Peter Dutton & David Littleproud: Climate Change And Renewables

New Nationals and Liberal party leaders

Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce are out as leaders of their respective parties and Peter Dutton and David Littleproud are in. So, what can we expect from the pair on climate change and renewable energy?

Peter Dutton – A Misunderstood Fellow?

Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton

Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton

Ex-copper Peter Dutton has spent two decades in parliament and has taken a few shots at leadership of the Liberals, finally succeeding yesterday.

On winning the top Liberal job yesterday, he said:

“Under my leadership, the Liberal Party will be true to our values that have seen us win successive elections over the course of the last quarter of a century.”

He was also quick to attack the Albanese government, stating that electricity prices under Labor will go up. That’s correct, electricity prices will increase – but this was already well and truly baked in under the Morrison Government. Voters in South Australia, South-East Queensland and New South Wales would have more widely known about it if the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) had released this information prior to the election; as it was originally supposed to.

Mr. Dutton doesn’t have a great track record on renewables. TheyVoteForYou indicates he has voted consistently against increasing investment in renewable energy. But last October while Defence Minister he indicated backing a climate target of net zero emissions by 2050, and stated:

“We want to see electric vehicles, we want to see renewables.”

What isn’t clear is how much of either he’d like to see.

On climate change, he’s probably most famous for his rather off joke about rising waters in the Pacific back in 2015 when some delegates were running late for a meeting:

But according to colleague Simon Birmingham:

“Peter’s public perception is not always an accurate reflection of Peter’s true stance.”

David Littleproud – He’s Not Barnaby

Nationals leader David Littleproud

Nationals leader David Littleproud

Will sanity return to the Nationals with the exit of Barnaby “Said Stuff” Joyce from its leadership and David Littleproud assuming the throne?

Mr. Littleproud, who said he “effectively became a member of The Nationals 40 years ago as a 6 year old boy handing out for my father in Chinchilla in a state election,” seems to be a more stable sensible reasonable sort of fellow when it comes to climate change and renewables.

Back in 2018, he acknowledged the impacts of climate change (but still wasn’t convinced on root causes) and expressed his excitement about renewable energy and storage; saying a move to renewables was a good thing. But some of his voting indicates otherwise.

On Monday, he said the Nationals were committed to net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 for Australia. Commenting on suggestions from within the party that commitment was now (again) up for negotiation, Mr. Littleproud said:

“We’re living up to an international agreement. Our policy was eminently sensible and one which we’ll continue to work through.”

So, interesting times ahead for the Nationals – but I, for one, will miss some of Barnaby’s antics as some things are just so bad they are good. But it’s not like he’s dropped off the face of the planet and there’s always Matt Canavan who is good for a giggle (or groan).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Trevor Crunkhorn says

    I have my doubts that Littleproud will be an effective leader. He has been plotting this ousting of Joyce for some time and not for the benefit of the party. If Joyce was so bad then how did the Nationals keep all of their seats? As for renewables, I believe there is definitely a place for them in our grid, more so solar then wind due to the ongoing high costs of wind generation with regards to the maintenance of the turbines, not to mention the damage they do to the environment and wildlife,mainly large birds. The high cost of building the infrastructure for renewables had to have some effect on the price of electricity. I expect coal to increase in price with inflation, however I refuse to believe that the increase is a major reason for the price hikes in electricity which increased considerably way before the price of coal increased recently. I do believe certain companies and interests are pulling the wool over our eyes in regard to this and it is time the truth came out.

    • George Kaplan says

      Trevor, soaring gas\LNG prices will play a role. For the last 12 months gas provided 7% of electricity for the eastern states, but 37% of SA power. (To be fair SA is about as small as Tasmania when it comes to generation so total gas generation may be comparable to states like NSW or QLD, but they rely on coal to provide the vast majority of their power.)

      The LNG netback price (export price – export costs) from 2016 through to June 2021 averaged perhaps $6 but fluctuated from about ~$2 to ~$13. It then soared to ~$40 and is now wobbling about the $30 mark. Depending on the contracts gas power plants have, electricity will either be far costlier to produce, or will become far costlier in the near future and we should expect prices to soar.

      Note that it was Labor that approved massive LNG exporting from Queensland, Labor that failed to put a WA style domestic gas reserve scheme into effect, and Labor that is now refusing to address gas cartel profiteering. Conversely it is Australian businesses that are going bankrupt because domestic gas is no longer affordable – whereas WA spot prices in the last 2 years have only increased about 160% (~$2.13 /GJ to ~$5.55), the east coast rise is 529% (~$4.83 /GJ to ~$30.38).

      Dutton’s concerns about cost of living will resound with many, especially given Labor has reportedly already broken their 5.1% wage rise promise. No matter how vocal Dutton et al. may be, a Loyal Opposition cannot control the price of electricity, or other costs of living.

      As for the new National leader, little who?

      https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/call-for-gas-reservation-policy-on-east-coast-of-australia-as-energy-prices-soar/news-story/f9d9ec801a4bd41cec93958ecd6ff4b9

      https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/dutton-to-hold-labor-s-feet-to-the-fire-from-day-one-20220530-p5apno

      • Geoff Miell says

        George Kaplan,
        Note that it was Labor that approved massive LNG exporting from Queensland, Labor that failed to put a WA style domestic gas reserve scheme into effect, and Labor that is now refusing to address gas cartel profiteering.

        The Coalition was in federal government from 7 Sep 2013 (for the 44th term), returned again from 2 Jul 2016 (45th term), and again from 18 May 2019 (46th term), and then lost government on 21 May 2022.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_federal_elections

        The Federal Coalition was in government for three terms and could have imposed a “WA style domestic gas reserve scheme”, but refused. George, why aren’t you attributing any blame towards the Coalition?

        I’d suggest the seeds of Australia’s current energy crisis predicament were planted way back during the Howard regime, and made subsequently worse by BOTH Labor (during the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd) and the Coalition (Abbot/Turnbull/Morrison) regimes.
        Howard’s energy policy legacy: https://crudeoilpeak.info/howards-energy-policy-failure-2004
        Labor’s ‘peak oil’ denial: http://crudeoilpeak.info/how-good-was-the-australian-peak-oil-report-bitre-117
        And now IMO we have the fruit of roughly two decades of successive energy policy failures: https://crudeoilpeak.info/australian-fuel-import-bill-going-sky-high

        No matter how vocal Dutton et al. may be, a Loyal Opposition cannot control the price of electricity, or other costs of living.

        I’d suggest it wouldn’t have mattered who had won government on May 21. I think the damage to Australia’s energy security (that directly affects costs of living) had already been done with more than a decade of incompetence on energy policy from BOTH Labor and the Coalition.

      • Geoff Miell says

        George Kaplan,
        As a follow-up to my earlier comment (at May 31, 2022 at 4:20 pm), you may wish to listen to the podcast of a discussion broadcast earlier this morning (Jun 9) between Radio 2GB host Michael McLaren and outgoing Senator Rex Patrick. From time interval 0:07:47 Senator Patrick said (bold text my emphasis:

        What we can say from that, is that every couple of years we end up with a crisis. We end up with governments playing brinkmanship with the gas cartel and getting some form of outcome, when in actual fact, what we really need to do, is move to a gas reservation policy. And in 2019, I negotiated with the government as part of discussions on tax cuts, and got a written agreement from them, that they would move to introduce a gas reservation policy. Sadly, they didn’t, and we find ourselves in the situation we are now, where people again as I said before, are playing at the fringes, when, what has to happen is governments need to put national interest, the interests of our manufacturers, the interests of our consumers, ahead of the commercial interests of some of these gas cartel companies.
        https://www.2gb.com/podcast/outgoing-senator-slams-the-gas-industry-as-a-cartel/

        It’s clear to me, it’s not a lack of gas supply in Australia; it’s a lack of government leadership and gross incompetence on energy policy from BOTH Labor AND the Coalition.

        Rex Patrick tweeted Jun 8:

        As the gas cartel extracts maximum profit from selling OUR GAS to us, killing our manufacturers and hurting Aussie families through high electricity prices & rising inflation, take a look at how their revenue has grown (green) compared the royalties they pay us (blue).

        https://twitter.com/Senator_Patrick/status/1534269641635557376

        IMO, it’s a shame Rex Patrick didn’t succeed in gaining another term in the Senate.

        Will the new Labor government acquire the courage to introduce a national gas reservation policy, or cower from the gas cartel, like the former Coalition government seems to have done? We’ll see.

    • Chris Thaler says

      We just yesterday drove past those disgusting wind turbines at Lake George and were so astounded (not) at the mounds of deceased birdlife around the bases of each turbine.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Trevor Crunkhorn,
      …more so solar then wind due to the ongoing high costs of wind generation with regards to the maintenance of the turbines, not to mention the damage they do to the environment and wildlife,mainly large birds.

      What “ongoing high costs of wind”? Where’s your evidence/data, Trevor? Evidence/data I see suggests otherwise:

      Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – version 15.0 (Oct 2021) shows in their unsubsidized analysis:
      * Solar-PV – Crystalline Utility Scale: $30 – 41 /MWh
      * Solar-PV – Thin Film Utility Scale: $28 – 37 /MWh
      * Wind: $28 – 60 /MWh
      https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-levelized-cost-of-storage-and-levelized-cost-of-hydrogen/

      How many birds are you talking about and how does that compare with other human-related activities, Trevor?
      https://www.re-alliance.org.au/wind_energy_birdlife

      I expect coal to increase in price with inflation, however I refuse to believe that the increase is a major reason for the price hikes in electricity which increased considerably way before the price of coal increased recently.

      I’d suggest you will be very disappointed by your ill-informed expectations – see the:
      * chart for Newcastle coal futures at: https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/coal
      * chart for natural gas futures at: https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/natural-gas
      * charts for oil futures at: https://oilprice.com/oil-price-charts/

      See also the YouTube video titled U.S. refinery business ‘can’t catch up’ with oil prices, analyst says, published May 26:

  2. I’m certainly no fan of the coalition, their federal energy and environmental record and policies, nor of the individuals referred to but the use of the imagery at the top of this item is churlish, childish and completely unnecessary.

    It does nothing to improve the discourse. Do better.

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