Opinion Pieces


April 24, 2019

The climate change debate we’ve seen in the last few days has not impressed the voters I’ve been talking to. As predictable as the sunrise, it has been dominated by nonsense claims being thrown about by the Liberals and some parts of the media about the economic impacts of Labor’s Climate Change Action plan. This debate hasn’t been about the costs of climate action or the costs of Labor’s or the Liberals policies, and it certainly hasn’t been about the costs of inaction on our kids and grandkids.

It’s the same old scare campaign we’ve seen from the Liberals since Tony “unsettled science” Abbott took the leadership of the Liberal Party nearly 10 years ago.

It centres on attempts to convince Australians that tackling climate change is going to wreck the economy, that we can’t afford to act, that it’s all too hard or not even needed, and we’re better off having fig-leaf policies that have been proven to be ineffective and expensive, while pollution keeps rising and climate change keeps getting worse.

The reality about climate action is quite different from the claims of doom and gloom. Labor’s 2030 commitment to deliver 50 per cent renewable energy has been estimated to bring power prices down and create 70,000 new jobs. Our Hydrogen plan will lead to 16,000 jobs in the export sector alone. Our EV policy to deliver 13,000 jobs by 2030 and cut fuel bills for motorists, saving $500 at the bowser a year. Transitioning to a clean economy isn’t a cost, it’s an opportunity for innovation, new industries and new jobs.   

But we’re stuck in endless fear campaigns rather than talking about the economic opportunities of climate action, because the Liberals are hopelessly divided on this important issue and can’t seriously address the threat of climate change. No one has made this point more clearly than Malcolm Turnbull. After he was removed from the Prime Ministership for daring to try and implement a credible climate and energy policy, Turnbull hit the nail on the head when he said:

“The truth is … the Liberal Party and the Coalition is not capable of dealing with climate change.”

So what we get is ridiculous numbers that bear no resemblance to reality or Labor policy, being trumpeted about to distract from the Liberals’ own internal divisions and to scare the Australian people.

There is little doubt we’ll keep seeing these scare tactics over the weeks ahead leading to the election on 18 May: more hysterical claims, based on more ridiculous, rigged modelling, because that’s the only strategy the Liberals have to deal with one of the most serious and pressing challenges, and greatest opportunities, facing Australia and the world.

The business community, the Institute of Company Directors, the scientific community, the RBA and the broader Australian community know it’s time for these ridiculous climate wars to end. They’re who Labor stand with and it is time that the Liberals did the same.
This opinion piece first appeared on The Big Smoke on Wednesday, 24 April 2019.