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When Malcolm Turnbull speaks, the nation binds together to disagree. But if we took his comments on his energy plan seriously, we might get somewhere.
Yesterday, words dripped out the mouth of Malcolm Turnbull that will surely add to the deluge of criticism threatening to sweep Kirribilli House away, shifting us back to the familiar shores of Abbott Island. The Prime Minister visited a solar farm in Queensland’s Barcaldine to reiterate his commitment to the altar of disbelief, throwing a brick through the stained glass window of the church of climate change. Malcolm Turnbull is a devout renewables “agnostic”, aware climate change science exists, but not believing it exists, and the headlines support this.
Mal’s trip to the Maranoa electorate was a confusing one. He travelled to a place that was, in the words of local representative, David Littleproud, “becoming an Australian hub for energy”, to reiterate that he doesn’t believe in coexistence, before stating that we should approach this nation’s energy problem by taking advantage of our great natural advantages (coal, gas), before mentioning that Maranoa (a place that has an industry for all energy theories) is an example that we should follow.
A point of contention on both sides.
In the minds of Left it regurgitates guttural complaint about Malcolm’s belief that renewable energy is itself a belief system, not a fact proven by science, and throws the question up, yet again, about why places like Maranoa aren’t the standard to back up the RET; whilst conversely for the Right, his agnosticism, his lack of belief, should translate into not having a renewable energy target at all, instead of funding one – simply put, the question of why is Turnbull backing something that he doesn’t believe exists?
The PM said, in no uncertain terms, that we should pursue an energy scheme devoid of ideology, focusing on the bottom line with the eyes of a business. Ergo, if it works, it works; if it costs too much, adios.
The easy answer, of course, is politics. The tough one to stomach, is coexistence. As an entirely fossil-based energy scheme is unrealistic, and short sighted, as is one based solely on renewables.
Malcolm touched on that in his comments but in the midst of bashing Labor and sticking to his guns about the South Australian pickle (that renewables were unreliable, and indeed the devil), the point seems easily lost. The PM said, in no uncertain terms, that we should pursue an energy scheme devoid of ideology, focusing on the bottom line with the eyes of a business. Ergo, if it works, it works; if it costs too much, adios.
Which sounds grand as a standalone statement, but the real conversation is in convincing the two opposing schools of thought to move from the far side of town. Renewables (save the planet) versus fossil fuels (save the economy). A more oppositional situation there could not be, where favouring one would obviously mean marginalising the other, and see Turnbull ousted. But the point is honourable, and, yes, while it might have been lifted from the Old El Paso playbook, that doesn’t mean that it is incorrect.
It’s fair to say that we have a bit of a problem with listening to Malcolm Turnbull, in the same way that the Titanic had a bit of an iceberg problem, but his rhetoric from Somewhere, Queensland should be heeded.
What we do need is both: an engineered plan to have our cake, and a scheme to power the lights while we eat it, free from ideology on both sides. We need to accept Coal Seam Gas is going to be produced, and thusly, for those on my side of the fence, that renewables are here to stay.
If not, do we then collectively look at a middle-ground third option? Is it time to consider nuclear power a legitimate option? If no, then perhaps the Left and the Right should not agree to disagree, but rather seek a plan of coexistence to avoid a product that neither wants.
You know, like a business.