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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

defending the old « Previous | |Next »
October 11, 2011

Today we have plenty of deniers who are busy in the public sphere claiming that addressing the issues of climate change will increase inflation, cost jobs, destroy households, send companies bankrupt and ruin the country. It's doom and gloom all round as they paint a picture of the need for Fortress Australia to batten down the hatches for a prolonged storm. No carbon tax now!

These naysayers are not just opposed to the Gillard Labor Government. They are trying to delay both the arrival of the new industries and new jobs associated with a shift to a low carbon future and a smart grid smart city future. The conservative movement's rhetoric and war against modern radicalism has been very successful.


In Business Spectator Alan Kohler says that in 2011 in Australia we have:

a deeply unpopular minority government engaged in a frenzy of reform and an Opposition that says that it’s all bad and it will undo it all as soon as it’s elected, as it certainly will be.This morning’s Newspoll in The Australian has the ALP on a primary vote of 26 per cent [sic: it's 29 per cent] and the Coalition on 48 per cent [sic: it's 49]. Labor is behind on every issue, just about everywhere, so unless there is a miracle the next election will be a landslide and Prime Minister Tony Abbott will have a mandate to do whatever he likes. In fact, of course, he’ll be locked into promises to repeal or change most of what the Labor government is currently doing.

We have a history of deep seated opposition to reform whose standard rhetoric is one of doom and gloom. It pays to recall the opposition to the emergence of an information society and the internet several years ago.

In 2006 Richard Alston, the Australian Minister for Communications in the then Howard Government, declared that Australia did not need broadband as it was only good for pornography and gambling. Telstra and AT&T (and several other incumbent telecoms companies) proclaimed that the internet would result in a total meltdown of the national telecoms network, and that the government would need to regulate others using the internet.

That opposition looks quaint now doesn't it? We smile at the Richard Alston's of the world and wonder what sort of Kool Aid he was taking at the time. The internet is transforming the way we live our lives and companies like Apple, Google and Facebook are riding the digital wave.

The current blockers of the shift to a low carbon economy will look similarly quaint in a few years time as more people install photovoltaic (PV) systems, use smart-grids for more efficient and effective energy management, and become integrated into off-grid-distributed energy systems.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:51 AM | | Comments (26)


"unless there is a miracle the next election will be a landslide and Prime Minister Tony Abbott will have a mandate to do whatever he likes."

One immediate problem faced by the Gillard Govt is the fate of its Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011.It appears that the fate of the legislation may come down to the vote of WA National MP Tony Crook on amendments to the bill and on his final vote on the bill.

The media is saying that if the bill is defeated, it will be the first time a government has lost a crucial House vote on legislation in more than 80 years. The implication is that Abbott will then be able to force Gillard to resign and take what is duly his. Or, alternatively, it only brings forward the Rudd coup against Gillard and the general election date. The media--the Canberra Gallery--- are convinced that the plotting of Labor's factional powerbrokers to find alternatives to Gillard is well under way.

However, if the defeat of the Migration Amendment Bill does happen (it may be pulled), it is unlikely that the Gillard Government will abandon its legislative reform agenda and call an early election. There is nothing the Opposition can do to force the Government to resign. That leaves the Rudd option.

News Ltd is beating this up for its worth. Dissent is rife within Labor etc etc.

I dont think you can leave Turnbull out of the equation yet.

The media are whipping themselves up into a frenzy:--Rudd was within 11 votes, now five. A spill will happen at any moment. Rudd by Xmas!

The tea leaves say so. You can hear the attempt to destabilise the PM in the wind. The water in Parliament House says that there is a crisis of confidence within the Labor government. The paintwork in the corridors of power says there is a split in the Labor caucus.

It's more shoddy political journalism--- political trash churned out day after day on par with the “ government teetering on the edge”; “an illegitimate government”; the "worst Govt since Federation".

I wish you people would get your priorities right. The single most important issue facing the government today is the appalling fate that awaits a brave, innocent kid set up on a Bali drugs charge by the corrupt Indo police. That's why the prime minister, the foreign affairs minister and our ambassador are all personally involved.

It reminds me of the 'Yes Prime Minister' episode where Hacker spent days worrying what to do about Benjy the dog.

Sorry to be so off-topic Gary but I can't really get interested in Canberra any more. It's such a transparent circus of alternative reality.

Ken writes: "I can't really get interested in Canberra any more. It's such a transparent circus of alternative reality."

It's very hard. It is such a tacky circus full of such seedy characteristics.

I forced myself to watch Question Time today. Same old Abbott moving to suspend standing orders so that he could rant away for ABC Television, then movie that the Govt's response to the suspension be no longer heard so they could not be heard on ABC --cos Playtime had started. Only Abbott gets the media grab for the 7pm News.

Dunno what the Coalition are going to do when the carbon pricing legislation passes the House of Representatives. They'll have to ask some questions on policy.

The real action is Canberra is the carbon pricing legislation---a package of 19 bills. Debate on the legislation is scheduled to finish at 5pm today. Proposed amendments will then be considered and a vote held tomorrow.

The Coalition's new talking point in opposing what it calls the "Carbon tax" is to attack the government for introducing the carbon tax while there was economic uncertainty.

Paul the formal action in the parliament might be the carbon pricing legislation but the only action in Canberra anyone is going to get excited about for the foreseeable future is when Julia Gillard gets replaced. Just as the conservatives in the USA can't wait to dance on the political grave of an uppity nigger without conceding any such base motives, conservatives here are lusting for an acceptable reason to rejoice at the downfall of a woman who got ideas above her station, had a working class accent, was once a leftist, isn't married, has no kids ... I mean she represents everything they hate about Australia in the 21st century.

Then the conservatives must really hate Gillard for her performance at Question Time---she has the measure of those on the Coalition's front bench and makes mincemeat of their inane questions.

Its a pity she doesn't do as well outside Parliament in the world of public opinion.

"a deeply unpopular minority government engaged in a frenzy of reform and an Opposition that says that it’s all bad and it will undo it all as soon as it’s elected"

There you have the political conflict. Conservatives hate the reforms of the social democrat radicals and want to overthrow them. It's war for them. The left's ideology has to be doctrine has to be exterminated. Hence the ideological zeal and the dumping of prudential restraints.

Conservatism has been a counter movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace. Now its opposed to the greening of the economy by the left.

What the opposition will do when the legislation passes is bombard the voters with Gillard saying she isnt going to introduce a carbon tax next frame her smiling about its introduction. Its win win for them. And they'll even be able to blame those rotten greenies in the senate too.
Its not about right or wrong its about winning.

Surely conservatism is a misnomer when the values that should be conserved do not extend to the atmosphere and environment? I appreciate these are old things that now require new answers in terms of energy, food and water to sustain human life.

it is true that the Abbott will continue to fight carbon pricing--he's committed to rolling it back and he has defined himself by his opposition to it.

But he has boxed himself into a corner. Few think that his alternative proposal to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 5%---its a bipartisan commitment---is any good.

depends on your understanding of conservatism. I see it as radical and counterrevolutionary as opposed to wanting to leave things be, even if things aren’t so great, because they know that trying to change things, particularly through politics, will only make them worse.

Few believe that a 5% reduction will have any effect. Many believe that it will cost them less. Many dont care.

"Few believe that a 5% reduction will have any effect. Many believe that it will cost them less. Many dont care."

Then Abbott has little public support for his direct action plan. Many think his plan is just a policy fig leaf.

It's done and dusted now. The legislation is through the lower house and nobody will take much notice of what happens in the senate.

As terrible as Gillard has been in public, she's been amazing in government, particularly given the current parliament. Tony Abbott has been brilliant with the public and the press obviously like him, but he's been a flop in the parliament and a policy non-event.

The media can carry on all they like about leadership challenges. Gillard will still be the one who managed to get a climate change policy up and running.

Many believe many things grasshopper

The unpopularity of the Gillard Govt. has a lot to do with them being unable to sell their policies. There are two reasons for this.

First, they don't try. The ALP only tries to communicate with pressure groups, meaning unions, the conservationists, the immigration lobby, business, etc. They make no effort to understand how that sort of thing sounds to the ordinary voter, or to connect directly with him/her.

Second, and related to the first, I don't think the ALP would know what to say to the ordinary voter even if they did make an effort to connect. They seem to have no idea how to communicate with anybody who isn't an established political player.

Lyn says "It's done and dusted now."

...and so begins one of the great transformations of the Australian economy---it ranks alongside the floating of the currency and the introduction of the GST.

The emissions trading scheme is at the heart of the Clean Energy package benefits and the next big step is reaching a deal for the closure of the worst polluting coal-fired power plants.

The transformation will involve unlocking investment, stimulating innovation, and growing cleaner industries.

Abbott has backed himself into a corner where he is defending the interests of the coal industry as voiced by the Australian Coal Association. Abbott just repeats their lines.

Gordon... you forgot about one important "established political player"... the self-absorbed swinging voters of western Sydney and south-eastern Melbourne.

That's EXACTLY who the coalition are targeting with their lies and hysteria about the carbon tax and refugees.

I'll hazard a guess at why the ALP has no ability to talk to people any more. It's because the union movement used to do a lot of informal work through its membership to explain political issues so people could understand them.

Nowadays union membership has collapsed and union officials are more interested in quick-release trousers and credit cards than in their members. The ALP can no longer rely on the boring, bread and butter work of communication being done for them.

Greg Combet on the 7.30 Report conceded that the Gillard Govt had done a bad job in selling the carbon pricing to the public.

He conceded that Abbott had been very effective with his no campaign.

Gordon... from my experience you might be off the mark.

I've worked all my life in one of this nations iconic industrial towns. Manufacturing, mining and heavy industry. That's over three decades in a very unionised workforce. In that time I have never seen or heard of union delegates promoting or explaining Labor policy to those on the shop floor. Maybe it used to happen on other sites.... but definitely not here.

I think that the ALP has difficulty talking to people because it tries to sound like the coalition while not offending the few leftists it has left. It doesn't want to alienate it's more traditional supporters while making a grab for the "aspirational" vote.

Mars I agree with your comment, but you overlook that union reps often did a great job of bashing the conservatives. They might not have been explaining the ALP's position but they were pretty vocal in explaining the Liberals' position and what was wrong with it. They were a potent propaganda counter to the conservative ideology of the media, and that has now largely disappeared.

You're right Ken... in fact the unions reps around these parts are still very keen to lay into the tories any chance they get. That much hasn't really changed.