Whatever Happened To The Monash Forum?

The Monash Forum

Image: The Monash Forum via Facebook

An Australian pro-coal power group that aimed to improve the reputation of the little black/brown rock and created a ruckus in the process has disappeared – or has it?

A Brief History Of The Monash Forum

Back around April last year, some Liberal/National party MPs hatched a plan to push for more coal-fired power generation in Australia through a little club they called The Monash Forum. It was named after Sir John Monash, who among many achievements led the development of coal-fired power generation in Victoria.

The Monash Forum membership at the time included Craig Kelly, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.

Aside from choosing to back coal, the name choice probably wasn’t the best move as Sir John’s descendants were not impressed, stating:

“We are sure that, today, he would be a proponent of the new technologies e.g. wind and solar generation, rather than revert to the horse-and-buggy era.”

In June 2018, the group said it would begin campaigning in earnest under the Monash banner for the construction of  so-called high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power stations. But HELE plants aren’t all that highly efficient or low in emissions without carbon capture and storage, which is incredibly expensive – and may do more harm than good.

That month, the Monash Forum launched the first of what would turn out to be a short series of “fact sheets” about coal power via its freshly-minted Facebook page. This was followed by another in late June boasting Australia will account for 37% of the world’s coal exports in 2040. This would be a little like the Democratic Republic of Congo boasting about its future potential exports of the Ebola virus, or a patient-zero of any particularly nasty disease bragging about being a Typhoid Mary.

Not content with spreading continued coal-based misery to the world, what was reportedly The Monash Forum’s “manifesto” (so-named by Simon Holmes à Court) stated:

“If it’s right for other countries to use our coal, how can it be wrong for us to do so too?”

I have a vague memory of my father telling me that just because my peers are doing something, it doesn’t mean what they are doing is right or good for me to do. Unfortunately, I ignored his sage advice and the reason my memory of it (and many other things) is vague is directly related to the fact I didn’t follow it. 

Anyhow, that “fact sheet” was followed by another two dribbled out like the lingering effects of a particularly bad curry until July 3, 2018.

The Monash Forum Today

It’s a rather long jump from July 2018 to today. While there was a flurry of posts on The Monash Forum’s Facebook page during July 2018, there was nothing in August and then a final dead-cat-bounce-type post on September 8, 2018 announcing the demise of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

So, is The Monash Forum like the NEG – dead and buried?

Perhaps not – this report published on The Australian in August this year mentioned Coalition MPs have revived it, apparently re-positioning the group to take an “agnostic” stance on all cheap energy options – “including nuclear power”. That being the case, its members should now be all for supporting solar energy + storage over new “HELE” coal, but someone might want to have a chat to them regarding the cost of nuclear power.

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.

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