Friday, December 4, 2009

Liberal Party hubris and the ascension of Tony Abbott

Image courtesy of the ABC News Online

Like many I watched aghast at events in Canberra over the last 2 weeks. The hubris, grandiosity and self interest on display within the Liberal Party over the ETS scheme and the Liberal leadership was a sad reminder of the appalling state of Australian politics.

Both of the major political parties used the issue of climate change as a political opportunity to advance their political and personal interests, over the collective and common good.

With the ascension of Tony Abbott to the leadership of the Liberal Party the climate change skeptics and deniers are effectively in control of the Oppostion parties. Within the Labour Party there is little appetite for serious reform on climate change, perhaps reflecting the intensely pro business stance of the Rudd government and the power of the resources lobby within the Labor Party.

But just what will the ascension of Tony Abbott mean?

Tony Kevin has written a thoughtful and intelligent piece in the online magazine Eureka Street on the implications of Tony Abbott's ascension to the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Opposition Leader.

Tony Kevin argues that Abbott's ascension fundamentally changes the character of the Liberal Party and will have the affect of polarising public and political debate around climate change. He views that as a serious danger for action on climate change.

Abbott is on the public record as saying the climate science is 'crap'. He has backed away from that position now, claiming after his election to the leadership that his statement then was 'a bit of hyperbole. It is not my considered position.'

Tony Kevin makes this prediction .

This will now be a ruthless, dog-whistle election, whenever it comes. Abbott will have the climate change deniers and the rich and powerful coal lobby solidly behind his party's new position. He will present a 'respectable' policy, of believing the climate change science, supporting the agreed Copenhagen targets, and disagreeing with the Government only on its high-tax, coercive ETS.

But, just as Howard profited from Pauline Hanson's racism while professing to disavow it, Abbott's campaign will derive covert energy from climate change deniers and coal lobbyists. They knew he was their man, and he has now — by one vote — brought the entire Liberal Party with him. It was a successful Machiavellian strategy.

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