In recent days, PM Malcolm Turnbull has completed his transformation into Tony Abbott. While insisting that the government is undertaking climate action and is "technology agnostic", Turnbull has assailed renewable energy and fully embraced coal again as an important part of Australia's energy future. And he has done so while his government has no policies beyond the Renewable Energy Target to achieve even the unambitious targets it agreed to meet as part of the Paris climate agreement. Instead, the Coalition passes lumps of coal around Parliament and insists the lights will go out unless we start building fictional "clean coal" power plants.
But Turnbull's embrace of coal is increasingly at odds with simple commercial reality. Australia's major power companies almost knocked each other over in the rush to distance themselves from the prospect of investing in highly expensive "clean coal" plants when Turnbull flagged it at his National Press Club speech last week. Never mind, was the government's response -- we'll just subsidise it. Just like it wants to subsidise another dud project, Adani's vast new Carmichael coal mine, which has long struggled to attract finance.