Labor’s coal-fired green dream

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Michael de Percy

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Michael de Percy

24 May 2023

1:40 PM

With cost-of-living pressures really starting to hurt Australians, Labor’s green dream would be a complete nightmare if it wasn’t for coal.

When then Treasurer Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives, the left-leaning media were quick to respond:

‘What a bunch of clowns, hamming it up – while out in the real world an ominous and oppressive heat just won’t let up.’

Fast forward to 2023 and Labor’s budget surplus has little to do with sound economic management, and much to do with unexpectedly high prices for exports of fossil fuels. And this is despite Labor’s running mates, the Greens, doing everything to demonise coal and gas.

In the real world, it takes more than just dreams to power the nation.

But the economic bonus provided by plentiful coal and gas reserves is only the most obvious benefit. Our ability to provide coal and gas to Korea and Japan provides energy security for our strategic partners. This is important for the energy sector in Korea and Japan if they are to avoid Germany’s fate. The disruption of supply in coal and gas in Europe resulting from the war in Ukraine should be proof enough that Australian exports of coal and gas are more important than ever.

The government’s approval of a new coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin has barely raised an eyebrow from the major news media players. Nor should it. This is good news for the economy but confirms that Labor is facing up to the reality of its green energy dream.

Countries that pursued carbon emissions strategies by relying heavily on wind and solar farms are now changing tack. Nuclear is back on the agenda everywhere except for Germany and Australia it seems. The green dream is also impacting European farmers who are protesting against tax burdens created by ‘radical environmentalists far away from farms’. This trend is now starting to impact farmers in Australia.

Australian farmers make a major contribution to our budget bottom line, with wheat production reaching record levels in 2022-23. Although next year’s crop is expected to remain steady (a bit below record levels), Labor was quick to dip into farmers’ profits with a new ‘biosecurity tax’. It makes no sense for farmers to pay a tax to ensure imports from their offshore competitors do not create a biohazard. What’s worse, the levy will ultimately increase the price of fresh food at the checkout when the cost of living is already biting struggling families.

Europeans are starting to turn against Net Zero policies, led by French President Emmanuel Macron with his call for a ‘“pause” of more EU environmental red-tape’. The UK, however, appears to be pushing beyond the EU’s aspirations with goals to end internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 compared with the EU’s later and less stringent vehicle laws lobbied for by the likes of German manufacturers BMW, Audi, VW, and Mercedes-Benz.

Labor’s push for increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles is another area where the green dream can easily turn into a gas-guzzling nightmare. Fuel efficiency standards are meant to encourage smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. The reality or indeed the perverse outcome of such policies is that vehicles are becoming bigger and more powerful.

The idea that consumers can’t wait to get their hands on an EV is not reflected in Australian vehicle sales, with the Ford Ranger currently the biggest selling vehicle, followed closely by the Toyota Hilux. Woke city folk forget that many Australians can’t get around in regional and remote communities on an electric scooter or in the best-selling EV that has a range of barely 500km.

The big problem at the moment is that there might not be enough electricity to live the green dream where everything is powered by renewables. With no Plan B, Australia’s energy security is at risk should Labor’s ‘crash through or crash’ approach to energy policy fail.

Energy industry leaders such as Dr Kerry Schott have cautioned against demonising coal and gas as part of the energy transition to renewables. And former head of Snowy Hydro Paul Broad recently called BS on the 80 per cent renewables energy target. But Warren Mundine summed it up most succinctly on Spectator TV last week, when he said ‘if you believe in climate change and you don’t believe in nuclear power, then you don’t believe in climate change’.

But Labor is pushing a certain type of green dream without facing up to the reality that Europeans are now realising – renewables alone can’t do the job. With some of the largest reserves of uranium in the world, it’s a no-brainer for Australia to embrace nuclear energy now rather than waiting to learn Europe’s lessons.

The Albanese government is happy to claim the glory for a budget surplus due to responsible economic management while minimising the importance of coal for the nation’s continuing prosperity.

In the meantime, without coal there is no green dream.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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