Thursday, September 29, 2016
South Australia was asking for it, says PM Turnbull
The recent, and ongoing, severe storms in South Australia have, of course, been accompanied by equally severe blasts of hot air from Canberra, with PM Malcolm Turnbull, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, and – curiously – independently-minded (or so I had thought) Adelaide-resident politician Nick Xenophon being prominent wind-instruments here.
Not living in South Australia, and so not directly affected by these twin barrages, I do not want to play the victim-in-the-eye-of-the-storm card on their behalf. I am sympathetic, but that’s almost beside the point, from afar. At ground zero, there are lots of emotions going round almost randomly in these situations, which perhaps explains the straw of blame that Nick Xenophon has chosen to cling onto. (As it happens, I also lived through an 8-hour blackout yesterday, but that’s another, very local and minor story.)
What I’m actually angry about is thus not the (media) storm heaped upon the (real) storm, as an ill-timed double whammy. Rather, it’s the uncanny – and obscene – similarity between South Australia and a rape victim in all this.
The PM Turnbull (et al) line is, quite simply “She was asking for it, flaunting her svelte, low-emissions (40% renewable) figure like a Vegas stripper. Or like uncovered meat, if you prefer the feline analogy. In either case, under this logic South Australia got what she deserved. That is, a shafting by moralising puritans with their pants around their ankles, who in their own minds rationalise their thrustings as benignly teaching her a valuable lesson. Viz that in future, by modestly dressing herself in a carbon-saturated sackcloth of coal-fired electricity, she will, oh so generously and Praise the Lords of Global Warming, be spared a repeat rape.
But does the PM Turnbull (et al) line have a slight skerrick of scientific basis? The AEMO has, according to two out of three ABC TV (7pm News and 7:30 Report) reports this evening denied that there was any link between the state-wide blackout and South Australia’s choice of electricity-generation mix (or “attire”, to continue the analogy). The third report said that AEMO was still investigating the cause. This hedging and dallying is revealing – of an ugly truth.
South Australia plainly does have a problem with its electricity, and that’s the Victorian interconnector. The hyperbolic, if mercifully short-lived price hike in South Australia of a few months ago, which resulted from the Victorian interconnector being down for “maintenance” well demonstrates the power relativities here, in both senses. I would have thought that such “maintenance” would have been well-flagged in advance to those who would bear its brunt, so allowing South Australia to put other contingencies in place. But perhaps I’m wrong here – and in mid-winter, South Australia couldn’t even think about covering herself briefly with her own non-renewable electricity, as she was too busy sashaying around to notice the letter in her box from grim Victoria, telling her what was in store if she didn’t get her act together.
It was, fittingly enough, protecting the Victorian interconnector (and so stopping the blackout spreading to brown-coal lickin’, and here actually morally-virtuous Victoria) that seems to have been the reason that the blackout went entirely state-wide. South Australia, in “aggressively” seeking renewable electricity, has thus found itself a lightning rod for a whole set of nasties, worse perhaps the worst meteorological storm. In trying to be a responsible adult on this planet, and so to mitigate climate change, South Australia has found itself to be at the whim of a sick-puppy Victoria, playing dog in its odiferous brown-coal manger: “So now you want our dirty electricity do ya – so beg for it, whore”.