David Flint

Double dissolution? Yes, please

A double dissolution would be an opportunity

The Liberal Party leadership seems mesmerised by the prospect of a double dissolution election. They have an irrational fear that the current polling is set in concrete.

On 12 October The Australian’s front page declared “Turnbull leadership support”. This was based on a Newspoll finding that Joe Hockey only enjoys 24% support as Liberal leader compared with Malcolm Turnbull’s 32%.  But on the same day The Sydney Morning Herald front page proclaimed that “Hockey firms as voters’ choice”. This was based on the Herald Nielson poll recording 33% support compared with Malcolm Turnbull at 31%. So what is set in concrete?

Then we have the Lowy Institute finding that tackling climate change has fallen from the first in 2007 to the seventh most important foreign policy goal. People are seeing through the propaganda from the fundamentalist believers in global warming.

Instead of taking fright, the Liberal leadership should welcome a double dissolution as an opportunity to fight their case. After all, the parliamentary National Party and a good part of the Liberal Party doubt the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Their task is to persuade the electorate, uninformed on this by the media, why this is so.

In fact it is likely that only a few politicians on either side are global warming fundamentalists. As with the politicians’ republic, the ETS has proved useful as a wedge into the Liberal Party. This divides the traditional Liberals from those who would be just at home in any party, except of course in the ranks of the Nationals.

In the meantime the Prime Minister hopes to use the ETS legislation to make himself a significant player at Copenhagen. Some say this is because he is planning his next career as some sort of international bureaucrat, perhaps a UN secretary-general.

And in the meantime an ETS will also help him pay for the government’s unprecedented profligacy.

The Prime Minister’s party goes along with this because he delivered them from the political wilderness into the lush pastures of government. Let’s not forget that in this he was helped by people in the previous government. He was elevated from obscurity to national prominence by Mr. Hockey’s partnership with him on breakfast TV. The decision to hold a public inquiry into the AWB gave him a regular platform on the evening TV news. He used this to make unfounded accusations against Coalition ministers alongside which Mr. Turnbull’s “Utegate” accusation ranks as hardly more than a mild remonstrance. 

Then he was greatly assisted by the unions’ advertising campaign against the then government’s unwise attempt to liberalise the labour market through a “big bang“, WorkChoices based unwisely on the corporations power. 

The problem is that the Liberal Party leadership – and Malcolm Turnbull in particular – do not want to fight an ETS. They just want what they would see as a better ETS. It is true the previous government endorsed an ETS to be brought in in the future. But this was only approved by the Cabinet as a desperate attempt to save the government from defeat. It seems it never had the endorsement of the back bench.

In any event, as the Lowy poll indicates, it is becoming increasingly evident that support for the fundamentalist global warming agenda is soft. Indeed the BBC now concedes there has not been any evidence of global warming since 1998, notwithstanding the increasing amount of carbon emissions.  That’s why the fundamentalists are trying to change the name of their secular religion to climate change.

Once the electorate understands the massive impact on their lives of an ETS, and the fact that it won’t affect global carbon emissions, they will obviously reject it. In 1998, the promise of the GST almost brought down the government. This was a far more benign, almost harmless substitute for other taxes including those ones curiously found invalid by the High Court. The Labor opposition claimed it would be a wrecking ball devastating the economy.

Imagine what the Coalition could argue – truthfully – about the ETS. For months Alan Jones has been saying that just in the first year the ETS will involve a 25% loading on the GST. His return to Sydney radio is, incidentally, already having a significant effect in rallying those who rightly reject both global warming fundamentalists and those who think they must be given their way just because the polls used suggest this.  

It is the task of the opposition to argue this and to overcome the fact that most of the political journalists are climate change fundamentalists. If the leadership can’t do this they ought to move on.

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