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Michael Kile, Quadrant Online

To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle — George Orwell, 1946

With consumers reduced to playing the clown (or donkey) in the absurdist farce that is Australia’s energy policy, examining the role of the nation’s Ministry of Power through an Orwellian lens is an illuminating exercise. One is struck by the eerie similarity between the ministries in 1984 and those established to deliver an “affordable, reliable and secure” stream of electrons — and many megawatts of Big Green fantasy — to every household on both sides of the Black Stump, naturally under government guarantee.

As in Orwell’s fictional Oceania, our Ministry of Power has its slogans and faux facts: “Ignorance is Strength”; Ideology before Idiocy”; “Greener is Cleaner”; “Power before People”. It has its newspeak and doublethink, its useful idiots and apparatchiks. It,too, is in a constant state of war against a foe even more powerful than Big Blackout: the big bogeyman of our age, climate change.

The real enemy here, however, is the Ministry of Truth. To question the alarmism promulgated so incessantly and emphatically by its atmospheric diviners is now a thought crime. Orwell saw it coming:

The Ministry of Truth’s purpose is to rewrite history or change the facts to fit Party doctrine. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the Ministry corrects the record to make it “accurate”.

Yet “climate” has become almost a dirty word in this context. Few ministers have the courage to go there, and certainly not the current incumbent. Is it because they are afraid of getting snake oil in a 26% solution on their hands?

The stakes are high. Should supporters of a Just Transition and the Greens get their key demand – an even higher RE target — a bigger mess awaits us. (See J Nova, 2 August, 2018, link here; T Quirk, 2 August, 2018,  link here; G Lloyd, The Australian, 3 August, 2018: “Political play for power””, link here; A Bandt, ABC RN interview , 6 August, 2018). The political class can hardly plead ignorance. It was warned about the Curse of RET when the Great Pyramid of Gaia was discovered years ago.

So what is the Ministry of Power’s endgame? Perhaps further disrupting the national energy market is more about salvaging ministerial credibility than modifying the climate. Surely it’s not about duping the public and seriously enriching the carbon capitalists now operating in the RE space? Perish the thought that our dedicated, honest, hard-working and courageous political class would knowingly afflict hapless consumers in order to line the pockets of mates!

The complexity and opacity of the Emissions Guarantee renders it deeply flawed. Fixing its flaws by making it simpler and its prices transparent, undermines the political imperative that the scheme is designed to meet. – B Mountain, Director, Victorian Energy Policy Centre

One of them is a government agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has already invested billions of dollars of public money on this colossal folly: the belief being that more RE and less coal-fired power somehow will shift our weather closer to an undefined “just right” Goldilocks state, presumably forever. Yet the CEFC makes no mention of such a belief in its reports. The climate-elephant in the room has been buried under rhetoric about lowering Australia’s “carbon” [dioxide] emissions and living in a “carbon [dioxide] constrained” world. The CEFC does not concern itself with either the veracity of this core belief or question the legitimacy of its mission. Its focus seems solely on how to spend the ten billion dollars allocated to it six years ago.

At 30 June 2018, total CEFC investment commitments since inception exceeded $6.6 billion. After allowing for repayment, amortisation and any cancellations, the CEFC investment portfolio was $5.3 billion at 30 June 2018 — CEFC Statement

The CEFC auditor did not mention it, at least not specifically. His interest was mainly in financial matters, such as the quality, type and rate of investment expenditure, not the risk that the group’s existence could be threatened by controversies that continue to rage, to the discomfort of both the climate orthodoxy and political class.

My objective is to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditor’s report that includes my opinion. — Independent Auditor’s Report

In CEFC’s Mission Statement it claims to deliver a “positive return to taxpayers”. Yet in the latest quarterly investment report there is this qualification of “expected rate of return” (page 2): “Returns have not been adjusted for positive externalities or public policy outcomes associated with the investments”. Presumably returns have not been adjusted either for “negative externalities”; such as the impact of forcing more RE into the national grid on consumer electricity bills.

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