The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has now said he is prepared to support a clean energy target such as that recommended by the chief scientist, Alan Finkel as long as high-efficiency coal generation is allowed1. As a statement bordering on the oxymoronic, it could have been worse; perhaps if he had said ‘clean coal’. One can only hope that the stupidity of the latter phrase is making its way into the small if vacant reaches of Joyce’s consciousness, if not his conscience.
Joyce is waiting on the Liberal Party to decide whether to adopt the Finkel Review recommendations or to dump them. As he said, once they decide, the Nationals can then decide what their position is1. The reason the Liberals have yet to make a decision, is because they are still riven by conflict between the realists and the climate change deniers, who are numerous in the Liberals, as well as the Nationals2. It still beggars belief that in our science-dependent age, we still have people who think, while sitting on their plush leather parliamentary benches pulling in over $200,000 per annum, that they can pick and choose whether they believe in a particular part of science. At best, this stems purely from a profound ignorance of science and how it works; at worst it stems from disgraceful venality. Given the availability of knowledge in this internet age, ignorance of science must be willful; and willful ignorance is stupid. Venality is different and is the preserve of those who have no compunction in selling out this country and its people to the highest bidder. In Joyce’s case, his fondness for coal, despite the antipathy of many in the farming community, indicates that his highest bidder is someone who owns coal mines. Any guesses?
These deniers are fighting a losing battle and they know it, because the world is changing and in the absence of anything like rational action from the federal government, the states and private citizens are circumventing such inaction. However, there is probably a billion or two of taxpayers’ dollars that they can use to subsidise donors’ suggested coal-fired power stations, so their other donors can continue to mine thermal coal. In turn, both sets of donors get to forward a small proportion of the taxpayers’ funds to the Liberals and Nationals, so they can buy advertising for the next election campaign. And so the whole corrupt business continues as usual. It is no wonder these people never, ever want to see a federal anti-corruption body established. That would entail them behaving ethically, and having to think about the populace occasionally, not just themselves and their donors.