- Date published:
8:00 am, August 25th, 2018 - 37 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, Environment, global warming, International, jacinda ardern, sustainability - Tags: julia gillard, kevin rudd, malcolm turnbull, tony abbott
The world’s most stable open society, Australia, as one of the world’s remaining strong, wealthy, and open societies, is having its democracy devastated by the politics of climate change.
New Zealand is already dangerously out of step with its (near) parent state on immigration. It is now well on its way to diverging on climate change policy too. We had better watch our next policy move.
It’s worth remembering why climate change remains the most important destabilising force in Australia.
Kevin Rudd’s 2007 victory took out John Howard’s 12-year reign of pretty cold government. The new Prime Minister signed the Kyoto Protocol. He identified climate as “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time.”
His governments’ Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was a cap-and-trade system. It was criticised heavily by industry as too hard and costly, but more importantly by the Greens as too soft and not worth it. After negotiating its measures down to get bipartisan support in November 2008, the Greens united with the Liberals to vote it down (even though Malcolm Turnbull crossed the floor to support it), twice. A double-dissolution election was called.
Due in no small part to his willingness to negotiate a bipartisan climate bill, the Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull was rolled right after the election and replaced by Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott called climate change science absolute crap.
Prime Minister Rudd, already wounded by the climate change debacle, then went hard against the Australian mining industry with a proposal for a Resource Super Profits Tax.
The energy and mining industries, the Liberal Party, and the Greens, united against him. He was rolled by Julia Gillard. She continued in power in 2010 with one Green and three Independents supporting.
In February 2011, the Gillard Government passed the Clean Energy Bill 2011. This was an emissions trading scheme in Australia to replace the CPRS, and the carbon price was to be introduced on July 1st 2012.
Kevin Rudd came out against this Act, and got the numbers to roll her. He was Prime Minister again for three months.
Labor have been out of power ever since. Australia is controlled at Federal level by the pro-mining and anti-climate-change-policy sections of society (they are also strongly anti-immigration, but that’s another story).
Tony Abbott was Prime Minister from 2013 to 2015, and on his first day he introduced legislation to repeal Gillard’s Clean Energy Act. At the Paris summit of 2015, the Abbott government committed Australia to reducing emissions by at least 26% from 2005 levels by 2030. Within a month he was then rolled by Malcolm Turnbull.
On August 14th 2018 the Turnbull coalition government created the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which would oblige energy suppliers and retailers to guarantee a minimum amount of power at an average emissions level consistent with Australia’s commitments under the Paris agreement. It had a national energy mix between renewables and legacy generators (especially coal).
Yes, that’s less than two weeks ago.
A few days later, under intense pressure from his own MPs, Prime Minister Turnbull walked it all back and said there was not enough support for an emissions reduction bill to pass parliament, and it was clear some of his own MP’s would cross the floor to defeat it.
Holed beneath the waterline, for the next five working days he sought to avoid defeat.
By Friday the 24th of August, Malcolm Turnbull’s political career was stone cold dead.
The new Prime Minister is Scott Morrison. So far he has absolutely no desire to do anything about climate change. This, clearly, should not take anyone by surprise.
New Zealand is dependent on Australia for defence, immigration both inward and outward, foreign affairs, justice and corrections, and trade. Through CER the two countries are about as economically integrated as currently Britain and the E.U. Australia’s banks pretty much own us through mortgages, and their corporations dominate us. Diplomatic relationships between the two countries are also about as weak as they have ever been. For the above reasons, and more, we are in an intensely vulnerable position to Australia.
New Zealand’s government is currently seeking bipartisan support for its approach to climate change policy. We have full policy sovereignty in both mandate and in reality on this policy, but given that it’s this policy area that is continuing to destabilise its Federal government at the highest level, we might want to check in with Australia.