The government has clearly decided that electricity prices is its key message for the next three years – and as a result the prime minister has ensured the policy debate will be biased towards climate change denial and will continue to treat Australians as idiots.
When the prime minister let fly against Bill Shorten in parliament last week, amid the personal attacks, the only policy areas he broached were company tax and energy prices. Pointedly, energy price was the first issue that came to him after he told his jokes about Shorten dining with Dick Pratt.
Turnbull exclaimed of Shorten that “he is selling out the jobs of Australian workers, every day he perseveres with his ludicrous policies on energy, which will have the result of further unsustainable increases in the cost of electricity”.
It is one of the more frustrating aspects of energy policy in this country that it virtually begins and ends with electricity prices and the overarching issue of climate change is almost a side issue.
For example, there is next to no political cost that the government – now in its fourth year – still has no long-term climate change policy. Laughably, despite signing up to the Paris agreement, and despite having a goal of reducing emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, the government is still conducting a review to work out how it will actually achieve that goal, because its current policy runs out in 2020.
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