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ALP--they've got problems « Previous | |Next »
November 30, 2006

I've been watching Question Time this week and it has been less than an impressive performance from the ALP over and above the theatrics and overblown rhetoric around the AWB scandal. I've been patiently waiting for the searching questions on climate change that pin the Howard government to the floor. Nothing. Though the issue is tailor made for the ALP, given the economics of nuclear power and the unease in the government ranks about the need for some form of carbon pricing, they are not fostering a public debate on climate change and energy policy.


Nothing. Wayne Swan says nothing at all. Anthony Albanese had one question on environmental flows in the Murray-Darling Basin lifted from the website of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission.There were no linkages to climate change at all. These guys are not impressive. They don't know their stuff in terms of developing strategic policy responses and they lack the courage to take Costello and Howard on. We just have a (nother) scare campaign about nuclear power instead of a proposal to scrap all payroll taxes and replace them with a levy on carbon.

I appreciate that Parliament is a hot house and what is seen of great significance there has little impact or meaning in the day to day lives of the broader electorate. Who really cares about Stephen Smith's bad Parlaimentary tactics? Or that he makes little headway with his questions on industrial relations? But people do care about climate change. The connection has been made between drought, climate change and energy, even if it has not been made between the melting of the Antarctica icecap and rising sea levels along Australia's coastline, or the threat this poses to our coastal cities. People are staring to realize they need to get used to the idea of living in a hotter world.

People are looking for some account about what can be done in Australia given the ALP's commitment to renewable energy. So why not embrace a comprehensive set of climate change measures? Nothing is forthcoming to help us install solar panels on our roofs to run airconditioners at peak periods. The ALP could be talking in terms of solar roof tiles tied into the existing grid. So when the sun is shining, our rooftop functions as a small power plant, sending power down the line. At night, we can buy electricity like everyone else; in the sunny months of the year, the power the house uses and the power it generates would be about the same.

It's depressingi sn't it. Very few ALP politicians have had anything genuinely interesting to say for a very long time. Little is being offered to lead them out of their wilderness.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:39 AM | | Comments (19)


I agree with you, Gary. It is mind-boggling how little climate change is addressed by the 2 major parties.
I can highly recommend the book "Heat" by George Monbiot.
Not only does he look into the background of climate change but he also comes up with ways that CO2 emissions could be drastically reduced.
Unfortunately, he suggests, based on the current science, that Australia needs to reduce its emissions by 90% by 2030. Can you imagine either party introducing measures to do this? Sadly, not!!!

I think those 2 would be well advised to keep their feet in their mouths and let Peter Garrett do the talking on theat subject...Thats the plan I think...


I haven't worked out why climate change is not being debated.Nothing happened in Question Time yesterday or in Matters of Public Importance. In politcal pundit speaak the ALP is not showing leadership on key issue such as climate change.

The ALP is not even talking about keeping the increase in temperature to 2% as some sort of benchmark. So they let Howard off the hook with management of the politics of it.

My guess is that federal Labaor is paralysed by the coal states--NSW, Victoria and Queensland. King Coal rules.

A Beazley ALP is dominated by the Right. The Right is all about economic growth and it sees environmental considerations as a brake on economic growth and so less jobs. Hence pricing carbon is instinctively resisted. Economic growth rules.

On top of that I would say that the rightwing unions have been captured by King Coal and the threat by the energy intensive intensive industries to go offshore.

Thirdly, I would say the Opposition energy spokesman---who is that? Martin Ferguson by default probably buys the going nuclear option.

So Garrett is to come to the rescue when Beazley finds the political courage to stop the policy drift.

Yes I dare say that Old King Coal is very important in the big scheme of things at the moment, given that it is drought resistant.

It will all change no doubt with the leadership challenge on Monday....seems to me that Rudd is starting his Sprint too far out...Gillard would be a Better choise as a leader because she is a woman and I think Oz is ready for that.

But at the end of the day I would think in an election Beazley beats Costello but Costello beats Rudd....

I expect Howard to announce his retirement after the dust settles on this Wheat deparkle...and the token returning of a few soldiers from Iraq....perhaps around the time of the ashes win when we are all full of Ozzieness....One last chance to hold a trophy for him...

Enjoy the cricket.....

I don't normally defend the ALP but democratic politics make this hard. I don't know much about climate change or the science or anything like that, but reducing the CO2 emissions by 90% would require drastic reductions in living standards, wouldn't it?

Vote for me and I'll legislate you into lifelong unemployment is a tough sell.


even so we need a vigorous opposition don't we? Someone to keep the other side on their toes so that we citizens have a choice?

You can make money and create new businesses out of a more sustainable approach to energy. Australia, for instance, used to be a leader in solar energy research and technological development It has been picked up and put into production in Germany and Japan.

things can move fast in politic as the last two weeks show. Who knows what will happen over the weekend? I doubt if Beazley will win by a wide margin--he is a weakened leader now, and the momentum is with Rudd/Gillard. That's all I can judge at the moment as I don't have access to the factional numbers.

Yes Gillard would be better. But the right wing boys and the factional power brokers in the ALP are not ready for a woman to lead them. It's unnatural, she's a leftie, and she is single etc etc. So we have Rudd Gillard.

Andrew Norton says

Whoever wins, I reckon John Howard has an early Xmas present. Rudd wouldn’t challenge if he didn’t think he had a reasonable chance, so even if Beazley hangs on we’ll all know that even much his own party doesn’t think he is fit to be PM. If Rudd wins, the ALP will have as leader a man without the common touch.

I'm not so sure. It's a generational change and it is not just Rudd. It' s also Gillard--a high profile, talented and popular woman.

I think Rudd is falling on his sword for the party.

But I am prone to radical theories!

I reckon Australia is ready for Gillard, but Gary is probably right that the party machine isn't ready for it. But Rudd's got ability to burn. He won't make a hash of it if he wins. But his slightly nerdy Christian earnestness might be off-putting to many. Apparently he has had a gig on a commercial breakfast show for a while. Interesting to know what polling shows about ppl's perceptions of him.

Afterall Howard's no Steve Irwin, either.

I think Gillard has been in a relationship with a senior union chap for a number of years......

Well, this dispels the Lesbian theories which is a good thing for her.

you may well be right. But is Rudd & Gillard together, not just Ruddd.

The tragedy is Kim Beazley. He was well liked as a person and was regarded as a decent and trustworthy person. He gave it is his best but he just couldn't up the goods. He failed to give a big picture of how Australia would be better off under a Beazley government.

Alan Ramsay in the Sydney Morning Herald says that by fronting his challenger on his own terms he has given himself a chance.

Not much of one, really, but a chance.Beazley's leadership is so useless, so tired, it is hard to believe he can rally his party, let alone voters, should he defeat Rudd by anything other than monster proportions. Beazley can't just win on Monday. He must crush his younger opponent if he is to re-establish any sort of credible authority with voters in his claims to John Howard's prime ministership.

I don't give him much chance to pull that off. The dice is loaded against him. Beazley withdrew into the unner sanctum and made decisions without reference to the Shadow cabinet or the parliamentary party.

From memory it was a hairy guy from CFMEU-- the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union--- Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and forest products, mining and energy production.

Understandably, there was a parting of the ways. Then there was talk of a relationship with Craig Emerson from Rankin in Queensland. I understand that too has ended.

I thought the articles Rudd recently published in The Monthly on religion and politics and neo-liberalism were quite good. They should a good grasp of the subject of the battle of ideas. They are a lot more sophisticated than the standard speech from a Liberal MP in the House of Representatives. These are mind-numbingly dumb.

Rudd understood how right wing Christianity had become a handmaiden of Howard's conservative politics to reshape Australia.

Having had Rudd as my Local member for a few years before I moved MY opinion is perhaps tainted by the fact that I have met him on a few occasions and didnt like him as a person or a PM. He is very good at giving away Bicycles though to every worthy cause that knocks on his door...Unfortunately there wont be enough bicycles in Australia should he become PM.

the personal bit is a common theme and Rudd has given no indications of policy change. So we have no idea how they will reposition Labor after Monday apart from some bicycles.

But honestly the time for healing after the wounds of 2004 is over. It needs to address the split between its union base (on show in the protests against Work choices) and its progressive wing wanting something more than working class politics.

As the AFR editorial says:

Changing leaders this close to an election is risky. Labor should not be making itself the story yet again when its job is to hold a government that should be vulnerable on several fronts--AWB, interest rates, tax-welfare, poverty traps into account.

No mention of climate change.

We're all talking about Labor as though it were relevant. The major parties are moribund because of our conservatism. In motor vehicle terms, it's as though we've never bothered to service the car we bought in 1927. All we've done is put petrol in it, and driven it. We are either too stingy, or too stupid to act other than the way we have. Now that the car is stuffed, we moan about the state of it, and make all sorts of stupid remarks that cast light on the original problem.

Our Constitutional setup is stuffed. It's irrelevant whether Labor or the Coalition is in power: all either will do is preserve the level of stuffedness of the status quo. We won't permit them to do much else. This isn't the fault of the political parties. They are merely what we've conditioned them to be by our mean-spirited voting habits. We've rewarded mediocrity at every election since Federation. We're the ones with the problem, not Labor, or any other political party. And the problem is so hard to fix now that we can't do it. Nature will have to sort it for us. We've proved that we're too immature to be in charge of the important things in the life of our society. We content ourselves with the babble I've read on this page. Poor fellow my country.


you could enlighten us babblers out by saying what is wrong with the Constituion and federalism.

I see that you are an advocate of cynical reason---what Peter Sloterdijk in The Critique of Cynical Reason calls cynicism as enlightened false consciousness. This is a sensibility that is well off and miserable at the same time, able to function in the workaday world yet assailed by doubt and paralysis.

On this account a cynic is someone, who is part of an institution, or group, whose existence and values he himself can no longer see as absolute, necessary and unconditional, and who is miserable, due to this enlightenment, because he sticks to principles he does not believe in. The only knowledge left for a cynic is his trust in reason, which, however, cannot provide him with a firm basis for action, and this again is another reason for being miserable.

My counter strategy is the kynicism of antiquity—the sensuality and loud, satiric laughter of Diogenes.

Les, you commented:
"I don't know much about climate change or the science or anything like that, but reducing the CO2 emissions by 90% would require drastic reductions in living standards, wouldn't it?"

That is what's so great about Monbiot's book. He shows actual ways of reducing CO2 emissions by 90% without drastically changing our living standards. He has lots of ideas on alternative sources of energy. The unfortunate thing is that it would require too much effort by our governments whose only purpose it seems is to increase the bank balance of our corporations.