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The IPA, Tucker Carlson and Murdoch media plot to keep coal and gas burning

by Michael West | Jul 10, 2024 | Energy & Environment, Latest Posts

Spearheaded by the IPA, Murdoch media and Trump cheerleader Tucker Carlson the far-right is keeping the culture wars over fossil fuels and energy raging. Michael West reports on the latest tactics.

Emboldened by a report from pro-coal right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, the Murdoch media is now claiming bizarrely that renewable energy “is likely to be 5 or 6 times as expensive as what we had (coal).

This, hard on the heels of Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s first 6GW tender which was 7 times oversubscribed with 40GW of investor proposals. This after a decade of irrefutable evidence that the cost of building new solar and wind energy is cheaper than the cost of building new coal capacity.

In fact, the plunge in the price of building new renewable energy, which became cheaper than new coal almost 10 years ago, has surprised even RE’s most ardent advocates. The IPA, which somehow enjoys charity status, claims that it advocates for capitalism and free markets.

Yet, while the Labor Party and Chris Bowen are busy ‘crowding in’ enthusiastic private investors into their renewable energy tenders, the IPA is spruiking nuclear power, and that the taxpayers pick up the bill via its recent report, There is a Respectable Economic Argument for Nationalised Nuclear.

Inflation, what’s that?

The IPA analysis on energy also fails to grasp that the reason electricity prices are so high is inflation and the failure of successive governments to bring in a Domestic Gas Reservation Policy. 

How fake gas frights and fanciful forecasts keep fossil fuels burning for longer

The Institute of Public Affairs clap-trap from Stephen Wilson about the coincidence of higher

share in the NEM and higher electricity prices when we all know it is due to hyperinflation of fossil fuel prices,” says independent energy analyst Tim Buckley of Climate Energy Finance.

“It is critical that Australians realise the number one reason for the hyperinflation of domestic energy prices is the hyperinflation of fossil fuel commodity prices. Methane gas prices in Australia (& LNG prices globally) rose 1,000% in 2022. 

Asian traded thermal prices, and the coal price Origin Energy pays to keep the largest taxpayer subsidised coal-fired power plant in Australia open at Eraring, saw their commodity prices rise 1,000% in 2023. Oil prices trebled in 2022.”

“This wasn’t due to a massive change in energy demand, it was the global geopolitical implications of sanctions against Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine, the number 2 fossil fuel exporter globally. Fossil fuel reliance massively undermined EU energy security.”

These basic facts appear to have eluded the IPA and the News Corp media. At stake is the energy transition, the global shift from fossil fuels to renewables; a shift made even more urgent in light of the record temperatures and the threat to climate. 

Australia though, thanks to its media, remains mired in cultural war over climate change and energy which has undermined the transition to cheaper and cleaner energy for more than a decade.

Fossils in Arms: solar project slammed as white elephant, really a raging success

Regulatory and media capture … and Tucker 

“We have total regulatory capture by the fossil fuel mafia that has seen Australian domestic energy users paying export price parity and beyond, even as Australia is the number 3 fossil fuel exporter globally,” says Buckley.

And it makes no sense economically either as the government collects little in the way of royalties or taxes from the likes of Exxon, Chevron, Shell and others.

“The international gas cartel extracting monopoly rents from Australian consumers and businesses needs to be brought to heel,” says Buckley.

Meanwhile, far right-wing media personality Tucker Carlson has been revving up audiences across Australia about the ‘tyranny’ of the Labor government which he claims has deliberately defrauded its citizens by pushing for renewables. Coal, he claimed incredibly, is cheaper than solar and wind energy.

Tucker was invited to Australia by mining billionaire Clive Palmer to address the Australian Freedom Conference. Palmer has large coal assets.

Stepping on the gas

This when gas prices have only just eased back from their highs of $28GJ last week. The price of gas determines the price of electricity and the price of gas is determined by exporters of the gas cartel (export parity pricing)

“High energy prices,” says Buckley, “Willl only be solved by deploying significant more firmed renewable energy capacities. And V2G (vehicle to grid). And CER (consumer energy resources), VPPs (virtual power plants) and orchestration. 

“And changing consumer behaviour by an effective and appropriate Time of Day tariff to time-shift consumer use to when it is predictably sunny i.e. 10am to 4pm each and every day, when wholesale power prices are regularly negative.”

The IPA, says Buckley, should have its charity status revoked. Indeed it appears, rather than an espouser of free markets, to be merely a promoter for the fossil fuel industry and the bizarre energy policies of the Liberal and National parties.

In reality, they probably don’t believe it either but any sophistry which can keep the ‘debate’ going, the culture wars going, for longer definitely suits the interests of coal and gas producers.  

Race of the Century: Australia is in the box seat on climate and finance, here is the blueprint for victory

Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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