How special interests and a incoherent and ill-informed minority spooked the Labor party on climate change

Ross Garnaut of the Garnaut Climate Change Review fame recently gave a speech at Melbourne University attacking both the major parties on their economic record and failure to address the critical challenge of climate change.  

It is worth noting his criticism of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Labor government:

“…The position on climate change is weak only because of an extraordinary failure of leadership. The failure is a product and represents the nadir of the early twenty-first century political culture, in which short-term politics and accession to sectional pressures has held sway over leadership and analysis of the national interest. Those political advisers who turned out to have greatest influence over former Prime Minister Rudd weighed undoubtedly strong resistance from special interest groups, and inchoate reactions from partially informed members of the community, above more fundamental determinants of political success. They played down the unusual reality of majority support for a measure involving major structural change in the economy. More fundamentally, they ignored the crucial respect for and role of leadership in the democratic process. In accepting their advice, Kevin Rudd abdicated the leadership of Australia, and set the scene for the destruction of his Prime Ministership.”

This is why we fight.

To counter the confused, incoherent and sometimes outright dishonest arguments of the deniers.

Rudd and Labour badly fumbled the issue, paying far too much attention to this noisy minority. It cost him the top job. It looks like current Prime Minister Julia Gillard is making the same mistakes as Rudd (see here).

The general public has always favoured an ETS and strategies to deal with climate change: they still do.

Critically Garnaut notes:

“…Leadership is an essential missing ingredient in contemporary public policy.”

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

Addendum: Labor is hurting because of it’s policy on climate change:

The Labor Party’s popularity improved in the immediate aftermath of Ms Gillard taking power, but has dropped away since.

“I think Labor is in really serious trouble,” said Nick Economou, a Monash University political scientist.

“The leadership change was one of a long line of panic-driven manoeuvres.”

A Newspoll survey published on Monday found Labor neck-and-neck with the coalition opposition, while a Nielsen poll published over the weekend had Labor with only 48 per cent support, trailing the conservatives with 52 per cent.

“Disappointment is a terribly difficult emotion to reverse,” said Martin O’Shannessy, chief executive of Newspoll.

“Julia Gillard has disappointed people with her citizens’ assembly announcement and every backflip on the issue of climate change in recent times has resulted in a severe negative for the incumbent Labor leader.”


4 thoughts on “How special interests and a incoherent and ill-informed minority spooked the Labor party on climate change

  1. mrluigi says:

    I agree. When Labor loses this election, it can put the blame squarely on its completely irresponsible and coawardly stance on climate change. The evidence will be found in the resounding Green vote. Many Labor voters who once regarded the Greens as a single-issue party will desert Labor because this single issue is the only one that matters!

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Indeed, at least 60% of the population support an ETS, while acceptance of climate science is even higher. Labor has kicked a spectacular own goal which will more than likely see them lose office. Those concerned with climate change will most likely switch to the Greens. Many will hope the Greens balance of power in the Senate will push both parties into some form of meaningful action.

      I think we are entering a new phase of politics, with climate change (at least how it impacts politics) causing greater instability.

      Now matter who gets into office, they will have to formulate a response, especially since the impacts are only going to become more noticeable.

      Russia is a good example. In response the fires, drought and death tool the Russian President has switched from climate sceptic to being deeply concerned about climate change.

      The reality of climate change will settle the argument.

  2. adelady says:

    The Greens! Labor’s obsession with not allowing the Greens any scope for action is, yet again, causing them even more grief. How did Steve Fielding get elected on preferences – because they refused to do a preference deal with the Greens.

    (For old hands like me this is all too reminiscent of the years of all the left-wing parties preferring to argue with the people standing beside them rather than stand together to fight their common opponent.)

    And they wouldn’t do a deal in the senate to get the greens onside. And now they seem to think that the most important thing is to have a policy that is distinctly different from, who else?, the Greens.

    I’m a bit annoyed at the moment.

  3. Same problem in USA; the Democrats prefer to beat up upon the people on their own left, so demonstrate they are “Tough and Serious”.

    (This behavior is consistent with the Democrats and Republicans actually having exactly the same policy goals, but with the Democrats needing the Republicans to play the bad guy from time to time, to keep organized labor contributions flowing in. This is my preferred explanation.)

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