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December 3, 2022

Thus Spake Mungo: power is politics

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At least the latest energy plan – the coalition’s 22nd, and counting – is not all about gas.

Last week the bumbling minister, Angus Taylor, breathlessly revealed that there are all sorts of goodies – hydrogen, energy storage, ‘green’ steel and aluminium, carbon capture and soil carbon.

This scattergun approach, he claims, includes the best bets for a policy that will drive prices down and reduce emissions, very much in that order.

So we are not really talking about coal – except that we are, given that so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen and carbon capture both intimately involve the forbidden fossil. And we are most certainly not talking about renewables, which can bloody well look after themselves.

No, this is all about technology, the great wave of the future. And, as we start to unpick it, a long way into a very uncertain future. Even assuming that Taylor’s gamble pays off, we are looking at a good decade before we can hope to collect.

The only technology that is really going ahead is energy storage – batteries are becoming bigger, more efficient and much cheaper even as we speak but, ironically, the beneficiaries are far more likely to involve renewables than any iteration of fossils.

Hydrogen is possibly a goer, but Taylor is obviously thinking about it as so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen, a spinoff from turning coal and gas into products like plastic, with all the carbon emissions that entails

Hydrogen is possibly a goer, but Taylor is obviously thinking about it as so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen, a spinoff from turning coal and gas into products like plastic, with all the carbon emissions that entails. ‘Green’ hydrogen, from the clean process of electrolysis of water, is much further down the years. As are so-called ‘green’ steel and aluminium, on everybody’s wish list in about 2040, if we are lucky. Soil carbon is an old idea of Tony Abbott’s devised to satisfy Australia’s targets at Kyoto. It can be useful for the farmers, but affects emissions reduction only at the fringe.

Which leaves us the rainbow gold of carbon capture. It is not quite true that this is a proven failure – not quite. It can be done and it has been, on a small, basically experimental scale. But after many, many years of effort, it remains horrendously expensive, totally unacceptable to industry and inapplicable to a serious attack on our climate crisis.

So Taylor’s package has little to do with economics, in the short term, and almost nothing to do with emissions reduction in any time frame you want to discuss. But then, it isn’t meant to – hence his refusal to talk about targets, unlike some more open and transparent regimes such as the People’s Republic of China. The best Taylor can manage is a hope that we may get to zero emissions in the latter half of the century. In other words, we will do nothing for the next thirty years, and start thinking about it some time in the following fifty. Even from a party room resigned to the constant inanities of this risible minister, this is too silly to accept.

However the conservatives will settle for a political fix, a policy whose only real purpose is to demonstrate that they have a policy

However the conservatives will settle for a political fix, a policy whose only real purpose is to demonstrate that they have a policy. It will be dismissed by the international community and derided by the critics who have long despaired that the government might take notice of the science and take positive action.

But it will pacify the party room – well, most of it. The hardliners, like the coal-obsessed Matt Canavan, have already made it clear they cannot be wooed. He, like his archenemy Malcolm Turnbull, thinks enshrining gas in centre stage is, as Turnbull bluntly asserts, plain crazy.

And there are others, less extreme, who have grave doubts that it can survive the scrutiny of the next round of climate talks, when the pressure will ramp up for tougher targets and more stringent measures. Energy policy #23 may be needed before the next election.

It is not entirely clear who was responsible for putting together the mish-mash Taylor delivered, but presumably there was input from Morrison’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission – after all, that is supposed to be its job

And there are other concerns. It is not entirely clear who was responsible for putting together the mish-mash Taylor delivered, but presumably there was input from Morrison’s National COVID-19 Coordination Commission – after all, that is supposed to be its job. And it just happens that several members of that commission stand to profit massively if the gas bonanza at the core of it goes ahead. The chairman, Neville Power – the previous CEO of Fortescue – is particularly vulnerable to the charge of conflict of interest.

This is in no sense criminal – at worst it can be seen as crony capitalism at its most blatant and cynical. But even if it were labeled corrupt, apparently that would not matter.

In an astonishing decision recently, the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, a body previously regarded as a serious watchdog with a few teeth ready to bite, told us that the widespread and bipartisan tradition of pork-barrelling was not illegal – no surprises there, we had long been resigned to that. But it was not even to be seen as corrupt.

According to my Macquarie Dictionary, corrupt means ‘dishonest, especially involving bribery’ – the very essence of pork-barrelling

Hang on.  According to my Macquarie Dictionary, corrupt means ‘dishonest, especially involving bribery’ – the very essence of pork-barrelling – in which undeservedly favourable treatment is meted out to certain groups of people in the hope of securing their votes.

To say such behaviour is not corrupt is not just a question of nit-picking or pedantry, it is a denial of reality. Such is the abysmal level of the accepted standard of conduct that our current politics have now plumbed.

And this is the standard that Taylor espouses. The national interest is at best secondary – if it can be spun as part of his policy agenda, it can sometimes be helpful, but it is not the real point. What is vital is to look after your mates, and especially the ones who make lavish donations to party funds. Secure the base, and the baser the better.

And thus it is with the energy package. It has never been about emissions, or even cutting costs – the consumers have got used to the idea that any reductions in their bills are likely to be both temporary and illusory. Power, after all, is what the economists call an inelastic demand, which has to paid for – however exorbitant the charges.

And power is politics. Mao Tse Tung said power grew out of the barrel of a gun. ScoMo say it hisses through the valve of a gas cylinder; a somewhat less compelling image, but a handy prop to replace Morrison’s carboniferous pet rock in question time.

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  1. Wow. We have no less corrupt a government than Trump Nation. When will Aussies wake up and smell the gas…the COALition are incapable of governing in the best interests of the people of Australia, they are mere puppets of the fossil fuel industry.

  2. Okay obviously you dont use gas in your home
    Mungo ? And anyone that follows up with the very notion that gas is poisonous to use and a absolute
    Pollutant to our atmosphere Well this would
    Suggest that not one of you on this forum us it
    CORRECT ? And by the way Mungo any news
    And you would certainly know being a Labor
    Man , of who made the call on using private
    Security guards at the Hotel quarantine
    Because all involved the Premier , minister’s
    All say cant recall !! Very convenient is it not Mungo ? You Mungo have been conspicuously absent
    As has the ABC on this Mungo surprising?
    Well no .. but rest assured if this had happened
    In the Conservative state of NSW , well the Pile – on
    Would be relentless..and yes including you
    Mungo ! Whats happening in Victoria
    Is a series of “YES MINISTER ON STEROIDS”

    • Dear Barrow, no need to trouble yourself about the “can’t recall” business in regard to Vic quarantine, it is mere detail for Dan fanboys like yourself to get into a lather over. I mean “can’t recall’, “don’t know”, “unaware” these were all defences used ( 50 times!!!! ) in 2014 by your man Arthur Sinodinos at The NSW ICAC Inquiry the corruption scandal of Australian Water Holdings. His failed memory / complete memory loss held him in very good stead as he is now Australia’s Ambassador to the U.S of the A – a miraculous recovery of the mind wouldn’t you say. Whatever he is taking, I want plenty of it if I suffer memory loss in my coming senior years.

  3. Who in hell needs this fancy dancing on a pin-head. The country’s near broken
    by blithering ‘polly-wants-a-cracker-ites so ‘go on out & fix’ what you’ve created.
    Corruption is ‘pork-barreling’: do you get that! Sniffing economics will quickly
    take us nowhere because that’s where we are right now – pretending policy
    with good God capitalism on the rise & possible energy storage/brain drain.
    What is it that we’ve got! (Hades does not have warning bells). We have…..
    Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Sailor… Rich man, Poor man, Beggar man, Thief….
    Look! (focus). This so-called woman is about to roar.

  4. We reach out and pat our pets, our dogs, have no energy for our lassie, alas is sick and passing gas. At least the latest government energy plan, the coalition’s 22nd, and counting, is not all about gas when the wind won’t blow and the sun don’t shine, Sunshine.

  5. Abbott won an election screaming ‘electricity prices will always be lower under us’…RESULT? Wholesale electricity prices DOUBLED under The Looters. They don’t believe in it-renewables. They should stay out of it before Screw Kelly and Door Mat Canavan blow up the party room. I see China which has fully one quarter of the world’s renewables says it will be out of coal by 2060. Moe has no target-except the one on his forehead.

  6. Taylor’s and PromMO ScamMO’s roadmap to nowheresville, is all about keeping faith with their handlers, The Fossil Fuel Industry. ScamMO talks about the energy transition. Yes indeed, the transition from one fossil fuel, his beloved pet black wonder rock Coal to another fossil fuel, colourless, odourless, weightless Methane…sorry Natural Gas. Thus ensuring the continued flow of the $thousands in political bribes…sorry donations…into Liberal and National Party HQ for the next election campaign. A win, win for ScamMO and his fossil fuel masters. Meanwhile The Climate Emergency gets worse but that is just collateral damage when The Fossil Fuel Industry needs prioritising with a rescue by ScamMO & co.

  7. Mungo, please note, the Minister For Corruption and Increasing our Carbon Footprint should be referred to by his little known but accurate name- Squizzy Taylor!

  8. Scomo having recently won the ‘climate change election’ I would have expected some investment in base load coal power, obviously most people have seen through the carbon con and that we are not going to fry and die any time soon, the government should respect that. Ballarat , last weekend recorded its lowest September temp EVER, as did Tasmania recently and many other places around the globe, predictions of an over heated future caused by a minor trace gas necessary for all life, really are not coming to fruition are they?

    • Anton it’s intolerable to put forward facts , views
      Opposite to the likes of Joachim, Stefanie, not to mention Ray ! So brainwashed by this hysteria
      Never seen this before , unprecedented
      Fires , floods , temperatures. Iam mean you know
      Nuttin’ Anton !! However so sure are they regarding
      This Climate emergency, but not one of them
      Can give a single example of the Climate emergency that the Byron Shire council has declared , Anton they all supported it ..
      And rest assured they won’t either ..
      Because it doesn’t exist…
      In denial Anton ? Thats sounds familiar !!

  9. Yes Her Minister! The whole LNP’s on steroids… Ministers & advice
    givers; it’s a win-win situation. Mungo upsets you because you know
    he is competent & correct. Mungo’s just ‘got your goat’ Barrow. Let
    up with your blabber – it’s starting to sound like poison – & that kind
    of attack will not be tolerated by someone like me. Understand that!
    Any ‘forum’ or extended discussion calls for informed knowledge as
    well as ‘respect’ for the ‘advisor’ – that is – Mungo. Let up treating
    the man like a foot-ball. He’s forgotten more than you will ever learn.

  10. Anton, since cherry picking is your forte, how about, Saturday 4th January 2020, Sydney 48.9 degrees, the hottest day ever recorded in Sydney and it was the hottest place on Earth according to World Weather Today. NO overheating in Sydney, yeah, perhaps for head in the sand types like yourself.

  11. Don’t agree, Anton. We have a rag-time band full of ‘conning
    Squizzy Taylors’ to squeeze our wallets empty. A cold snap’s
    got many forms of reading – after that, the heat’s on. Climate
    Change has rules most refuse to comprehend. Check it out.

  12. ANTON:–it is quite clear you know nuttin’ about the science associated with climate change. One of the features of climate change is the prevalence of extreme temperatures at BOTH end of the spectrum. Follow the science son instead of the politics. Yes there are places that are colder than ever before bit easily outnumbers by places that have experienced the hottest temps since data was recorded. Grape growers for example have had to move to Tasmania because the climate is changing at an alarming rate on the mainland. Yes the climate has always changed but never at the rate it has now. Levels of carbon dioxide in the southern hemisphere’s background atmosphere have reached 400 parts per million. For millions of years it was just over 200 million parts. The sudden rise? The Industrial Revolution-emissions soared not over millions of years but a few hundred..DING!

  13. It’s 12 weeks away from the coming full on freezing Christmas
    in the USA moving into winter; are you ‘okay on that, Anton?
    [Right]. California’s hell-fires have crippled the state. No-one’s
    seen anything like it… not even here in our last ‘inferno’ – that’s
    why Aussie fire-fighters are there trying to save lives.

    • Sorry Stefanie, you misunderstand. I will outline. The bats with antlers will always try create the sense of the new, it draws in the crowd, but really, and you recognise this, all political movements can be traced back through the centuries because the creators all have a few uni subjects. The New Left is no lest perspicatious than the New Right. They both want to change human behaviour by changing human society. So Nazi Germany drawing on previous Roman eras creates a sense of total obedience based on total subservience, to the Republic, to the whims of the day. Marx no different, create a society based wholly on work ethic and we will have equality. We can trace that back to the Romantics even, the noble savage, daffodils on the hill, independence of thought and heights of sublime importance.
      Does anybody notice the similarities with politics today?
      Mills noted both benefits and negatives to the equation, greater acceptance of differences but also the loss of independance et cetera. This is the equation we are in, a political one about choice in one respect but also about the trend of history which includes science and science is ever more politicised. So no, I don’t call our leaders bats without antlers. We face the same question as the Toll Puddle Martyrs, the Victorian chimney sweeps, the plebs and hoi polloi, gladiators and pipes players. But maybe that was what you were saying. History is too precious to abandon and change at whim. I hope you agree with me
      Radical change in society is fine until it happens and you have just one more disaster.

  14. Just read your last piece, Barrow. Go & do something positive
    for a change. Byron will answer you – just dial the number. A 3
    year old kid could do that. As for you & your wacked out beliefs
    …. I’m over it.

  15. Barrow my man, you right, it is intolerable for you when facts, Barrow old son, are put before. Your denial of “unprecedented” re the bushfire catastrophe of 2019/20 is at best willfully uninformed or at worst deliberately lying. Go and read The NSW Bushfire Enquiry Report 31/7/2020 – the bushfire catastrophe was “unprecedented”. The 4th January 2020, Sydney with a record 48.9 degree max temp was “unprecedented”. In denial Barrow? That sounds familiar !!

  16. The whole world’s wrong because Barrow never is. Even Trump
    now knows there’s such a thing as [shush] Climate Change.

    • Stefanie, tRump now knows that the Covid really is real after his own infection with the Covid. Just waiting for him to to do presser from the Oval Office as the world watches him injecting himself with ‘the magic bleach’ and saying the immortal words, “It is what it is”.

  17. How can you defend the indefensible !
    Whilst we are in pandemic , and the world is almost in a depression , thousands of businesses have hit the wall , thousands of people bankrupt, many suicides. Most companies have a wage freeze
    Very trying times , you only have to read Mandy
    Nolans sobering article to be reminded how much of a struggle it is for many Thousands.
    But not for the self indulging ABC, this taxpayer funded organisation have by all accounts been untouched by the pandemic, wages transfered
    Every week no anxiety as to where the next morgage payment is coming from !! No no no .
    So most of the country have pulled into port sitting tight .!!
    Not the staff at the Aunty , when it was advised to
    Have a wage freeze one would only assume they would heed the advice in a full blown recession .
    Not a chance , 80 % of the ABC staff voted for
    A wage increase..surprised ? Well no, if they had good intentions to give the wage increase to the downtrodden and defenceless well taxpayer’s would be all for this .. Capitalism is alive and well
    At the ABC ..

  18. Hi Stefanie, yes the US debate was certainly
    A embarrassment for both Trump & Biden
    However one important issue Biden and the Democrats have been pushing and how !!
    Is the New Green Deal , phase out fossil fuels
    And push for 100 percent Renewables.
    Biden said 100s of jobs will be created whoops !
    He did correct this with Millions of jobs will be created , okay if thats the case fine , people need
    Employment right ! However biden was asked
    Do you support the New Green Deal ?
    Well you would have thought that he would jump
    With a emphatic yes because as he suggested
    On numerous occasions climate change
    Is going to front and centre for the Democrats
    Road to victory right ? Well no, Biden finally
    In front of the world and admitted he dos NOT
    i rest my case Stefanie..

  19. Wandering away again, Barrow. You know as well as I do that
    the ABC’s been well & truly cut back so stop using it as a side
    step. The pandemic problems are a no brainer – the government
    is ‘taking care of business’ not people-problems, so why don’t you
    contact ScoMo & Co like the rest of us have done? The 2-some
    we face is heartless on both sides; pandemic & Climate Change.
    Mandy fully understands both & does a grand job of it. Enough
    said. Navel gazing is no friend of mine.

  20. Well, I am not going to push the Barrow (pun fully intentional!)
    btw, well spake Mungo, you are on the right track.
    I attended a (zoom) conference, where all the talks are still available.
    You will need to register, but no charge:
    In this conference, speakers from ANU, Monash, Industry & even esteemed persons such as the Hon Mal Turnbull (especially mentioned for Barrow), are talking of Australia becoming an energy superpower. Green Hydrogen is one option (Conversion of water is becoming more efficient), where Hydrogen will mainly be stored as Ammonia. Even ships will be able to be powered by Ammonia in a specially designed turbine (works for peak power backup too, so no need for LNG!). Also we should modify our Aluminium smelters so we can cut power to the smelter for short periods of time (Another Australian invention, owned now by a Co in NZ & sold all around the world). Also Ammonia can be fed into Coal power plants at 20%, reducing emissions & Coal use by 20% (so another coal market reduces).
    France, Germany, Japan & China are all investing in Hydrogen technology, & Australia has a huge potential market once we can get the price down (& it will never be competitive as Blue Hydrogen!)
    Disclaimer: I am an Enova shareholder, as well as a voluntary Enova Energy Coach, so I am well aware of developments happening or being planned. The future for Australiaq is very rosy, but we need to grasp the opportunity (& not let it slip through our fingers likew the Smelter development mentioned before).

  21. Green hydrogen as far as I can tell is still just hydrogen, same old hydrolysis just using clean energy, or so called. It still causes blimps to explode.

  22. Not that I have a problem with hydrogen, it’s in water, and used in everything from margarine to napalm. Just wary the new name for an old thing, and hydrolysis using caustic soda et cetera not really economical for wide-spread use. Funny, also explosive is Lithium Ion. And what a plethora of acids and alkalines the Green Revolution will need. We’ll all be like Homer Simpson working in the local nuclear facility, checking gauges.

  23. I had to look this up, the Haber Process, nothing really new, nor nitrogen fixing … requiring high temperatures and (lo and behold) an iron catalyst. So much for carrots in the backyard.

  24. Barrow my man, the ABC wage freeze. Is there anyone still working at The ABC after the Coalition “and no cuts to the ABC” election pledge that has seen ABC sacking workers and cutting programs – no anxiety there, eh, Barrow my man. Of course wage freezes and pay cuts should ALWAYS be accepted by workers, no ifs, no buts, just suck it up when ScoNO says so. But then I’m thinking, it is government that should lead and set the example yes. Your ProMO ScoNO led the charge for cutting workers penalty rates and then when it came to ScoNO and co being awarded a pay rise, ScoNO says, thank you very much, pockets the dosh and off on his merry way. In Industry off the back of JobKeeper, CEO’s still pocketing bonuses and distributing ‘dividends’. Not much “good intentions’ on show there is there Barrow. On the ABC staff vote, not to your liking but it was a fair and free vote, its called democracy. Perhaps yours and ScoNO’s liking would be that no vote was allowed in the first instance and just issue a ScoNO decree, ABC WAGE FREEZE, yes.

  25. G’day Doug. Yes – I heard about the above. If we don’t ‘use it’ [smart
    energy] we lose it. All that’s needed now is a government shake-up.
    Thanks for the login address.

  26. Just a short ‘add-on.’ Biden has his own plan [re; the green deal]. That is
    to eradicate carbon from the power sector by 2030 & to achieve zero-net
    emissions by 2050.

  27. Bernard sorry you feel this way !! However you seem to have forgotten that Mungo has for many years has a had soft spot for labor, well that would
    Be a understatement really as has the ABC .
    So Bernard would it bias to request Mungo
    To lay off the conservatives ?? Well of course
    It would !! Bernard, mungo is a very committed and competent political analyst no doubt
    And if it is intolerable to you that someone
    Has the hide to disagree with Mungo
    Well all journalist’s should just seek another
    Career..? Should they not ? double standards comes to mind Bernard.

  28. Well… this is another add-on. Watch out for the ‘changes in the Tax Code.’
    Our billionaires’ exemptions are crazy. The top 20% of income earners
    receive 90% of their gains. Let’s do something about it since the ScoNo
    government plays pat-a-cake with the wealthy. And Barrow, let up on
    Mungo & the ABC.

  29. Going back & answering Robot. Bats in antlers…… I can agree with you on that.
    But with each change we have a grave loss of intelligence. That change serves
    just ‘one more disaster’ & ‘one more Master or Mistress’ for the people to cop.

  30. Okay Stefanie should i request Mungo to let up
    On Mr Morrison and the conservatives?
    And the likelihood of this happening ?
    0 % .. the pile on from Mungo every week.
    And what should the conservatives
    Ask Mungo to let up Stefanie?
    Your hypocrisy is overwhelming..

  31. Barrow, you have every right to like [or is it admire] the Shock Jocks nb; on
    radio. I have ideas & beliefs that will merge with Mungo because he is not,
    & never will be, a Shock Jock. Alan Jones & John Laws are problematic
    contenders in that arena; Mungo’s not. I am remembering the ‘Cash For
    Comment Scandal’ since the ‘jocks’ are highly paid by politicians to push
    their own barrow. Therein lies the difference. Mungo can’t be bought.
    Having said that… I do not believe I need to answer your frothed-up
    questions. Call me what ever you will. I don’t believe that ‘hypocrisy’
    is the word you want.

  32. Short add-on. You are well known in the Hood, Barrow….. so for all
    & sundry I say – I do not carry fire in one hand & water in the other.
    Duplicity is a war-game & I refuse to be part of your endless ongoing
    sentiments because it’s growing near to grime time.


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