Jul 30, 2010

Penny Wong and Greg Hunt on climate change? Give me a break

In a national campaign devoid of much colour or movement, there was at least some comedic value last night in watching Penny Wong and Greg Hunt debate action on climate change on the 7.30 Report.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

In a national campaign devoid of much colour or movement, there was at least some comedic value last night in watching Penny Wong and Greg Hunt debate action on climate change on the 7.30 Report. In the red corner: Wong, the Climate Change Minister who with Kevin Rudd worked assiduously and effectively to entirely wreck Labor’s political advantage on the issue by remorseless partisanship, refusal to negotiate and a communication style for which the terms 'tedious' and 'hectoring' just get you warmed up. In the blue corner: Hunt, who abandoned decades of personal commitment to addressing climate change in order to save his political skin, and who now has to spruik soil carbon -- a technology that makes CCS look commercial-ready -- and taxpayer handouts to polluters as the magic solution to the diabolical policy problem. Both are mooted to be dumped from their roles after the election. There are frequent suggestions Hunt will be dumped for Malcolm Turnbull in an Abbott government. The rumours are less clear about Wong, and perhaps just reflect the fact the media has grown tired of her. And the venue? The ABC, which has proven a reliable and effective facilitator of climate denialism of the most extreme form with its obsession with he-said-she-said journalism. The debate was accordingly like heading down to the local kindy to ask some four-year-olds about the chances of a double-dip recession. Kerry O’Brien cannily sensed this and spent the entire debate telling his interlocutors they didn’t have much time and had to hurry up. Both sides have made rods for their own backs even in selling their own wholly useless policies. Having run hard on the impact of the CPRS on electricity prices, as part of a broader Coalition strategy of blaming the federal government for electricity prices rises at the state level, Hunt is stuck with the implacable logic that his 'direct action' policy will, electricity generators say, drive electricity prices up. Wong, like Julia Gillard, can have thrown back in her face every single one of her statements about why climate action shouldn’t be delayed, when Labor’s entire policy is now based on delay. The obvious question is, given they will hold the balance of power in the Senate from July next year and are the only party with a credible climate change policy, why the ABC did not have the Greens in the debate. As we get so often from the national broadcaster, balance without judgement.

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11 thoughts on “Penny Wong and Greg Hunt on climate change? Give me a break

  1. Gavin Costello

    “… are the only party with a credible climate change policy, why the ABC did not have the Greens in the debate…”

    Good Point. Ongoing propagation of the failed two party politics by the ‘national’ broadcaster, especially because, as you note, neither of the LibLab party reps have anything worth listening to on the topic anymore.

    So much for investing in News Journalism ABC

  2. Michael R James

    BK wrote: “Hunt will be dumped for Malcolm Turnbull in an Abbott government”

    That would be deep irony. Not only did Greg Hunt do his Honours thesis on carbon pricing but poor ole Greg is stuck with that soil charcoal thought bubble that came from…..Malcolm Turnbull. My mind shudders if forced to think about an Abbott government but it truly mashes gears on this one. Turnbull is at odds with Abbott and his band of neanderthals, and is not even hiding it, both in his electioneering (everyone has noted his election posters in two tasteful shades of green) and even more public venues such as this weeks QandA. Abbott might relish the thought of putting Turnbull through such agony but he would surely see it would be quite untenable.
    But let’s top this right here. It is not possible to really call up a vision of a functional Abbott government.

    The tragedy here is that both Hunt and Wong are very bright and talented people. If only Australian politics knew how to use such talents productively rather than play these tortuous games.

  3. Michael R James

    BK wrote: “Kerry O’Brien cannily sensed this and spent the entire debate telling his interlocutors they didn’t have much time and had to hurry up.”

    My own teensy disagreement with BK is that “cannily” though the rest of the same sentence does accurately summarize the utility of the interview. KO’B has had a very long and successful run but really it is time he moved on (alas too late already for Chris Ulhmann to take over –he lost patience and moved on himself). I am not sure if much light was ever going to come out of a Wong-v-Hunt interaction but certainly Tony Jones or Ulhmann would have surely made it more productive for us the viewer.
    And compare TJ’s terrific interview with Julian Assange (which today’s media are ignoring in their relentless repetition of the usual suspects accusations of Wiki’s culpability in killing innocents; yep from the US military, CIA and Hamid Karzai!)

  4. David

    Wong and Hunt, couple of very tired looking yesterdays politicians. Both have lost all credibility and Hunt in particular sold his soul to Abbott (another one) to curry favour with the new leader. Penny Wong is a defeated person, she didnt have the spine to stand up to Rudd after prosecuting his climate change policy for months, she now without conviction looks ahead to another year/s and another policy.
    Hunt attempts to justify his leader who does not believe in climate change, but for political purposes lies that he does (good catholic boy Tony).
    A Greens control of the Senate will hopefully bring Labor to their senses. Turnbulls return to the Liberal leadership will assist the climate change debate. Wong will be given another job and Hunt under Turnbull?….. its all about Karma Greg.

  5. John Bennetts

    So the Greens have a viable policy regarding climate change? Sure?

    Unfortunately, this party of extremists has rushed to a non-negotiable position which virtually forces the other two main parties together, regardless of their differences on this subject. Post-election, I feel that the most probable balance will be:
    Libs under a new leader adopting a new policy, one including both recognition of the GHG issue and real carbon price.
    Labor playing a wait-and-see game, until threatened by Lib/Green.
    Reluctant agreement between Lib and Lab because they really hate the Greens more than they do each other.
    Greens and Nationals out in the cold.

    The Greens’ policy is mostly hampered by inflexibility on two matters: nuclear energy and their magic wand approach which is the bold assumption that Australia will reduce electricity demand by 50% per capita by 2020 and that every single megawatt of the remainder can be renewables by 2020. This is not a joke – it is blind, irrational, unfounded faith. Their extremism is not part of any solution and, in fact, drives people away from rational approaches and, through fear of the Green alternative, away from green house gas reduction entirely.

    In essense, Greens are part of the problem, not part of any solution.

  6. Elizabeth

    I agree with Michael on the tragedy of so many smart and committed people being forced to mouth pointless platitudes. Although I was furious when the seemingly pointless and timewasting ‘policy’ of a 150 person focus group was launched, on hearing Penny W on the subject with Kerry, I wondered whether they hope to co-opt some high profile players respected by all parties. How else would she even fantasise that such a process would help avoid the partisan blocking that occurred after the 2007 election?

    Recent ‘Spooks’ episode, about a secret British ‘aftermath’ policy, says it all – if we have to wait to take action until everyone else is on board (the ‘twelfth of never’ for every country waiting for the others) we might as well get hold of all the non-renewables we can and bunker down for the war.

    It’s a desert. One even has a little nostalgia for Turnbull.

  7. Lorna

    Climate change is a natural thing and part of the cycle of life, but human made climate change is a load of crap and not proven. At lease the libs policy will improve our local environment while and ALP will only increase the GDP of third world economies. It is all BS.

  8. Lorna

    The ETS is nothing more than a fart tax – only a labor govt would tax the very air we breath no matter how stinky it gets. If you think charging for carbon will make a difference then I fart in your general direction.

  9. John Bennetts

    @ LORNA, Posted Saturday, 31 July 2010 at 3:39 pm and 3:42 pm:

    To say that climate change is natural is fair enough, up to a point. That point was crossed when it was demonstrated that abnormal, man-induced and very dangerous climate change has occurred and is occurring at an accellerating pace.

    Lorna is simply taking the ostrich’s position re the science. Head in the sand, denialism and wishful thinking will not change the climate – that is being done right now by mankind and is mainly due to use at unprecedented rates of fossil fuels. There is no point going again into detail, however let me make just one point…

    Without effective action to limit anthropogenic climate change, we will not be discussing farts – in any direction. We will be discussing truly massive changes on a global scale, resulting in upheavals of human civilisations, famine, wars and extinctions, with no guarantee that any of this can be reversible. If you have a proposal to address these threats, please put it forward. If not, then at least get out of the way and let real action be taken by those who will work towards these goals.

    Expect to see increasing impatience, both public and private, against those who take Lorna’s stance. The time for politely ignoring this part of the problem is now. So, Lorna should P— off and take your mates and your farts with her. Move to another planet, one where the inhabitants care less about their world.

  10. David

    I have a far easier solution for Lorna…return to the space ship that you arrived on, pop the door closed and zip away into the universe from whence you came never to darken the earths doorstep again. There are enough nutters reading from the Abbott “climate change is crap” book. Your presence is like a dirty stain.

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