Category Archives: academia

Weatherill lets fly at right wing attack against renewables

WHOOP!  My second stand-alone article on the excellent reneweconomy site

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill was in a pugnacious mood at the launch of Climate Wars, the new book by Labor’s shadow climate minister Mark Butler, and let fly at the ‘rightwing f***wits’ (his words) that were keen to use any event to attack renewables.

weatherill frydenberg

Butler’s book (reviewed here and the subject of our podcast here) starts with an anecdote about a concert in Adelaide earlier this year, when the lights suddenly went out, and that is where Weatherill started as well. The English singer Adele announced a ‘blackout’ had occurred.

Weatherill admitted that his heart was in his mouth, and joked that treasurer and energy minister Tom Koutsantonis had “fainted in the corporate box” until Adele quickly explained that a roadie had unplugged the wrong cord. The lights were soon back on.

That didn’t stop ‘right-wing f***wits” from seeking to take advantage of the situation. He took particular aim at The Austraian commentator Chris Kenny, who had been sending tweets proclaiming another blackout.

September 2016 – five hours that changed Australian Energy Policy

Weatherill also talked in detail about the September 2016 “system black” that has kick-started an extraordinary process in policy-making, including the Finkel Review, the Musk tweets and South Australia’s energy plan.

Weatherill explained that since State Parliament had its own generator, he had only found out about the system black after being alerted by Koutsantonis telling him ‘we’re black’.

Weatherill took particular aim at Senator Nick Xenophon for spreading fear that “people will die” and that the “lights might be out for five days.”

He also was at pains to explain that while he had contacted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the same evening, Turnbull didn’t reply for two weeks, but instead lectured South Australia on its ‘irresponsible’ renewables policy.

Almost a year later, Weatherill is still clearly angered by this – he pointed to the fact that Turnbull had an Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report on his desk that clearly explained that the blackout was not due to renewables, but because the transmission towers had been blown over by high winds.

Turnbull not a fit Prime Minister

Weatherill then turned to hatred of renewables, the love of coal and the vested interest that sit behind that.

He lamented what he called Turnbull’s “Pauline conversion”, an ‘extraordinary change’ from a man who had said he would not lead a party that was not as committed to climate action as he was to one ‘completely capitulated to the rightwing of his party’.

Weatherill said that for this reason alone, let alone others, Turnbull had disqualified himself as being a fit prime minister, and had played politics while South Australians were stuck in lifts, and stuck in the dark.

Weatherill, to cheers, said he would remind Turnbull of this ‘the next time I’m stood next to him’ (a reference to the infamous Weatherill/Frydenburg stoush in Adelaide earlier this year).

Weatherill said that after the blackout the government could have capitulated, but instead decided to pursue what he knew to the right policy both environmental and economic reasons, and that he was proud South Australia had.

He then turned to the events of February 8th 2017, arguing that opponents of renewables were poised to strike. Although South Australia had the newest gas-fired power station, its owners had chosen ‘for financial reasons to stay shut’.

On the following day, New South Wales had had a load-shedding event, which thwarted the efforts at ridiculing South Australia.

‘The most extraordinary political period’

What happened next was what Weatherill called the most extraordinary period in his political life. ‘We got up and said’ we’ll take charge, not knowing quite what that meant.

“We went from laughing stock to leader in six weeks, with support in the state, nationally and internationally.’

In March the State announced its six point energy plan, and earlier in the month Elon Musk arrived, post-tweet, to announce the 129MWh lithium battery farm.

‘There could not be a more important issue, at the state, national or planetary level,” Weatherill said.

Weatherill is, of, course talking his own book, and faces a stiff election challenge next March. If the letters page of the only daily newspaper, the Murdoch-owned Advertiser, is anything to go by, it will be an uphill battle.

Marc Hudson is a PhD candidate at University of Manchester

Blog- Thurs 6 to Sun 9 July

Thursday 6
Around the park  five times
Two hours at microfiche tracking down crucial newspaper articles for the carbon tax 1994/1995 story. Dead useful, developed a couple of new tricks of how to get the info v. quickly
Good meeting with a research librarian, who was super helpful, and put me onto an academic I am meeting up with on Thursday.
Scanning some important stuff (and also pages from John Howard’s  memoir ‘Lazarus Rising).
Cycled home and had three games of scrabble with dad, won two lost one.
Did lots more  grunt work around the stuff I collected earlier today (this matters – if I have learned anything it is the importance of doing the grunt work as you go!!)
Reading Anna Krien’s excellent Quarterly Essay on coal, coral and climate change.  We’re toast, and she is almost as good as Elizabeth Kolbert, which is High Praise Indeed.

Friday 7
Insomnia – working on thesis at stupid o’clock.  Then, in the morning,  one game of scrabble with mum Lift into town (raining!)  Two hours in State Library – got the hang of some software/hardware, scanned some useful stuff. And some trainspottery stuff. It’s not always possible to know in advance which is which.
Very little/nothing in Keating biographies about climate, which is telling re: what a low priority it was – I don’t think he got involved at all in the spat over the tax itself.  And forestry took up all the oxygen.
Then fantastic meet up with lovely chap who it turns out I had met once before.  Really inspiring and energising to meet someone on the same wavelength.  He’s into Arendt, and a whole lot of other stuff. Looking forward to introducing him to various folks (inc The Wife).  Walked home, making it ahead of the rain.
Meanwhile, that March tweet by Elon Musk was coming true – the one about building a 100Mw power storage facility ‘or it’s free’.
More work (typing up bits of a book I read, then tracking down the relevant factoids. Never underestimate the willingness/brass neck of trade associations to just MAKE SHIT UP.

Saturday 8
Walked around the park times five, followed by scrabble tournament with my ma.  Played 6, won 4 (one by a single point). Got totally totally thrashed in the first game.  Largely enjoyable. People are strange.
A bus up to somewhere to see a film (not very good) and endure a truly excruciatingly bad meeting.  We will never learn, it seems. It was heart-breakingly bad.  Then long wait for a bus back, but that is a first world problem, and one of my own making (I shoulda left earlier).
In the meantime, read a lot of Mark Butler’s Climate Wars, and will be late getting the review written, but only by a day, so not the end of the world…
Got up to watch some Federer, but fell asleep towards the end of each set…

Sunday 9
Backpain, possibly from all that walking with a backpack…  I never learn.  Watched The Insiders, with Lenore Taylor, Shane Wright and Mike Seccombe (all journos I am referencing in my thesis) talking about the week’s events.  Barnaby Joyce trying and failing to minimise the significance of the Weatherill/Musk announcement.  That %#$* Chris Uhlman ripping into Trump (apparently it went viral in DC).
Turns out my Gunther Anders conversation piece has been popping up in different places. Currently over 28k views, putting it second in my most-viewed conversation pieces. Odd.
Then off to the library. Got a bit of reading of Senate stuff done (from the mid-1990s) and borrowed some books I will probably only read about ten pages of  (e.g.  a Joe Hockey biography. Srsly).  Then went through the print-off of the 94/5 chapter and then made changes, added bits etc. This took hours, but was worth it, because now aged female parental has a hard copy that she is very kindly reading. Must iterate, basically.  This can guide what else I do, research wise.  Actually would like to do a couple of interviews….
Thank goodness I had no money on me today, otherwise I would have bought an anthology of Meanjin for $2 and a zombie comedy memoir for 50c.  Cough, cough.

Blogging the days away. Day 1-3…


Right, so – flight. Not much to say I guess.  It was 5 tonnes of carbon into t’atmosphere…  Flew in an A380 the first leg, read a bunch of stuff from the Palgrave Handbook of International Political Economy and energy.  Very very good stuff it was.  Also read a lit review on transitions and public policy theory, also v. good, and the comments of one of my supervisors on one of my empirical chapters.  And then, brain saturated and grimy (Singapore Airlines does better hot face towels, just saying), I started watching a Hollywood schlocker called ‘Life’. The pitch must have been ‘it’s Jurassic Park meets Alien’).  Forty minutes in, not caring who lived and who died, I started skipping forward.  Yeah, it ended how I thought it would. Ho and hum, and only useful as several kinds of cautionary tale…  Mercifully short layover (this was one of the factors that got me away from SIA, but I won’t be back). Managed to blag a double seat at the very back, which made the 12 hour leg bareable for my too long legs.  I think the air steward took a shine to me – he kept bringing me beer unsolicited.  I am of course, old enough to be his da….  Having (I thought) run out of post it notes so unable to read more Handbook, I watched

  • The Maltese Falcon – total classic of course. So much nasty dialogue!!  It was the making of Bogart, after ten years of gangsters. Apparently George Raft (who he?) didn’t want to be directed by some new schmuck called… John Huston).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – yeah, quite fun!!! The raccoon was great….
  • Gifted – child prodigy tug of love. Trying to do a female Good Will Hunting?  Not as bad as it could have been, actually. Strong acting, reasonable if entirely predictable script.
  • Three episodes of  some American TV show called Blindspot – clearly the pitch was ‘female Jason Bourne meets NCIS’.  Bravura opening – naked woman in Times Square, covered in tattoos that are a ‘treasure map’. Oh, and she has complete, chemical induced, amnesia.   The leads are strong, but the ‘geeky girl scientist who feeds everyone clues’ is such a fricking cliché.  And it exists in a world like the latest (terrible) Bourne film, where there are no consequences, no media and no paperwork.  I mean, these guys are having running gun battles every day, and nobody has to fill in ANY paperwork about discharging their weapon etc etc…

Right, through immigration okay (though Skynet couldn’t recognise me with a beard).  Parentals collected me, bless, and I forced myself to stay awake in the (vain) hope of getting a decent zonky night of shuteye.


Walked (sans backpack) down to the South Parklands and back.  Then watched ‘Insiders’ – a politics show chaired by Barrie Cassidy (who wrote a book about the 2010 election called ‘The Party Thieves’, which has some useful gossip).  Last week they had a spoof video of Theresa May and the Holy Grail that basically broke the internet in the UK, and justly so.  Guests were the estimable Katherine Murphy (whom I cite in my GBR work), David Marr (elder statesman journo, also cited re his stuff on Rudd and Abbott) and Gerald Henderson, right-winger/libertarian./whatever of the Sydney Institute (IPA offshoot/renegade outfit).  Stuff on Christopher Pyne whose indiscretions about the non-lunar wing of the Liberal Party and gay marriage had distracted the commentariat from the clusterfuck that is Australian climate and energy policy.  Also an interview with Lee Rhiannon of the Greens, who is suspended (perhaps) as part of the Federal Greens effort to overturn NSW Greens relative independence on policy making.

Then did a bunch of archiving stuff – methodically going through things already collected and making sure I know what I’ve got, and referencing it.  Tedious, but if I HAD BLOODY WELL DONE THIS TWO YEARS AGO I WOULD BE A LOT BETTER OFF.

Pumped up bike tyres and cycled off to the local shopping centre.  Then went and bought The Saturday Paper and also the latest Quarterly Essay, which looks mouth-watering.  Couple of hours at the fantastic local library, doing research for thesis and some writing.  Borrowed the following

  • Kelly, P. 2014. Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation.  I read this thoroughly a year ago, and only intend to skim/dip in.
  • Swan, G. 2014. The Good Fight. Ditto
  • Crabb, A. 2016. Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull. Black Inc. Crabb writes brilliantly, and this will be a pleasure…
  • Patrick, A. 2013. Downfall: How the Labor party ripped itself apart. ABC Books; Skim for anecdotes etc
  • Tiffen, R. 2017. Disposable Leaders: Media and Leadership Coups from Menzies to Abbott. Sydney:  Newsouth Books; Skim, may include nuggets.
  • April and May 2017 issues of the Monthly
  • Corris, P. 2016. That Empty Feeling; Cliff Hardy!! Possibly one of the last, sadly…

Feeling pretty jetlagged and groggy, but got some reading done.  Then dinner with parents and neighbours plus brother and niece.

Forced myself to stay awake until 2130 and was as predicted asleep as head-hit-pillow.  But also woke a couple of times…


Walked around local oval, including press-ups and up and downstairs  times five.  Will do this daily with backpack of … logs (long story).

More archiving (see above) and a bit of writing (I figured out how to start my empirical chapters/keep my supervisors happy while walking around t’park.

Cycled into town, to bookshop.  Bought latest Arena magazine and also for five bucks a copy of a book that no library seems to have but will be super useful for The Thesis

  • Oakeshott, R. 2014. The independent Member for Lyne: A Memoir. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

There’s a great epigram

“In political activity, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel; the sea is both friend and enemy; and the seamanship consists in using the resources of a traditional manner of behaviour in order to make a friend of every hostile occasion.”

Then to an ‘Accelerating Entrepreneurship Adelaide’ event, complete with free lunch.  Will blog about it in due course. Have written something short  on spec for an outlet I love. Fingers crossed…

Then off to university library, HUGELY helpful librarian.  Managed to reserve a bunch of useful books, and track down electronic copies of super-useful theses and other stuff that I didn’t even know existed until yesterday.

  • Anon, 1991. Australia’s malaise in mining development policy. Mining Magazine, 164,.4, p248.
  • Ayers, C. 2006. Australian Intergovernmental Relations and the National Emissions Trading Scheme.  Melbourne Journal of Politics, 36-55.
  • Cass, V. 1998. Australia’s Greenhouse Challenge: An Industry-Government Cooperative Approach to Compliance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. PhD Thesis, University of California, Irvine.
  • Chambers, J. Miller, A. Morgan, R. Officer, B. Rayner, M. Sellars-Jones, G. and Quirk, T. 2013. A review of the scientific evidence underlying the imposition of a Carbon Tax or ETS in Australia.  Energy & Environment, Vol 26, 6, pp. 1013-1026.
  • Dodds, L. 2011. The virtuous circle of Gillard’s climate tax. Eureka Street, Vol. 21, 13, pp.  21-2.
  • Hodder, P. 2009. Lobby Groups and Front Groups: Industry Tactics in the Climate Change Debate. Melbourne Journal of Politics, pp.45-81.
  • Mildenberger, M. 2015. Fiddling While the World Burns: The Double Representation of Carbon Polluters in Comparative Climate Policymaking. PhD thesis, Yale University.
  • Sharova, N. 2015.  Australia’s Flirtation with Climate Policy: Role of Industry Groups, Environmental NGOs, Think Tanks, and Public Opinion, MA, Department of Global and Area Studies, University of Wyoming.
  • van Rood, S. 2000. The Heat is on – climate change in the new millennium. Habitat, August, pp2. 28-29.

Cycled home (bless my fluoro), did some thesis work (seriously, that is my life now)…
Watched a bit of some ABC news, now waiting for Q and A and Wimbledon…  (Goooo Roger….  (not playing until tmrw, I think)).

When you think climate change, think “dam”…. #3MT

Here’s me giving my spiel in the “Three Minute Thesis” heat at University of Manchester

Here’s the slide I used.

hoover dam3


And… I’m through to the Three Minute Thesis Final to be held on Wednesday June 7, between 2pm and 3:30pm in University Place Lecture Theatre A. You can register for a (free!) ticket



Learning by doing – it’s the only way…

Case. Study. Bloody. Research.  Still, it meant I read

Stake, R. 1995. The Art of Case Study Research. London: Sage,

And on page 35-6 there is this gem-

One century ago, philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey argued that science was not moving in the direction not helping humans understand themselves:
Only from his actions, his fixed utterances, his effects upon others, can man learn about himself; thus he learns to know himself only by the round-about way of understanding. What we once were , how we developed and became what we are, we learn from the way in which we acted, the plans which we once adopted, the way in which we made ourselves felt in our vocation, from old dead letters, from judgments on which were spoken long ago… We understand ourselves and others only when we transfer our lived experience into every kind of expression of our own and other people’s lives.


Which puts me in mind of Jason Bourne in the second Bourne movie (The Bourne Supremacy) – while he is Goa, static, the memories are not coming clearly. Only when he moves do things begin to unlock…. (Compare Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – can only shoot well when moving…)

Constant craving- of liberty, independence and the State…

Researching my thesis/an article-I-want-to-submit somewhere, I got interested (i.e. briefly stuck my head down a rabbit hole) in the question on the use and abuse of metaphor in political theory.  Via inter-library loan, got hold of this-

Ankersmit, F. 1993. Metaphor in Political Theory. In Ankersmit  F. and Mooij, J. Knowledge and Language Vol III. Metaphor and Knowledge. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

And this quote told me lots. You too perhaps?

“And if we decide to follow the former path the first political philosopher likely to be of help is Benjamin Constant. For Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) not only gave us the first but also the clearest definition of the concepts of the State and of civil society. Moreover, as we shall see, his writings contain a surprising analysis of the very dialectics that we are looking for. No political philosopher has surpassed Constant’s analysis of the relation between State and civil society in depth and subtlety. The fact that in both his personal and public life Constant had an almost neurotic obsession with all the problems this relation may give rise to- especially where freedom and independence are concerned – may explain the penetration of his insight and why he is still the best thinker on the subject.

The concepts that do most of the work for Constant are the concepts of freedom and independence. The latter is perhaps the more important of the two since it give s the right flavour to the notion of freedom and since we can also apply it, unlike freedom, to institutional spheres like the State and civil society. The central role in freedom and independence (or freedom as independence)  in Constant’s political philosophy is already exemplified by his definition of the State and civil society in terms of freedom and independence.  In contrast to Constant, modern writers on State and civil society do not make the notions of State and civil society conceptually dependent on other notions and that may partly explain their helplessness. This conceptual relation is defined by Constant in the following way. In his treatise on the contrast between ancient and modern liberty, in which all th threads of Constant’s political philosophy are adroitly woven together into one powerful intellectual texture, Constant pointed out that ancient liberty or what we now call ‘political liberty’ consisted in the citizen’s right to participate in the process of policy-making. Modern or ‘civil liberty’, on the other hand, is the freedom of the citizen from immixture of the State in his affairs –it thus is primarily an independence from the State.  Ancient or political liberty is best suited to the small state of the classical polis, whereas modern or civil liberty is required for the large States of modern Europe….”
(Ankersmit, 1993: 177)

Turns out he was born in Lausanne. Small world…