Tony Abbott’s great big backward slow bicycle race to nowhere.

Monster man-baby, “stable genius”, Donald Trump stacks another tantrum this week, wiping billions off the New York Stock Exchange and rattling world financial markets by upping the ante in his futile trade war with China.

Baby Donald is spooked by the imminent release of James Comey’s  tome, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, an exposé of “never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career”.

Even a man-child fake president can sense a lose-lose situation. Former FBI Director Comey’s book’s topped Amazon’s bestseller list weeks before its 17 April publication. It’s very title is a shot at The Donald.

On another unwinnable front, Trump cracks down on border control, despatching National Guardsmen to the US-Mexico border. It never worked for Barack Obama or George W Bush.

But many down under will cheer – especially Tony Abbott who has even travelled to London to preach John Howard’s Pacific Solution and the militarisation of compassion to world leaders. He tells them to wake up to themselves and punish illegals in offshore gulags if they are to deter the demon people-smuggler, stop drownings at sea, deter jihadists, soldiers of the caliphate intent on mayhem or face extinction as a nation by invasion .

Delighted also will also be Il Duce Dutton who is in The Guardian in a couple of sugar-puff pieces this week where he puts himself forward as a man of principle who dismisses as “token” the efforts of countries to re-settle the current numbers of displaced persons. The UN Refugee Convention 1951 ought to be revised, he reckons, to see more refugee camps set up. Not only does Dutto deal well with dissent, he doesn’t muck around with practicality.

Nor humanity. Nor is there a hint of awareness we helped cause the refugee problem with our eager participation, for example, in the illegal invasion of Iraq where half a million were killed and 4.4 million internally displaced. 265,000 were forced to seek  refuge abroad. It’s part of Dutto’s run-up to be the nation’s next Prime Minister.

Naturally, like ScoMo, or Dutto, or Turnbull or any other Coalition MPs up on their hind legs braying abuse in Question Time, Trump bags his political opponents, The Democrats, for being soft on border protection.

And on China. China will retaliate over Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports? He’ll see that bid- and raise it. He adds another $100 billion. The Chinese reply with a list of mainly agricultural commodities  hurting “places where Trump supporters are to be found” with a focus on key U.S. industries, two of which — soybeans and cars — are concentrated in states Trump won.

The Washington Post reports the conservative Brookings Institute economist Mark Muro and analyst Jacob Whiton’s  calculations that, if China goes ahead with its threat, jobs and industries in 2,783 U.S. counties would be directly impacted. 82 percent of voters in these place cast their ballot for Trump.

Whilst Trump chortles that “trade wars are easy to win”, expert consensus is that his war can only hurt US  businesses, farmers and workers whose profits and livelihoods depend in part on commerce with China.

The war’s going well so far. The New York Times notes wryly, that’s probably why the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index falls more than 2 percent on Friday. The DOW closes down 572 points wiping off all the gains of the week.

Aides take to Fox News, the attention-deficient Trump’s sole source of information, in a last-ditch bid to brief him.

As a Minister indulged by John Howard, Tony Abbott never read his briefs either. Junkyard dogs don’t need to be great readers. Tony’s tops on slogans and boats and coal or as chief white-ant of his terminally unpopular PM.

A self-professed liar, now he’s into epic re-invention. He convenes a Coalition “ginger-group”, as their Field Marshall Peta Credlin calls her fatuous former boss and his vacuous band of Turnbull-haters, namely Deputy PM, Barnababy Joyce, Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly plus 20-30 dodgy ring-ins who sign a piece of paper with a pic of John Monash on it – a veritable toolkit of short-attention spanners- who are out to wreak havoc.

Credlin has the perfect metaphor for the Turnbull government, etymologically. To ginger up comes from an old practice of inserting ginger into the anus of a broken-down nag to make it look lively, a horse dealer’s trick recorded from the late 18th Century.

Bugger the ginger. If the broken down Turnbull government were a horse, you’d take it out the back and shoot it.

More recently, however, “ginger group” has come to mean a party or faction which presses for stronger action on some issue. There, alas, the metaphor breaks down. Abbott’s unhappy band may be a whinge of collective resentment and self-pity but they want no change at all. Or even less than none.

Like most conservatives and all climate change deniers, theirs is a slow bicycle ride to nowhere; an inevitable, irrevocable riding for a fall. No-one can tell a reactionary that pedalling backwards is no solution at all – although Going Nowhere Slowly Backwards or Backpedal with Mal could be ripper slogans next election for them.

Led (astray) by Oz-politics’ own enfant terrible, Tony Abbott, The Monash Forum, as they grandly style themselves, hop on their bikes to sell coal to the Latrobe Valley. The Lycra lads’ leader takes his annual Pollie Pedal charity ride through the Latrobe Valley where he’ll raise money for charities supporting cancer victims while promoting noxious, highly carcinogenic coal-burning power stations and an industry with an appalling safety record.

Abbott’s bike is worth far more than he is and could conceivably do a better job as a prime ministerial aspirant. In 2013, he was featured getting fitted out for a personalised Cannondale, a snip at $6000. That’s about six months’ Newstart payments for the many jobless in the Latrobe Valley but it’s guaranteed to be a talking point and just another way in which the former Riverview boy will have a chance to bond with the community.

Or he could talk about his need to upgrade his act: Monday, 9 May he’s pictured holding up a Baum Corretto priced at $11,425 AUD, full package, a bicycle with a titanium frame.

They’ll be just passing through, but 900,000 Australians in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria live dangerously close to coal-fired power stations that cause asthma and respiratory illnesses and increase the likelihood of stroke and heart attack, Environmental Justice Australia reported in Toxic and terminal: How the regulation of coal-fired power stations fails Australian communities  August last year. (1)

Coal-fired power stations emit more than 30 toxic substances and are Australia’s biggest source of fine particles (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

“Fine particle pollution exposure (alone) is responsible for 1,590 premature deaths each year in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth,” says EJA lawyer and co-author Nicola Rivers.

But there’s more. The push bike-putsch to topple Turnbull threatens also to renege on The NEG, the Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee, which is neither national nor a guarantee but a ploy to keep coal “in the mix” – even though it’s supposed to be all signed and sealed. Policy-free Energy and Environment Minister, Josh, The Hopelessly Conflicted, Frydenberg lamely attempts to con ABC Insiders, Sunday, that it has party room approval.

The NEG’s a cynical appeal to a coal industry backed party of reality deniers who take refuge in industry spin that burning coal is a cheaper, more reliable means of electricity generation than wind or solar. Another Liberal Party statutory buck-passing busybody, NEG’s an emperor with no clothes; a powerless power authority.

The NEG does nothing for emissions, less for investment in renewables, and, Giles Parkinson argues, “creates a scheme of such complexity it would likely push up prices and reinforce the power of incumbent utilities”.

Now Abbott wants us all to know that “party room assent” for The Neg is just more Turnbull-dust – but that’s no his main game. His stunt is to snipe at Turnbull, who is a dead, buried and cremated man walking.

“Life is not fair” Abbott whinges, in a doleful drop to the Sunday Telegraph, in which he demands his colleagues explain why he was dropped as Prime Minister, after only 30 consecutive News Poll failures. It’s a mystery. Appearing on TV a lot, apparently will help solve it. Above all, it’s somebody else’s fault, Abbott  wails:

As for that particular metric, that was not my metric and it is for others to explain the rhyme or the reason in it, ‘

Tony, The Incredible Sulk, is rivalled in the annals of infantilism in our nation’s political pathology only by Burka warrior Pauline Hanson’s considered opinion that the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is “disgusting” by featuring a twenty minute segment of indigenous performers. Alan Jones says so, too.

“Our country is not based on the Aboriginals. Our country is what it is because of the migrants that have become here,” senator Hanson says. She may well have her family and Tony Abbott or Eric Abetz in mind.

Despite its lycra disguise, Abbott’s rat-pack wants to topple Turnbull by rebelling as the News Poll is in the field, on the eve of his thirtieth successive News Poll failure. When added to Abbott’s own desperate lack of appeal, this tots up to a stunning sixty in a row – despite Tony’s masterful, casuist’s quibble that it’s only fifty-nine.

Instead of Mal’s Rats, the Bicycle Push cunningly dub themselves The Monash Forum and circulate a piece of paper with little else than a big photograph of the great general and Latrobe Valley electrifier. That way it’s easy to con their colleagues into signing up to their cause.

It’s such a cunning wheeze, yet in man-baby fashion they’ve been thinking only of themselves. No-one’s run the stunt past the Monash family. It’s outraged by the scoundrels. And justifiably so.

Great grandson, Mark Durre, takes to ABC Radio, on behalf of seven descendants, to decry the appropriation of the Monash name for what he generously calls the “anti-science and anti-intellectual” approach of the so-called Monash Forum, and their promotion of technologies from the “horse and buggy era”.

Arguing convincingly his great grandpa would have been all for solar and wind today, Durre upbraids Abbott.

“At the very least it was discourteous to use it without informing us,” his family statement says.

“More than that, we disassociate ourselves specifically from the forum’s use of the Monash name to give their anti-science and anti-intellectual argument an air of authority and we ask that they withdraw the name.”

Abbott has made it known that the name will stay and so, too, will his greater insult to the Australian nation, the proposal that the government fund a coal-fired power station, a proposal so antithetical to the party of free enterprise and so ignorant of market, let alone environmental realities, that even Scott Morrison, the clown who brought a lump of coal into parliament, a prop, granted, more eloquent than he could ever be, slaps Abbott down.

Abbott’s Monash Forum is hermetically sealed against science or economics. Their coal-worship creed includes the myth that electricity generated by you-beaut, state of the art, modern coal-fired power stations is cheaper than wind farms and large-scale solar. New coal power stations abound all around the world, they lie.

There’s hundreds being built?

No. At most it may be 150. And they are not cheap. Morrison, the old coal warrior, pulls Abbott up on this,

“It is false to think that a new coal-fired power station will generate electricity at the same price as old coal-fired power stations,” Morrison says. “… it would likely be double the price of existing coal generation.”

No. Not even close, ScoMo. A new coal fired generator would be twice your estimates of $70-80/MWh. Bloomberg New Energy Finance puts it at $130/MW, at the very least. And no-one’s factoring environmental costs and health risks to those who are forced to live in a 100km radius of the power station smoke stack. The underlying reality is that the new HELE – high efficiency, low emission coal plants are only marginally less toxic than the old.

HELE plants use steam at a higher pressure which gives them a small boost in thermal efficiency. Simon Holmes a Court has compiled a table in which he compares our four HELE stations with the fourteen old clunkers such as Liddell which, bizarrely, the government wants to force the AGL, the owner, to sell to a Chinese-owned company, ALINTA.

It’s a flip-flop but then, as Richard Ackland says, Turnbull is the type of man who often meets himself going around corners.

Australian power stations fitted with ‘Clean Coal’ technology, Holmes a Court concludes, emit 9.95% less pollution than stations burning the same fuel with regular sub-critical technology.

Tony’s pushing it uphill if he thinks he take us all for a ride on coal even with the backing of the industry itself, finally because – largely due to his generosity to the largely foreign-owned power companies – the price of electricity has risen so high so fast that all his carbon tax removal reductions and his claims of cheaper power destroy any vestige of credibility he may once have had with had with the ignorant and uninformed.

Australian residential electricity consumers now pay the highest prices in the world.  We pay two to three times more than US households. When the Eastern states’ National Electricity Market was set up in the late 1990s, Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada.

It’s another good talking point on your tour through Moe, Morwell and Churchill, Tony. Most of the locals would just love to hear how you helped make an essential utility and basic household necessity into a luxury item.

Onya bike Abbott. Beneath your embrace of coal lies a contempt not only for science but for your fellow citizens, their health and their environment. You don’t care enough about anyone else to bother with any science. You’re the antithesis of Monash who made looking after his men a priority. Little wonder the family is horrified.

Fine if you want to lead (or mislead) your fellow reality deniers on a slow bicycle race to nowhere or you’re busting to backstab Malcolm but don’t waste our time spreading your coal lobby propaganda and your dangerous lies.

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Footnote (1)

  1. Coal-fired power stations emit more than 30 toxic substances and are Australia’s biggest source of fine particles (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).
  2. These substances cause and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, respiratory disease, headaches and nausea in nearby communities.
  3. In most cases emissions limits in Australia are much more lax than those in the US, EU and China.
  4. Mercury limits for some NSW power stations are 666 times higher than the US limits.
  5. Pollution reduction technologies that have been available for many years and are used overseas could significantly reduce power station emissions but are not in use in Australia.
  6. New coal-fired power stations, even those described as ‘ultra-super critical’ or ‘HELE’ (high efficiency, low emission) only marginally reduce toxic emissions
  7. A representative of Yallourn power station admitted that at times of excessive pollution it ‘simplified’ its reporting by stating it was emitting at levels that correspond with its licence.
  8. Despite much evidence of failure to comply with pollution licence conditions, no power station in Victoria, NSW or Queensland has been prosecuted for any offence in the past ten years (instead they have been issued with inadequate penalty notices).

From (EJA) Environmental Justice Australia’s August 2017 report:

 

 

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