Abbott must keep calm and cut power prices

THE British government in 1939 created the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” to prepare Brits for German attacks during World War II. The Abbott government should adopt it, and take heart.

Of course, the slogan belied the preparedness to assemble the immense power brought to bear by the Allies in 1944 against the fascist forces.

The Abbott government has to go on the attack. It is under siege from Red, Green and Yellow forces, which are unlikely to relent in the near term.

It seems unlikely that much of Joe Hockey’s budget will survive the Senate.

The Abbott government will, however, abolish the carbon tax and, as a bonus for Australia, its policy of “direct action” may fail to materialise. It always was a fig leaf.

The Abbott government is succeeding in maintaining its boats policy. The main failure, however, is that the Abbott government did not prepare the ground for a ­mature debate on public spending.

The Abbott government has not convinced sufficient voters of Jonah Goldberg’s critique of the welfare state, as “the belief that there is a priesthood of experts capable of redesigning society in a ‘progressive’ manner”.

It allowed the education industry, for example, to get away with not answering a simple question: Is it possible to overspend on education? The government is now paying the price.

Shepherding bits and pieces of the budget through the Senate is not enough to reflate the government’s electoral stocks.

Fundamentally, the Abbott government is a retail player. It has not exhibited a distinct philosophy, a thread by which to judge its progress. In these thwarted times, it must return to the retail market.

It must begin to assay the values of Palmer United Party senators and appeal to each on a case-by-case basis. They will not always act as a bloc.

They will not always act as a bloc because there are only three reasons why a politician remains loyal to a party — to enhance the prospects of re-election, for career advancement or for common ideological purpose.

PUP senators, and Ricky Muir, should be aware that, barring being sent to jail for 12 months or more, they are guaranteed six years of good pay and conditions. Their chances of re-election, however, are almost nil. Clive Palmer will almost certainly not be around in six years’ time. It is unlikely that he will survive the next election and possibly even until the next election.

No PUP senator will become a member of government, so there is no prospect of career advancement. As for common ideological purpose, it is clear there is none.

The Abbott government needs to fashion a measure that is worth doing. There is just one: low-cost energy.

It must use the base of abolishing the carbon tax, the stymie of its own direct action plan, and the ­review of the Renewable Energy Target, in addition to its offer to the states on privatisation, to deliver low-cost energy.

It can do this because the electorate is no longer enamoured of the climate change scare and, anyway, has no heart to pay the bill for the doomed abatement strategy.

The RET review is to decide whether the objective of the scheme is still appropriate. The answer is no.

Right on cue, the new national secretary of the AWU, and therefore key player in the ALP, wants a domestic gas reserve policy. Once again, Labor takes the wrong turn, hiding from the market.

Abbott needs to get the market working for him electorally. He must use every regulatory device in the commonwealth’s playbook to lower energy prices.

The RET reviewers and the government should explain to the PUPs, and the nation, that renewables destroy jobs by forcing up the cost of making things.

The Abbott government must explain to the PUPs that renewables force up the price of domestic electricity. Jacqui Lambie’s Tasmanians and Ricky Muir’s Gippslanders will understand that.

In case they worry about climate change, quote the magnificent Bjorn Lomborg, the climate- change believer, who explains that wind and solar energy are useless.

That they deliver less than 1 per cent of China and India’s energy, and that “by the end of the century, Germany’s $145 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed temperature rises by 37 hours”.

Go to the heart of PUP concerns and use these to fashion a popular policy that will grind the Red/Green enemy into the ground.