor appeared at the lacklustre anti-wind farm rally held at Parliament House in June, 2013.
“[A]ll the taskforce members, except for Mr Reith, represent energy companies or associated industries and lobby groups,” writes ABC journalist Jeff Waters.
The Napthine government has not made the Reith Review public, though it reportedly supports unconventional gas extraction in Victoria and an end to the state’s moratorium on fracking.
Taylor’s presence on the pro-CSG taskforce is not the first time the MP has been linked to research supporting the gas industry. According to RenewEconomy, Taylor circulated a report by Port Jackson Partners (a consultancy where he used to work) among Coalition MPs earlier in 2013:
“The central theme of the report is that the Coalition could drop the renewable energy target entirely (and immediately), save up to $3.2 billion (or up to $300 a household) by 2020 and still meet emissions reduction targets. But it’s based around a whole series of false assumptions. It is more likely to push up costs by around $1 billion a year.”