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Back to the future

July 30th, 2008

According to all political commentators I’ve read, the Liberals have achieved a triumph in policy formulation on climate change, reverting to the policy they put at the last election, where climate change was a central issue. It’s a while ago now, but can anyone remember how that turned out for them?

It’s striking that they’ve managed to replicate not only the policy but the style and even the body language of John Howard on this issue. You can see Nelson trying to placate the delusionists in the party room while he emphasises that they will only support the tiniest, least significant possible steps, delayed as long as possible. It will be interesting to see how Costello (or Turnbull if Costello bottles it again) handles the issue.

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  1. July 30th, 2008 at 18:13 | #1

    I have noticed Nelson saying things like “when the emissions trading scheme starts the price of that carbon must be very, very low with a negligible impact on the Australian economy.” I am somewhat concerned that this may turn out to be the Government’s policy.

    There seem to have been some indications that the initial cap will be in line with Australia’s Kyoto commitments, which Australia will probably meet anyway, largely because of the MRET and the price of petrol. If Australia chooses a cap without introducing any scarcity, then there could be a collapse in the carbon price that is similar to what happened in Phase I of the EU ETS. The collapse may not be quite as dramatic as in the EU ETS because of banking of permits, but this could mean that problems could be perpetuated into the future instead.

  2. July 30th, 2008 at 19:25 | #2

    The liberal party seems hell bent upon remaining in opposition for several terms.

    Rudd is handing them himself as a one-termer on a plate, and they are too inept to take him up on it.

    Serves them right.

  3. Donald Oats
    July 30th, 2008 at 20:51 | #3

    Worth checking out the ABC’s 7:30 Report for Kerry O’Brien’s shredding of Nelson’s climate policy, aka ‘climate politicky’. No surprise if tomorrow’s tragic excuse for a national paper runs an ABC bias tirade, instead of wondering why the KO’B interview was an easy KO.

    This interview may mark the nadir of the Nelson campaign, as it should. Pity the opposition’s Machiavellian machinations in trying to beat the government take precedence over having tangible climate policy. Still, they have the support of a national rag striving to change public opinion. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a national paper that explains, rather than one which is endlessly pushing a singular view under the guise of “two sides to the debate.”

  4. rog
    July 30th, 2008 at 21:48 | #4

    It is more important that the Libs self destruct, they then have a chance at resurrection – it would be ignominious should they be defeated by Rudd.

  5. mitchell porter
    July 30th, 2008 at 22:33 | #5

    There’s one political blogger who I think has been calling this correctly for a long time now, but the insights are so superior that I don’t want to share the URL. I want to take maximum advantage of them while everyone else is still stumbling in the dark!

    Personally I think Nelson should admit that Labor won this round, get behind the ETS as much as possible (of course, if he can really find something wrong with it, in its final form, he should speak up), and reinvent the Liberals on a libertarian basis. I’d say, reinvent them as libertarian greens, but there’s no need in theory to put the green imperative front and center. The only reason Greenness has so much political traction is because the mainstream has been so slow to recognize reality. Once we have a macroeconomics that places ‘ecological’ matters like population size and primary resource inventories at the center of its understanding, and a political culture which governs accordingly, there will be more room to revive the debate about political liberty and the appropriate size of the state.

  6. Peter Evans
    July 30th, 2008 at 23:17 | #6

    Keeping climate change in the news is the gift that keeps on giving to the government. It’s the easiest politics there is for endlessly wedging the Libs, time and time again.

    I stand by my pre-election comment in this august blog that the Libs will lose further seats int he next Federal election, then split into the moderates and uglies. They are doomed.

  7. Roger Jones
    July 30th, 2008 at 23:33 | #7

    Mitchell Porter #5,

    Nice thought. I’ve been thinking this for some time but would like to see a reaction from a genuwine conservative.

    Lib philosophy can be green as long as it takes the argument to individual vs collective action – the old individual freedom / state argument.

    The science ain’t worth debating. The values at stake are. Let’s try and be honest for a change (oops, disqualifies all denialists)

  8. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    July 31st, 2008 at 08:35 | #8

    I think there is this incorrect assumption that the Liberals just did and thought what John Howard told them to do and think, rather than the other way around.

    Also I think the idea that climate change cost the Liberals the 1997 election is wrong. If any one issue determined the outcome of that election it was probably workchoices. The “it’s time” factor was no doubt also very significant.

  9. AJWak1
    July 31st, 2008 at 14:57 | #9

    It may feel that way Terje, but the surveys where they asked people why they switched from Liberal to Labor put Climate Change as the largest single issue.

  10. AJWak1
    July 31st, 2008 at 15:04 | #10

    this article by Katharine Betts is a good example that Tim Dunlop found:
    http://elecpress.monash.edu.au/pnp/view/abstract/?article=0000010759

  11. gianni
    July 31st, 2008 at 15:13 | #11

    It will be interesting to see how Costello (or Turnbull if Costello bottles it again) handles the issue.

    We already know: Peter Costello is firmly in the delusionist camp.

    In wake of the IPCC releasing its major third report, Fran Kelly on Radio National asked him about the effects of a several degree rise in global temperature. He replied (paraphrasing) that it just meant that if it’s 24 degrees today, it will be 25/26 in the future. Who’s going to notice the difference?

    In the post-election dissections, Peter Costello was asked about the cabinet meeting at which Malcolm Turnbull argued for ratifying Kyoto. The interviewer asked Costello point blank whether he supported Turnbull’s position. He declined to answer. No attempt to hide behind cabinet omerta, he just didn’t answer. Which is what politicians do when they want avoid outright lying.

    Peter Costello is a movement conservative partisan. As with Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, ideology trumps reality every single time. In common with his colleagues in the GOP, every issue gets distorted through the tired prism of left/right posturing. It’s like he never left the ’70s.

  12. Ian Gould
    July 31st, 2008 at 18:09 | #12

    IF the economy turns very bad over the next year or two, Nelson’s argument for delay MAY come to be seen as a prescient stroke of political genius.

    If not, he’ll be lucky to survive to the next election (and if he does it’ll be because Costello and Turnbull don’t want to go down in the record books as losers.)

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