30
Aug
2018

Waiting for Godot?

Waiting for Godot?

My Commentary on 27/8 was headed “Better Than Turnbull, but …”. This qualification reflected my concern about Morrison’s decisions on the composition of Cabinet but also about the fall in the Coalition’s 44/56 TPP in the Newspoll. This suggested that he would be unlikely to be given a honeymoon and would need to get going if the Coalition is to “sell” policies which would be accepted at the next year’s election.

I followed that by sending a letter yesterday to The Australian suggesting that a statement on energy policy was urgently needed. That was not published and, although I did send it to some, I now repeat it to my full distribution list, viz

The sacking of Malcolm Turnbull for the second time primarily because of his climate change policy must surely send a message to the Morrison government, viz most Liberal MPs reject action to reduce carbon emissions which result in higher electricity prices and reduce Australia’s competitiveness. Scott Morrison himself is reported as declining to acknowledge human induced climate change exists and has appointed an energy minister (Angus Taylor) who is reportedly sceptical about the thesis of dangerous global warming.

But what is urgently needed is a statement of policy based on Australia not leading the way in the Paris accord but giving priority to the avoidance of action which has adverse effects on our economy, as many other countries are doing. It should also indicate that the latest expert analysis here in Australia suggests that the moderate warming in temperatures is due more to natural causes than to emissions of fossil fuels. As former supervisor of the Bureau of Meteorology (William Kininmonth) concluded in yesterday’s Quadrant , “the Paris Agreement has been negotiated from faulty premises”.

Although Morrison has succeeded in getting publicity for having told new energy minister Angus Taylor that his prime task would be to reduce electricity prices, no indication has been given as to how this might be achieved and to what extent. It is relevant that earlier tonight on Sky News Andrew Bolt pointed out that it is important to make a policies announcement asap.

Also relevant to Morrison’s apparent reluctance to make such an announcement at least in general terms is the attached article by The Australian’s National Editor Simon Benson. He suggests that the composition of the Cabinet “reveals an underlying and inherited structural weakness to Morrison’s leadership” and that this “renders it potentially unstable” (see Benson on Control by Moderates).

In similar vein, Terry McCrann argues that in regard to the banks Morrison has “to deal with them in super-quick time; going to the election with a “trust us, we’ll make the banks behave, some time in the future, if we get re-elected”, just won’t do. It would also look a — potentially, very big — gift horse in the mouth. He needs to see the bad behaviour of the banks exposed by the RC not as a problem but as an opportunity; a huge opportunity on so many levels (see McCrann on Banks et al).

It is too late now to change the composition of Cabinet. Morrison will have to involve himself more closely with those portfolios where there are “structural weaknesses”. The need to get cracking is reinforced by the announcement by Julie Bishop that she will stay in Parliament and by Julia Banks (a Victorian MP who was a Turnbull strong supporter) announcing that she will not contest the seat she holds at the next election.

Already we see a fragility in Morrison’s unexpected win as PM. This may be able to be reduced by effecting a policies announcement.

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