Wednesday, 2 December 2009
The argument on climate change is absolute crap. However the politics of this are tough for us. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.
T Abbott Pyrenees Advocate October 2009
It could indeed help the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change talks if Australia agreed in advance not only to a carbon emission target but also a mechanism to deliver it.
T Abbott The Australian October 2009
Far from being an arrogant assertion of his own views, Turnbull’s assessment that the government’s emissions trading scheme should ultimately be allowed to pass is his attempt to save the Coalition from a fight it can’t win.
T Abbott The Australian July 2009
I probably should apologise now for my errors in the past, make a clean breast of it, and ask the public to judge me from this point.
T Abbott 1 December 2009
When they say Abbott is a ‘conviction’ politician, do they just mean ‘unpopular’? Certainly he was by far the least electable candidate the Liberals could have chosen. But he is certainly not their most consistent. In fact, it is hard to think of any senior Liberal who has vacillated and flip-flopped as much as Tony Abbott over the last few months on the very issue he has decided to make into a point of principle.
Does Tony Abbott think human activity has caused climate change? It’s hard to tell. He told an audience in Beaufort a few weeks ago that the climate change argument was “crap” and that he was only going along with it for political convenience. Then by last week he was openly telling the media his doubts that the climate was even warming at all, talking about the world cooling since 2000 and that the climate was warmer when Romans were growing grape vines on Hadrian’s wall. Now “released” to say what he really feels, he says he believed in the importance of climate change action all along!
Does Tony Abbot believe it was important to get an ETS out before Copenhagen? Once again, it’s hard to tell. He seemed to believe in it in October, but certainly didn’t yesterday. He told Kerry O’Brien last night that he had to say he did out of loyalty, given his position on the front bench. But don’t ‘conviction’ politicians avoid advancing their careers by accepting positions that make them say things they don’t believe?
Does Tony Abbott think it’s a clever idea to run an election campaign on climate change? Umm, not sure. He told the press gallery yesterday, after they cruelly implied he was inconsistent, to check an article written in The Australian in July this year. In the article, titled “TURNBULL IS RIGHT, THE COALITIION (sic) CAN’T WIN THIS FIGHT”, someone called Tony Abbott had a very good piece of advice for the new Opposition Leader. Don’t have a fight on climate change. The new Opposition Leader seems to have ignored it.
So on what to do about climate change, whether its necessary to do anything at all about it, and whether even to make an issue about it, we have no real idea what this leader, who now gives the Liberals a “clear direction”, actually thinks. The only way to get such clarity would be only to listen to his latest pronouncements made yesterday. No wonder he was pleading with the Canberra press gallery yesterday for a fresh start.
The press gallery picked up the distinct, probably correct, impression that Abbott wasn’t expecting to win yesterday. Certainly that is the only conclusion from what was a bizarre, and clearly unprepared, press conference. Given that Abbott’s leadership campaign was on (sort of), then off, then back on again in a matter of a few days, it would suggest it wasn’t that serious.
Unfortunately, what happened was that Abbott’s original intention of drawing an alternative candidate out who was more malleable than Turnbull to hide behind, went wrong. Hockey did emerge but under such unfavorable circumstances, that he was forced to consider a conscience vote, certainly not pleasing the old guard who needed to make an issue out of this nor the Turnbull camp who needed to beat them on it. So Abbott had to re-emerge as a candidate so the old guard could avoid politically debasing themselves. The result was a narrow win and Abbott now having to make the best of a position the old guard never wanted to be in, to have their electoral bankruptcy exposed.
If an election is coming soon, what it will be is a re-run of the 2007 election but probably with less of the sham industrial relations pantomime that many in the left thought was a terrific idea at the time, but saw Labor’s vote erode significantly during the campaign. It may be tempting for Labor to paint Abbott as extremist, but that would more make themselves feel good rather than key into reality or the electorate. The main point of Abbott, and the reason he is vacillating so wildly, is that he is trying to carry on the Howard trick of flip-flopping while calling himself a conviction politician, but without the conditions that would let him get away with it.
Abbott is clinging to a past political tradition that died in 2007. So we had a few references to Whitlam and the 1970s in the press conference yesterday, thereby locking in that critical demographic, over 60s Liberal voters. The content of the tradition that Abbott is clinging to has hollowed out, leaving him awfully exposed to that most damming of accusations, of playing political games, this time with the future of the planet. The government itself is a little exposed to this with a perception that the bill is only being rushed through before Copenhagen so Rudd can play political games himself on the global stage. But that will be gone in a few weeks and then the government should be left with a clear run.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Wednesday, 2 December 2009.Filed under Political figures, Tactics