Another chapter in what has become a classic political farce is set to be closed, with the chance that Malcolm Turnbull will lose his job as PM very likely. His right-wing enemies in his own party, in the media and within Parliament itself have not only made it impossible to get his National Energy Guarantee off the ground and passed, they’ve shown him to be out of control of his own party and has become a flip flop man!
By next week, I reckon there’ll be a spill (some say it could even be as early as today!) and his party will have to decide between him and Peter Dutton, who’ll be hard to sell to non-Queensland voters, because while he looks competent, he doesn’t look like the sharpest tool in the shed.
Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison don’t have enough supporters and would experience the same problems that Malcolm has — they aren’t ‘right’ enough to tell the world that our energy bills are more important to voters than concerns about climate change.
I believe around 50% of the population are climate change believers and are prepared to pay to save the planet for future generations. The other 50% are in the ‘don’t know, don’t care’ or ‘I hate high power bills group’. They’ll end up voting for the Coalition or those splinter groups led by people like Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter and so on.
And while my numbers aren’t precise, they explain why we’ve had close elections since Kevin Rudd’s victory in 2007 and why we’ve had a succession of Prime Ministers ever since. Recall even John Howard changed his view on climate change before he got kicked out, and even lost his seat.
Before his knifing, Rudd backed down on his carbon tax, despite addressing climate change as “the greatest moral challenge” of all time.
Malcolm Turnbull lost his job as Opposition leader to Tony Abbott because Malcolm was prepared to do a climate deal with Rudd. Abbott’s big policy was to oppose Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which was simply called the carbon tax.
Julia Gillard told us that there’d be “no carbon tax under a Government I lead”. She lied and eventually it came back to haunt her and she lost the gig as PM.
Prior to her axing, Tony Abbott lost out to Gillard in the 2010 election, only because of the three independents — Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor. In 2012, a carbon tax was introduced and the backlash in the polls saw Kevin Rudd make a PM comeback.
One of his first measures was to terminate the carbon tax, ahead of losing the election to Tony Abbott.
It was now 2013 and Abbott won power on a platform summed up by this: “We'll build a stronger economy so everyone can get ahead. We'll scrap the carbon tax so your family will be $550 a year better off. We’ll get the budget back under control by ending Labor's waste. We'll stop the boats.”
As PM, Abbott opted for an Emissions Reduction Fund, which was a small backdown from his anti-climate change policy stance. But his popularity problem, as shown by 30 Newspolls that said he stunk as PM, saw Malcolm Turnbull take his job.
And now Malcolm looks set to be roasted alive because of this damn earth that apparently keeps hotting up!
All this seems crazy with big businesses, such as steelmaker BlueScope, resources giant BHP and the minerals, farming and business lobbies all calling on MPs to support the NEG. However households and small businesses have been rocked by their power bills and Malcolm has made the fatal mistake of ignoring the masses.
And it’s come back to bite him. Of course, Malcolm has never been a masses man but that’s what the next successful PM will have to be.
Until someone is so charismatic that he/she can get us as a solid majority to buy into coal-fired power stations, dams to reduce droughts, a commitment to lowering greenhouse gases and not be pilloried by international climate cops for pandering to a majority who want lower power bills, we will have a revolving door of unimpressive PMs.
The interesting challenge for Bill Shorten is going to be how he keeps power bills down, with a great reliance on renewables as a prime source of energy. A cynic might say if he can pull this off, someone else is going to have to pay to make it work, or it might prove to be an empty promise.
The more you think about this climate conundrum, the more you realise that this isn’t a problem that a second rate politician can solve.
I wonder if Tony or Peter, or whoever beats Malcolm for the top job, is currently working on a new election pitch of “lower power bills, dams to beat the drought and less immigration.”
I know it sounds so un-modern but after years of revolving door PMs, do you think a majority of Aussies actually wants this? The next election could answer my question.
As a business and money commentator, why do I care? Well, Malcolm and Scott Morrison have done a good job delivering on the Abbott promise that: “We'll build a stronger economy so everyone can get ahead. We'll get the budget back under control by ending Labor's waste.”
Climate change has redefined what’s really important in politics nowadays and only a great leader will survive and cope. Unfortunately, Malcolm doesn’t fit the bill.
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