Time for Tony Abbott to admit his climate policy is crap

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Moves by the US and China to slash emissions and introduce carbon trading schemes leave the Abbott government’s policy positions untenable. The Far Right of what was once known as the Liberal Party knows this, which is why they have launched a preemptive attack on Malcolm Turnbull.

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Australia should be embarrassed.

Not only has the Obama Administration in the US outlined plans to cut power emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, but China – the world’s biggest emitter – has indicated it will place a cap on its emissions as soon as 2016, an extraordinary development in the world of climate policy.

Australia should be embarrassed, but it need not be.

So, here’s the irony. Nine months after the election of the Tony Abbott government, on a platform of tearing down anything vaguely environmental, climate, or clean energy, Australia finds itself with a pretty good collection of climate and renewable energy policies.

tony_abbott_press-150x150They are still in place. Abbott, and the Australian public, can thank the country’s Senate for that. Despite the threats, bombast and the three-word rhetoric, nothing much has changed. Tim Flannery and the Climate Commission have gone, though reincarnated by private monies and public donations, but everything else is at it was, pre the poll date.

The carbon price is still there, the renewable energy target can still deliver more than a 20 per cent share of wind, solar, hydro and biomass, and push more coal- and gas-fired generation out of the market.

Even the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with a $10 billion budget that will hasten new technologies and deliver abatement and profits to the government, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with money to spend on new technologies such as this groundbreaking solar thermal plant, and the first large scale solar and storage plant for a major mining operation, are still in operation.

So, too, is the Climate Change Authority. And by a strange quirk of fate, the country’s official emissions reduction target has jumped to 18.9 per cent, the result of some forward thinking policy wonks who decided to lock in Australia’s prior climate commitments in the case of a political stalemate.

Around 19 per cent is exactly what the CCA, and many others, say is Australia’s fair share, given the developments overseas.

So, really, there is no need for Abbott to feel embarrassed at all as he travels the world this week, and later this year, when he attends the UN leaders summit in New York in September and then hosts the G20 conference in Brisbane.

He even has popular support for the current policies – more so than for the government itself. A Lowy Institute poll found 45 per cent believe global warming is a serious and pressing issue, and two-thirds approve of Australia taking a leadership issue on climate change. Just 28 per cent think Australia should wait for others to move (well, that’s already happened) and just 7 per cent think Australia should do what Abbott’s policy advisors recommend: nothing.

So what sort of fool would want to tear these policies down? Pretty much the sort whose ideology and vested interests makes him blind to the fact that business as usual is neither credible, nor possible.

But even these blinkers are not complete. The far, lunar, Right, whose influence over this government and public agenda has been exposed for all by the Federal budget, betrayed their own fears of what a tenuous hold they have on policy over the medium term when (unofficial) chief spokesman Andrew Bolt decided to launch an extraordinary attack on Malcolm Turnbull.

The far, lunar, Right, has hijacked the liberal Party for its own means and it understands its opportunity to strike is short, before everyone wakes up to what’s going on.

That’s already happened to moderate Liberals, who are in government in name only. The party platform is as unrecognisable to them as if it were Labor’s.

Turnbull is very much Malcolm in the middle. His description of Bolt’s attack as “demented” and “unhinged” could apply to much of the Abbott policy agenda, particularly in relation to climate and clean energy.

Now Turnbull, as Bolt notes, is in no position or mood to launch anything like a leadership challenge. The polls will tell that story.

In the meantime, as efforts by the centrists to pull the party back to the middle and something resembling its traditional values, continue, other options arise.

As one Liberal Party observer noted this week: “Clearly, there are enough sitting Liberal members that reject the Americanisation of Australia’s social values.

“There are enough who understand science and research and the importance of science and research to Australia’s well being. There are enough who are sick of the Liberal brand being trashed by climate deniers within the party.”

A voting block of around 16 would do the trick – that’s less than the number of Coalition MPs under threat in marginal seats. What could possibly be the downside?

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13 Comments
  1. Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

    “The far, lunar, Right” – that says it all really.

  2. Motorshack 5 years ago

    If you Australians would like to see how Abbott looks from here in the U.S. then check out this.

    And here we thought George W. Bush was an idiot.

    • Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

      Thanks for that, I think… It does confirm our local experience with Sir Pository, PM, full-time international embarrassment, antiscience crank and rabid theist. We are treading water until the next election.

      • Motorshack 5 years ago

        Well, you folks do have one advantage we don’t. Abbott’s own party can toss him out of office any time. We were stuck with Bush for a minimum of four years, and then we blew that one chance and stuck ourselves with him for eight.

        The good news? We survived Bush, and you will survive Abbott.

        • Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

          While there is life, there is hope. It just takes a while for some people to catch on that they have been had. Unfortunately, some others just don’t want to know.

    • Alen 5 years ago

      Haha that clip is priceless

  3. patrickg 5 years ago

    Giles you got me all het up there for a second, thinking it was a liberal backbencher, not ‘observer’ for a minute. As a ‘liberal observer’ let me say I would be surprised to see them introducing Lysenkoism as the next policy platform.

  4. howardpatr 5 years ago

    What the video has revealed is that “Mad Monk Abbott” is guided by Jesus.

    Jesus, what an absolute joke we have for Prime Minister.

    • Blair Donaldson 5 years ago

      A very sick joke.

  5. Murphy 5 years ago

    The abbott psychosis has produced some golden entertainment Motorshack.

    Dumb Ways to Lie –

  6. Chris Fraser 5 years ago

    May they reap what they sow. Moderate liberals thought they needed a certain leadership. They sacrificed themselves for a bloody takeover by extremists, in exchange for giving away their consciences. This will be to their great discomfort.

  7. mike flanagan 5 years ago

    Thanks again Giles This government is a bad social and political experiment in sciolism

  8. hippygreenieleftie 5 years ago

    The Winking Wanker, Tony Abbouttface.
    Having Mr Bean for PM would be less embarrassing.
    I heard Julian Burnside say the PM’s expensive Jesuit education had apparently taught him no compassion. It manifestly taught him nothing of value.

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