Those of us who are old enough to remember the Sydney Olympic Games will probably also remember there was some talk at the time that some countries were less than enthusiastic to compete because of Australia’s treatment of its First Nations people. Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, was under considerable pressure to apologise to our First Nations peoples for the dispossession of their lands, and ill treatment since Australian Federation in 1901. A mockumentry series on the workings of the Sydney Games Organising Committee starring John Clarke (RIP) and Brian Dawe called ‘The Games’ broadcast an apology by John Howard here from about 21:50 into this episode.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did apologise to our first nations people in 2008 and Howard was reported as saying it was a mistake. While Howard is correct to the extent that equality across all ethnic groups in Australia is still a long way off, the Rudd apology did clear the way for a new beginning of understanding between Australians. The dire consequences suggested at the time didn’t occur. Instead, those that deeply felt the dispossession of their land and destruction of their culture and way of life had their values vindicated.
Fast forward a few years and marriage equality was on the agenda. Despite overwhelming public support as expressed in opinion polls, the Coalition Government, this time with Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, determined they would waste public money by running a ‘non-binding’ plebiscite across Australia to settle the issue which would ‘direct’ parliamentarians how to vote (yes, you read it correctly, the ‘non-binding’ part meant that parliamentarians could ignore the ‘direction’). On this occasion, the opinion polls were correct, there was overwhelming support for marriage equality so the legislation was put to Parliament. Because the Australian Electoral Commission was responsible for the plebiscite, not only did we know what the country thought, we also found out what the voters in each federal electorate thought of the proposal. The ‘carbon tax’ liar, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison both abstained from voting despite both of their electorates being strongly in support.
Marriage equality was legislated despite the attempts of the Coalition to derail the process. Again, the dire consequences suggested at the time didn’t occur. In fact the mental and physical health of a number of Australians probably improved immensely as they no longer had to hide part of their lives from those around them.
While demonstrating a complete disrespect for the majority opinion of the Australian public, at least the Coalition Governments of the past weren’t playing around with the future of not only the country but potentially the planet we live on. Scott Morrison rolled Malcolm Turnbull in essence because Turnbull was going to introduce an emissions trading scheme. If Morrison had believed in climate change at the time, he could have just as easily protected Turnbull from the leadership challenge. After going to the 2019 election claiming that climate change was crap, and mandates (that were never mandates anyway) for electric vehicles would ruin the weekend, Morrison scraped back into government with a majority of two.
It’s now history that we were all shamed by the actions of the Morrison Coalition Government at the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow, when even fellow conservative headline grabbing Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Australia to commit to greater emissions cuts. Morrison’s ‘technology not taxes’ mantra is shorthand for walking away from a problem he helped create in the hope that someone, somewhere will fix it for him, while he hides behind the claims of ‘enormous’ economic costs of climate action.
It’s a similar behaviour to the ‘not holding a hose’ claim during the bushfires that battered a lot of Australia in early 2020 when he was holidaying in Hawaii. It’s a similar behaviour to the “it’s not a race” management of the pandemic response in aged care, vaccine procurement and quarantine – all of which are Federal Government responsibilities.
But Morrison and his fellow climate deniers such as Joyce, Canavan and Christensen are wrong. The economics doesn’t support their argument
The debate over the costs of inaction saw Treasurer Josh Frydenberg use a speech to the Australian Industry Group last month to warn households of a potential rise in mortgage rates unless Australia gets its act together on climate.
“Australia has a lot at stake,” he said.
“We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning in line with the rest of the world.”
Separate analysis by Deloitte Access Economists (DAE) estimates that the Australian economy could lose $3.4 trillion worth of GDP in today’s dollars by 2070 if climate change is unchecked.
One of Australia’s richest people, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest told Morrison in October to commit to significant emissions reductions claiming
“clean” hydrogen, which is sometimes championed by the Morrison government, was a carbon-based product. Clean hydrogen, he said, was “a sound bite covering the fact it’s made from carbon-emitting fossil fuel – it has carbon all through its supply chain”.
Forrest likened “clean” coal and “clean” hydrogen to “cancer-free tobacco”.
“It all adds up to the same thing – misleading sound bites put out by industries wishing to continue a duplicitous social licence to operate,”
Even the industry body representing the purveyors of the emissions intensive utes and SUV’s that are apparently needed to ‘enjoy the weekend’ disagree with the Morrison Coalition Government’s approach
“Around the world, emissions targets are a clear sign of a governments [sic] intent to reduce emissions and sends a positive signal to automotive manufacturers to provide more electric-powered vehicles to those markets.
“This is exactly what is needed in Australia,” said [Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries] chief executive Tony Weber.
“… Governments should focus on setting targets, not trying to pick winners through specific technology,” Mr Weber added.
If you consider that to be a little harsh, you probably don’t want to read this contribution from Nine Newspaper’s Drive website
That the Government even acknowledged electric vehicles as an enabling technology for their Net Zero by 2050 plans, was an amazing backflip on their 2019 election mocking of Labor’s electrical vehicle ambitions, which they decried as the death of the Australian weekend.
When pressed this week on that 2019 circus, Mr Morrison said he never had a problem with electric vehicles and the Coalition was moving forward with “technology, not taxes” and “choices, not mandates”. The Prime Minister claims it is “the massive change in technology” since 2019 that has seen the Government readjust its sights.
And yeah. We are calling bullsh*t on that.
If the war against climate change could be won on rhetoric alone, Australia would surely be at the front of the pack.
Fortunately for the rest of us, some are actively making meaningful change to mitigate the imminent (based on the research of scientists) climate catastrophe. A regional bus company in Queensland is moving it’s 120 vehicle diesel bus fleet which, the owners claim
[annually] consumed more than a million litres of fuel and produced 3,100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
to a fleet powered by green hydrogen which they will produce themselves using solar power and rainwater. The real irony of this is the bus fleet is located in Emerald – one of the the principal service communities for the ‘Coalfields’ in Central Queensland. The same ‘Coalfields’ that Senator Canavan claims to represent. Somebody’s making it up – and it’s unlikely to be the people investing capital to reduce emissions in their own business.
When was the last time a Coalition government actually acted to validate the country’s public opinion rather than those of vested interests?
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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