Further to my statement of Friday 25 October I write to offer my apologies.
It is now clear to me that the correspondence I sent you on 29 September 2019 included numbers that were not correct.
Given this, I regret not clarifying those figures with you before writing, and relying on those figures in media commentary. I apologise unreservedly.
This apology to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Mayor is how Energy Minister Angus Taylor ended yet another terrible week
in what has been a diabolical year for the Coalition’s former “rising star”.
Regardless of where the investigation into those patently doctored documents about the City of Sydney’s travel costs ends (criminal charges
are not out of the question), this episode raises yet more questions about the ethics and competence of the frontbencher from country New South Wales.
Taylor’s year-to-forget began in early April with the Jam Land scandal
over poisoned grasslands, about which he was later accused
of misleading parliament. Less than two weeks later he was defending himself over the so-called “Watergate
” controversy in which a company he was associated with made massive above-market profits from an $80 million water buyback.
He’s also been caught lying
about the government’s carbon emissions performance, and was hilariously busted posting glowing appraisals
of his own performance on social media. (Crikey has a good summary of his many missteps here
In short: Taylor would probably like a do-over of 2019.
Who is Angus Taylor?
“Smart, rich and charming” was The Australian‘s appropriately gushing headline when Taylor, a management consultant, won preselection for Hume in 2012. The paper’s drooling biography pretty much says it all:
His CV reads as if it’s too good to be true. Born in Nimmitabel in southeast NSW, went to Sydney’s the King’s School, studied honours economics/law at the University of Sydney, winning the university medal for economics. Then he chuffed off to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar for a masters in economics. He is a director of management company Port Jackson Partners and co-founded Growth Farms, responsible for the management of $300 million worth of agricultural assets across Australia. He is not short of a quid.
“Not short of a quid” is accurate: Taylor effectively bought his way
into a safe seat by donating $155,000 of his own money to the party, the most recorded by any parliamentarian in the country.
Privately educated bankers and lawyers dominate the Liberal Party’s ranks so Taylor’s ascension should surprise no one. A pre-election report
from Per Capita revealed that 17 per cent of Liberal Party MPs came from a banking and finance background, with another 27 per cent coming from law. (Half of Labor’s MPs were originally party staffers, it should be noted.)
Married to barrister Louise Clegg
, who sits on the board of Gerard Henderson’s right-wing Sydney Institute, Taylor is the perfect emblem of the modern Liberal Party: wealthy, privileged, connected and entitled.
But as cathartic as it is to make fun of a born-to-rule rich kid constantly screwing up, incompetent, rich-kid screw-ups have a tendency to fall upwards, and when they do they bring their bad politics with them.
Which makes Taylor more than just a cartoon villain with nice cheekbones. It makes him dangerous.
As a management consultant Taylor was a member of a Victorian government task force which concluded that promoting coal seam gas
exploration in the state was a great idea. (Thankfully a fracking ban remains in place in Victoria.)
He’s notoriously anti-wind farm, even appearing alongside Alan Jones at the so-called “Wind Power Fraud Rally” in Canberra in 2013. As Giles Parkinson
in Renew Economy
put it at the time of Taylor’s appointment as energy minister:
The rally was addressed by several Coalition MPs – the only other speaker still in parliament is Craig Kelly, the outspoken chair of the backbench committee on energy.
Taylor’s views are no less extreme than Kelly’s, although better articulated. His particular beef is against wind farms, but he doesn’t seem to like renewables of any type very much, describing the RET as “industry pork-barrelling on steroids.”
He was one of the loudest voices calling for the end of the renewable energy target, way back in 2013, and has called state-based targets “crazy, crazy …. insane.” He was a key supporter of Peter Dutton’s push to be PM.
His position on man-made climate change is also sketchy. Although he says he’s not a climate denier
, he had this to say in parliament: “Religious belief is based on faith not facts. The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.”
We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about what putting a pro-fracking climate sceptic in charge of the energy portfolio means for the future of the country, but if his affection for burning fossil fuels is any indication (see this
) it isn’t likely to be good.
I couldn’t recommend this 2016 piece
by Paddy Manning highly enough. Based on a lengthy interview with Taylor it dives deep into his convictions and motivations.