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Canberra Today 15°/19° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

How politicians have deserted climate change

Cartoon: Paul Dorin

“In the most critical threat we have ever confronted – climate change – our federal politicians have thrown down their weapons and run from the battlefield,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.

THE Morrison Government’s decision to use funding designed for renewables in its “gas-led economic recovery” was the last straw. Our federal politicians, from both sides of the aisle, have betrayed us. 

Robert Macklin.

In the most critical threat we have ever confronted – climate change – they have thrown down their weapons and run from the battlefield. Collectively and individually, they have deserted in the face of the enemy. 

“New York Times” columnist Tom Friedman has used a different but equally apt analogy: “Your child is sick with a disease,” he writes, “and you decided to take her to 100 different doctors to get multiple opinions. Ninety-nine doctors give you the same diagnosis and prescribed treatment; one tells you that there’s nothing to worry about. What parents in their right minds would follow the advice of the doctor with the one-out-of-100 diagnosis?”

Either way, be it Trump and the Republicans or Morrison and the coalition, the failure to act rationally to oppose the disaster bearing down on all our lives is not just unacceptable, it is a profound dereliction of duty.

It gets worse. Australia’s loyal Opposition is unable or unwilling to either take up the discarded weapons or accept and pursue the diagnosis and treatment of the 99 doctors. As a group they’re utterly ineffectual. 

Their leader, “Albo” Albanese has been in the Parliament so long that his attitudes have become hostage to his professional pollsters. These soulless technocrats are dazzled by minutiae, adjusting and adapting their message to ever diminishing groupings. 

So Albanese is afraid to confront Joel Fitzgibbon in his Hunter Valley seat and two or three Queenslanders from coal country. The result is a fanciful commitment to carbon neutrality in 2050 without the most rudimentary “roadmap” to reach it.

The idea that a party needs only to identify a life and death issue such as climate change, do the hard yards to create the way through it, then trumpet the story from the rooftops is beyond their comprehension. 

Yet the truth is that if the cause is powerful enough an electorate really can be galvanised to deliver a landslide victory. If Fitzgibbon is lost in the avalanche, too bad; there’ll be half a dozen new Labor MPs to replace him.

And just when the Greens might carry the banner high, they’re so entangled in internal squabbles and mutual bitchery that their message is lost in transmission. Once again, they have failed their countrymen, just as they did when they voted against Rudd’s cap-and-trade scheme in 2009.

So, where to from here?

It would be great if somehow we were able to co-opt a leader who could bring together the “Thoughtful Centre” like the wonderful Birgitte Nyborg in that great Danish political drama series “Borgen”. I could think of half a dozen Australian women who could lead the march, two of whom are already in the Parliament – Helen Haines and Zali Steggall. 

But as yet neither singly nor together have they set out to bring other candidates into their campaign. And until then they, like the rest of us, will be frustrated and alienated by a system dominated by fossil fuel lobbyists and prancing political eunuchs.

So, what’s left? Since the parliamentarians have shunned and deserted us, maybe we should respond in kind. Just imagine if on election day we simply withheld our votes from all of them and wrote “Climate Change” on our ballot papers.

Would they listen then? 



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Ian Meikle, editor

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

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