Australia votes: the rise of the Greens, climate change the wild card that will destroy governments that don’t act

A hung parliament.

It looks like a minority government and with the Greens controlling the Senate, gaining five new seats. They have also gained <12% of the primary vote, a swing of almost <4%.

Clearly the Labor governments dropping the ETS is a huge factor. Large swings to the Greens, with them picking up their first lower house seat.

As I said a few months back, this is the new political instability. Climate change is a wild card that will destroy governments:

The politics of climate change destroyed two political leaders: what’s next?

The politics of climate change is not the sole driver of these events.

However, I think we can say climate change is no longer an issue politicians can afford to ignore.

The majority of Australians (let’s ignore the highly vocal, but significant minority of “sceptics”) want action on climate change. Rudd disappointed with his ETS back flip.

Conversely, sceptics of climate change backed the new Liberal leader Tony Abbot whose acceptance of the science is at best tenuous.

I think it goes without saying that climate change issues will completely reshape the political landscape over the next few years.

As it’s effects begun to be felt even more, politicians who once chanted the “growth” mantra will struggle to develop policies that will mitigate the effects of global warming and put a price on carbon.

The public will become even more divided on what they believe is an adequate response to climate change. This in turn may drive even wilder swings in opinion polls.

Perhaps politics will become even more partisan. Having delayed action for nearly twenty years, governments and politicians around the world will scramble to develop effective and popular strategies.

But what will this mean for us, the ordinary citizens of democracies such as Australia?

Labor got punished for dropping the ETS.

Maxine McKew, the Labor candidate who took former Prime Minister Howard’s seat, has lost that same seat after one term.

The reason?

Labor dropping the ETS… a core issue that disappointed many.


4 thoughts on “Australia votes: the rise of the Greens, climate change the wild card that will destroy governments that don’t act

  1. Nick says:

    I suspect in McKews case,it was more to do with the loathing for the state ALP bleeding into the federal sphere,and a mediocre campaign,with the government failing to defend its actual record with wit and determination. The decision to call an election so soon after Julia’s accession is also questionable. Face it,Labor has been strategically inept,and Rudd’s monomania has played its part.

    Now ,the awful prospect of an openly anti-science government blundering into the future. Thank Gaia for the Greens in the Senate!

  2. adelady says:

    I dunno about thanking the Greens in the Senate. If they could have settled for the good rather than the perfect, the ETS rather than the tax & benefit they prefer, (and I prefer) they could at least have made a start.

    Legislation can always be amended – but only if it’s on the books.

    • Nick says:

      That’s a good point…and the Greens have a few dogmatic sticky points what with their nuclear phobia.However,I’m excited at the prospect of a higher profile for these and many other sustainability issues with their boosted presence.

  3. Phil M says:

    I agree with Adelady. The Greens are a bit dangerous because they either havent got the sense or havent got the forsight to realise that something is better than nothing.

    Sure the ETS was aiming low, but it was a far sight higher than what the climate denier Coalition was offering, which was nothing. The Greens & anyone with any understanding of the climate debate, KNOWS that realistically, we needed targets closer to what the Greens were asking.. 25% instead of Labors 5%. However, science is easily defeated by that all important thing votes. It doesnt matter if science is right, it matters what the voting public perceive. The Coalition & the Conservative media knew this & like the days of the smoking debates. They only had to sow seeds of doubt, not fight the science. The conservative media pretty much control Australia’s paper, tv & commercial radio & therfore public perception.

    If Labor got its foot in the door with a low target & dispelled much of the myth that there will be over night economic collapse if an ETS was in place & a green economy might actually be good. Then, they could have raised the target once the hype had died down. The Greens didnt have the sense to see this & instead stubbornly sided with the Coalition to defeat it. If The Coalition now win the government, there will be NO/Zero/0%/Zip chance or action on climate change. So thats 3 years minimum with no action & another term can mean 6 years with no action.

    The Greens can postulate all they want that their hearts are in it for the planet & its occupants. But they obviously lack the political intelligence & tact to make sensible policy decisions.

    Together with the Coalition they blocked the ETS 3 times! There was no point in taking it to the senate for a 4th time & a double dissolution would have meant a definite loss of government & a 0% chance of action on climate change. The Greens are as much to blame as any one.

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