During the Wentworth by-election, the Australia Institute commissioned an exit poll of 1049 voters and climate change, and replacing coal with renewables, was the biggest single issue motivating voters in the electorate: 78% said it had some influence on their vote; 47% said it a had a lot of influence on their vote, and 33% stated it was the most important issue1. Given these clear signals from what used to be a safe Liberal seat, it makes you wonder why Treasurer Josh Frydenberg played down the need for a significant shift in the Morrison government’s stance on climate change before the next federal election. He stated that the government did not intend to “reduce emissions at the expense of people’s power bills”2. As anyone who keeps abreast of the development of renewable power generation knows, this statement by Frydenberg is simply so much equine ordure. New build coal-fired power is more expensive that new build wind or solar generation, and renewables are still declining in price3, so to make consumers pay for more coal-fired power would drive up power bills. So what does the government suggest? Energy Minister Angus Taylor has indicated that the government could provide an indemnity for private projects as a way of the government absorbing the risks currently stopping companies investing in coal-fired power generation4. It is the old Liberal story: privatise the profits and socialise the costs (i.e. let our donors reap the profits while the taxpayers foot the bill). However, it is worse than this. The big generators such as AGL, Origin, Alinta an Energy Australia are committed to decreasing their emissions by replacing their coal-fired generation with renewables, gas and hydro. This is not the case for Sunset Power, a company owned by Brian Flannery and former National Party candidate and LNP donor Trevor St Baker5. Is the Coalition angling to give yet another taxpayer-funded handout to their donors?
What makes the Coalition so doggedly determined to deny reality? There are two possible explanations for the constant denialism exhibited by the Liberals and their parasitic Nationals. Firstly, they could simply be stupid, and having dug themselves into such a deep hole of denialism, are unwilling to even consider admitting they were wrong and changing direction. Secondly, they could be beholden to climate change denying organisations such that any reversal of their denialism could jeopardise donations from such organisations.
While the first of these options seems outlandish, it should not be dismissed out of hand. After all, it was the Coalition that voted for a white supremacist motion in the senate, seemingly unaware of the furore it would cause6. However, I think it is more likely that the Liberal and National parties are in the pockets of climate change deniers. Could it be that they are almost completely dependent on denialist funding? While some of their donors are well known7, are these the sole reason their denialism persists as its face is stove in by the reality of climate change, and the reality of the Wentworth by-election loss? Are there other more strident denialists whose donations make up the many millions from anonymous donors? Are they people like Gina Rinehart or are they foreign corporations funnelling money through local subsidiaries, or through local fundraising organisations? The reason I want to know, is so I can thank them for their destruction of the Liberal Party.