On the subject of...

Climate Change

8
Apr
2017

Turnbull’s Polling & Policies

The lead up to the Budget (on Tues 9 May) is normally pretty quiet except for advance leaks by the government on what we might expect – or not. So far the main possibility being foreshadowed is action to reduce housing “affordability”, which sounds like a worrying move by a government which should be reducing expenditure. But as it happens, some other issues have emerged since Parliament had the break after two weeks in Canberra.
4
Apr
2017

Turnbull’s Polling & Developments in Climate Policy

The Newspoll published yesterday showed a return of the Coalition to the rating of 47/53 after the upward blip to 48/52 in mid March. Turnbull’s net satisfaction rate continued to slide, now to the worst since becoming PM, while Shorten’s rose to be a fraction above Turnbull’s (the graph below tells a story in itself). The only poll now favouring Turnbull is the Better PM one but even there his rating fell while Shorten’s improved to 32/41. As The Australian’s Political Editor has pointed out, “The message is that voters are in no mood to reward Turnbull for making progress on his old agenda. Why should they, if they think he is heading in the wrong direction? For any other prime minister, the solution would be a bold new direction on a social or economic issue, but this is fraught with danger for Turnbull … The alarms are sounding for the entire Coalition, not just the Prime Minister. Turnbull cannot win from making incremental progress alone. He will have to do something far more dramatic”.
2
Apr
2017

Turnbull at Vic Council & US Congress Science Committee

Today’s Sunday Age interprets on its front page Turnbull’s address yesterday to the Victorian State Council as a warning to the Liberal Party to avoid moving to the right and to recognise that it should “build from the centre, bringing people together” ( see attached). As I have suggested previously, the problem is that the centre has moved to the right both here and overseas and, although Turnbull has very recently made conservative noises, it is difficult to forget his widely regarded left of centre position. Interestingly, President Michael Kroger told the Council meeting that the “Liberal Party has run too many weak and soft campaigns against the Labor Party”. That should have been Turnbull’s “message”.
21
Mar
2017

What Energy Crisis?

Today’s Australian has devoted its entire Letters section to energy policy and the use of renewable as a part of climate change policy. My letter is published below and other letters are attached and are in a similar critical vein. They include one from Professor O’Brien (Adjunct to WA University), a physicist who has long been a critic of the so-called “consensus” on climate change - one of those many academics who do not subscribe to the “group” view which has prevailed for the last 30 or so years and whose views have been swallowed hook line and sinker by many political and business leaders.
21
Mar
2017

Newspoll & Why Policy Changes Must be Made

As a new Parliamentary week starts, the political editor of The Australian interprets the latest Newspoll as putting Turnbull “back in the game” (see below). But while the Coalition’s TPP has improved to 48/52 (from 45/55), it remains a long way short of a recovery let alone a Coalition leadership position. Importantly also, the polling still continues to confirm dissatisfaction with Turnbull. In terms of net satisfaction with leaders (only available on the web), Turnbull and Shorten are both about the same in negative terms (about -28) and, although Turnbull is slightly better than Abbott was when he lost the leadership (-33), he has lost the very favourable position he had when he took over in September 2015 (+19). He is also still below what he was even six months ago (-22). In reality, voters are very unhappy with both leaders and there is an opportunity for a new leader for either party.
18
Mar
2017

No Energy Crisis Exists

Has Turnbull found a policy to stop his and the Coalition’s decline in polling? Many commentators have certainly reacted favourably to his latest initiatives on energy policy and his claim that we are confronted by an energy “crisis”. But this is little more than a political ploy designed to retain his leadership. The whole exercise adds to concern over that.
6
Mar
2017

Bolt on Bishop & Related Matters

As Parliament takes a two week break (again!), Turnbull is given a rest from answering questions from Shorten and leading commentators search for important things to write or talk about. As usual, ABC News continues to focus on murders - but not political ones. In Western Australia polling suggests political casualties amongst supporters of Premier Barnett, indeed the likely loss of government there, with Turnbull having made a negative contribution on his sole visit during the election campaign according to The West Australian newspaper (it described his visit as “a damp squib” and claimed he was “hopelessly unprepared, atrociously briefed or both” on what to say about WA’s share of GST grants). Instead, Turnbull has gone to Queensland supposedly to help the Nationals combat the increasing influence of Pauline Hanson there. But Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce almost fell off his horse when he learned that Turnbull had taken a direct call from Pauline when she was meeting angry sugarcane growers and that Turnbull had apparently then agreed to discuss the issue with growers who had previously been unable to obtain a meeting with Turnbull ie his action effectively showed that One Nation has credibility with him and that the Nationals are being put aside as their vote is (supposedly) assured.
2
Mar
2017

Energy Policy & Global Warming

Yesterday I had a “coup”, with The Australian publishing a letter by me and giving it the heading “Bad Energy Policy” (see below). This relates to my comment in the letter that “Voters would have to choose between two bad policies, with the Labor Party offering results twice as bad”. Although the Editor deleted some bits from my original draft (as shown by the bits in square brackets), he has retained the reference to the letter sent by 300 scientists to Trump on global climate. Several scientists from Australia are signatories, including myself ( I have a BSc Econ Hons from the LSE and economics is a justifiable inclusion here). The language used in Lindzen’s letter and included in my letter below is particularly interesting in that it asserts that government actions to reduce emissions of CO2 produce no environmental benefit and in fact cause serioussocial and economic harm. This can be taken as the view of deniers rather than sceptics. Note also that the lead author, Dr Richard Lindzen, is a highly regarded atmospheric physicist who has deeply researched this subject and has communicated with me on it (to put me on the right track!).
27
Feb
2017

Turnbull Must Go

Today’s Newspoll shows that, despite Turnbull’s very recent decision to start attacking Shorten more aggressively, the Coalition’s polling has dropped a further percentage point (to 45/55 on a TPP) and Turnbull’s personal polling has dropped sharply to 29/59 satisfied compared with 33/54 last time. This has occurred after Shorten was not only unable to state the estimated cost of Labor’s 50% target for renewable energy but also announced that he would try to reverse the decision by Fair Work Australia to slightly reduce penalty rates even though he had previously supported a review when he was minister under Labor! With Labor on the back foot, the Coalition’s polling ought to have improved.
12
Feb
2017

What Next for Turnbull?

Turnbull’s attempted recovery from declining polls appears to involve two immediate strategies. First, expose and publicise dubious activity by Shorten when he was head of the AWU. Second, attack the energy policy adopted by Shorten now that he is leader of the Opposition. This approach seems to have been welcomed by most members of the Coalition and praised by some in the media, both of whom reacted with comments to the effect “why the hell has he taken this long to point out the defects in Shorten as Labor leader” or words to that effect.
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