Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

Double exposure
7.30 and Q&A showed two very different leaders

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Q&A and Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 7.30

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is just as much a puppet of the hard right as his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull was. He is only in his position because Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt and the rest of them couldn’t abide the fact that Turnbull was about to do something about climate change. Having accepted the job in those circumstances, Morrison will be no more capable of taking climate action than Turnbull was, after doing his own deal with the devil to take the leadership in 2015. Morrison will be arguably even more constrained, because he will have a mandate to do nothing, in line with the climate policy he has brought to this election. When 7.30 host Leigh Sales asked the most important question of last night’s interview – who would be driving the Liberals’ climate policy if he was elected: him or the deniers? – Morrison hung tough and said “I will.” Morrison can say that – he might even think it – but he’s wrong. They will.

The deniers will still dictate climate policy, regardless of the balance of conservatives v moderates among the Liberals who go into the next parliament. They’ll say that the government should stick to the policy it took to this election – very pro-Adani, very lump-of-coal – to meet our Paris agreement commitments by buying some dodgy abatement through the reheated Emissions Reduction Fund, counting carry-over credits from Kyoto, and coasting along as renewables surge due to state targets and market forces. It’s a do-nothing strategy that even the “modern Liberals”, such as Wentworth candidate Dave Sharma, have supported.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, by contrast, has found his voice on climate, as was obvious in his solo Q&A appearance last night. Shorten made the point that climate policy was a prime example of how broken Australian politics has been over the decade since Abbott knocked off Turnbull the first time. “Whenever someone wants to have a crack at doing something on climate change, the knuckle-draggers and the cave-dwellers drag them down,” Shorten said. “I mean, if this government was serious on climate change, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull would still be prime minister of Australia.”

Shorten stared down the “dumb” questions about the cost of climate action, which ignore the cost of inaction, and finished: “Future generations will look back at this current election, and they will wonder why on earth people were arguing against action on climate change. I don’t want to be a prime minister who squibs the challenge. The Labor Party is going to stand up.” He continued: “What I learnt out of 2009? You can stand for something or fall for everything. And we’re going to stand and fight on climate change. We’re not retreating.”

Shorten answered a clear “no” when asked to denounce the Adani coalmine, as he has done consistently now for some time – which, in a climate election and in the wake of last week’s Stop Adani convoy, might explain why today’s Essential poll shows the Greens’ support picking up.

But Shorten lifted last night, even delivering what one scribe thought to be the best lines of the whole campaign so far. As someone tweeted around the 70-minute mark, those 80-odd Town Hall meetings that Shorten has done are really showing. And he has got some actual policies to talk about. By contrast, Morrison is bullying and hectoring and space invading his way through this campaign – and today narrowly avoided getting egged for his trouble, which is disappointing to see in an Australian election. It’s hard to believe there’s much of a contest.


“The emails equate to an incitement to hatred and we all know what the consequences of that can be. Whichever individual or group is responsible is trying to influence the outcome of an election and I think they should be investigated and brought to justice.”

Independent MP Kerryn Phelps in a message to the AFP about its investigation into a series of anti-Semitic emails targeting her. Phelps is among several MPs besieged by anti-Semitic abuse this election.


“Immigration of people from the Middle East is the future Australia needs.”

A fake tweet purporting to be by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, doctored and posted on Chinese social media site WeChat by a woman who has previously identified herself as a Liberal Party member.

The Number

The number of tax havens that will be blacklisted in Australia if Labor is elected, under a planned crackdown confirmed by shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh.

The Policy

“Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.”

From a report, the most comprehensive assessment of its kind ever, published overnight by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The list

“The shadow minister for employment services has risen to prominence with impeccable timing, on the cusp of an “unlosable” election, thanks to frequent appearances on ABC’s Q&A, including a recent episode during which she traded barbs with Canadian alt-right cult figure Jordan Peterson ... A squadron of alt-right trolls has stalked Butler ever since.”


“Why would a man whose previous parliamentary history demonstrated a studied lack of interest in the affairs of government spend $50 million, $60 million, $70 million – plus another $7 million promised as part payment of Queensland Nickel workers – to buy his way back in? As Bill Shorten suggests, Palmer’s not doing it out of altruism towards the Libs; he expects something in return.”  


“Half of all marine vertebrates gone in 40 years. A third of large fish in Australian waters gone in the past decade. Ninety per cent of the world’s fisheries already at their limits or beyond. These figures speak to a reality few want to acknowledge, and the decline is made even more shocking by the fact that it has taken place so rapidly.”


The Monthly invites Sydney readers to enter the draw for a chance to win a double pass to the opening night of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2019 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The event will take place on Friday, May 10, at 6.30pm.

Entries close at 11.59am AEDT on Wednesday, May 8, and the winner will be notified later on Wednesday, May 8. ENTER HERE

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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