BEN HARVEY INSIDE THE WOODSIDE AGM: Lies, more lies & hypocrisy . . . can you handle the truth?

Headshot of Ben Harvey
Ben Harvey
The Nightly
In tonight’s show, from Twiggy to TEALS and Tesla drivers, Ben Harvey goes nuclear on climate hypocrisy, calling out the 10 great energy lies being peddled to the Australian public.

Richard Goyder remains chair of Woodside Energy.

At today’s annual meeting at Crown Perth he narrowly avoided becoming the second local casualty in the climate wars.

The first casualty, as in all wars, was the truth.

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Never before has an area of public policy been so laced with lies and so saturated with hypocrisy as the energy and climate debate.

Let’s start with Woodside’s ASX code — WDS. It was, until a couple of years ago, WPL, which stood for Woodside Petroleum Limited.

The company code changed because the company name switched to Woodside Energy. The name changed but the balance sheet mix didn’t — this was and is an oil and gas company.

“Woodside’s business model is dynamic,” Goyder told the company’s 70th AGM.

Sorry, Richard, it’s really not. It hasn’t changed since the first annual meeting in 1954. Woodside draws hydrocarbons from beneath the surface of the earth and sells them.

Goyder’s near-death experience came courtesy of his refusal to shirk that inconvenient truth with the same enthusiasm as other members of Big Oil.

Visit Shell’s website and you would think it was a wind turbine manufacturer.

Chevron’s home page looks like it’s an employment provider specialising in diversity.

The public debate is riven by lies, lies and more lies.

Lies like the one Anthony Albanese told in the lead-up to the last election, when he consistently talked up the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy.

It took two years for someone credible to call out this Trump-spec electoral fraud. Albanese’s former comrade Greg Combet finally belled the cat — and warned us to expect steep price rises — this month when he said public and private investment could not bankroll the billions needed for the energy transition.

Lies like the ones from Peter Dutton, who says constructing nuclear reactors in place of coal-fired power stations will negate the need for more than $1 trillion in transmission line upgrades.

Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton. Credit: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

He knows the national grid is overdue for maintenance and money will need to be spent regardless of the provenance of the electrons flowing through it.

He knows that using any extra renewably generated power to supplement the nuclear baseload will require strengthening the system so it can cope with the vagaries of wind and sun.

Lies like those propagated by people on the right, who exaggerate the cost of climate action but ignore the cost of inaction.

Have a look at what has happened to insurance premiums over the past few years; we’re all paying for fires and floods.

Lies, lies, lies and then the hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy like Australia’s richest man using bouts of hysteria about lethal humidity to drown out the sound of millions of dollars in diesel fuel rebates dropping into FMG’s cash register.

Hypocrisy like Andrew Forrest demanding that the heads of people like Meg O’Neill be placed on spikes, whilst simultaneously putting the finishing touches on a giant LNG import terminal at Port Kembla (which will no doubt be happy to process gas from headless Meg’s Scarborough project).

Hypocrisy like Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins objecting to an Alinta Energy logo on his whites but having no problem playing in a T20 tournament sponsored by Aramco, which was formally known as Saudi Aramco (its name change was infinitely more cynical than Woodside’s) and is the world heavyweight champion of heavy oil production (not that you’d know it from Aramco.com, which looks like a tree nursery website).

Hypocrisy spouted by the coalition of protestors outside Crown Perth today. Protestors who have spent so much time studying climate science they didn’t have time for biology so don’t understand the immutable fact that we can’t feed ourselves without fertilisers, which we can’t make without hydrocarbons.

Hypocrisy from Tesla drivers who don’t stop to ponder the fact that nobody on earth, nobody, has worked out how to produce lithium without using gas.

Hypocrisy from Energy Minister Chris Bowen, who by ruling out nuclear energy as a solution to climate change has placed the importance of Labor ideology above the so-called greatest moral imperative of our time.

Surely, Chris, if the end of the world is truly nigh then everything should be on the table — nuclear, fission, the Jedi force, the lot.

Hypocrisy from the Teals, whose campaigns were bankrolled by Simon Holmes a Court, the owner of one of Australia’s biggest cattle herds.

Hypocrisy from independents like Kate Chaney, who knows there’s a lot of methane in all that bullshit as surely as she knows that her father is the immediate past chairman of Woodside and that her family’s wealth has been built on carbon.

Hypocrisy from leftie elites embedded in the ABC who, from the comfort of their homes in wealthy inner-city suburbs, have campaigned against new gas developments, thereby condemning the 800 million people living in energy poverty to burning animal dung for warmth.

Goyder must surely be wondering why he fought so hard to remain chair. It’s a job for mugs.

He was lambasted by activist shareholders who bought shares in an oil and gas company with the goal of turning it into a windfarm operator.

Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder reacts during the Select Committee on Commonwealth Bilateral Air Service Agreements at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, September 27, 2023. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Goyder must surely be wondering why he fought so hard to remain chair. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

His AGM was interrupted twice by protestors who had evaded Woodside’s formidable security team.

The problem with good corporate governance is anyone with even one share can attend a meeting. With WDS stock languishing around $28, it was a cheap thrill for the three activists who named both Goyder’s and Meg O’Neill’s kids during a rant about Burrup rock art.

It was pricier for the two dozen protestors who delivered their climate action message by butchering the lyrics to Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over.

They had to fork out close to $700 on Commsec to get in, but they got their money’s worth by earlier demolishing the snack table set out for morning tea.

Goyder put up with all that whilst quietly making the point that there was no scenario in which we get to net zero by 2050 without gas.

Greta Thunberg can scowl all she wants but Woodside will be a necessary evil for decades to come.

Goyder hid his frustration well but you could see he was busting to channel Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

“You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall”.

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