New Parliament promising but Team Dutton disappoints
On the opening of the forty-seventh parliament with thirty-five new members, a nineteen gun salute and one cool, new diverse, vibe, 26 July, a decimated Opposition – twenty-two fewer in the House of Reps – reverts to playing dirty pool.
In contrast, the extra virgin, Albanese government begins with a show of compromise. Can we deal with Greens and teals? Labor makes a big deal of agreeing to make its emissions reduction target of 43 percent by 2030 based on 2007 “a minimum”.
It’s no flaw to have a floor and even if we won’t match it with a ratchet mechanism our target will rise over coming years vows Chris Bowen. Bowen is the federal government’s Climate Change and Energy Minister and must know he’s a marked man. Peter Dutton, promises to pick on Bowen because you go for the “weak links”.
Yet to be seen, however, in Labor’s newly “Dutton-proofed” draft legislation – which will now – as the UN framework mandates – spell out that future emissions targets can only increase – is any pledge to phase out gas and coal exports.
Nor is there a ban on new gas and coal. But while the law is set to come before the lower house, Wednesday, it will not be before the Senate until September. With the clock at one minute to midnight on The Doomsday Clock, there’s more room than time for improvement.
Reform could begin with repairing a democratic process long hijacked by lobbyists, especially the monstrous fossil fuel lobby guzzling $12 billion in federal government subsidies, $8 billion of which is a fuel tax credit scheme, entrenching the use of petrol, diesel and natural gas.
It costs a billion in subsidies just to fuel the rigs to get the stuff out of the ground.
It won’t be easy for Labor, given its business friendly election promises and the links already forged which brought it $75 million between 2012-20 from mining or banking and finance for example, or media, alcohol and gambling but anything less than independence and integrity will be political suicide.
What’s certain, however, is that after nine years’ failure, the Coalition needs to get out of the road. Australia’s action on climate is ranked as dead last in the world by the UN.
Alas, for Dutton’s mob, (corporate receipts ($125 million 2012-20) it’s deja vu all over again. Back to the future. Bugger the concept of an opposition offering an alternative vision. It’s learned nothing and whatever he believes, $coMo’s political road-kill. There’ll be no resurrection. So what does it do?
Dutton reprises Abbott’s wrecking-ball, hyper partisan politics. At least opposition for its own sake is a game it knows. Team Dutton has no concept of collaboration and even less idea of what it means to be out of power.
For four years, $coMo & Co sought power for its own sake while servicing corporate sponsors, within a carbon captured state. Responsible or democratic federal government was just window dressing at best. At worst its gas-led recovery was nothing less than open surrender to Santos.
But let’s be fair, why bother trying to be taken seriously, when you already get more than enough attention for self-parody? Much to our Murdoch controlled media’s delight, “Boofhead” Dutton, another useful, disposable idiot, will head an insane clown posse out to attack Labor on everything, foot and mouth, climate, environment.
Disorganised? It can’t even get its act together on whether we should close our borders to Indonesian foot and mouth disease. But who needs coherence when you’ve got sound and light?
Dutton calls for “the border with Indonesia” to be closed, unlike Big Dave Littleproud who sides with totally objective industry leaders, who – Deidre Chambers what a coincidence – want no such restriction, while the Nationals leader calls for more science.
It’s a remarkable pivot given that only last August, Dave wrote to the CSIRO protesting at its inclusion of fake meat in its digital tuckerbox suggesting science should be a little less scientific or perhaps not so mean to meat, “provide balanced support to Australian industries”.
Agriculture minister, “Murray Grey” Watt has the Opposition’s number. Muzza tells RN Breakfast that the opposition’s calls to close the border are damaging our nation’s agricultural reputation. But, as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers asks, “when has the national interest ever stopped the Coalition from trying to score a political point?”
Dutton is struggling to keep his team on message. But what has the serial dud ever succeeded at? He’s The Peter Principle personified.
Media signs are promising. Team Spud may better its predecessor’s record for SNAFU-driven negative advertising. In the hotly contested teamwork event, Karen Andrews pushes her former PM under a bus when he uses her to create a refugee boat arrival election stunt. Not only is Sussan Ley busted for suppressing a major report on the environment, she doesn’t give a fig.
The Fourth State of the Environment (SOE) Report from the CSIRO is a comprehensive assessment of the state of our environment put out every five years by the Australian Government.
It has to be. Independent and evidence-based, the review is mandated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It’s not something you throw in your school bag and don’t show your parents.
But what to do? It’s an indictment. The report shows the adverse effects of climate change on the health and well-being of Australians. Climate change is exacerbating pressures on every Australian ecosystem. Australia now has more foreign plant species than native.
Australia’s environment is terminally ill. Pressures of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining have deteriorated over the past five years. Our natural world holds the key to human wellbeing and survival, scientists warn.
The Morrison government acts with typical maturity, responsibility and openness. It sits on the report for six months lest it jigger its re-election prospects. The SOE would have just been quietly buried had $coMo & Co been returned to office.
Two years ago the federal government was told it had failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws in a scathing review by the national auditor general. It ignored that, too.
Former Minister for no responsibility to future generations for climate change or the Environment, Sussan Ley is unavailable for comment, last Tuesday, the day of the SOE’s final release. Or since. But Ms Ley is planning a national listening tour to discover why women didn’t vote for the Coalition.
The Coalition blames voters for the Morrison government’s rout -(just not listening, says Deputy leader Su$san Ley- especially women) – only to be upstaged by reports that boat whisperer, ScoMo, architect of his party’s near-death experience whistled up a Sri Lankan boat, or two, right on polling day, 21 May, to stop the votes-for Labor.
Karen Middleton gets the scoop for The Saturday Paper. A Sri Lankan contact says that the departure of two asylum seeker boats bound for Australia “was being facilitated” by Sri Lankan authorities. They are scheduled to arrive in Australian waters “around the 21st of May 2022, election date”, he says. It’s designed to be “an election stunt”.
There’s the usual Canberra flap. The PM’s Office puts the hard word on Home Affairs to go from “caretaker to scaremaker”, in Phil Coorey’s phrase on ABC Insiders.
Karen Andrews defends the heroic resistance of her then Home Affairs staff who refuse to do a press drop to journos. Yet a blizzard of spam text messages tell voters of an “illegal boat” from Sri Lanka being intercepted by Border Force as it tries to enter Australia 21 May.
“Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,” the text message ends. There’s a link to a Liberal-endorsed website, vote.liberal.org.au.
Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrews defends her role in the Morrison government’s decision to publicise the turnback of a people smuggling vessel on election day.
Andrews tells Today that the former PM got her to issue the statement. Ouch. No chance of another curry in a hurry chez ScoMo and family. She rejects any suggestion of her department being pressured.
One press gallery journo joins the dots. Did Morrison engineer the departure of the boat to fit the Coalition fear campaign that boats would start again under Labor?
Bruce Haigh has little doubt. “In my belief, the Australian government has been involved outside of normal channels with various agencies in Sri Lanka to prevent the boats coming to Australia,” Former Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Haigh tells Karen Middleton of The Saturday Paper.
“Within that relationship, there was the capacity to also send boats.”
It’s a revelation that eclipses Scotty’s “We don’t trust in governments … or the UN”, sermon and love-in with fellow evangelical, homophobe, Margaret Court at Perth’s Victory Life Centre, pentecostal church. Morrison’s all-God’s-children-got-to-chill theme in his fifty-minute harangue, however, is alarming. “Be anxious for nothing” is his Biblical text.
For the true believer, God has overcome fear Morrison believes. But it sounds very close to “I just don’t care” as he explained his composure to Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.
Founder, Marg’s a big fan of Scott; not just because of a $500,000 plus a $50,000 “cash-flow boost” her Centre got from JobKeeper in 2020.
Most of this went into a bank account, $37,000 in the red in 2019. Like Lazarus, the balance was brought back from the dead; a $258,000 surplus by June 30, 2020.
Money can’t buy you love, however, and Liberals have colourful pork’n rort spreadsheets to prove it. It’s pretty clear Morrison’s desperate bid to cede the party’s inner-city heartland to woke greenies and teals and put transphobia first in a ploy to win big in the outer suburbs was a dumb idea. Just as cynically courting the far right undid him. Just as it undid Howard, whose calculated shift to the right ultimately cost him his own seat of Bennelong.
Today’s Liberals can always rely on right wing nutjobs to rally around in a crisis. Like flies around an outback dunny. As PM Albanese’s dusting off the mining lobby’s “clean coal” bullshit disgusts the teals, the Greens and many in his own party, the LNP’s lunatic right dives into the dustbin of history to recycle garbage.
“There is a real risk that the wrong lessons will be learnt by the Liberal Party about the reasons for the federal election loss, and the path back to government.”
Amanda Stoker, self-proclaimed “misunderstood conservative”, a dry, white former Queensland LNP Senator, veteran Coalition content creator and now team coach, wags her finger from a new pulpit, scolding players for “caving to leftist positions” in her post-election rout analysis- in a bold new column in The Australian Financial Review.
Don’t adjust your set, the fault lies with reality. Let other, misguided, souls see the Coalition’s defeat as part of its alienation of women, or its being a front for the fossil fuel industry, or a judgement on its catastrophic ineptitude on climate, energy, economy, environment and pandemic, Stoker’s urging a return to the same – only harder right.
Our former assistant Minister for Women-who-want-to-be-crumb-maidens already fixed the Coalition’s women problem. In her own low-rent attack on Julia Banks’ book in July 2021, the veteran attention-seeker accuses Banks of seeking a “cheap headline”, adding the Liberal Party line on its endemic, sexist bullying:
“I certainly haven’t seen in my personal experience the matters of which she complains.” In 2018, she calls Banks’ allegations “pathetic” and “bizarre”.
“Solidarity” Stoker is “the voice for Morrison’s quiet Australians”, Janet Albrechtsen (paywalled) purrs in Liberal Party Pravda The Australian, another money-losing Murdoch publication, $60 million in the red in 2021. With that type of backing, Stoker’s a shoo-in for the next LNP casual vacancy in the senate, which is only ever a parachute away.
Oxymorons pave the race to the bottom. Not only does the voice of Morrison’s quiet Australia belong to one of our loudest Tories, the headline-seeking lunatic right complains bitterly that it is silenced. Cancelled.
“Captain’s pick” for Warringah, unsuccessful Liberal candidate, the transphobic Katherine Deves, had Scott Morrison swear he wouldn’t let Deves be “silenced” as the party split in two over her candidacy.
Matt Canavan nails defeat down to his party’s failure to heed quiet Australians, such as Senator Hollie Hughes. The self-effacing Hughes, shadow assistant minister for Climate Change Denial takes us back at least to 2014, with a reheated fossil fuel lobby leftover as she declares “climate change is not an Australian problem.”
Not our problem? Australia should try that line on Pasifika Leaders who fear Labor’s climate policy of an inadequate emission target of 43% by 2020, paired with plans for new gas and coal. Hughes knows Australia is directly responsible for just over 1% of global emissions (1.13%). Yet, when added to emissions from fossil fuel exports this rises to 3-4%.
We have a big problem. We are the world’s largest gas exporter and second largest coal exporter. Although only 0.33% of the globe’s population, we rank with the world’s top culprits. Our average carbon footprint of 16 tonnes per capita, is over three times the global average.
Government figures project an increase in coal production of 4%, a 12% increase in gas production and a 32% increase in oil production up to 2030itters of carbon emissions with an average carbon footprint.
And we’re increasing it. Yet the line Dutton’s opposition will push is the lie that any energy source other than fossil fuels will lead to huge price rises. It’s old mining company propaganda but it’s run on Sky News by Stoker among others.
Stoker, aka Draymilla Burt, in Shaun Miccallef’s Mad as Hell puts a lot of spin into her political shtick, a caricature of gob-smacking sophistry, hot-button-bigotry and lies. The religious right loves her. Parachuted into the senate, only to crash and burn in a term, Stoker can’t wait to lecture the Liberals on how they can win next time.
Stoker’s seen her patron, Scott Morrison, another of the Lord’s anointed, whose persona also taps pathological exhibitionism, egotism and unwitting self-parody, not only fudge an election but gut his own party. So? It’s just that he didn’t go far enough right.
Shunning safe inner-city seats to woo a mythical, horde from outer suburbia; a HiLux ute muster of King Gee Liberal tradies, Morrison’s blunder is a gift to the teals. It also unseats the odd dud. Josh Frydenberg is snapped up by Goldman Sachs, the giant vampire squid of what we call the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, a world recession to everyone else.
Goldman Sachs was fined $5bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis in a settlement holding the bank accountable for its ‘serious misconduct’ in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages.
It’s a neat fit for a former feckless treasurer whose idols are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. So he accidentally gave away fifty billion of JobKeeper to the likes of Gerry Harvey? They could repay it if they wanted to.
Scotty partners Margaret (hard, clay, grass or carpet) Court. Doubles can be tricky because, as Maggie says herself, “Tennis is full of lesbians.” But not only does Morrison find a fellow homophobe, the spotlight enables our greatest failure to imply he’s a winner because God loves him. Its politics and governments that are fallible.
It’s practically a badge of honour to stuff up as PM;
“We trust in Him. We don‘t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness. We don‘t trust in all of these things as fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it. But as someone who’s been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They are fallible.”
Sadly, many tradies hate ScoMo for his ineptitude, cynical pragmatism and repudiation of duty of care. Especially aged care, climate and environment. Many follow their parents’ political preferences leftward. But let’s not confuse a popular cause with a populist cause.
Both Morrison and Stoker are like Trump who turned anti-abortion only when he saw votes in it. Stoker’s truckling to Dutton who returns from Washington pumped with Republican culture war tactics to follow his war on woke classrooms.
Pete’s head is on the one-eyed god in the lounge room. ABC TV. We could be at war with China or Russia any minute, he rants. Imagine if we locked in a 47% by 2020 emission target! His plan is to attack Labor’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas with his own mob’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas.
What could possibly go wrong?
“The greatest challenge facing the defeated federal Liberal Party is not whether to move to the right or the left, nor whether to court voters in the outer suburbs or try to win back its once blue-ribbon seats. It is how to stay relevant and it’s a challenge the party seems barely to recognise,” writes Judith Brett.
The major challenge for Labor is not what the emissions reduction target should be so much as stopping new coal and gas and how soon it can kick big coal and the oil and gas industry out of the temple before its true believers lose their faith entirely.
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