On April 3rd, 2018, a group of conservative Coalition backbenchers announced the formation of the Monash Forum. Many dismissed this as some kind of April Fool’s Day gag, albeit 48 hours too late. The purpose of the group was — according to Liberal MP Craig Kelly — ‘to emphasise the importance of coal-fired generation.’ What a joke!, chortled the luvvies. After all, this was at a time when (enabled by then Prime Minister and Chief Bedwetter Malcolm Turnbull) those with vested interests, financial or otherwise, were busy crowing about the end of coal and the inevitable dawning of the Age of Renewables.
Mr Kelly went on to explain, to a presumably bewildered Guardian journalist, that ‘coal is demonised by a large section of the community – that demonisation is incorrect, because coal is absolutely vital to the national economy both for export and the generation of cheap, reliable electricity.’
The group deliberately took its name from Sir John Monash, the legendary Australian WWI general, who, as we pointed out on this page, ‘is still, rightly, lauded as our greatest military mind. Less well known is his role in building the energy infrastructure of Victoria, including its coal-fired power plants.’
Whilst we applauded the Monash initiative, the sneerers of the mainstream media went to work with gusto. David Crowe at the Sydney Morning Herald denounced the group as ‘village idiots’ and an exercise in ‘dismal cynicism’, railing against Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz. Peter van Onselen, rehearsing for his starring role in the 2019 election of providing spectacularly incorrect predictions, ranted about ‘a harebrained scheme’, ‘snipers’, ‘wreckage’, ‘vultures’ and ‘carcasses’.
Meanwhile, here’s what we had to say at the same time: The cleverness of the Monash Forum choosing his name as their ‘brand’ for their backbench coal-lobbying group is self-evident. But it is not only Monash’s engineering and other civilian skills that the name evokes. It is, quite simply, the fact that if you want to win a war, who better to draw your inspiration from?
And Australia does indeed find itself in a war. A war on stupidity and greed, courtesy of both major parties’ climate change policies. The chronic idiocy of progressive Australia’s arrogant and absurd belief that driving up our energy prices to make them the most expensive in the world will have some kind of osmotic or supernatural effect on reducing global carbon emissions would surely have Sir John spinning in his grave. But the real insult is the greed of those speculators – many of them with links to progressive politics – who are forcing the poor, the elderly and retirees to finance these renewables fantasies and emissions targets to the tune of billions of dollars. This scam takes us from the absurd to the obscene.
Now, history can record that it was indeed the launch of the Monash Forum that changed the national energy debate, exposed the Left’s lies about coal and paved the way for the ascension of Scott Morrison and the focus on coal, Adani and ‘climate change’ in the election – which directly led to the Coalition’s change in fortune. Chalk it up as another win for Monash.
2018 Thawley Essay Prize winners
Finally! It is with great delight that we announce the winner and the runner-up of the 2018 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize.
2018 saw a record number of entries into the essay competiton – now in its fifth year – and, to be frank, it did take quite some time to read them all. And of course there was that minor matter of winning the federal election that did distract some of the judges for several weeks.
The prize was established by Sam Thawley in 2014 to foster new talent in Australian essay writing. Michael Thawley, former Prime Minister John Howard and Rowan Dean are the judges. On top of an extremely generous $5,000 prize for the winner, both winning essays will be published in the magazine over the next few months and both writers will enjoy a slap-up dinner with the judges.
The theme for 2018 was ‘the next great hashtag’.
First prize goes to Joan McCaul for her #SaveOurComedians essay, and the runner-up is Craig Pett for #newedition.
Our heartiest congratulations to both writers and our thanks to all who entered the prize. You made it a very difficult choice! And our gratitude to Michael and Sam Thawley and Mr Howard. The theme for the 2019 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay Prize will be announced later in the year.
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