Wednesday, October 07, 2009

They May Be Out There, But They Won't Save The Liberal Party

By Darryl Mason

There is a conservative-minded fantasy that if only a Liberal Party leader would stand up and dismiss the entire idea of an ETS, and confidently, skeptically, laugh off the reality of global-warming induced climate change, that there will be a sudden, election-winning size surge in Liberal Party support. But it's just a fantasy, something for reflexively contrarian opinionists to fluff up to fill their blogs and columns with, and nothing more.

Numerous polls consistently, constantly, show the vast majority of Australians are convinced climate change is a dangerous reality and they believe that the introduction of an ETS will help fight those destructive changes.

There is a tiny minority of Australians who think Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull and Al Gore are all secret partners in a New Green World Order conspiracy to destroy the coal and oil industries and force Australians to live in electricity-free tee pees and ride tofu bicycles to work, but the AGW Skeptic Vote is not big enough to cause any major waves in Australian politics, at least not at a national level, no matter how many times some in the media try to claim otherwise.

Tim Blair, of the Daily Telegraph, recently tried to hype the (illusory) power of the unrepresented Skeptics Vote on Insiders, as a way for the Liberal Party to not only differentiate itself from Labor, but to also save itself from compete immolation. A last desperate gasp, presumably. Blair's curious little theories were quickly slapped down by The Australian's George Megalogenis and Radio National's Fran Kelly.
Blair : The one thing that's interesting about this...the more both parties bang on about the ETS, the more the public is disengaged. We had another poll today, saying, I think, only 14% of Australians think that climate change was an important issue. So, (this is) one of the great sweeping mysteries of our time. The biggest argument we're having right now time is what the temperature will be 100 years from now. And one of the big flaws about the Liberal Party's ETS is that it has an ETS. I know, privately, a lot of people in the Liberal Party are a lot more skeptical than Mr Hockey would let on.

(Insiders host) Barry Cassidy : But you haven't actually seen a poll that convinced you that the Coalition can vote against this and benefit politically.

Blair : Well, they might actually get some traction out of it. They might actually be seen to take a stance. At the moment it's arguments over tiny fractions. Anything with the word 'Copenhagen' in it will turn the public off.

Kelly : Yes, Tim, but as soon as you do that, then you're arguing, well, what next for climate change? So you're either arguing, we don't have to do anything right now...

Blair : Yeah, I'll vote for that.

Kelly : Yeah, I know, but I don't think a lot of the public would. I think the people are convinced that something is happening and something needs to be done.

Megalogenis : NewsPoll has tried to ask this question every which way, and the answer still comes out the same. Two thirds or more of the electorate want action.

Blair : But as soon as you put that in monetary terms, as soon as you say, "How much are you going to sacrifice" or anything, then the number drops off.

Megalogenis : It doesn't drop as much as you think, because even half were prepared to pay more for petrol. But the more interesting thing that has happened in the polls this year, there is no distinction between the views of Coalition voters and the Labor Party. So basically, it's at the same 'Yes' rate.
Another recent poll backs George Megalogenis' claims :

Three-quarters of Australians believe that the price of fossil fuels should be increased to deal with climate change and 92 per cent believe a legally binding global climate deal is urgent and should be made at the conference to be held in Copenhagen in December.

A surprisingly consistent majority (about two-thirds to three-quarters) in most countries believed that fossil fuel prices should be increased....

An overwhelming majority of respondents globally (Australia 94 per cent, Indonesia 92 per cent, US 90 per cent, China 89 per cent and Russia 86 per cent) believed their government should give high priority to joining any deal made in Copenhagen.

The Liberal Party will have a new leader within a month, but whoever that is, you won't see them fully opposing the introduction of an ETS, nor will they be embracing Andrew Bolt-style skeptic/denialist pronouncements ("Belief in man-made global warming will soon be laughed out of existence").

There is no potent political gain for the Liberal Party in embracing these positions, unless they want to make it all that much easier for The Greens to get that much closer to finally replacing the Libs as the second most powerful political party in Australia.