politics newsletter recently asked ‘For how long do we pretend ”better than the Coalition” equals “good enough”
? It’s a damn good question.
Prior to the election, now Prime Minister Albanese launched a plan that would reduce Australia’s 2030 carbon emissions by 43% when compared to 2005 levels. It looked good on paper in comparison to the Coalition’s Abbott era 26 to 28% reduction. The Glasgow climate pact a couple of months ago called on nations like Australia to reduce emissions by at least 45%.
Albanese was outflanked by most of the independents and the Greens who are calling for reductions in emissions of up to 75% by 2030. Albanese claimed at the time that his plan was costed and achievable and would be implemented with measures to protect displaced workers.
Albanese also claimed that creating a federal anti-corruption commission would be an early item of business, a stark contrast to former PM Morrison’s refusal to consider any form of commission with actual power to make a difference. Now he is Prime Minister, Albanese has to deliver on his policy or suffer humiliation at the next election.
reported on June 1 that Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen claimed
the “vast bulk” of Labor policies — including a $20bn “rewiring the nation” commitment to accelerate the connection of new renewable energy to the grid and changes to the Coalition’s “safeguard mechanism” to gradually cut industrial emissions — did not need legislation to be implemented.
Planning to rule by regulation is concerning from a new government that is claiming to respect the views of those in Parliament that don’t belong to the ALP.
If you cast your mind back to 2008, then ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claimed that emissions reduction was the greatest moral challenge of our times, until it wasn’t. He legislated a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS, which was defeated twice in the Senate when the Greens, led at the time by Bob Brown, voted against it. The ALP limped back into power in 2010 under Julia Gillard, after she challenged Rudd for the leadership claiming he was very unpopular. The Coalition also went into the 2007 election with an emissions trading scheme. All sides of politics need to take the collective blame for a decade of inaction, if only they had compromised in 2009, we would be a long way further on the path to Net Zero emissions.
Re-elected Independent MP Zali Steggall promoted climate change legislation throughout the last Parliament. As you would expect from the Coalition, the legislation wasn’t passed into law. Rather than reinventing the wheel, or using ‘safeguard mechanisms’ that don’t require legislation, Crikey
argues that Steggall’s legislation is an elegant solution to the various sticking points about the percentage of carbon emissions reduction that various parliamentarians have committed to
, by legislating for an independent body to create a 5 year ahead climate budget that has to arrive at Net Zero by 2050. The Crikey
article goes on to discuss the political ramifications which include boosting the chances of re-election of the independents who campaigned on emissions reduction, which makes it less likely that the Coalition regains some of its ‘heartland’ seats come the next election.
Independent Helen Haines attempted to introduce legislation for a ‘anti-corruption commission’ in the last parliament that actually had investigative powers, treated everyone the same and could, if the commission chose to do so, hold public hearings. Again, while there may be some negotiation around the legislation that is brought forward by an Independent, it boosts their re-election chances, which keeps the Coalition short of the seats it needs to change government.
Opposition Leader Dutton has made no real comment on emission reduction and he is, according to The Guardian
’s Katherine Murphy, ‘uncoupling the Liberal Party from former Prime Minister Morrison’s ‘anti-ICAC’ rhetoric
. This could be seen as encouraging behaviour, except it’s like the repackaged cereal box with the fancy new graphics on the outside and a reduced volume of contents on the inside. Dutton’s first press conference after the election outcome was confirmed shows it’s really more of the same.
Apparently he either didn’t get or read the message regarding a kinder and less aggressive parliament. Prior to the Albanese Government even being sworn in, Dutton was claiming
My job as the opposition leader is to put policies forward between now and the next election and to hold a bad government to account.
Surely they have to make a couple of decisions before anyone can call the decisions ‘bad’! As The Age
’s editorial on 31 May suggested
By choosing David Littleproud as their new leader, the Nationals seem to have decided that rural communities are better served by political co-operation than ideological combat with their compatriots in the cities.
Maybe Nationals Leader David Littleproud did understand Albanese’s message.
The strangest thing about the Coalition’s leadership is that both leaders are from Queensland, and technically represent one Political Party, the Liberal National Party. With Dutton on the offensive and Littleproud claiming to be willing to discuss and co-operate, there is a disconnect between the political leaders. It could be an interesting time ahead.
Albanese and Labor have to work with the Greens to get legislation through the Senate and it suits their purposes to promote the independents who won typically Coalition seats. The Government should be inclusive and consider the views of others, something Albanese has demonstrated in the past that he can do. Hopefully this time, the Greens, the ALP and the Independents can come to an agreement on legislation to reduce emissions, create a federal corruption commission as well as present a kinder, constructive Parliament where it’s not ‘our way or the highway’.
The world could be a better place if it happens, but it will take compromise from all sides to pass legislation in the current parliament. 60 or 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Something that Albanese has hopefully learned from the failure of Rudd’s ALP and Brown’s Greens in 2008.
What do you think?