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Oct 27, 2009

Hamilton: Why I am standing for the Greens in Higgins

Crikey regular Clive Hamilton explains why he is running in the Higgins by-election as a candidate for the Greens, and says that climate change won't be the only issue he'll be campaigning on.


Crikey regular Clive Hamilton explains why he is running in the Higgins by-election as a candidate for the Greens (we have also offered space to the Liberal candidate, Kelly O’Dwyer):

I decided to become the Greens candidate for the Higgins by-election because I am scared. With the climate scientists ringing the alarm bells at a deafening volume, and the crucial Copenhagen climate conference in December, it is time for us to act and act decisively on global warming.

Those of us willing to heed the alarm bells and understand what is at stake, watch in dismay as the government and the opposition in federal Parliament squabble over who can do less to tackle this fearsome threat to our future.

Adelaide’s water has dried up; the Great Barrier Reef can no longer be salvaged; the February inferno killed 200 Australians after a fierce heat-wave.

What will it take for our leaders to wake up? There is nothing more important. The climate scientists say we have at most a few years to get it right. By 2020 it will be too late. Allowing the coal industry to expand is criminally irresponsible.

Yet, in the two main parties the choice is between the weak and the pathetic. We desperately need the leadership that the main parties seem incapable of giving, and it is only the Greens that can provide it.

So we have reached a political turning point. We Australians must decided whether we are going to be world leaders or world laggards; whether we are going to listen to the climate scientists and take urgent action, or listen instead to the fossil fuel lobbyists and climate sceptics whose voices currently dominate in Canberra.

I can write books and articles, and I can speak out. But if I can do more, then I am obliged to do so, otherwise I will not be able to look my children in the eye.

I am not from Higgins, but I have been selected by the local Greens to be their candidate. In this moment of our history, we are asking the voters of Higgins to think of themselves not as residents of Prahran or Glen Iris or Camberwell or Malvern; we are asking them to think of themselves as Australians.

We are asking the voters of Higgins to send an unambiguous message to the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. And that message is this: “We are seriously worried about the changing climate that jeopardises our future and that of our children. Stop pretending to take warming seriously. Listen to the warnings of the scientists and take decisive action, now.”

Asylum seekers

Although for me the dominant issue is climate change, it is not the only one. I expect that the voters of Higgins are uncomfortable with the escalating rhetoric over asylum seekers.

The Sri Lankan asylum seekers are reluctant refugees. They do not want to leave their homeland; they are fleeing persecution. In their situation, we would do the same.

We have to decide whether we are a nation that accepts our legal and humanitarian obligations to the persecuted, or a nation of fearful people who would turn away those asking for our help.

Through their incontinent language, Prime Minister Rudd and Opposition leader Turnbull have stirred the ghost of Pauline Hansen, who now stalks the corridors of Parliament House.

There are many on the back benches of both parties who must be appalled by this turn of events, yet only the Greens have taken a principled position.

With only a cigarette paper separating the main parties on all of the important issues, they must resort to spin to create the impression of difference. We need an alternative because the system is rotten.

Now it imperils our very future. Global events have converged and it is now or never to get climate policy right.

The political system has failed. It has responded to the climate crisis with a mixture of denial, spin and capitulation to commercial interests. The answer is not to abandon democracy, but to reclaim and reinvigorate it. And that is why I am running for the Greens in Higgins.



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61 thoughts on “Hamilton: Why I am standing for the Greens in Higgins

  1. Andrew

    Consistent with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact and chief climate science adviser of the German Government) statement:

    “We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet … ”

    “A recent comprehensive study confirms this in showing that we are going beyond the limits of the Earth … we are still chugging along like we have no need to solve these issues any time in the near future. We are not even near the reductions that are necessary”

    http://ecoworldly.com/2009/10/02/is-the-us-climate-illiterate/ http://www.nature.com:80/climate/2009/0911/full/climate.2009.106.html

    An analogy can be drawn with a patient’s whose body temperature rises above 40 degrees C, which needs to be brought down urgently, lest oxygen does not reach the brain … then the correct antibiotics needs to be administered at the right dose at the right time …

    It is the same with the climate.

    Time is running out. Governments can not continue with business/politics as usual, and need to focus on the next generation rather than the next election.

    The issue should be over and above politics.

    Andrew Glikson
    Earth and paleoclimate science

  2. EnergyPedant

    Clive the problem as I see it is that if you exceed expectations (whatever they are) or win then all it does is encourage Rudd to keep these issues live and continue to wedge the opposition on them. Weaken the Liberals further won’t encourage Rudd to do anything instead it appears to show that the current tactics are working.

  3. Jeff Waugh

    “And I’m confident that the Greens would not want to be seen to be the party that doesn’t care about children’s access to this material. Having me running in Higgins will reinforce the credentials of the Greens in the area of child protection.”

    Clive Hamilton clarifies position on web filtering

    I think the last thing the Greens need in Higgins is a candidate who supports extreme measures which resolve nothing they purport to address. In this case, the Internet filtering policy. But this is serious branding dud for the Greens.

    There’s an opportunity in seats like Higgins to garner support for green issues, but those potential voters want to know that the party is capable of rising above single-issue status before putting a Greens candidate in the House of Representatives.

    On that count — sadly, I might add — choosing Clive Hamilton for Higgins speaks volumes.

  4. Most Peculiar Mama

    How disingenuous of you Clive.

    You also know that the only way to effectively stave off your hilariously distorted and fact-challenged vision of an impending climate apocalypse is to rid the world of the only scourge that stands in the way of a Gaian rebirth:

    Get rid of human beings.

    What population control measures will you be advocating for Clive? Sterilisation?

    Denying anyone over 65 medical insurance?

    A second hip replacement?

    Or even better (shhh), legalising euthanasia?

    Or maybe you can heed your own prescient advice:


    “…Under a policy of zero net migration…”

    “…Unlike natural population growth, the immigration tap can be eased back tomorrow…”

    “…Doing so is the only way to protect the quality of life in Sydney…”

    Really. You don’t say.

    In light of the switcheroo above your hustings missive is disingenuous in the extreme.

    But you and the Greens are nothing if not full of surprises.

    BTW, when are you moving into Higgins?

    Kelly is already there.


    hopefully the electors of Higgins will be bright enough not to vote for someone spouting such crap

  6. stephen

    Maybe energypedant, maybe not. But it what if a coalition dunderhead is returned, what message will that send Kruddy?
    Good luck Clive!!!!

  7. stephen

    What crap are you talking about Bruce Pike? And Jeff Waugh, can you describe the single issue you think the greens represent?

  8. Frank Campbell

    “Adelaide’s water has dried up; the Great Barrier Reef can no longer be salvaged; the February inferno killed 200 Australians after a fierce heat-wave.”

    Adelaide’s plight is due to drought and idiotic irrigation of the arid Murray-Darling. The Great Barrier Reef has been hammered for decades by farm runoff. Black Saturday killed 173 people (not 200) and was by no means unprecedented.

    Exaggerating hysterically about the putative current effects of global warming turns people off consideration of future risks. Climate change scepticism is growing, and it’s 19th century throwback preachers like the Very Very Reverend Hamilton who are driving it. The spittle is reaching the back pews.

  9. Jeff Waugh

    Stephen — in that regard, I was pointing out a branding issue (reflected in the general regard for their credibility beyond “green” issues), not my own opinion.

  10. stephen

    Hey Frank Campbell, come off it. You can’t claim to be on the side of reason and ignore the objective facts.
    Have you asked the firefiughters if the conditions where unprecended? What about the Barrier reef?etc etc. If you are going to accuse others of being uninformed, you should do your homework. You, my friend are the one sounding a tad shrill.

  11. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…Your comment is awaiting moderation…”

    Is Clive quickly drafting a response to my earlier post?

  12. glengyron

    Good luck with that Clive.

    However I think your approach to internet filtering is flawed. Parenting is best left to parents, not bureaucracies.

  13. stephen

    Fair enough Jeff, but my question to you remains.

  14. Frank Campbell

    Stephen: I wrote 7 or 8 articles for Crikey on the bushfires. Scientists are more cautious- more scientific- than you imagine: they are careful not to make causal connections between AGW and these three environmental disasters. They do attribute them, to one degree or another, to long-term environmental abuse and bad policies.

  15. Robert Barwick

    The conditions on Black Saturday were unprecedented… in the past few decades. Unprecedented fuel load, because of GREENIES, and Jeff Kennett’s budget cuts to DSE. That’s what killed people–greenies and eco-rats in league again.

    Hey Clive, you have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

  16. Most Peculiar Mama

    You know that the only way to effectively stave off your hilariously distorted and fact-challenged vision of an impending climate apocalypse is to rid the world of the only scourge that stands in the way of a Gaian rebirth:

    Get rid of human beings.

    What population control measures will you be advocating for Clive? Sterilisation?

    Denying anyone over 65 medical insurance?

    A second hip replacement?

    Or even better (shhh), legalising euthanasia?

    Or maybe you can heed your own prescient advice:


    “…Under a policy of zero net migration…”

    “…Unlike natural population growth, the immigration tap can be eased back tomorrow…”

    “…Doing so is the only way to protect the quality of life in Sydney…”

    Really. You don’t say.

    In light of the switcheroo above your hustings missive is disingenuous in the extreme.

    But you and the Greens are nothing if not full of surprises.

    BTW, when are you moving into Higgins?

  17. Most Peculiar Mama

    First post deleted.

    Why is Clive having trouble responding to his own words.

    Be a man Clive, answer your critics.

  18. Jeff Waugh

    Stephen — it has been a long time since the Greens were a single-issue party, but they still struggle with policy beyond their core competency.

  19. stephen

    Robert Barwick, mate that’s hysterical. I wasn’t there but factor like unprecended heat and low humidity where big factors that had nothing to do with ‘greenies”. Houses in grazing areas were as overwhelmed as those in forests.
    There’s lot’s of people I know and respect who have enviromental concerns. They are good people and deserve better than to be vilified mindlessly.
    Your tone is scary.

  20. Frank Campbell

    Robert Barwick: Black Saturday was smaller than Black Thursday 1851 and of similar type and magnitude as half a dozen other conflagrations since. Think Ash Wednesday. Fuel loads were irrelevant, as evidence given to the Royal Commission has repeatedly confirmed. Crown fires don’t need dead ground fuel. The fires burnt bare paddocks, pine plantations, light regrowth forest and everything else regardless. Further, half of all public land burned in bushfire since 2002 in Victoria. Made not a whit of difference. So demonising “greenies” lays the moronic foundations for the next disaster- let’s kick the crap out of them instead of engineering real solutions like California-style refuges and evacuation.

  21. stephen

    Jeff, I think the Greens would benefit from your input. I don’t see them a static entity, but a group
    growing around some very relavant ideas. The majors seem too stuck to address these issues.

  22. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    Jeff Waugh,

    Your view about the Greens is not uncommon. But the facts show that fairly often it is only the Greens who are competent.

    Take economics.

    The Liberals maintain that Australia did not need a stimulus package. The Greens heard evidence from the appropriate public service experts, and made the economically sound economic decision to support Labor’s package (and to have some of the stimulus package better spent). If it wasn’t for the Greens our economy would be far worse off.

    Later on the question comes up of Should the stimulus continue?

    Labor says yes based on nothing much more than the other countries who are in much worse shape than Australia are still doing so. Liberal says no because they never supported any stimulus in the first place. The Greens once again kept an open mind and wanted to speak to the experts.

    When most think of the Greens they don’t immediately think, ahh, yes, the only party that is sensible when it comes to important economic matters. But I suggest that the evidence says that they should.

  23. Arlen

    I don’t see either major party showing any ability to seriously engage in any issue outside of their cores competencies either. Those would of course be the areas of corrupt submission to industry lobbyists and the shameless pursuit of political self interest at the expense of the national interest.

  24. Jeff Waugh

    Michael — Like I said in an earlier reply, I think it’s a branding issue more than an accurate reflection of reality.

    The Greens have seen impressive growth since the implosion of the Democrats, so I don’t think it’s surprising that they’ll take some time to mature… internally (process and selection) and externally (brand and expression).

  25. Most Peculiar Mama

    Second post deleted…no wonder you are in favour of the nanny filter.

    How do you expect the voters in Higgins to trust a man who says:

    “…Adelaide’s water has dried up…”

    When a quick check of the facts would reveals:

    Water storage as at 26/10/2009
    Adelaide’s water storages are currently ( 93% of capacity )


  26. stephen

    Jeff, do you think it could be a cultural issue? I mean the Greens policies are a bit of a cold shower for CEO’s with short term timeframes ie one year to the next. The perceived threat from the Greens has trickled down. “Manufacturing Consent” is a very good analysis of this process.

  27. stephen

    Just to clarify, “Manufacturing Consent” is not about Greens.

  28. michael james

    Yes, the Greens have long passed the point of being a single issue party.

    They now have positions on a whole range of issues.

    Mind you, when you actually look at their positions on issues like Foreign Affairs, Defence, Immigration and business policy, you understand how very lucky we are that they are the pimple on the backside of the Australian body politic, and not in a position to actually dictate policy.

  29. stephen

    Please Michael James, flesh out your comments when you get a chance. I’m interested to know what you find objectionable. ( apologies for making so many posts on this one, but I’m thinking of my 5 yo)

  30. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    John Howard walked into the doctors office with a frog on his head.

    The doctor asked what was wrong, and the frog replied that he had this terrible growth on his backside.

    The Greens always said the war in Iraq was wrong. Are you suggesting that Howard got it right.

  31. EnergyPedant

    Stephen I suppose the trouble with the by-election is that Labor not standing a candidate means that the result is open to interpretation. The best thing for the Greens would be if Labor stood and then got out polled by Clive (a real possibility). Instead Labor is being smart and staying on the side-lines.

    Then afterwards Rudd can interpret the result however he likes. Bad result for Libs is a rejection of Turnbull. Bad result for Greens is a rejection of their “extreme” position on ETS. I’m sure he is already starting to craft the lines.

  32. SBH

    Robert Barwick in relation to fuel load, I’m not sure that’s right. If you drive up the Hume you see evidnece of the fire where it jumped several hundred metres of cleared land from windbreak to plantation to house to remnant scrub. There was very little in the way of fuel in between. It seems a bigger factor was the heat, dryness and the wind. In Canberra the wind-driven fire raged out of pine plantation and again swept over cleared land and a road. I don’t think greenies had much to do with either of those things. It seems that intense weather driven by global warming was more to blame. If that’s so shouldn’t we be looking at ways to cool the planet?

  33. Most Peculiar Mama

    Remember saying this Clive:


    “…Under a policy of zero net migration…”

    “…Unlike natural population growth, the immigration tap can be eased back tomorrow…”

    “…Doing so is the only way to protect the quality of life in Sydney…”

    In light of the switcheroo above your hustings missive is disingenuous in the extreme.

  34. jeebus

    Best of luck, Clive.

  35. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    The best thing for the Greens would be if Clive won!

    Second best is coming close enough to genuinely worry both major parties. This would send a message to them BOTH that they need to do much better on climate change, asylum seekers, etc

    In 2007 Costello’s vote went down by about 1.6% compared to the 2004 election. Even if Kelly wins, it would be bad for the Liberals if there is a swing against her.

    The good thing about this election is that there are real policy differences between Kelly and Clive. This is not an election between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, this is about real policy differences.

    The result matters, especially with climate change, as a strong Liberal win ensures that both major parties will stay the course and do very little (but at great expense to the people). And they will both take this to the next election.

    A very strong showing by Clive (or a win!) is really the only thing that will make the major parties change their minds before it becomes too late.

    When Stephen’s child is my age, that is in 45 years time, the truth (or otherwise) of climate change will be very apparent. The people will decide, and our children, and theirs, and theirs … will either thank or curse us.

    This election matters.

  36. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    On fire management, don’t confuse The Greens party (ie our councillors) who support appropriate clearing for sensible land management, with “greenies” who might want all trees and scrub left alone.

  37. Tom

    Frank Campbell – very well said but I caution you not to go too hard on those who are the keepers of “the facts”, they seemingly are closer by the day to the distributor of said spittle in their beliefs and as has forever (for the earth is but 2000 years old you know) been so, if you’re not with us …

  38. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    Most peculiar.

    Perhaps you should find out who is doing the moderation before you accuse Clive.

    This is a Crikey published article, and not a Blog belonging to Clive. I strongly suspect (but don’t know) that it is Crikey who are moderating.

    And whilst I’m all for free speech, I also think that Crikey owe it to their readers to keep these discussions polite and to the point.

  39. Liz45

    I’m a Greens supporter. I support all of their policies which aren’t confined to ‘green issues’ at all. I was once a member of the ALP but was pissed off when Bob Hawke gave us the ‘middle finger’ over uranium. Many like me who worked our bums off were disgusted. I said I’d never join another political party ever. Once the Labor Party took up issues like preservation of native forests etc, but that changed years ago. Labor isn’t much different than the Coalition, with a few ‘softening’ edges – basically the same ideas and support the same lot – corporate greed, whether it’s developers or mining giants or multinationals involved in ripping the guts out of this country and our neighbours with only an eye on profits.

    I find it amazing, that the ALP can waffle on about caring for the planet, but allow the clearing of football fields of trees per day. Waffle on about getting rid of nuclear weapons while we sell uranium to countries that we don’t know who the Leaders will be in a years time, let alone 5 or 10! The contradictions make me just shake my head in disbelief.

    Sometimes I think I must’ve misheard, or live on another planet, perhaps another country? The handling or ‘mis-handling’ of the current numbers of asylum seekers is a case in point. How different is the ‘Indonesian solution’ to the ‘Pacific solution’? It’s just a case of geography in my view. We all know about Indonesia’s ‘proud record’ re human rights – don’t we? There’s Afghanis walking around with black eyes, bruised faces etc(as we speak) as they claim to have been bashed by Indonesian ‘workers’ in a detention centre. Indonesia rejected these claims initially, until they saw video evidence? Rudd should’ve said enough and brought them to Australia. In fact, he should’ve nipped the racist BS in the bud by using the media via An Address to the Nation, and told the Australian people the facts about those coming by boat as opposed to the 96% who arrive by plane etc.Instead he shamefully allowed the Coalition and the media to carry on, just to show the racists he was tough! If we stopped killing people in their own countries(Iraq & Afghanistan), those traumatized citizens who’ve witnessed this, and lost too many family members, wouldn’t be forced to flee. What do we do to help prevent the trauma in Sri Lanka for example? Call those who want their independence and/or justice for minority groups, terrorists?

    I also support the campaign to stop the retail sector from ‘sexing’ up their ads to sell kids’ clothes. Bras for 8 and 9 yr olds; and obscene messages on toddler T-shirts for example, aren’t funny. I have grandkids and I find this practice most disturbing indeed. They’re only babies/kids for such a short time and then zap it’s gone! Clive has spoken out against this hideous practice and I applaud him for taking a stand.

    Good for you Clive. I don’t live in Victoria, but good luck!

  40. Most Peculiar Mama

    “… I also think that Crikey owe it to their readers to keep these discussions polite and to the point…”

    Of course, so why do you and the Crikey moderators allow Clive to publish deliberate untruths and his own words that directly contradict his earlier positions without clarification?

    Why do you not challenge Clive?

    These issues are very relevant for the voters of Higgins.

    Are you saying they don’t matter?

  41. Barry 09

    Clive, if i lived in Higgins, i would vote for you. Iam a greens supporter, the labor/liberal bunch are too close to BIG business and i couldn’t see a Greens candidate taking money from Big oil/coal/gas etc etc. Labor are gutt-less for not putting forward a candidate. Michael Wilbur-Ham , good joke, will try to remember that one. Frank, other than the 179 killed in the bush fires, wasn’t about 200 killed in the heat wave(city) before the fires. Too try and blame “greenies’ for the fire is very wrong, do you work for the loggers? A lot of old forests were WET forests in Victoria, till they started logging and thinned out the canopy and dryed the forest floor. Heat wave + strong winds = disaster. Go Clive, save the planet from these Easter islanders.

  42. Barry 09

    PS , dont feed the Trolls.

  43. marcerin

    Well done Clive, I was going to vote Green until I read about your pre-selection!
    I have been very proud to watch the Senate and see the Greens opposing the Government’s Internet Filter, now that you are running as a candidate I have no idea what to think and will not be taking a risk by voting Green.

    Whats next, will the Greens select a candidate whos written articles supporting the Pacific Solution?!

    Clive, do the honourable thing and don’t contest this election, you are already costing the Greens votes!

  44. Michael Wilbur-Ham

    I don’t speak for Crikey, and I don’t speak for The Greens. This is all just me.

    I’m not going to bother checking up myself about Adelaide’s water because this is a distraction from the big picture. (It might be something to do with most of Adelaide’s water not coming from it’s water storage, and thus an almost full storage from rain does not solve the problem of far too little water in the river from whence most of their water comes.)

    Kelly promises that she will, or example, work hard for “stronger law enforcement to curb alcohol fuelled violence”. How is she going to do this as a Federal politician when this is a State issue? To me this shows she has got the big picture wrong.

    Clive making one mistake (if it was wrong) is minor in comparison because his big picture about climate change is correct.

    And the voters of Higgins will make up their own minds.

  45. o450559959

    Since Clive Hamilton desires to make this by-election an election on climate change, how about challenging the liberal candidate Kelly O’Dwyer to a live debate on twitter. This way you will have the media watching to get your message across. A potential world first : certainly the first Australian election debate on twitter.

    Liberal candidates twitter account :

    Whatever the outcome of the Higgins election, thank you Clive.


  46. Frank Campbell

    Michael Wilbur-Ham: you’re right, Adelaide’s puny dams are refuelled from the Murray by pipeline. (Whyalla likewise, and it’s revolting water).It’s been a good year in the Mt.Lofty Ranges, so the creeks pretending to be rivers have flowed for a change, but they can never be relied on. This doesn’t affect the argument that the Murray-Darling has been ruined by irrigation, land-clearing etc. AGW may finish it off, but Hamilton is talking tosh to attribute the (now possibly broken) drought to AGW thus far.

    Barry 09: not sure if you’re accusing me or someone else of blaming Greens for the fires- in fact I’m defending them. Environmentalism had nothing to do with Black Saturday.

    Tom: “if you’re not with us…”- Point is Tom, as I’ve said about the Exceptionally Reverend Hamilton, ferocious (and fatuous) overstatement just alienates people. The rubbish bin of history is stuffed with the wreckage of movements convinced of their righteousness and the sin/stupidity of the masses: Calvinism,Trotskyist sects, Frau Schicklgruber’s little boy, Neocons like Mark Steyn, global banker-wankers, Wilson Tuckey….

  47. Michael Wilbur-Ham


    As a non-twit, I’m looking forward to attending any real-life debates between Clive and Kelly.

    These days I’m sure someone will Twit the highlights out to the Twitter-sphere.

  48. stephen

    Jeepers Frank, it would be handy if you could seperate personalities from the ideas they believe in. If you have a problem with Clive’s style, that’s kind of a shame but he speaks clearly about a lot of issues that are otherwise ignored. Are you lumping Clive and wilson together? Really ….. wow?
    Thje drought connection with AGW isn’t tosh, it’s a reasonable suggestion.

  49. Roger Clifton

    Clive, I know you know that the main enemies of the greenhouse are coal and gas, the carbon-based fuels.

    The competitors of the Gas Industry are coal, nuclear and hydro. If you ever find that your companions are attacking coal, nuclear and hydro in the same gig as yourself, check if there is a big shadow walking alongside. Greenies should be wary of support from Gas, lest they become its henchmen.

  50. Frank Campbell

    Yes Stephen, I’m lumping Savonarola Hamilton and Uranium Cranium together. Both glow in the dark. “Style” doesn’t cover it. Both are incorrigible dogmatists. Both scorn those who don’t instantly capitulate to their simplistic creeds. Both endanger the environment: Cranium by irradiating even the most modest environmentalism and Hamilton by hysterical (and often false) overstatement.

  51. Frank Campbell

    And the “drought connection with AGW” is a possibility at this early stage, at most a “reasonable suggestion” in your words Stephen. The “tosh” is Hamilton’s certitude that “200” died on Black Saturday because of AGW.

  52. Michael Mollison

    While Clive’s views are a bit “over the top” at least they provide some food for thought compared with the “sludge” that the two major parties are offering up at the moment….in their “race to the bottom”. While the Libs will win this by-election comfortably, don’t be surprised by a strong showing of the minor parties at the next election. Many of the people that worked hard to see off Howard are not that impressed with the rather cynical approach to politics of Rudd.

    If being in parliament/govt is about making a difference, we are being poorly served by both major parties at present…and into the foreseeable future. Can anyone think of anything really significant that they (either side) have achieved, apart from still being there?

  53. Arlen

    I agree that Clive can do without the melodramatics, the facts speak for themselves and are enough to scare the crap out of any sane person, as he well knows. His tone regarding climate change is merely a reflection of the absolute despair and urgency of the climate scientists.

  54. evamary

    I have a dream – Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull turned up on my TV and said – My fellow Australians – this country is facing climate problems which are too serious to be addressed by the shoddy world of party politics. For this issue, we are dropping the rules. We’re both sensible men and we know the planet won’t survive unless we agree on the facts and make our priorities the immediate reduction of fossil fuel production/use, de-forestation, poor farming practices, – and misuse of water. That’s for a start. From now on, we re not going to have our eyes on the polls – we’ll have them on the big polluters, who appear to be running this country. We will cooperate in enacting laws which are binding on companies and individuals to immediately reduce fossil fuel use now – not tomorrow.

    Fortunately, we have the possibility of the election of Clive Hamilton to the seat of Higgins. If this happens, it will be one of the few electoral wins based on the candidate’s knowledge of the subject – any subject! – in recent years. We will enlist a cabinet/caucus from the present Greens members and those from either side of politics who agree that the climate is not a side-show, but the main event.

    We are now on a war footing. It will take commitment, sacrifice, co-operation, selflessness, and a radical change of our way of life, but we both commit ourselves to this challenge. We will sending your parliamentary reps. back to their constituencies after they have undertaken a crash course on the seriousness of the threat – they will provide seminars for you so that our plans are crystal-clear to all……….

    Well I can dream, can’t I?


  55. stephen

    Well Frank You’re obviously a thoughtful guy, who thinks about things. I suggest we’re not at an early stage of limate change but close to the dreaded”tipping points”. I’m not a genius but I understand that those who study this are screaming wartnings at us that the data is alarming.
    I trust climate scientists to be objective, more than industrialists and the politicians and media toadys who toe their line.
    Whatever you concerns about Hamilton, aren’t you more concerned by the current ruling orthodoxy which is bizarrely detached and utterly self centred?

  56. Frank Campbell

    Well Stephen, I’m not a follower of Prince Charles (endearing as he is). He gives us seven years before we’re all doomed. If you believe him and the Hamiltonian Savonarolas, there’ll be no point doing anything after July 2017. The15th is the deadline I think. Towel-chucking day. The End Days are nigh, so let’s madmax or shag each other senseless ’til the fire comes, according to taste.

    This is the catastrophic mess that catastrophism has landed us in. Extremism paralyses politics.

    We all know that social democratic governments can barely find the loo, which is why they piss our money up against the wall most of the time. We know they can’t forge coherent policy for next week, let alone decades ahead. (Yes, other forms of government are worse- they drink the place dry, wreck the joint and in the morning blame the Greens, poor parenting or imperialism). Every major policy is shambolic: deserts are irrigated, farm runoff kills lakes and reefs, filthy brown coal is Brumbied off to India, pleasant suburban cities sprawl into nightmares, public transport disappears up its own cancellation, fish stocks are massacred, Redgums fall while we bitch about the Amazon, Victoria burns in a fiasco of incompetence and evasion…

    As always, we Meliorists just peck away and rejoice in small gains, many of which are later lost because the forces of barbarism (aka short term profit) are relentless.

    We know that capitalism is both unchallenged, voracious and underwritten by the taxpayer. It corrupts everything it touches. The GFC was just the latest paroxysm of greed. Corporate managerialism has colonised every institution, including the state, converting public bodies into conduits for private gain. All social democracy can do is try to mitigate the worst excesses.

    So here’s the political problem- along comes a “scientifically verified” catastrophe, anthropogenic global warming. What is to be done?

    It’s clear that most people either don’t believe the Armageddon scenario or can’t imagine it- it hardly matters which. Screaming or patronising just makes things worse. Many flee to the comforting arms of Uncle Plimer or the ample breasts of Sen. Boswell. Others follow the Pied Viper into the gibbering wastes of O’Connor. Most hedge their bets. Climate scepticism is rising, not falling, driven not least by the hellfire demagoguery of climate priests.

    Meanwhile, the mainstream politicians do exactly what you’d expect: (i) pretend to do something (ii) actually do something which is all show and no substance (wind farms for instance- a cruel burden on the weak and a climatic joke) (iii) accommodate entrenched sectional interests, which exacerbates (i) and (ii).
    We then move to (iv) if and when the crisis galvanises the polity into hurling money at “solutions”, which allows capitalist enterprises to suck out lots of public money for whatever technical fix seems momentarily plausible, such as carbon sequestration, wave power or whatever.

    There are many excellent reasons for getting rid of fossil fuels apart from carbon emissions. If the state or “free enterprise” were serious, they would have spent brazillions on R and D. It’s now too late, if you believe the catastrophists. Farting around with solar, hot rocks or the rickety contraption of “carbon trading” will make no difference to the climate in the next decade. Neither will Hopenhagen.

    So what do we do, bed down with Prince Charles? No need, thank Christ. First, admit the strengths and weaknesses of AGW theory. There is no simple correlation between atmospheric CO2 and climate. Ten years of stable global temperature shows that. Some scientists now talk of a 10 to 30 year plateau. Whatever. Houston, we may have a problem. There’s no short-term fix so (a) get started on basic research now on all renewables- except wind. Wind is a proven failure. It can never provide baseload power and does much harm besides. (b) scrap MRET. Politicians claim that $22bn will be spent on this- all on wind. An appalling waste. (c) convert brown coal generators to gas immediately. (d) improve energy efficiency/reduce demand. We did it with water.
    So there’s a lot that can be done to reduce CO2 without bankrupting the country or relying on quasi-fascism to “suspend” democracy as some fanatics are now suggesting.

    Psychologically, we have to rid ourselves of the Armageddon complex. It inflames both Savonarolas and Deniers. The world isn’t going to end in 2017, and if it is we should just finish the grog and sing “Over the Sea to Skye”…

  57. Robert Barwick

    Frank, you’re a happy chappy, aren’t you? How about we be positive? Many times in human history and prehistory our species has faced natural catastrophes, impossible to avoid. Civilisation didn’t start in Sumeria in 4000 BC. Most evidence of it beforehand is buried under water or mud. (Rising sea levels is nothing new. For example, experts say that most of the 30,000+ year-old Bradshaw rock art in the Kimberleys is probably underwater.) Many people died; however, humanity survived–and thrived. To be human is to be creative, which is how we solve problems. Let’s build the future. Go nuclear, first fission, then fusion. Conquer space. Go to Mars, terra-form it. Everything we learn and discover will change the world, but our world will be bigger–the whole solar system.

    There are greenies who don’t like this worldview, only because they are instinctively anti-human.

  58. stephen

    Dear Robert Barwick, I’m soo glad you’re happy, but there are times you’ll find as you go through life that things can get you down. Your limited understanding of history and time frames might give you an when it comes to ignoring a lot of what Frank is saying. Talk about cherry picking.

  59. David Reid

    I think Clive Hamilton is a strong and intelligent voice on public policy issues. I am sure he would serve Australia well as a member of parliament.

    However, I think the Greens made a mistake parachuting him into a seat where he doesn’t live. They should have nominated a local candidate or at least someone who lives in Melbourne. Anyway I hope the Greens nominate Clive for the Senate in the ACT where he would have a good chance of winning. This by-election will give him some useful campaign experience.

  60. Pete WN

    Good on you Clive, and best of luck.

    I’ll be voting greens in my own electorate; Tangney – the seat of Dr Dennis Jensen (Engineer). Thanks to him, I now know that water vapour is the biggest greenhouse gas and therefore Climate Change is wrong. And with that kind of logic, I’m not sure whether he is more dangerous building bridges or influencing policy.

  61. Douglas Evan

    What an interesting collection of responses to Clive Hamilton’s article. Frank Campbell seems informed and is certainly articulate. I went along with him until – “…There is no simple correlation between atmospheric CO2 and climate. Ten years of stable global temperature shows that. Some scientists now talk of a 10 to 30 year plateau.” The correlation is anything but simple it seems but Andrew Bolt’s idea that the planet has stopped warming, repeatedly debunked by responsible science, unfortunately just keeps bobbing up again. Lovelock’s own modeling of the climate predicted a pause just before nature takes the matter out of our hands. Perhaps this is what Campbell is referring to. At any rate I am not comforted by this thought. Reference to Real Climate – http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/02/bushfires-and-climate/ – might help inform anyone interested in this.

    [Edit – play nice] ‘Most peculiar Mama’ who certainly lives up to the name she chooses to hide behind. A Liberal campaign worker spreading a bit of disinformation in the grand tradition of both major parties perhaps? David Reid makes a good point. In Higgins Hamilton is a Crash Through or Crash long shot. If the electorate is ready to accept the climate crisis for what it is he might well win provoking some desperate scrambling in the major parties to green up their policies. How great would that be? More likely however is that the good folk of Higgins will opt for more of the same. Kelly O’Dwyer on the advice of her minders is avoiding any involvement with the climate debate. She is a local and the faceless ones have obviously decided that an unrelenting focus on tried and true local issues, law and order, trains on time and how about that dirty Yarra river can’t we clean it up? is what will carry the day. O’Dwyer would not participate in last night’s church hall climate debate for the candidates, has refused to fill in a questionnaire shedding some light on her views on climate change and was heavily constrained by her minders in her answers to the questions of a local community climate action group. Shame on her but this tactic might just get her a seat in the Big House under the Hill. Clive Hamilton spoke well, clearly and responsibly when he got the chance in the somewhat anarchic church hall climate debate. He would of course make an excellent and responsible MHR for the Higgins electorate but perhaps would have a better chance of getting up as a Senator for the ACT as Reid suggests. Anyway good luck Clive what a great thing it would be if you get in for Higgins.

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