One of the most depressing things about governments when it comes to climate change and global warming around election time is that they don’t care. Or rather they are too frightened of voter backlash to risk their seats in government.
There is to be a Federal Election in Australia on 21 August this year. Australia is one of the driest continents with masses of coal (and coal-fired power stations) and uranium (being pulled out of the ground at huge cost). The other thing about Australia is that it takes a long time over long roads in private cars to get anywhere.
I understand that the car driving residents of Perth, Western Australia consume more fuel per head of population than anywhere else in Australia; humph, probably the world! – it’s a very big place. So Australia needs lots of fuel. Well – that explains why we are in Afghanistan looking after the US interests after all! Just in case we weren’t sure and believed the ‘terrorism’ canard thrown at us by governments everywhere.
But can either major political party address anything of substance in the climate debate? Apparently not. I would love to jump up and down about Australia having just garnered its first female Prime Minister EVER; but I have been reading my favourite Aussie on-line political commentary Crikey.com.
It appears that Ms Gillard can’t bring herself to assert some leadership on the problems of climate change in Australia. Instead the Labor Party is going to establish a 12 month, 150 (ordinary Aussie) person “Citizen’s Assembly”. It’s charter?
“To examine the evidence on climate change, the case for action and a market-based approach to reducing pollution.”
Now, as I understand it, the science is in. There may be some tweaking around the edges, but the main thrust is that the climate is changing and we have to do what we can to address this. The population of a country looks to its leaders to provide – well, leadership. That’s what they are elected and hired to do.
I can say disingenuously that I don’t understand the filly-fallying around and lack of action. Debate and talk fests until they are coming out of our ears, but action??? No – dirty bloody word isn’t it!
So another talkfest is coming up and it will look warm and fuzzy and inclusive. Community consultations often look like that. As I have said elsewhere, community consultation be it an Assembly or whatever, is a cynical exercise from both sides of the consultative fence. Doesn’t matter how inclusive it may look. And it ain’t never binding!!
Bernard Keane from Crikey.com lists the three components of Labor’s climate change policy:
The above mentioned talkfest (I would bet you that whatever recommendations come out of that won’t be binding on the government.
Secondly Australia is going to invent best practice for coal-fired power plants. Carbon capture and geosequestration hasn’t even been invented yet but that’s the second platform for Labor.
The third is to commit $A1b over ten years to upgrade the power network to connect renewable power sources to consumers. Neither Labor nor Liberal has ever spent serious dosh on renewables but that doesn’t matter. Let’s say we are going to hook up anyway regardless.
Well, bully for Labor. The points above are very brief; they can be extended out to whatever paper you have available for notes. But Labor won’t be in power long enough for any of this to happen – except the initial talkfest.
But see, who cares? Neither Labor nor Liberal is really interested in creating real proposals to tackle climate change in case they lose seats in this election. Like the last one. This is where I couldn’t agree more with Bernard. Because any action of climate change is going to cost the average consumer in hard dollars, no government facing an election will risk antagonising the middle income voting blocks. On any survey the majority of these respondents aren’t interested in climate change and its cost.
So Ms Gillard has back pedalled to keep the issue on the back burner by making it seem as though community consultation and input is the all important first step. This Assembly will be steered by the new Climate Change Commission. Huh? Another quango at what cost? To appease the middle income, middle aged voter with disposable cash? And pretend that you are doing something? Give me a break.