No person who seriously maintains that “the various measuring organisations” show that the planet is cooling is fit to occupy a position of leadership in public life. Such a capacity to let ideology filter out basic facts on anything, but most especially a critical area of public policy; such a willingness to balance, say Christopher Monckton and the world’s scientific community and prefer the former, is genuinely dangerous in anyone with proximity to power.

Tony Abbott maintains that his own views don’t matter because his policy is to reduce Australia’s emissions. Putting aside that therefore Abbott appears to want to accelerate global cooling, his policy – that relies on the supernatural powers of “soil carbon”, which at this point is little more than the climate change equivalent of biodynamic farming — will oversee a substantial increase in our emissions and, better yet, spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to achieve it.

Then again, at least Abbott is being honest – he is open about his willful refusal to accept basic scientific fact and prefer global conspiracy theories and rigid ideology. What is Julia Gillard’s excuse? The Prime Minister occupies an even worse position – she claims to believe in human-caused global warming, and accepts the need to address it, but proposes delay and half-baked measures drawn up to protect the interests of those responsible for pollution. Like Abbott, Gillard’s policies will oversee a rise in Australia’s emissions. Like Abbott, she’ll waste taxpayers’ money to achieve it.

The parties insist there are vast differences between them on climate change. The Liberals charge that Labor wants to introduce a big new tax. Labor charges that the Liberals don’t believe in climate change. The rhetoric hides a bipartisan policy of protecting the economic interests of polluters, which is why climate change has been almost entirely absent from the major parties’ campaigns.

Perhaps we should take the parties at their word and demand that the next debate should be held on climate change and the reform process of ending our addiction to carbon, not a debate about the economy that will merely provide the forum for repetition of the mantras of “risk to our $1.3 triliion economy” and “waste and mismanagement”.

When our kids and our grandkids demand to know why we did nothing while their planet cooked, even when we knew a relatively minor economic reform could have started the process of decarbonising our own economy and encouraged other, bigger polluters to do likewise, we can point to the 2010 election and say “because we let people like Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard run the country.”