Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

A Greens election?
Climate anxiety is up, but the polls are not


As commentator after commentator has observed, this is a critical election for the Greens. They are recontesting six of their nine Senate seats, and support in the polls is flatlining despite the environment and climate being right at the top of the political agenda this year. As was flagged this morning, the Greens today announced the last key plank of their environment and climate policy platform: a $2 billion-a-year nature fund to protect nearly 2000 species threatened with extinction, double the amount of land in reserves, and create an estimated 10,000 jobs – half of which would be Indigenous rangers. The party’s environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young described the fund today as “one of biggest investments in environment protection that this country’s ever seen”. The fund would be paid for with revenue from a carbon price, which neither the Coalition nor Labor supports, putting the Greens on a collision course with whoever wins government in May.

In a press conference at Adelaide’s Koala and Wildlife Hospital this afternoon, Greens Leader Richard Di Natale drew the link between the nature fund, climate change and the need to stop the Carmichael coalmine, and – on the same day that Bob Brown’s Stop Adani convoy left Hobart – turned up the pressure on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Di Natale said that while habitat destruction and invasive species were key factors impacting on threatened species, “sitting over and above all of that is the impact of climate change, [which] is a threat multiplier. To address climate change you’ve got to have a plan to address coal, and that’s why I’m joining the Adani convoy in a few days’ time.” He continued, “Because if the Adani mine is built, what we’ll see is climate change escalate, and we’re going to lose more of our plants and animals, as well as all of the other impacts we know come from climate change.”

“The Adani coalmine can’t be built,” said Di Natale, and referred to last night’s 7.30 report on the ABC that Adani’s Australian CEO, Lucas Dow, had been told a Labor government would not block the mine. “I was alarmed to hear, last night, the CEO of Adani state that Bill Shorten had assured them that the Adani mine would go ahead, that the Labor Party would not stop the Adani mine,” said Di Natale. “Bill Shorten now needs to come clean: what assurances has he given the CEO of Adani that this mine will proceed? What commitments has he given Lucas Dow, the CEO of Adani, that they are not going to get in the way of the Adani mine?” Di Natale said that “any discussions with the CEO need to be laid on the table so we know exactly what promises have been made”.

The Stop Adani convoy headed off from Hobart this morning – The Australian reports [$] that Bob Brown likened coalminers to heroin dealers – and Di Natale will join it over four days travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane, but will not go all the way to Clermont, near the mine site. On ABC’s RN Breakfast this morning, Brown was asked how the Greens were faring heading into the election, given the ordinary polling and disappointing campaigns marred by division in New South Wales and Victoria. He told Fran Kelly that he did not think the Greens were likely to go backwards this election: “I think Richard Di Natale is the best of three leaders we have in Canberra … He’s got a very strong team; it is not divided like Labor and Liberal are, and it’s particularly not divided on climate change. I think as we get to the election we’ll see those Greens numbers firming, and the Greens are quite potentially going to be a turn-up at this election, because climate change is going to be a, if not the, key issue in voters’ minds.” 

Hanson-Young herself, who is one of the most difficult-to-win seats in South Australia, this morning ruled out any challenge to Di Natale’s leadership after the election, regardless of how the party performs. But if the Greens go backwards in the Senate, all bets will be off. 


“When the penalty rates were cut, business representatives said ‘this will reduce our costs and allow us to hire more people to work on Sunday and holidays, and therefore create work’ … We now have almost two years of evidence to prove that [this claim] was false.”

Economist Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work, at an ACTU press conference on penalty rates ahead of the Easter break and related public holidays.


“The decision to not issue a report was a decision made by the whole committee with no dissent … The information [from the inquiry] is not in hiding, the information is on the public record … It’s hardly been a wasted exercise.”

WA Liberal senator Dean Smith, chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audits, tells the AFR there will be no report from the inquiry into the federal government’s use of consultants and contractors – many of which are large political donors.

The Number

The amount of taxpayer dollars that the LNP’s George Christensen, member for the marginal Queensland seat of Dawson, claimed for domestic flights linked to private trips to the Philippines.

The Policy

“The Bureau of Meteorology appears to have tampered with temperature and climate data and to have re-written history to make it appear as if the temperature is higher than it actually is, and that is has risen faster than it actually has … The only way to find the truth about potential temperature data manipulation is to hold a Royal Commission into the Bureau of Meteorology’s activities.”

From “20 Policies to Fix Australia” released by conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The list

“Laurence’s work is highly political, but it doesn’t shock and it doesn’t preach. Rather, it offers beauty tinged with fear and mourning, and it stimulates curiosity: showing, not telling, us the measure of environmental endangerment. Laurence examines the plant world, and animals and minerals too, as well as the paraphernalia that has been used to study natural science since the Enlightenment. She is intrigued by the principles of alchemy, though she has the heart of a modern scientist, and by the ‘magic’ to be found in the natural world.” 


“Assuming the usual rush of enrolments once an election is called, it’s possible we will see a record number of young voters on May 18. And they will heavily favour progressive parties. Even if the Coalition squeaks a win against the odds this time, its electoral problems are likely to worsen into the future, because progressive political preference is moving up the age range. The old truism that people become more conservative as they get older is no longer so true.”


“Australian voters have been told for decades that we need to ‘tighten our belts’ and ‘live within our means’. But in recent years they finally heard a potential prime minister argue that if we don’t cut the company tax rate, if we don’t cut the top personal tax rate, and if we close a bunch of tax loopholes, then we can afford to simultaneously increase spending on essential services and reduce the budget deficit. It’s not rocket science, but it’s radical when viewed in the context of contemporary Australia.” 

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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