Can something be hard to believe yet predictable at the same time?
Because that was my initial reaction to the Turnbull government’s decision this week to abandon the Clean Energy Target, recommended by its own chief scientist and supported by both the Prime Minister and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg.
It is hard to believe that a government, supposedly governing in the interest of the electorate could make such a decision, but it is also predictable because this government has repeatedly shown itself to be beholden to both its own extremist right wing faction, and the puppeteers in the coal industry who pull their strings.
Even if it had any credibility when talking about economic arguments (remember how much money removing the Carbon Tax was supposed to save), the Coalition’s claims that this will save money are pretty flimsy. If the tiny savings estimated even comes to fruition, it comes with a lost opportunity cost that far outweighs it, putting us further behind much of the developed world in the emerging technologies of the future and ensuring continued paralysis in energy policy until we get rid of this government.
Any attempt to spin this as delivering certainty to energy providers and investors is outright rubbish. By removing subsidies and incentives for renewable technology, the government actively deters investment in this area. But considering the consistently poor poll numbers of this government, that provides little confidence or certainty to the fossil fuel industry, because there is a strong likelihood that this ‘Great Leap Backward’ will only last until the Coalition is dumped from office. Even more so as a number of state governments have already signalled their opposition to the policy.
As for Alan Finkel, the government’s chief scientist, I wonder if he is getting nervous. As the experiences of both Gillian Triggs and Justin Gleeson have shown, this is a government with a track record of attacking its own experts when it doesn’t like their recommendations. If you are still voting for the Coalition by this point I have to ask, what would they have to do to lose your vote?