Could this be the dumbest election campaign in history? Once again the focus will fall heavily on climate policy and, to be frank, the debate around this is about as idiotic as you could get.
One of the biggest differences between Labor and the Coalition in this campaign is their climate and energy policies; Labor proposes more than doubling the amount of renewable energy by 2030 and almost doubling cuts in carbon emissions.
All voters know that years of climate interventions have cost us dearly in extra taxation and, most notably, in higher electricity prices. The renewable energy target, the short-lived carbon tax, direct action and a range of subsidies and government grants have cost us billions, hurting households, businesses and industry.
The stated aim of the Coalition on this front is to meet its Paris climate commitments, reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels. Yet Bill Shorten keeps saying the government is doing nothing on climate. “We’re ready because this nation can’t afford another three years of inaction on climate change,” he said last month, for instance.
It is silly but usually goes unchallenged. Over recent months I have asked a range of activists and politicians to name a country that has done more at greater cost to its economy to lower emissions; they can’t name one.
Yet Labor will not say how much its plans to double our climate action effort will cost. It has no detailed costings or estimates on what its plans will do to household costs, motoring expenses, industry pressures or economic activity and government revenue. It has provided next to no detail.
As we saw yesterday in a fiery exchange with Channel 10’s Jonathan Lea, Shorten refuses to even attempt an answer.
As if Labor’s plans to for unspecified but massive changes to this nation’s transport system, energy grid and economy without costings aren’t worrying enough, it tells us they will stop angry summers, prevent floods, droughts, bushfires and cyclones.
“First of all — what is the cost of not taking action on climate change?” Shorten asked at the start of this month releasing some of his policy. “It is huge. It was estimated that last year $18 billion is the cost of the extreme weather events we’ve been having in insurance, in property values, in damage, in lost production.”
The suggestion here is that Labor’s policies will reduce extreme weather events. Labor says its policies will change the climate for the better.
This is just untrue. Whatever Labor spends and however much they reduce Australia’s 1.3 per cent share of worldwide emissions, global greenhouse emissions continue to rise sharply.
If the election debate has any regard for facts and climate science it must reflect the obvious fact that neither Labor nor the Coalition’s plan will improve the climate while global emissions continue to rise. The government will pay a price to meet Paris without environmental benefits and Labor will pay a much higher price to do more than we are required to do under Paris for an equally futile result.
Lots of pain but no gain — and an election debate that refuses to confront this reality. This is why we are looking at the dumbest election campaign of all time.
People are being urged to change their vote based on climate change policies that are not detailed and not costed, that we know will cost jobs and hurt Australia and that we know will not change the climate in any way.
Yet we have politicians pretending they are on a mission to save the reef, cool down your summers, end the drought, end floods and save the planet.
It insults the intelligence of voters. And because the tawdry compromises of major party politics mean neither of the major parties will call this out, there are too few voices in the media prepared to impose facts and common sense over the competing party lines. I guess that’s just our dumb luck.