Global Warming Politics Downunder

Source:  Daily Telegraph

Greens are biggest losers in Julia Gillard’s victory

by Tim Blair

AS SOME prescient bloke wrote 13 months ago: “Climate change has turned out to be a helpful device to change governments, stitch up the middle-class Prius vote, grab Green preferences, impress stupid university students but a bitch of a thing to deal with once in government.”

Actually, that was me, getting it right for once. Well, maybe only half-right. As an issue, climate change has now gotten rid of both Kevin Rudd, who was in government, and Malcolm Turnbull, who wasn’t.

Still, that’s two Australian millionaires brought down by their climate fixations. So much for IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri’s 2007 claim that “it is the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit.”

Poor Malcolm.

Poor Kevin.

Turnbull’s leadership was doomed by his support for Rudd’s climate plans, which in the end even Rudd himself didn’t support. In April, the then-PM announced his decision to “extend the implementation time for the introduction of a carbon pollution reduction scheme until the end of 2012.”

What a fascinating choice of verb. In Ruddspeak, “extend” apparently means “kill”.

Rudd’s retreat – he’d previously described climate change as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation” – alerted voters to the manic inertia of Rudd’s government. His administration wasn’t a great one for outcomes, but it sure could spend a lot of money and effort on the way to not delivering them. Anyone up for another 2020 Summit? Cate? Anyone?

Anyway, ALP polling began to fall away and eventually Labor factional bosses and union heavies decided to, er, “extend” Rudd’s time in office.

The manner of his extension differed a little from that of Turnbull’s, who faced a genuine grassroots revolt. NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells resigned as a parliamentary secretary with three other Liberal parliamentary secretaries after receiving an “avalanche of correspondence and feedback conveyed to me from a wide cross-section of the community”, all of it against Turnbull’s backing for an emissions trading scheme. Some 400,000 angry emails and calls reached federal Coalition members, according to one estimate.

By comparison, even as the push was on to remove Rudd, many senior Labor identities had no idea that it was underway. That’s what happens when you outsource community sentiment to a bunch of factional tsars and their union friends. The angry emails arrived afterwards, from Labor voters distressed at Rudd’s demotion.

They may have been made slightly happier by the immediate poll boost Labor won through Julia Gillard’s appointment as Prime Minister. But take a longer look at those weekend polls and some curious details emerge.

While the Liberal primary vote remains as it was during Rudd’s final weeks, the Greens primary vote has plunged.

Disenchanted Labor leftists who fled to the Greens have evidently been lured back by Gillard. Yet here’s where things become confusing, particularly if you’re not schooled in the perverse grievance politics of Australia’s Green-inclined Left. You see, Gillard is probably less green than was Rudd.

Sure, she made a point during her acceptance speech of stating her belief in climate change, but that’s just a modern version of mumbling along with the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of Parliament. It’s procedural.

Gillard’s actions speak louder. According to The Age’s Paul Daley, Gillard, even more than Rudd, argued for a deferral of the ETS. Her acceptance speech last week offered only the slipperiest ETS deadline: “In the future we will need one.” Try that line the next time the tax office is on your case about an overdue return. See how much time it buys you.

We’ve come a long way since November, when Gillard had this to say about the ETS: “Endless delay is not going to cut it anymore.” These days, endless delay cuts Green primary votes from 15 per cent to eight and puts Labor in a stronger position to win the next election.

Gillard has grabbed the Green vote without going green.

It must amuse the Prime Minister that she’s got the global warming crowd in her pocket, considering that she literally owes her life to climate change.

As a frail little girl growing up in frosty Wales, Gillard was diagnosed with bronchopneumonia. Her parents were advised to seek a hotter, healthier climate, so emigrated to Adelaide, capital of Australia’s driest state. Gillard thrived. If Wales were warmer, we’d still be waiting for our first female PM.

So warming isn’t all bad. Nor is mining, says Gillard, whose acceptance speech contained this proposal: “I will ensure that the mining advertisements paid for by the Government are cancelled.

“And in return for this, I ask the mining industry to cease their advertising campaign.”

The miners agreed, although they might have been tempted to present a devilish counter proposal: We’ll pull our ads only if those counter-productive government ads keep running. Incidentally, as former Peter Costello staffer Niki Savva reports: “Running the advertising campaign for the Minerals Council is Neil Lawrence, architect of the Kevin 07 campaign. That really hurts. Especially as his ads are so much better than the Government’s.”

But it also hurts conservatives that Gillard has so quickly leapt ahead of Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

We on the right shouldn’t lose heart.

After all, Gillard still must overcome the greatest electoral challenge of our generation: Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett.

Every Labor leader who earns Garrett’s support invariably hits the wall.

He’s two metres of pure bad luck. Back in 2004, during an interview on the Today Show, Garrett opposed US military training facilities in Australia. Then he learned Mark Latham was in favour.

“Well,” replied Garrett, “if Mark Latham thinks it’s a good idea and that’s what the party view is, then there’s merit in it. We’d accept it.”

Game over for Latham. As the challenge against Kevin Rudd grew, SBS reported: “Peter Garrett says that he supports Prime Minister Rudd.”

Game over for Rudd. And then, on the very day of the challenge, Garrett spoke again: “If I was in a position to vote I’d be supporting Julia Gillard.”

Swatting aside climate change is one thing.

But how will Gillard ever beat big Pete?