Malcolm Turnbull is all mouth and no trousers. His ’21st-century government and a ministry for the future’ is anything but. Nowhere is this clearer than with the environment. In 2010 he had the right words.
‘We as a human species have a deep and abiding obligation to this planet and to the generations that will come after us.’
Now he clearly doesn’t give a toss. In his first week as PM in parliament he ridicules Labor and its renewable energy aspirations using plenty of invective and rhetoric but a damning lack of argument.
Fancy proposing, without any idea of the cost of the abatement, the cost of proposing that 50% of energy had to come from renewables! What if that reduction in emissions you needed could come more cost-effectively from carbon storage, by planting trees, by soil carbon, by using gas, by using clean coal, by energy efficiency?
What if this is an entirely specious and irresponsible speculation posing as an argument, Mr Turnbull? Or are you prepared to ignore the experts; the science in favour of the sound of your own voice? What if such schemes will take far longer to achieve their objectives than originally planned; achieve much less than expected; cost far more than was budgeted. The Australia Institute pointed out in research paper four years ago.
Direct Action is unlikely to achieve more than 18 per cent of your party’s target of reducing emissions by five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020. Emissions falling by five per cent on 2000 levels? In 2020, they would instead rise by 18.4 per cent? Facts not empty rhetoric, Mr Turnbull. We had more than enough hot air from your predecessor.
We know hot air when we hear it, Mr Turnbull. So do you. You once described Direct Action climate change policy as “fiscal recklessness on a grand scale” but now you would have us believe the policy is a “resounding success”.
Clean coal? Really? More Turnbullshit. Clean coal doesn’t exist Mr Turnbull and you know it. As you put it in 2010,
“Despite all of the money and all of the hope that has been put into carbon capture and storage there is still, as of today, not one industrial scale coal fired power station using carbon capture and storage”.
If you were at all serious about the future, your past speeches would be a good start. Next you would set up an inquiry into work experience boy Greg Hunt mishandling of his brief as Environment Minister. A PM who is really making plans for the future as you so eloquently put it, a PM who is making a case for agility and being on our toes cannot afford to have a Hunt anywhere near environmental policy.
Hunt is an embarrassing liability in the Environment Ministry with his farcical Direct Action plan and his record of having his eyes wide shut whether it be approving dirty big international coal mines but forgetting about the local water supply or the endangered fauna; holes in the ground to bury our future or risking our heritage in the Great Barrier Reef to ships bearing coal with unskilled underpaid crews to make profits for overseas merchants.
Hunt closed his eyes to the building of a refuelling port on Melville Island in the Tiwis. The excuse was that his ministry is so overworked that it failed to notice the construction of a round the clock commercial refuelling port in a pristine part of Australia without any environmental study.
A $130m deep-sea port project was allowed to go ahead without environmental assessment or approval, despite being in an area of ecological national significance, home to nesting turtles and dugongs. Storage tanks that can store up to 30 million litres of diesel have been installed within the area. Already there has been diesel spill of 3,500 litres.
The latest report on the Port Melville construction without approval fiasco is that the government will not be taking any further action. The Federal Department of Environment has dropped its investigation into the Tiwi Land Council and its Singaporean development partners.
Hunt cannot be allowed to get away this gross negligence of his portfolio and allow Australia’s heritage and future to degenerate into a free-for-all for international speculators keen to exploit our nation’s lack of vigilance, due diligence.
The man was overseen Australia’s carbon emissions rise since the coalition gained office thanks to the abolition of the carbon tax which was never a tax but an emissions trading scheme which even Tony Abbott used to support before he flip-flopped because it was such a good strategy to beat Labor with. Hunt has gone along with this, including the nonsense that families gained $500 per household. Few gained at all – and in the long term all lost. Labor’s scheme was both sensible and workable.
Renewables are the key to our future energy needs yet while you were announcing your new cabinet, the quarterly Ernst & Young ranking of the attractiveness of global markets for renewable energy investment has demoted Australia further to now be out of the top 10, citing ‘an all-out attack on the Country’s wind sector’ by the government.
As a new Prime Minister who wants to offer a credible message of hope Mr Turnbull, you need to do more than mention the word ‘renewal’ frequently and the need to ’embrace the future’ or the nation will see your rhetoric as merely political, a way of drawing a contrast with the coal-fired climate change denying, back to the 1950s, Abbott gang.
Start by holding Greg Hunt to account. Stand him down. Get a Minister for the Environment who can look after the environment.