QED

The Challenge and Opportunity of Adversity

I was publicly silent during the course of the election campaign, although, privately, I was predicting a Labor victory to some close friends. In the aftermath of last Saturday debacle for the Coalition, there is much agonizing over the loss of hitherto “blue ribbon” seats in what was once regarded as the Liberal Party heartland.

What did the Liberal Party under Scott Morrison do wrong? Was it a woman problem? Was it that the Coalition was not ambitious enough in its emission reduction targets? This was the position taken by Bridget Archer, a Liberal Party backbencher from Tasmania who appears to have attributed the absence of a swing in her semi-rural electorate to her “progressive” position on climate change. The problem is that likeminded “moderates”, such as Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney and Dave Sharma in Wentworth, espoused net zero goals which were little different from their Teal independent challengers, but still lost by a wide margin. Likewise, Senator Simon Birmingham sees political salvation in a moderate surrender to what seems to him to be the dominant zeitgeist. The problem is that the climate catastrophists from the affluent inner suburban electorates of the capital cities prefer the real deal to pale imitations. After all, if you truly believe in a climate emergency, why would you support only a slightly lower emissions-reduction target or a slower phase-out of fossil fuel power generation?

Ever since, the Coalition foolishly signed on to the net zero 2050 target just prior to the Glasgow Climate Conference, the green Left has been able to dictate the parameters of any debate between the Coalition and its opponents, both Labor and the Teal independents. The hapless Josh Frydenberg was reduced to warning of a capital strike by the world’s most powerful finance groups if we failed to sign up to net zero. Well, natural forces had the last laugh with the Glasgow Summit rendered even more an irrelevant farce by the wind drought over Europe. Even before Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, both Britain and other European countries were being shocked back into reality. New nuclear power stations and a revival of coal-fired power were back with a renewal of the survival instinct.

So far, it seems that the cold blast of reality has yet to hit us. If and when Peter Dutton is elected as leader of the Liberal Party, we may hear a change in the narrative on the conservative side of politics. Even if the conservatives have a more dominant role in the Liberal Party, with the exit of so many “moderates”, we must expect ructions in the months ahead. The Matt Kean “moderates in New South Wales, plus much of the Victorian Liberals and other state divisions will not happily accept any attempt by Peter Dutton to redefine the terms of the debate on the future of the Liberal Party. We must expect a messy internal struggle over the next year, possibly a split in the Liberal Party.

Changes in political allegiance seem likely to echo not dissimilar changes in the United States. There, the wealthiest states and a large proportion of high income earners, high wealth individuals and an assortment of tech millionaires have turned Democrat and “progressive”, whilst a relatively poor coal mining state, West Virginia, once solidly Democrat, has now turned solidly Republican. West Virginia gave Donald Trump one of the highest percentage votes in 2020. During the period since the inauguration of Joe Biden as President, the Republicans have made further inroads into former Democrat strongholds among the working class and aspirational Latino immigrants. Not afraid to engage in the culture “wars”, especially in education, they captured both the governorship and a majority in the legislature of the state of Virginia, hitherto a reliably Democrat state.

I suspect that a similar trend may emerge in Australia. For the time being, Peter Dutton should largely ignore electorates such as Wentworth, Higgins and Kooyong and concentrate on the outer suburban and regional areas. Preparedness to wage the culture wars, particularly education, speaks to the concerns of aspirational parents. Alan Tudge should be brought back as shadow education minister pronto. Any continued talk about reducing emissions in the short term must be accompanied by a commitment to and advocacy of nuclear power. After all, safe modular reactors are now readily available. At the very least, whilst we are cursed by unstable renewable wind power generation, we need rapid nuclear power backup. The stark choice should be made clear by a Dutton-led opposition. Without reliable baseload power, Australia will lose any hope of an independent manufacturing base and the low income earners will be the first to suffer.

The Albanese-led ALP appears to be on the verge of attaining a majority in its own right. Yet it scored its worst first preference vote in more than a century. The Coalition scored a dismal 35 per cent whilst the ALP went backwards to a shade over 30 -per cent. In essence, Labor’s “success” depends on the life support of preferences from the Green Left. All the talk now is of the Liberal Party’s existential crisis. Yet the changes in the demographic support base of the Republican Party in the United States may well see a similar trend for the Liberal Party in Australia.

Paradoxically, over time, it may be the Australian Labor Party which will face the greater existential crisis. Cannibalized  by the green Left in the inner cities, faced by a declining union membership and loss of support from the working and lower middle class in the regions and outer suburbs to a hopefully regenerated Liberal Party, the slow death of traditional Labor may be the theme during the next ten years.

15 comments
  • Geoff Sherrington

    The vast majority of people around me have only laughter for the science and fears for the plans of climate change as advertised. My guess would be that a majority of voters would now appreciate a Lib party policy to unwind the rubbish, withdraw from the Paris agreement, reverse all fossil fuel reduction plans like net zero by any date. Remember, 15 years ago we had stable electricity for $50 a unit, now heading above $250 a unit plus indirect costs like subsidies for windmills.
    Many people favour more manufacturing in Australia. With an enthusiastic return to fossil fuels and a start for nuclear, we could have investors in smelters and other heavy industry beating a path to our door. No way do engineers see smelting by windmill. That was tried and rejected 100 years ago.
    So, Peter Dutton, are you going to go Full Monty anti-green or are you going to dabble in pointless variations of shades of green that lost you the election so comprehensively?
    Tip. Listen to better scientists. Geoff S

  • Adam J

    In my view we already do enough for climate change: Australia’s contribution to this is literally insignificant, hence why the Left have to talk about demonstrating moral leadership.
    But more than anything else it is the perception of inaction that bothers people. Did the Liberal Party run a bloodthirsty campaign clearly saying why their climate policy is better? Of course not. If people rightfully or wrongfully think it’s an issue then naturally they want to know what the government is doing about it.
    It seemed the Liberals themselves didn’t even know why they were in government, a problem which went back to Tony Abbott when he promised to cut immigration in opposition but failed to do so once in the chair.
    Tell people what you will do, and if you have the ability then do it.

  • pgang

    The big question is and remains then, how to negate the socialists within the Liberal Party. If it means a party split, then what other choice is there?
    As for nuclear energy, I remain perennially astonished that people keep turning that way for salvation from the greens. We don’t need it for one thing. Secondly, both the inputs and outputs are far more environmentally dangerous than coal emissions, no matter how safe are the reactors themselves. It would be political suicide. Who is going to accept the nuclear waste? Can you imagine anyone putting their hand up? I wouldn’t.

  • ianl

    Geoff S is correct, of course:

    >”Listen to better scientists”

    A major issue is always how scientifically illiterate people choose what scientific advice they follow. And this question is never directly answered – “consensus” is used as a shield, not an analysis.

    In parallel, pgang has often iterated resistance to nuclear energy with the nuclear waste issue. It seems clear that he (she ?) has not researched this with any real objectivity. Simply use Google Scholar and search “deep salt cavern repository for nuclear waste”. (This avoids the time-wasting obfuscations of arm-waving greenies, and lays out hard geoscience engineering). And note that Finland for example has recently grasped the nettle here (France has been managing for decades).

    One may wish for the return of coal-fired generators, but I agree with Jennifer Marohasy – it’s all flipped politically now and the “civil” in civilisation is under threat with a net zero power grid. The WEF Davos forum now has its’ own paramilitary, and from its’ viewpoint with good reason.

  • Michael

    The Liberals should rescind the commitment to net zero by 2050. It doesn’t matter to the climate whether we get there by any particular date. Instead, the Liberals should prioritise the living standards of Australians and considering climate change as a cost-benefit issue. The Liberals should put all the technologies on the table, so should commit to at least review the ban on civil nuclear power and talk about new hydro. Over time, the Liberals have to show they care about improving living standards while dealing with the real issues of climate and energy policy, and framing Labor (and the Greens) as ideologues who have no plan to meet their emission reduction targets other than an outright assault on the living standards of Australians.

  • Daffy

    The easy sell against the climate clowns is the electricity bills of the poor and lower income groups. The subsidies drawn from power bills, or anywhere else, amount to a regressive tax on these groups where every dollar is watched, particularly as it comes to bill time.
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    In fact, I cast my mind back to my early years of fending for self, and every dollar is watched all the time, particularly with a mortgage at 17%. The point needs to be driven that the battlers are subsidising the rich, and the rich think that’s fine.
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    They could also be upfront about the costs of going verdigris on energy: the grid, the inter-connectors, the batteries and their lame contribution to anything. They are vast.
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    The lie has also been well exposed by Steve Koonin, Stuart Kirk and for ages Bjorn Lomborg. A stack of positive points there that with a little study and prep would hammer the crazies; as would long term temperature graphs that show the full height of the bars, rather than merely the random walk of the so-called anomaly .

  • Sindri

    I’m not a political scientist or a pundit, but there’s one obvious reason for the collapse of the conservative vote which I suspect it isn’t at all congenial to confront. Every year new voters are added to the electoral roll. I suspect that ever more of them are people who don’t just dislike conservatives for tribal reasons, or because of political/ideological differences. It’s worse than that. Conservatives are, to a certain self-regarding mindset, morally on the nose – not just wrong, but disgraceful. It’s a smug but a widely held view, and its adherents are, dare I suggest it, only going to become more numerous.

  • RB

    One of the main reasons why I ignore AGW as an issue is those that who promote it have no desire to fix it if their actions describe their intentions.
    To suggest that we can run wildly expensive alternative energy and some dirt-poor farmer in a 3rd world country should also do so is a huge disconnect from aspirations the world over.
    There is currently only one technology on the table that provides the growth in power supply that is needed for an expanding economy that is carbon neutral and baseload, that is nuclear. Queue imbeciles in skeleton suits carrying coffins and pgang.
    There are very good reasons to change our transport to EV technology that has nothing to do with carbon that ought to be considered in any discussion, fuel security (therefore defense) and clean air in the cities are both sufficient to see change, but neither was part of the net-zero silliness.

  • DougD

    Peta Credlin in today’s Australian: “The seats that have deserted the Liberal Party are the richest and the most educated in the country. Wentworth, North Sydney, Warringah, Curtin and Kooyong are the first, second, third, fourth and sixth richest seats in the country, by proportion of people earning more than $3000 a week….. By contrast, the Liberals and Nationals already hold 16 of the 20 seats with the lowest average incomes.” Winning back these five wealthiest seats would seem to require the Liberals to become greener than the Greens and the Teals. But how many of the 16 bogan seats would doing that cost the Liberals?
    Another point: has any journalist or any one else asked Labor and the Greens what plans they have for getting China to stop increasing its carbon emissions and to reduce China’s already huge emissions? Perhaps that question doesn’t matter so long as Australia stays pure on climate change.

  • RB

    DougD. When preening in the mirror of moral superiority one only needs to have someone to sneer at, reality is entirely optional.

  • bradrow

    A point well made. The spin merchants among the so-called “moderates” along with their media allies would focus our attention on Bridget Archer who supposedly went left and saved her seat. At the same time they would like us to ignore the ten “moderates” who did exactly the same thing and resoundingly lost theirs. We are, it would seem, supposed to heed the exception and not the rule. The reality is that the moment the Liberals embraced “net zero” they lost all credibility on the question of climate. You cannot campaign in the 2019 election warning of the dangers attendant upon such a policy and then campaign in the subsequent election pretending that those dangers have somehow gone away. And a silly “Australia’s making positive energy” advertising campaign was never going to change that, no matter how much Scotty from Marketing might have thought otherwise.

  • Christian

    I hope you are right Geoff. I thought (hoped) the freedom parties would do much better.
    Many of my ‘friends’ believe all the climate nonsense and I suspect many younger people do too. (sadly)
    It’s amazing that inflation a year out cannot be forecast but that the earth’s temperature in a 100 years can be.
    I’m just waiting to see what the excuses are when renewables don’t deliver cheap or reliable electricity.

  • whitelaughter

    the slaughter of the LINOs is the welcome result of the otherwise depressing election.
    Perhaps Peter Dutton can pull the Libs back to sanity; and hopefully the remaining nutters will decide to jump ship to the Teals, ridding us of them forever.

  • bwatson

    While I agree that the incoming government will be just Rudd Gillard Rudd even Whitlam redux, with all sorts of taxpayer (that is people who don’t vote ALP) funded schemes to appeal to the electoral base, we have to accept that for good or ill, (well, ill) there has been a change in the electorate. We have one, maybe two generations (my professional but financially indulged offspring included) who have never seen or experienced the consequences of Government financial mismanagement from the Whitlam disaster to the Recession We Have To Have (well PJK- some of us have to have it, not you and your cronies).

    As such they don’t worry about money and believe there is a bottomless pit of it. My local member is Zali Steggal and she has around her a large cult of teal sweatshirted women in their 60s and 70s with the occasional male in tow. None worry about the cost of anything. It’s a hobby. And now they have 5 or 6 seats in parliament with no plans to stop under the plans of Simon Holmes a Court.

    There is a need for the Liberals to accommodate these people. Pointing out how vacuous they are and
    that their positions are based upon the financial stability the LNP has delivered will get nowhere while they press on with the ‘rights’ of men believing they are women to compete against our daughters in sport. There are so many of these individuals out there with electoral power they need to brought ‘within the tent’ and accommodated as the ALP did the Socialist Left in Victoria. Listened to but ignored.

    There is another way: reality. Allow the economy to collapse under the ALP Green Teals whacky schemes and then Trans Rights and Gender Quotas along with Welcome to Country will be irrelevant.

    But who wants that?

  • bomber49

    Climate Change has now morphed into a Religion. You can’t argue logic with a religious zealot. There is one way and its to expose the ill gotten wealth accumulated by the few who feed of the mass hysteria.

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