There’s fake news, there are alternative facts, and then there is editorial bias. We expect to see that bias, particularly against climate policies and clean energy, from outlets such as the Murdoch media. But from the ABC?
Last year we took issue – on several occasions, here, here and here – with the ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann’s take on the South Australian blackout, and his rush to blame wind energy and lecture the world about the problems of grid stability.
Now it’s the turn of the new political correspondent for the flagship 7.30 Report, Andrew Probyn, a multi-award winning journalist who on Tuesday night accused the Labor Party of being a “slave” to its high renewable energy target.
“Malcolm Turnbull is a leader under pressure,” Probyn editorialised (full transcript here).
“The political landscape has changed around him, and he’s seeking to adapt to the voter antipathy with a more punter-friendly pitch. Tackling rising power prices is his first offering to families. This is a pinch point for Labor over its slavish pursuit of renewable energy.”
Whoah! Let’s nip this one in the bud real quick. Is the Coalition really the public defender of electricity prices that Probyn infers, and Labor a slave to some renewable ideology?
Look, I understand how the Canberra gallery can be enraptured with the “politics” of an issue rather than the actual policy details. But is this independent analysis or Coalition propaganda? How about looking at the facts. You can start with actual energy costs.
Australia needs to replace most of its ageing coal plant over the next decade. With what? Even the head of the fossil fuel lobby, Matthew Warren, wrote today in the AFR: “Put simply, you cannot finance coal.” Why? Because new coal fired generation is too expensive.
How about Probyn suggests that the Coalition is a slave to fossil fuels? And drop the “people’s defender” line on electricity prices. Look forward to hearing that sometime soon.
At least Probyn is consistent. Last year he wrote in The West Australian, his former employer: “This is why there is justifiable alarm at Labor’s embrace of arbitrarily setting higher RET targets without declaring how they would be achieved.” Another Coalition talking point.
Probyn should read more widely. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has pointed out that new coal will cost nearly twice as much as new wind or solar, and as we have noted, Warren is not disputing them. RenewEconomy has focused on how it is the bidding practices of the fossil fuel generators, and the lack of competition that is forcing up energy prices.
More broadly, the CSIRO and network owners report is pretty clear that high renewable energy targets will result in a cleaner and cheaper grid.
Even the much touted AEMC analysis, if you ignore the ridiculous costings of wind and solar, indicates that a high renewables target would be the cheapest option to reduce emissions. But hey, you do have to read more than the summary.
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.