Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Last night on the 7.30 Report, Tony Abbott told Kerry O’Brien: “Look, we all want to do the right thing by the environment. This is not about climate change science; (Emphasis added) this is about the mechanism for appropriately dealing with it.”

Tony Abbott is likely to be the very last Howardite stuck-in-the-last-century religious-right paleo-conservative leader that the Liberal Party is likely to ever have. It is for that reason that the Liberal Party will quite possibly fade into oblivion as Australian politics begins its shift from the old unions-dominated Labor versus Liberal mode of the twentieth century to the Green realist versus New Labor frame of the twenty-first century.

The majority of Australians, regardless of party politics, are now green-leaning. They might not vote Green but they certainly are far more interested in the environment today than ever they were before. Most accept, despite the recent nonsense about a few scientists trying to fudge the numbers, that climate change is a very real problem that the world cannot afford to ignore.

What the recent spat amongst the Liberals was about was not whether or not the environment needs fixing as the likes of the extreme right wing pundits like Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Piers Akerman would have us believe, but, rather, what is the best way of going about it. Bolt, Blair and Akerman, et al, don’t believe there is a problem that needs fixing up; Abbott, as he inferred last night on the 7.30 Report, seems to think we do need to “do the right thing by the environment”. What Abbott is against – as are many Australians – is the idea of paying polluters to stop polluting us. Where Abbott is wrong, however, is in his motivation for objecting to the money being spent. For Abbott it’s not about compensating polluters but about raising a tax to pay for it.

For many Australians who also object to the tax to compensate polluters for the cost of not polluting, it’s about the basic principle of being forced to pay people not to pollute us anymore. Rather than pay the polluters to stop polluting, we should be making them pay a penalty to the people for continuing to pollute us. The money about to be paid to them for not polluting us any more would be far better spent on research and capital for alternative non-polluting renewable energy resources and finding ways to increase their efficiency by improving the technology and decreasing their costs.

We should be looking after our long term interests rather than simply worrying about the immediate costs to businesses and jobs. Sooner or later, and looks like sooner rather than later the rate the world’s growing at the moment, we’re simply going to run out of the stuff we’ve relied on so far. At the beginning of the last century we thought we had an inexhaustible supply of oil and gas; now, we’ve realised that we are quickly running out of it and are frantically running around in search of more. Eventually, though, it’ll all be gone. We’ve got no alternative but to find other ways. If we don’t pay now to find alternatives, the costs in the future will be impossible to meet.
Abbott wants businesses to profit today without any of the costs for tomorrow. God, so Abbott believes, will look after tomorrow.

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