LNP member Josh Frydenberg has denied thousands of Australians the opportunity to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Frydenberg used his power as federal Minister for the Environment to prevent energy company AGL from dumping coal and embracing renewable energy in 2016.
Frydenberg’s underhand tactics were exposed in an article in The Saturday Paper by Mike Seccombe on July 10, 2021, and they centre on the appointment of chief executive Andy Vessey. The article outlines how Frydenberg called board members of AGL personally and pressured them to remove Vessey because the boss planned to close the Liddell coal-fired power plant in the NSW Hunter Valley, which is described as:
“…one of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power stations.”
Vessey is an American who had apparently been appointed in 2015 in order to steer AGL away from coal generation and towards renewable energy. In 2016, he announced plans to close Liddell by the end of 2022. In its place would be projects consisting of renewable energy sources and battery storage.
Following the pressure from Frydenberg, the Liddell plant remained open and Vessey eventually left AGL in 2018.
The result? AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter.
Why would Frydenberg do this?
Why would the Minister for the Environment exert pressure on a private company?
Why would a politician directly interfere with the operations of a private company?
Why would a champion of free market economics, who is currently the federal treasurer, interfere in the operations of a private company?
Because the LNP is controlled by the coal lobby. Many Australians have known this for a long time, and this thoroughly-researched and well-articulated story exposes this fact.
AGL is still Australia’s biggest polluter. It is Australia’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and recently clashed with environmental group Greenpeace after the activists exposed the central role AGL is playing in the global climate crisis.
If a company as large as AGL was deliberately and actively transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, this tells us something. This tells us that renewable energy is the future. Renewable energy is the future for environmental reasons, and for economic reasons. Corporations the size of AGL make decisions based on economics, based on profits. They saw the potential for future profits in renewable energy and not in coal.
Recently, the current chairman apologised to AGL’s shareholders for the company’s decreased value. According to Seccombe’s article:
“In the past four years, AGL’s share price has dropped 70 per cent. It is down 50 per cent in the past year alone.”
This is the same company which has been awarded for its inclusion and diversity programs aimed at LGBTQIA+ employees. It has been praised many times for accepting people who wish to transition from one gender to another, or to no gender. At the same time, it failed in its own attempt to transition.
It is another reminder that even toxic rain causes rainbows.