The Coalition government is wallowing. It has marked up a 28th consecutive poll where it is trailing the Labor Party. Even prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is struggling to hold his head above Bill Shorten as preferred PM.
So perhaps it’s time to finally change the conversation, dump the right-wing policies on energy and climate that Turnbull promised to cherish, and set a new path. Here are some quick and easy fixes, offered free and without retainer from RenewEconomy.
Buy that EV
You know you have wanted to ever since you visited the Tesla factory and gushed about the new technology and the exciting transition ahead.
“Walking through the highly automated assembly lines was inspiring, but nothing matched taking a test drive in the latest Tesla S model,” Turnbull wrote in a Facebook blog in early 2015. “This one has a range of 265 miles (about 480 kms) and accelerates to 100 kph in 3.5 seconds. The key of course is the battery technology which is improving all the time both in terms of cost and energy density.”
And how. Batteries are cheaper, and the EVs have even greater range and can now do 0-100kph in little more than 2 seconds.
And Turnbull went on: “Batteries have the potential to revolutionise the energy market, reducing peaking power requirements, optimising grid utilisation of renewables and in some cases enabling consumers to go off the grid altogether.”
Not only that, but: Jobs and Growth!!
“The all electric cars are being made in a huge factory that used to belong to GM and Toyota. It shut down and then four years ago Tesla took it over and it went from being an industrial relic to the home of what many regard as the world’s fastest and coolest electric car. And many of the workers at Tesla today are auto workers who had been laid off when the old GM/Toyota plant closed. Tesla has gone from employing 500 people to 11,000 in five years. A reminder of how innovation drives jobs.”
Hmmm, now where could one find an old GM or Toyota car factory in Australia?
Share that EV
If trading in his Audi for a Tesla or some other EV – the new Jaguar looks nice, and the new Leaf is on the way – appears a little indulgent, maybe Turnbull could encourage or demand the Comcar fleet to go electric.
Comcar currently charges $114/hour for its petrol vehicles, and it would be amazing if a fleet of Teslas or some EV should cost any more. And there is no local car manufacturing to justify the commitment to GM petrol vehicles.
It would be a terrific fillip and inspiration for fleet operators across the country, who must be doing the sums and thinking that EVs make sense – from truck operators all the way down to taxis and shared vehicles.
Perhaps Turnbull could convince GM to ship over some all-electric Chevy Bolts, in honour of his favourite journalist.
Install that solar
Josh Frydenberg is the minister for energy in the country with the biggest penetration of rooftop solar in the world. But guess who doesn’t have rooftop solar? Crikey, even Corey Bernardi has 12kW on his roof.
As Sophie Vorrath notes in this piece today, more than 1.05GW was installed on Australian rooftops in the last calendar year, a rate of 6.5 panels a minute.
Frydenberg says he has not had the time – he can hardly say he doesn’t have the money – so if someone can help him out with some mapping and a quote, we could probably get this sorted pretty quickly.
Share that solar
One of the most exciting things that has been happening in recent times is the focus on lower-income households for rooftop solar and battery storage, and the concept of “shared” energy, particularly for those in apartments or rental properties that can’t install on their property.
South Australia has been setting the lead on this, but what a great opportunity for Frydenberg or Turnbull, who already has a 14kW rooftop solar array at his Pt Piper home, along with around 13.5kWh of battery storage.
Just think of the kudos of sharing that solar and helping lowering prices for those least able; someone, for instance, who might be struggling, living in a regional centre, forced to move into low-cost housing, losing their job, having their salary slashed and expecting a baby. Every little bit helps.
Show some ambition
Turnbull came to power with a promise to the right wing to do what he had promised never to do: maintain their policies and lead a party – nay, a government – that doesn’t take climate action seriously.
So, how’s that working out? A series of 28 consecutive News Polls that show that the Coalition is trailing Labor, a sign, the right wing rightly observes, that Turnbull is no more adroit at getting public support for right-wing agendas than they are.
So, what to do? Turnbull risks being turfed out for pursing policies he doesn’t believe in, or by pursing policies he does believe in. Might as well give the latter a crack. Climate change is real, it is human caused, and wind and solar are cheaper than any other option. Storage is here.
Turnbull has two signature policies out in the market at the moment – build Snowy 2.0 and introduce the National Energy Guarantee.
Both ideas are about as far away from free markets as you can imagine, but at least they might be justified a little bit if the ambition was raised. Neither policy initiative serves any purpose under current and proposed government trajectories.
So, that’s our lot. There’s probably a gazillion other things that can be done, but these are actions that could easily be achieved with a few phone calls and a speech to the National Press Club. Over to you.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.