Angus Taylor, the newly sworn federal minister for energy has a problem with wind. Unfortunately, this problem is unlikely to be settled with antacid and a slight dietary adjustment. His problem is wind energy.
Like a number of current and previous federal coalition stalwarts, generating clean power via wind-driven turbines is something to be passionately protested.
What do we know about Angus Taylor, apart from his dislike of wind power? From relative political obscurity to a key, and currently critical portfolio, what are 3 things we know about our new energy minister, Angus Taylor?
What We Know About Angus Taylor, Federal Minister for Energy:
1. “The Minister for Reducing Energy Prices”
One thing we certainly know about Taylor. He has his work cut out for him.
Scott Morrison, our new illustrious leader, has stated openly that he wants his energy minister to be known as “The Minister for Reducing Energy Prices.” In the first instance, this would seem like a clever piece of marketing. It will appeal to rank and file Aussies fed up with high electricity bills and the perceived energy market chaos.
However, Morrison may have inadvertently set up his minister to fail. Can you think of any service, government or private sector, where prices have gone down? Anything at all?
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Now, can you think of goods and services that have gone up in price, and faster than wages growth? Yes, you can, because it’s all of them.
It seems Morrison’s catchy title for his minister is a title that history tells us he will never be able to live up to. However, such a label is likely to gain traction with voters, perhaps the real reason behind the catchy ministerial euphemism.
2. Is Taylor Not a Climate Sceptic?
Angus Taylor refutes claims that he is a climate sceptic. But where does he stand on the need for radical mitigation against human-induced global warming?
It might seem difficult to ascertain. However, many things he says suggest he doesn’t see any urgency in the need to transition to renewables.
He says he is deeply sceptical about the economics of emissions reductions. In short, he suggests emissions reduction schemes are a conspiracy. Most importantly, he seems to believe that renewables will play a strong role alongside coal and gas.
One might extract from this that there will be no transition to renewables. There will be no renewables target. Renewables will simply “play a role” in energy generation, as opposed to eventually dominating as the new baseload power paradigm, relegating fossil fuels to the past.
3. Taylor’s Primary Objective is to Reduce Electricity Prices
“My first and only priority is to reduce power prices.” Angus Taylor.
So, what about emissions, Angus? Not a priority? Or is this the environment minister’s job?
One of the primary reasons energy pricing had become such a challenge was because of the necessary transition to renewables. It has caused massive political division which in turn caused a desperate lack of clear policy. Our transition had agreed milestones in the form of timed emission reductions targets.
Balancing price, supply and distribution under the weight of climate demands was clearly difficult but necessary. One could argue that if Taylor removes the targets, as he says he will, it will take out the biggest complexity of reducing energy prices. Is his job now easy?
With some clever rhetoric, not unlike his new title, he is also blame-shifting to the energy suppliers. With strategically placed words like ‘price gouging’, he unites the electorate in hate against the nasty energy suppliers. He also points to the Liberal achievement of wrangling the gas market into price submission. Ironically, any headway made with the gas companies was instigated by the prime minister they just usurped.
While the rhetoric flows, while Taylor tells us, “renewables are in his blood”, he’s stated that he will invest billions into fossil fuel energy generation to secure supply and reduce prices. So is he not a climate sceptic and just ignorant of forecast climate warnings? Or, is he driven by political imperative?
That is just a little teaser into the man that now stands at the helm of our energy policy. We’ll keep you informed as things develop. Here are some links for some further reading about Angus Taylor, in case you missed them.
1. Parliament of Australia: Hon. Angus Taylor MP
2. The Guardian: Angus Taylor signals further taxpayer investment in existing coal and gas.
3. Energy Matters: Energy Minister Angus Taylor outlines his vision: a ‘strong role’ for renewables… and coal
4. The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘I am not sceptical about climate science’: Energy Minister Angus Taylor hits back in new price pledge
Photo credit: Lukas Coch