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ANDREW P STREET: Questioning Angus Taylor’s sci-fi emissions plan

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Angus Taylor's reputation has been tarnished by numerous blunders throughout his time in office (Screenshot via YouTube)

A glance at Angus Taylor's track record somewhat explains the lunacy behind his latest plans for climate action, writes Andrew P Street.

THERE ARE TIMES when one really has to ask where the Minister for Energy And Emissions Reduction But Really Just Energy, Angus Taylor, gets his information. And that’s because for an ostensibly smart person he makes some pretty amazingly silly claims.

There’s his 2019 claim that Angus Taylor made a great move on securing 1,000 new car spaces for commuters at Campbelltown Station — despite that having little to do with him since he’s not the MP for the train station in question (which is in the Labor-held seat of Macarthur, not Taylor’s next-door electorate of Hume) and that the public money came from a very suspicious and opaque infrastructure fund which seemed to target marginal seats.

Oh, and also that Angus forgot to change to one of his fake Facebook profiles before complimenting himself on his great job Angus, well done.

That, of course, was a bit of rich comedy compared with the still-mysterious deal to get an exemption from the Department of the Environment to clear endangered grasses on behalf of his rural constituents, although the request to approve said clearing came some six months after a meeting with then-Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg. This itself followed the actual poisoning of hectares of endangered grassland, including on a property coincidentally owned by a company that just so happened to have Angus’s brother Richard as one of its directors.

And then there was his still-unexplained claim that Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore had run up almost $16 million in national and international travel expenses over 12 months; an amount which he had gotten wrong by almost $16 million.

Taylor initially claimed the number “was drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website, it was publicly available”. When it was pointed out that the annual report in question had calculated the costs of transport for the entire council at under $6,000, he claimed he got his information from an early version which he’d downloaded before it had apparently been amended by the council.

When that was proved false by the release of data logs showing that only one version of the document had been uploaded to the server and had never been amended or replaced, and also that the bit which Angus was flashing around was in a completely different font to the rest of the document and looked like a childishly inept attempt at forgery, he stopped answering questions about it altogether.

And with those performances fresh in our mind, let us turn to the Minister’s latest triumph. For he is out spruiking the Government’s new plan for meeting and beating their non-targets for reducing Australia’s greenhouse gases: science fiction!

This latest leap into the Taylor fantastic occurred on Radio National’s A.M. program on Thursday 22 April, during which host Fran Kelly chatted away with Taylor about U.S. President Joe Biden’s aggressive stance ahead of his international climate action summit and specifically why Australia’s climate targets were so piddlingly low compared with the U.S., the European Union and (especially) the UK, who were planning a 78 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared with Taylor’s 28 per cent.

“What matters at the end of the day is outcomes,” he insisted, over and over and over and over and over again, before explaining that tech would be the answer to achieving “practical action that doesn’t raise electricity bills, that doesn’t destroy jobs, that strengthens economies”.

And, according to Taylor, that inexpensive and practical solution is somehow going to involve moving away from mature and increasingly cheap technologies like wind and solar in favour of a bunch of technologies that either don’t exist yet such as his “hydrogen hubs”, or exist but don’t work in the case of carbon capture and storage, despite Coalition governments spending one billion-plus public dollars on trying to find a magic loophole in physics.

(It’s worth a listen, just to enjoy the genuinely hilarious sound of Taylor not answering a very straightforward question about whether his vaunted hydrogen hubs would generate said elemental gas with renewable energy — and since he went to splutteringly incoherent lengths to not say yes, presumably that’d be a no.)

Meanwhile, of course, the coal industry is sputtering to a halt with this week’s announcement that two more power plants in Queensland are heading for mothballing or early closure because they can’t compete with renewables. Almost like all those things economists have been saying for years wasn’t just inner-city leftist industry hate!

Anyway, we have to ask whether Taylor’s grasp of energy policy, emissions reduction and high school-level chemistry is a badly executed trick as per his Facebook account, an arcane bit of goalpost shifting as per Grassgate, or due to his supposedly being fooled by very obviously doctored documents, a la the Moore travel claim.

Because one thing is clear: he’s certainly getting his information from somewhere other than reality.

Andrew P Street is an Adelaide-based, Sydney-built journalist, columnist, author, editor and broadcaster. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewPStreet.

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