One of the most important roles of government is to prioritise. They must identify the challenges facing us and the consequences of inaction. They must rank the urgency of responding to problems and decide on the most efficient use of resources to address them.
The current debate about energy policy is a prime example of a government failing to do that.
As Josh Frydenberg tries desperately to reach some sort of agreement with the states on energy policy, we are presented with the ridiculous situation of Captain No and his sidekick Kelly threatening to cross the floor if the government keeps to the emissions reduction agreement that Abbott himself negotiated and signed us up to.
Even the conservatives are pleading with them to give a little.
Trent Zimmerman, in defending the NEG, said it was “the best opportunity we have to find energy security and stability”.
Actually, it’s about the 5th best opportunity, the Coalition having scuttled all the better options.
“We have three goals in energy policy: providing grid security, lowering prices and meeting our Paris targets, and all three of these things are equally important,” Mr Zimmerman said to the party room.
But the point is that those things are not equally important.
On the one hand, we grumble about paying an extra $10 a week on our electricity bill or the possibility of the occasional short blackout.
On the other hand, we face the catastrophic consequences of continued global warming and the climate change that it is causing.
Unless we can turn a corner, millions of people will die. Droughts, floods, heat waves, fires and storms will all intensify. Coastal areas and low-lying land will become inundated and arable land will become desert. Reefs will die off and many species of plants and animals will face extinction.
If Abbott and Kelly want to cross the floor, let them. And then immortalise the photo of them and any who join them in their reckless, selfish ignorance.
History will judge.
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