A rift has opened in the Liberal National Party on energy.
How it is resolved will determine whether or not electricity prices in Queensland continue to rise.
The stakes are high.
State leader Deb Frecklington’s declaration last week that she and her state parliamentary colleagues were planning for “a future beyond coal” sent shock waves through her federal colleagues north of the Tropic of Capricorn where there are hundreds of years of coal supplies in the ground.
In her budget reply speech, Frecklington said a future LNP state government would force energy suppliers to include renewables in the mix.
She won immediate praise from the radical green-left.
GetUp! Spokeswoman Ellen Roberts said Ms Frecklington “was on the right side of history” and that it was obvious “coal has no future” in Queensland.
Rockhampton-based Senator and Resources Minister Matt Canavan was quick to repudiate Ms Frecklington.
He said the playing field had to be levelled so coal could compete again with taxpayer-subsidised renewables.
He said this should be done rather than “force-feeding a particular type of power” into the grid.
It is worth remembering that the reason Australia has some of the highest electricity prices in the world, despite some of the most abundant natural resources, is because we have made coal uncompetitive by pouring billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into unreliable renewable power.
But bizarrely, Frecklington and the state LNP’s solution is for more government-distorting intervention – a proven driver of higher electricity prices and unreliable supply.
Both major political parties are captured by climate ideology when it comes to energy and until they are disavowed of this, electricity prices will continue to rise and supply will continue to be unreliable.
But it is not just the LNP that is captured by green-left energy ideas.
Queensland Labor recently announced $1 billion will be spent on a giant windmill farm in the Central Queensland coal fields.
This sounds lovely until you read the fine print which says that this massive spend will only generate three percent of our state’s electricity needs.
When I questioned this on Twitter, the Minister for State Development Cameron Dick tweeted back in a condescending way.
You can read about our twitter exchange here and see for yourself the many unanswered questions.
It is far easier for the left to slur and make declarations about history than engage in debate.
The problem with so many in the LNP is that they lack the courage to take the left on, find it easier to drink the Kool Aid and finally to capitulate.
Revelations on Andrew Bolt’s blog that globally $2 trillion has been spent on renewables from 2007 to 2016 with no reduction in carbon should again ring alarm bells about the futility of current energy policy.
That’s right folks. Two. Trillion. Dollars. For nothing.
The reality is that coal and nuclear energy will be needed for a long time into the future to ensure reliable, affordable base-load power.
Unless the Liberal National Party can resolve the battle for the soul of its party, policy drift and high electricity prices will continue.
This is why I am running for the Senate for the Conservative Party. Pressure from outside is the only way to make conservatives conservative again.
Representing Queenslanders in the Australian Senate will give me and our leader Cory Bernardi a greater platform to sustain our calls for common sense to return to energy policy.
Here is The Australian’s reporting of the rift.
Matt Canavan castigates colleagues over coal
Resources Minister Matt Canavan has cautioned his Queensland Liberal National colleagues over their proposal to mandate public investment in renewable energy, as the state opposition’s “plan for a future beyond coal” won praise from activist group GetUp!.
In her formal reply to Tuesday’s state budget, LNP leader Deb Frecklington yesterday announced she would require state-owned power companies to invest in renewables to deliver an “affordable, secure and clean” energy mix.
“I promise Queenslanders that the LNP will plan for a future beyond coal,” she said, unveiling a five-point economic plan that also included new transport infrastructure, improved education and healthcare, new water infrastructure, and no new taxes.
Senator Canavan said the Turnbull government believed in a “level playing field” rather than “force-feeding a particular type of power” into the grid.
“We’ve been very critical of these types of approaches,” he told The Australian. “Whenever a state government tries to intervene and distort the market, it doesn’t end well.”
Michelle Landry, who holds the LNP’s most marginal federal seat, Capricornia, said she was “very supportive of the coal sector” and did “not think coal is a thing of the past”.
“Deb’s trying to do the best that she can for people, but I’m sticking up for my electorate, which means coal power. Coal is going to be around for a very long time to come,” she said.
Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd said the state’s energy mix should include new high-efficiency, low-emission coal power stations “supplying baseload, dispatchable, affordable, reliable power”.
GetUp! spokeswoman Ellen Roberts said Ms Frecklington was “on the right side of history” and her policy would lead to “good, secure jobs with a real future”.
“Queenslanders have been waiting far too long for a political leader to state the obvious — coal has no future, while Queensland’s abundant sun and wind will never run out,” she said.
Specific measures announced in Ms Frecklington’s speech included a second motorway connecting Brisbane to the Gold Coast, real-time monitoring of petrol prices and deregulating country electricity prices.
An LNP government would partner with business to deliver healthcare and refocus school curriculums on literacy, numeracy and language, she said. Every state school classroom would be fitted with air-conditioning at a cost of about $1.5 billion.
Ms Frecklington pledged to stabilise and pay down debt without introducing any new taxes.
“Labor’s massive debt will cost Queenslanders $3.7bn a year in interest payments,” she said, noting public debt would exceed $83bn in 2020-21 amid increased spending on services and infrastructure.
“Our huge debt is not just a number. It takes billions away from schools, hospitals, infrastructure and policing. It leaves Queensland vulnerable to economic downturns and natural disasters.”