Australian policy debates are so loaded with dreadful scenarios you would think it’s a drunken mob fighting over a spilt pint. Even before SA’s lights shine bright, the culture warriors are already putting blame on wind turbines for causing the raging storms.
Seems none cares that cyclonic winds brought down 20 unprecedented transmission towers, and the instantaneous experts in Australia’s commentariat could “feel” that renewables were at fault.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the Coalition is right in the midst of a cold climate policy war. Of course, Malcolm Turnbull once lost the Liberal leadership with regards to climate policy and his opponents seemingly want to slip him down that route again. While the obvious signs that climate change is happening have embarrassed denouncers of climate science, the same folk who talked endlessly about solar energy flares while citing Lord Monkton is now talking endlessly about “grid stability”.
Malcolm Turnbull has once again; found himself stuck in the middle of the wars, on one side hard-pressed by the chanting mob that crushes renewable energy supporters and on the other end massive evidence that Australia needs more renewables, not less. The PM understands well that greenhouse emissions cannot be reduced without more investments in renewable energy, and further understands that that’s the main reason why his enemies from within are quickly feigning concern with the transmission architecture design and the effect of load shedding on the system’s frequency stability.
Ridiculously, if you think the “obsession” with renewables is a mere left-wing phenomena, then ACT Liberals’ claim that they are fully committed to ensuring 100 percent renewable energy target for Canberra will make you scream.
With the ACT polls already here, it’s timely for the Prime Minister to fuel his local campaigns using renewable energy. What better time this is to share his thoughts on whether the ACT Liberal’s backing of the ALP idea for 100% renewable energy is vapid or just visionary. Of course, it is possible that the local Liberal isn’t genuinely committed to supporting 100 percent target since they have been oddly mum from the time when the national debate flared up.
However, renewable energy is not the only issue making the prime ministerial intervention in the ACT election difficult. The ACT Liberals have also set up several land mines too. In 2015 when Mr. Turnbull tried to lay all tax reform alternatives on the table, he talked so enthusiastically about scrapping inefficient “stamp duties” and introducing a more realistic land-tax regime.
The ACT Labor government took the same advice as Mr. Turnbull and introduced the scheme he had encouraged state leaders to embrace. Unfortunately, the local Liberals have senselessly fought tooth and nail all efforts to change this land tax. Notably, the Prime Minister is yet to either congratulate ACT Labor for effecting genuine tax reforms or recant his local branch’s populism.
In the year 2015, the PM was loud on the connection between the productivity of our economy and the livability of our cities. However in the ACT, the ALP government is already constructing light rail despite the local Liberals’ vow to chew up the contracts; and the Prime Minister is as visible on this one as his Liberal party’s coherent position.
Contest of Opinions
When politics becomes a contest of opinion, democracy will have a chance at lifting itself up since any new political fight either helps to refine an old stand or create new challenges or opportunities. But when politics turns into a mere contest of tribal intonation in which the principles of consistency and the rules of evidence are ditched for short term pre-emptive advantage, then progress, whether democratic or economic, becomes totally coincidental. In other words, genuine political fights are constructive but phoney political fights become destructive.
So, what’s Malcolm Turnbull to do? Will he repudiate Canberra Liberal’s push for 100 per cent renewable energy to appease the climate skeptics in his Federal Coalition? Will he negate the ACT Liberals for their firm stand on public transport and land tax in order to legitimise his push for more of both across the nation? Or will he just keep his head in the sand until the present scuffles are over?
Pulling a country towards a completely new direction takes patience, strength and consistency. Strategic silence and flip flopping can be effective tactics for political survival but the worst approaches for political leadership. The remaining few days before the ACT election will tell which approach Mr. Turnbull is committed to.