Australia burns. Politicians fiddle. Coal barons laugh

Everyone in Australia can see it. It’s not at all funny – though Tom Ballard’s Tonightly segment on the ABC actually is. Those who have the biggest laugh right now are the Australian coal barons, who have managed to rearrange the deck chairs in Parliament to protect their vested interests.

Tom Ballard doesn’t stop there. He takes it further:

“Our government’s inability to confront climate change – the greatest existential threat facing mankind today – has left Tom Ballard without any more fucks to give:”

[Yep: language warning. Tom Ballard does use one rude word (a bit), but hey, you’re a grown up, right?]

This must be the best nine minutes I have spent in front of a public broadcaster’s screen in a very long time. Tom Ballard speaks well for the new generation of Australians who are entering high schools, universities and work places in these years – as well for as those who decided to drop out because of the way it is all going, saying ‘What does it matter anyway whether I take an education…’

It’s time for a youth revolution and an energy revolution. I wrote that when I started this blogpost in 2013, and by the way, that particular blogpost has since become the most read article on this website, out of the over 400 other posts.

“Tom Ballard has just said what I’d like to have said on national tv about climate change and Australian politics.”
~ Philip Sutton, author, climate action strategist

With the next election coming up soon, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg in Sweden launched the concept of ‘school strike for the climate’ and has so far had very positive results from that idea. In Sweden, according to a new poll, the climate is now put highest on voters’ agenda in the national election on 9 September 2018.

And what are our politicians doing? They’re too busy with their petty, ridiculous infighting and dinosaur energy policies. “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” springs to mind. 
~ Nicholas Bernhardt, in a comment post on

Last year, the federal government estimates Australia emitted just over 530 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That works out at a little under 22 tonnes per person – one of the highest rates in the world.

The new prime minster Scott Morrison’s response has so far been to appoint one of the country’s most prominent anti-wind campaigners as Australia’s new energy minister, and who’s now Australia’s new environment minister? Drum-roll…. A former lawyer for the mining industry. What could possibly go wrong?

But while federal politicians have been busy playing musical chairs, Australia is burning. Winter bushfires blanket New South Wales, and rural families struggle through the worst drought in decades.

The new Australian government has clear from the start that it has no intention to deal with this. Oh yes, it will throw some million dollars after an aid program to drought-hit farmers, but it has no intention to deal with the root of the problem: to reduce coal emissions and tackle the climate crisis, which is predicted by scientists to keep making conditions worse for farmers.

This is a government that has no answers and provides no solutions, except of course ensuring that the climate-wrecking fossil fuel industry will be given privileges and subsidies for at least a few more years.

» The Guardian – 21 August 2018:
Overwhelming majority of Australians believe federal politicians are corrupt
“New survey shows 85% believe most or all MPs corrupt, and two-thirds support the creation of a federal anti-corruption body.”

“Australia’s climate policy wars have arguably claimed the heads of Rudd, Gillard and Turnbull as opposition leader and now as Prime Minister. The only recent PM who hasn’t been destroyed because of the climate policy wars is Abbott and that is because he destroyed himself.”
~ David Coleman, Consultant and Principal at Lawyers and Legal Services Sydney in a comment on

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the man who once brought a lump of coal into Parliament to taunt the opposition with, has now appointed Angus Taylor as energy minister, a man around whom there floats suspicions of climate change scepticism.”
~ James Fernyhough, Money Editor, The New Daily

» The New Daily – 30 August 2018:
Turnbull’s failure to address climate change may be his legacy

» ABC – 28 August 2018:
Alex Turnbull: Coal miners exerting ‘undue influence’ on Liberal Party, says son of former PM Malcolm Turnbull
“Malcolm Turnbull’s son has lashed out at vested interests in the Queensland coal mining industry, who he says are exerting undue influence over the Liberal Party’s energy policy.”

“Australia has joined the USA in becoming a climate change pariah. It’s up to the people. Politicians don’t lead.” 
~ Simon Fjell in a comment on

“Less than a year before he was sworn in as our latest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison famously waved around a lump of coal in Parliament House, ridiculing our concerns about the impact of coal on our climate, and by implication our Reef. Now Australia’s new PM says he is “technology-agnostic”, which is code for continuing support for coal. Now more than ever, it’s time for urgent action on climate change. Will you join the global day of action on 8 September?”
~ David Cazzulino, Fight for our Reef campaigner, Australian Marine Conservation Society

“The coal industry is cheering from the rooftops. Their best mates just staged a coup and took control of our Parliament because Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t lobbying hard enough for them. Now our new Prime Minister Scott Morrison is already giving the coal industry what they want – appointing an anti-renewables crusader as Energy Minister, and a former coal lobbyist as Morrison’s Chief of Staff.

Our politics have been hijacked by big coal and people don’t like it. It’s time to get organised, street by street, suburb by suburb, and build a movement with the power to #StopAdani and move Australia beyond coal.”
~ Charlie, StopAdani

Q&A on electicity and coal

On 27 August 2018, ABC’s Q&A had a lively discussion about the topics of coal mining, electricity prices and renewable energy:

» Q&A – 27 August 2018:
Adani versus Reef – Question from 21-year-old ex-coalminer

Pauline Hanson happily and proudly talking about that this mine is going to dig up 60 million tonnes of coal per year, but that in the beginning, for the first years, they have a more modest target of 27 million tonnes of coal, annually.

They talk a lot about water, since we have a drought now – and that the mine will be taking its water from a river. But they don’t seem to realise what rivers tend to do when in drought: rivers dry up! So then what? Wait for rain… or start pumping up from the basin?

Pauline Hanson also shouts “Rubbish!” when Larissa Waters says that renewable energy is now cheaper than coal. In The Sustainable Hour, we have talked with many independent energy experts, and they all confirm what Larissa Waters is saying.

» Q&A – 27 August 2018:
Electricity cost

“Experts agree there is no rational basis for conservative Liberals’ ‘infatuation’ with coal. Building more coal-fired power stations will do nothing to lower energy prices”
~ James Fernyhough, Money Editor, The New Daily

» The New Daily – 24 August 2018:
Dutton camp’s claim that coal is cheaper is just not true, energy experts agree

. . .

» Yale University – 30 August 2018:
Australia’s drought likely to continue for another three-months, forecasters warn

Australian politics paralysed by coal

Ben Potter wrote in Financial Review:

“Coalition members of Federal Parliament who think walking away from Paris carbon emissions reduction commitments is just a harmless way to appeal to conservative voters might have to think again.

The boom in wind and solar energy, and storage, that has been partly stimulated by the government’s stop-start pursuit of Australia’s Paris emissions targets is worth tens of billions of dollars – and it’s playing out in their electorates.

Turning their backs on these projects in the vain hope a new prime minister can bring coal generation investments back means snubbing thousands of construction jobs in their electorates to pursue coal technology that no serious generation investors want to build and that banks have been warned off by their regulator.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Australia head Kobad Bhavnagri said uncertainty created by the government’s crab walk away from its Paris commitments could affect investment across the board but paradoxically – given it has been Coalition coal fans leading the charge against the National Energy Guarantee – it could be worse for coal and gas plant investments.”

» Financial Review – 24 August 2018:
Snubbing clean energy boom could cost Coalition billions

. . .

Solar Citizen about Australia’s new Federal Energy Minister

Joseph, National Director at Solar Citizen wrote:

Let me introduce you to our new Federal Energy Minister. His name is Angus Taylor and some of his achievements include:

• Being a staunch anti-wind campaigner;

• Supporting the scaling back of the Renewable Energy Target;

• And voting against the Clean Energy Target [1].

Hardly a surprising choice from the new Prime Minister who took coal as a prop to parliament, right? [2]

But here’s the silver lining: the last thing the new Federal Government needs after weeks of chaos is a specific policy issue that’s going to rile people up and act as a thorn in their side. This is where we come in.

The Morrison Government is still radio silent on whether they support the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) misguided recommendation to abolish the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) nine years early.

That’s why we’re getting on the front foot and teaming up with the Smart Energy Council to write an open letter to Energy Minister Taylor asking him to support solar and save the SRES. Click here to add your name.

Here’s the plan: over the next week and a bit we’re going to add as many signatures to our letter as possible and then we’ll deliver the letter to Angus Taylor in Canberra when parliament returns in just over a week.

When the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme was last in the firing line back in 2014, solar citizens across the country galvanised and we delivered a petition with thousands of signatures to Canberra. In a meeting with politicians last week, I found out they still remember the petition and the overwhelming amount of support there is for solar in the community.

We have less than two weeks to gather as many signatures on our open letter as possible. Will you take a moment to add your name?

So what even is the SRES and why is it so important? The scheme helps households afford the upfront cost of solar, so people like you and me can slash our power bills while doing our bit to cut pollution.

Chances are, if you have solar the SRES helped bring down the installation cost, and it’s vital that the scheme is not abolished early so that other families can turn to solar to take back control of their bills.

As an economist, Angus Taylor knows numbers and there’s no way that he can deny that solar is cutting bills all over the country. In fact, solar is a win for all households because it cuts peak demand and helps bring down the wholesale price of power [3].

We can’t let this Government slide even further backwards on energy policy. Click here to read and add your name to our open letter.
In sunny determination, 
Joseph, National Director.

P.S. We only have until the week of September 10 to get as many signatures on our open letter as possible. Once you’ve signed, be sure to share the letter with your family and friends.

[1] Energy Minister Angus Taylor a Formidable Wind Foe, Financial Review, 27 August 2018.

[2] Scott Morrison Brings Coal to Question Time: What Fresh Idiocy is This? The Guardian, 19 February 2017.

[3] NSW Solar Savings Report, Energy Synapse, 2017. 

» Solar Citizens home page:

» Sign Open Letter to Angus Taylor:
Fill in this form to add your name to the open letter before we deliver it in Canberra after Parliament returns on Monday 10 September 2018.


A petition was started calling for Australia’s elected officials to stop changing prime ministers and instead focus on important policy decisions that would protect everyday Australians: ‘Elected Prime Minsters should not be changed mid-term’

Climatic clippings

While Coalition MPs are pressuring the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to abandon Australia’s promise to cut carbon emissions under the Paris agreement, this is what is happening outside, in the real world:

Warming stripes and climate grief

“Any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement. He is utterly stupid. And I say the same thing to any leader here [in Australia].”
~ Tuilaepa Sailepe, Prime Minister, Samoa

» ABC News – 31 August 2018:
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele hits out at climate change sceptics during fiery speech