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Jan 29, 2013

Abbott’s adviser hates wind farms, doubts climate change

Tony Abbott's latest Coalition policy statement remains short on climate policy detail. More worrying is his selection of a noted anti-wind farm advocate and climate change sceptic as lead business adviser.

Tony Abbott’s policy statement promised the direction, values and policy priorities of the next Coalition government. It contained no additional detail on climate change policy beyond what was outlined in the Coalition’s 2010 election policy, which was largely expected. But what was more unnerving was outlined under economic policy:

“We will establish a new Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council to advise the Executive Government on developing the economy. The Business Advisory Council will be chaired by leading Australian business leader Mr Maurice Newman.”

Maurice Newman has an impressive business pedigree. He was chairman of the Australian Securities Exchange and also rose through the management of what is now Deutsche Bank’s Australian subsidiary (acquired by Deutsche Bank in the 1990s) before becoming its executive chairman. This comes on top of a range of other senior business and government positions, including chair of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

But he has also made a range of public statements that indicate his advice to Abbott will be detrimental to businesses focussed on clean energy and carbon abatement. On wind power, Newman wrote in the publication The Spectator on January 21 last year:

“Even before they threatened my property, I was opposed to wind farms. They fail on all counts. They are grossly inefficient, extremely expensive, socially inequitable, a danger to human health, environmentally harmful, divisive for communities, a blot on the landscape, and don’t even achieve the purpose for which they were designed, namely the reliable generation of electricity and the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

On the issue of whether human activity is leading to warming of the atmosphere he wrote in The Australian on November 5:

“When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists.”

He then elaborated that:

“Regrettably for the global warming religion, its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith. Worse, heretic scientists have been giving the lie to many of the prophecies described in the IPCC bible. They could not be silenced.”

What would Newman think of the Coalition’s pledge to allocate $3 billion to an emission reduction fund or maintaining the renewable energy target at its current settings? He stated in The Spectator:

“We have witnessed the birth of an extraordinary, universal and self-reinforcing movement among the political and executive arms of government, their academic consultants, the mainstream media and vested private sector interests (such as investment banks and the renewables industry), held together by the promise of unlimited government money. It may not be a conspiracy, but long-term, government-underwritten annuities have certainly created one gigantic and powerful oligopoly which must coerce taxpayers and penalise energy consumers to survive.”

To be fair to the Coalition, Newman is not in charge of the Coalition’s climate policy. But it comes on top of a range of other actions that raise serious doubts about the Coalition’s commitment to its 2020 emissions target, such as:

  • The appointment of Dick Warburton, who also doubts anthropogenic global warming, to advise on its carbon emission reduction policy
  • The repeated and widespread public mocking and doubt expressed about the need to address global warming by parliamentary members of the federal Coalition
  • The dumping of Malcolm Turnbull as leader, on the very issue of his commitment to climate change policy action.

Given this, it is especially important the Coalition provides much greater detail about the emission reduction policies it intends to implement.

Ian Macfarlane wishes to retain the two-yearly reviews of the RET, in spite of the investment uncertainty this would generate. In addition, the Coalition remains ambiguous about whether the RET could be cut to conform with Origin and Energy Australia’s “real 20%”.

The Coalition’s latest policy statement also fails to clarify some important components of its emissions abatement purchasing fund. In response to criticism of grant tendering as a climate change policy mechanism, Greg Hunt has been arguing his scheme would employ an auctioning process. Yet the recently released policy statement provides no mention of auctions and continues to talk of purchasing abatement via tender.

The statement outlines that funding for the emissions reduction fund will be $3 billion. A spokesperson for Hunt has since clarified this would be for a four-year period. Yet this funding is unchanged from what the Coalition pledged for the 2010 election when it had three additional years up its sleeve to deliver on its 2020 emission reduction target. It seems difficult to believe the Coalition could deliver the target without a major boost in funding considering the shortened timeframe.

More policy detail is the only antidote to scepticism surrounding the Coalition’s commitment to its 2020 emission reduction target.

*This article was originally published at Climate Spectator

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37 comments

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37 thoughts on “Abbott’s adviser hates wind farms, doubts climate change

  1. Apollo

    C’mon. It’s all lips service from the LNP. They are not serious about policy on climate change. Once they are in power, there will be plenty of excuses for them. “We’ve got to compete with China, we need economic growth, we need to get the surplus blah blah blah…” Next thing you know they’ll have Monckton and Plimer as their climate change policy advisers.

    My nephew has a brilliant idea for new kind of wind power generator on every rooftop, hopefully it will take off.

    Crikey’s new colours are very similar to the Ozflag design my nephew has been designing on our computer. Is Crikey getting access to our desktop? Spooky!!

  2. jm

    It is a pity they are not up to date with the performance of SA where over 25% of their electricity is wind generated!

  3. K.D. Afford

    Beyond Newman, the Liberal government is surrounded with nay sayers, beginning with sanctimonious Nick Minchin, then there is Grahame Morriss:
    Grahame held key positions in Federal and State Liberal Party politics for two decades and has been involved in many of the public policy issues of the last 30 years. He has also devised and executed many election campaigns, communications programs and policy platforms.
    On Quanda last year he said:
    Look, just on all of this carbon tax thing, you know, the global warming, in the last ten years, this decade, it’s a bit ambivalent. You know we are still not sure if all of these climate change gurus – we’re still not sure if all of these climate change gurus are going to be gurus or in 20 years time the 21 century charlatans. We’re just not sure. You know, the last ten years it has not – there has not been a huge impact on global warming and remember where we started. This was all about global warming but then lots of the world cooled so all of a sudden now we talk about climate change, not global warming anymore. (Indistinct).
    You can read the full transcript or warth the program on:
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3532634.htm
    Abbott is still on his charger intent to dismantle the Carbon and Mining Taxes as continued proof of his lack of care for the planet.
    This party must be viewed with contempt for its concentrated efforts at denial especially in light what has come about across the world in weather events in the past year – look at Australia this past week and tell me Tony Abbott is on a winner!

  4. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Tony “climate change is crap” Abbott surrounds himself with another rightwing ideologue who says climate change is a conspiracy of socialists.

    So what’s new?

    It was Nick Minchin who put Abbott in over Turnbull, and his idiotic conspiracy theories about climate change and climate science are well on the pubic record.

  5. klewso

    Morrie “Dumbing Down” Newman?
    Who wanted more skeptics on his ABC – and was apparently happy with the lack of science in Limited News?

  6. klewso

    …. could be worse – could have been “David Worry”?

  7. CML

    Pardon my ignorance, but is this Maurice Newman related to that lun+tic in Queensland? If so, they sound like a blo+dy good pair. If not, must be something to do with the name??!!

  8. klewso

    There was “Alfred E.”.

  9. klewso

    … American spelling – but the same jeans.

  10. Microseris

    Windfarms “a danger to human health”! What if your hang gliding?

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