7
Aug
2018

Samuel Griffith Conference Showed Increased Conservatism

Climate Policy Must be Changed

The annual conference of the Samuel Griffith Society , which finished at 1.00 pm last Sunday after starting on Friday evening, was notable for many reasons but most importantly showed through those who spoke and attended that the “conservative” movement is strongly increasing. The expansion in the Society is due importantly to the contribution by leadership from Stuart Wood QC, who is also able to be a leading industrial relations barrister.

To portray conservatism as increasing may seem odd. But what is often overlooked is that conservatism often requires making changes in order to resist the pressure from those who want to expand the size of government, particularly the central government and at the expense of the states and what are their seemingly obvious functions.

We were fortunate in having a co-founder of the Society, John Stone, attend the conference and participate through some important commentaries from the audience. My only commentary was made on a paper by Archbishop Julian Porteous on freedom of religion, on which I suggested that Islamic religion did not qualify. This received much applause, although some suggest that the test is whether those who profess to be Muslims observe good behaviour in society.

It is appropriate to draw attention to some of the presentations. That made by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel drew attention to the difficulty of where to draw the line on the use of the defence power. From a political viewpoint the most important were those made by Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Campbell Newman. Copies of their presentations are only available for Abbott and the text of his is attached (see Abbott at SGriffith). This is well worth reading in full and, although wide ranging, it is remarkably short and yet succeeds in getting across important points, including some which are topical, such as

We have to keep reform alive because it’s the reforms of today that create the prosperity of tomorrow. Budget repair, federation reform, productivity reform and tax reform can’t stay in the too hard basket for the whole term of this parliament.

The attached report on Dutton’s address (see Dutton at SGriff 6/8) does not convey the extent of his address but it illustrates his preparedness to tackle difficult issues, viz

“We constantly see pressure heaped on businesses to observe all manner of left-wing ideological fetishes,” Mr Dutton said. “The difficulty is that many of these companies have now withdrawn completely from any discussion about economic or industrial relations policy. No company is out there at the ­moment flying the flag on business tax cuts, very few companies are talking about the need for industrial relations reform and it is not good for public debate.

“Economic reform becomes much harder if the government is left as a lone voice in any ­argument. “When the business community is more comfortable pursuing left political issues than it is standing up for its shareholders something has gone terribly wrong. “When Australian businesses are routinely bullied into supporting ideological positions, we have a big problem,” Mr Dutton said.

I managed to have a letter published in today’s The Australian drawing attention to the lead speakers and to the more coherent policies they advanced than those promulgated by Turnbull and some of his senior ministers. That letter is immediately below.

Liberal Woes are Opening the Door for Minor Parties

Letter Published in The Australian, 7 Aug 2018 (Bits in square brackets excluded by Ed)

[You draw attention to the failure of Turnbull and some of his senior minister to offer any explanation of the Coalition’s failure in the by-elections and to provide only limited explanations of its future policies on major issues such as immigration and energy]. Your editorial suggests that “last weekend must count as one of the final warnings” (“Coalition goes missing in urgent policy conversation” 4/8).

By contrast, attendees at the week-end’s conference of the Samuel Griffith Society in Brisbane heard excellent speeches on potential future policies by Campbell Newman, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton. It was hard not to think that a major change in the Coalition team is essential if it is to have a chance of winning the next  election.

One key policy change required is in the NEG. It is alarming to hear that Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg thinks more competition will come from the government providing “support for dispatchable new generation that supplies large commercial and industrial users” [(“ Competition the key to NEG-plus”, 3/8)]. How? Equally alarming is the claim that NEG would result in average electricity bills about $550 a year lower. Will NEG-plus mean even lower bills?

Des Moore, South Yarra

The Australian has also published an article by climate expert Ian Plimer who argues

We are in an electricity crisis because we are trying to decrease human emissions of carbon dioxide and have tied climate policy and electricity generation costs to emissions. A reality check is needed. Even if human-induced global warming could be shown, a reduction in Australian emissions, comprising 1.3 per cent of global annual emissions, is dwarfed by annual increases of 2 per cent globally and 4 per cent by China.  Australia’s symbolic suicidal climate policy just makes everybody poorer.  We face further turnover of prime ministers and governments until the costs and reliability of electricity are addressed and until the fundamentalist religious mantra that emissions drive global warming is rejected.(see Plimer Says Australia’s Climate Policy Suicidal)

As we approach the meeting with the states on Friday, we still have a failure by Turnbull/Frydenberg to explain and justify the NEG policy, except that it constitutes advice from “experts” (but not anyone of Plimer’s ability). I attach as a reminder a Commentary which I circulated on 21 July (see Some Realities Not Faced Under Proposed NEG).

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