A smoking ceremony at the opening of the 47th Parliament (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)
A smoking ceremony at the opening of the 47th Parliament (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Don't be distracted by the phoney war atmosphere of the return of Parliament, the bonhomie, the talk of a new kind of politics, of less aggression, one in which the main debate is whether 43% emissions reduction by 2030 is a minimum commitment leading to something greater, and whether Labor can out-manoeuvre the rather leaden-footed Greens on the issue.

It's not real. Politics has changed. For the better. But not by much, and it will rapidly slide back into the morass from which we climbed on May 21 if we're not careful.

Similar optimism, a sense of possibility, pervaded Canberra after the 2007 election, and after Kevin Rudd's apology. Within three years, that optimism looked like naivety. Much of that was down to Rudd and his mistakes. But much of it had to do with the deep wellspring of cynicism and denialism within the Coalition, funded by its fossil fuel allies and amplified by News Corp.