Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Today by Paddy Manning

Credlin v. Frydenberg
The climate wars are not over


It is surprising and appalling to learn that Australia’s very reasonable-sounding energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, is actually a closet climate sceptic, beholden to the likes of Alan Jones and Peta Credlin. It not only confirms the worst fears of anyone worried about dangerous global warming: that this Coalition government is deceiving us and is not serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also confirms how deeply, hopelessly divided the Liberals are, anticipating a resurgence of the delusional conservatives, or delcons.

On Friday, after Frydenberg made some fairly anodyne comments about Tony Abbott, remorseless shock jock Alan Jones went to air with a sensational snippet from a private conversation with the energy minister on the front lawn of his Melbourne home: “Josh, you are arguing renewable energy because you wanted a job with Turnbull. You were prepared to suck up to whatever Turnbull said and that got you the big job, Minister for Energy. But you sold yourself out to get the job. You told me and agreed with me on the front lawn of your house that the global warming stuff was rubbish. You told me that on the front lawn of your house, Josh. Don’t come with this nonsense now.”

On Sunday night, in an interview on ABC News with Patricia Karvelas, Frydenberg did not deny that he’d made the comment:

Patricia Karvelas: Did you tell him global warming was rubbish?

Josh Frydenberg: Look, I’ve been on the record, well before I went into parliament, about the importance of tackling climate change.

Patricia Karvelas: So, is he lying?

Josh Frydenberg: Well, I’m not going to- when it comes to Alan Jones, I am respectful of him and I have known him for a long time.

Patricia Karvelas: But what did you tell him. Why does he think you said this?

Josh Frydenberg: Well look, I have been on the record publicly for more than a decade on the issue of climate change. Now, as the minister for the environment, I’m hearing first-hand from our scientists and relevant organisations. They say that climate change is real. I say it’s real. It’s not about it being a belief in a religious way, it’s about listening to the experts and tackling it in the most cost-effective way, and that is why we subscribe to our Paris commitment, but that is also why we reject the Labor Party’s reckless targets, which we believe will cost jobs and send power bills up. We’ve got to get this balance right and we believe we’ve got it right.

That is, Frydenberg won’t tell us – the public – what he told Jones, or when. We can only assume Jones is telling the truth. Yet this is the Oxford- and Harvard-educated minister, supposedly governing for all Australians, who is supposedly going to end our decade-long climate wars on Friday with his National Energy Guarantee. No wonder the NEG will do absolutely nothing [$] to reduce emissions, as research out today has confirmed again. No wonder the government never levels with the Australian people about the dangers of climate change. No wonder, for that matter, we don’t have a climate change minister at all. We are being taken for fools. Talk about mean and tricky.

All the NEG will do is provide a mechanism for a future Labor government to do something about emissions. And do you think, if or when a future Labor government decides to do something, the delcons of the Liberal and National parties will honour any of this temporarily convenient rhetoric about ending the climate wars? No way known. Surely the Labor party won’t fall for it. As the Star Wars meme goes: “It’s a trap!”

Which goes to the second, equally appalling spectacle: former chief of staff to Tony Abbott and current Sky News host Peta Credlin telling fellow science-denier Andrew Bolt that she’s had a word to Frydenberg and that “I don’t think you’ll see that again.” The palpable arrogance has caused some befuddlement that Credlin thinks she is still calling the shots [$] (although some, like today’s [$] Rear Window column in the AFR, dismiss it as hollow grandstanding).

The only real power Credlin could have over Frydenberg is her potential influence on the shape of a future conservative-dominated Liberals frontbench, especially, but not only, if Abbott makes a comeback. That influence may not come from a Credlin return to politics proper. As this ripping Mark Di Stefano yarn last year revealed, Credlin is the star of the “Foxification” of Sky News, with her own office, apparently plastered with maps of electoral boundaries. This is the same person, remember, who happily admitted last year that the Abbott campaign against the carbon tax was “brutal retail politics”, based on a falsehood, because Labor’s emissions trading scheme “wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know … but we made it a carbon tax”. Liberal MPs, even cabinet ministers like Frydenberg, are clearly hedging their bets now, playing both sides of the street, moderates v. delcons. Frydenberg’s protests, that he will continue to speak his mind, ring absolutely hollow.

The climate wars are not over at all, regardless of what Frydenberg achieves on Friday, because the delcons are against him. Donald Trump’s presidency has galvanised them, they are on the march, and the hate media is rock-solid behind them. Any policy designed to tackle climate change will be in the firing line, as will be any agencies, NGOs or media who don’t fall in, and they will not be happy until a new coal, oil and gas bonanza is under construction.

since this morning

Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned [$] that AMP executives could face jail time after company representatives confessed at the banking royal commission to charging customers for services they did not receive and for misleading the corporate regulator.

At today’s banking royal commission hearing, a CBA executive has admitted [$] that the bank is the “gold medallist” when it comes to ripping off financial advice customers by charging them for services they do not receive.

Almost two-thirds of voters want the government to tax more, spend more and reduce inequality, a new poll for the Australia Institute has found.

in case you missed it

Veteran Liberal Party and property industry figure Tony De Domenico is expected to resign from Victoria’s property development agency following revelations that he promoted an alleged mafia figure to a prominent business body.

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen has a “girl-crush” [$] on ACTU boss Sally McManus.

The ABC has revealed that an Islamic State (IS) commander suspected of hatching a plan to blow up a flight from Sydney last year and an Australian IS fighter allegedly connected to the country’s most notorious terror cell have been captured in Iraq.

by Anwen Crawford
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Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Inside the Greens and the unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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