Put Labor last?

I gave up hope of getting much out of a Labor government when Albanese announced that he would implement Morrison’s top-end tax cuts, and it became clear that this meant abandoning most of the spending commitments Labor took to the 2019 election. But at least it seemed that Labor would be significantly better on climate policy. Now, that difference has been reduced to a minor point of semantics. Morrison has finally crabwalked his way to a 2050 net zero commitment. In deference to the sensitivities of the National Party, he refused to increase Australia’s 26-28 % emissions reduction target for 2030, while pointing out that the policies of state governments (both Liberal and Labor) would probably get us to 35 % with no action at the national level. Labor has yet to announce a 2030 target, but has already abandoned the 45 % target from 2019. So, it’s clear enough that the target will be indistunguishable from Morrison’s non-target, and will similarly imply no significant policy action.

More importantly, over the last week or so, Labor has acted to remove the remaining points of difference between the parties. Albanese backed Morrison’s refusal to join an agreement to reduce methane emissions. Then, Chris Bowen ruled out either a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme, and indicated Labor would continue the current governments’ voluntary policy, possibly with some minor adjustments.

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Thinking the unthinkable

If the last five years have taught us anything it’s this: the fact that something being unimaginable doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. So, it’s worth considering the prospect that Donald Trump becomes President after the 2024 election whether by getting enough votes to win the Electoral College under the current rules, or by having a Democratic victory overturned. Trump has made it clear that, in such an event, he would wish to secure at least a third term in office and perhaps a life presidency.

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The Nationals finally agree to a 2050 net-zero target …

… but the real decisions on Australia’s emissions are happening elsewhere. That’s the title of my latest piece in The Conversation. Key paras

The Morrison government, partly through its own doing, has almost no control over Australia’s emissions trajectory. The real decisions on that are being made elsewhere – by state governments and civil society, or outside the country altogether.

Morrison’s last-minute reach for a 2050 net-zero target is almost entirely symbolic, as was the Nationals’ resistance to it.