After years of dithering here in Australia, we have finally chosen a government that ‘will act on climate change’. So said Penny Wong as she welcomed the new prime minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, to the stage last night. I would argue it is mass delusion to suggest that we can change the climate – but the political desire for ‘climate action’ has been gathering for perhaps four decades and last night it was realized.
It has always been about politics. Beginning back in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher wanted to close-down the coal mines because of her increasing impatience with Arthur Scargill, then president of the National Union of Mineworkers. That was when the first absurd links were drawn between coal mining and the possibility of a climate catastrophe. She saw local advantage that was leveraged into geopolitical advantage through the Kyoto Protocol.
Postal votes have not yet been tallied in this 2022 election, but it would appear the big winners are the Teal Independents backed by billionaire climate activists Simon Homes à Court – I understand there may be 10 of these Teal Independents in the new parliament, representing Australia’s most tertiary educated and privileged who live in inner-city Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.
These are all women. I would argue unaware of the extent to which their election will favour the fortunes of already rich white men so heavily invested in so-called renewables and carbon trading they can’t afford for it to fail. These men don’t actually produce very much, rather they mostly make their money out of corporations’ dependent on government-funded schemes, mandates and subsidies including for particular types of electricity-generating energies. For example, I know a fellow who campaigned for Allegra Spender, the daughter of fashion designer Carla Zampatti, one of the so-called Teal Independents. Spender appears to have won the inner-city Sydney-seat of Wentworth. This Wentworth resident and Spender-supporter made his money out of selling insurance, then bought property in regional New South Wales that now has a windfarm that pays him $250,000 every year in rent. He has sold all the cattle that once populated the farm because they emitted carbon. He didn’t build the wind farm, and he doesn’t sell the wind, he just gets paid for owing the land.
Previous Australian governments have included enthusiastic climate alarmists, but the difference with this new Labor government that will likely govern with the support of Homes à Court’s climate activists, is that there is theoretically no brake on them rushing to close-down all the productive industries that generate carbon emissions like cows and coal. Except, I’m not actually sure anyone will be able to make as much money out of wind farming, and trading carbon, if there is no coal to underpin it all – to leverage off.
At least two of the very high-profile Liberals beaten by the Teal Independents – Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong and Tim Wilson in Goldstein – profess to wanting to act on climate change and implement a ‘net zero’ emissions target. Indeed, there was little real difference in what Zoe Daniel (Teal Independent) versus Tim Wilson (Liberal) in Goldstein, and Josh Frydenberg (Liberal) versus Monique Ryan (Teal Independent) in Kooyong claimed to support during this last election campaign. But the Teals won perhaps because there was that much more conviction in their rhetoric.
I’ve had the opportunity over the last decade to discuss climate change with both Frydenberg and Wilson. Both are aware of the extent to which the climate emergency narrative – that well and truly underpins the election of the new Albanese government – is based on junk science, yet both have been keen to dismiss my evidence and run with the zeitgeist. It was the easy thing to do – it made political sense to them. It made political sense to Margaret Thatcher and now it underpins the wealth of so many, but is it actually sustainable going forward? What ultimately will everything be leveraged off? At what point does the house of cards topple, or will it just be the wind turbines?
Australia has well and truly caught the net zero bus.
It will be interesting to see how the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, makes it work, given he now has a clear mandate to achieve ‘net zero’ and start closing down particular industries.