Election 2010: Climate role in choosing new government

Parliament House, Canberra

It will be down to a bunch of independent MPs to determine whether Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott forms the next Australian government, with both the major parties unable to command an overall majority. Three of them are small-c conservative, and would prima facie favour the Coalition, one is left-wing, and they have vowed to act as a “block” – all plumping for one option or the other to ensure “stable government”. But their views on the climate issue are diverse, as The Sydney Morning Herald reports, and bear in mind of course when reading this that the SMH wants Labor back in office:

Two likelihoods arise from Saturday – that Labor will eventually concede that it has been punished in part for its dismal failure to live up to expectations on climate change, and that four of the five men likely to share the House of Representatives crossbench will want to see the next government do more.

The fifth, renegade former National Bob Katter, doubts that man-made climate change exists. Whoever forms government, finding common ground to get a climate change policy through the lower house is not going to be easy. But neither will it be impossible.

Rob Oakeshott, independent member for Lyne, yesterday said an emissions trading scheme would be a key issue in the next Parliament. He voted in favour of the ALP’s shelved scheme, having earlier proposed amendments to bring it more into line with the cleaner model proposed by former Labor climate adviser Ross Garnaut. Oakeshott also backed the Greens’ push for a feed-in tariff to develop renewable energy. During the campaign he warned the ”do nothing” approach on climate was a lose/lose approach that would lead to rapidly increasing electricity prices and loss of quality of life.

Tony Windsor is harder to read. In 2008, he introduced a private member’s bill that included a target of a 30 per cent cut in emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 – far beyond what the major parties are proposing.

But he voted against Labor’s emissions scheme and has signalled he would prefer measures to directly boost renewable energy to a carbon price. He has not indicated that climate change would be a major issue in deciding which party should form government.

Andrew Wilkie views climate change as a social justice issue [as all far-left wingers do] and has backed a carbon price as the best way to cut emissions.

Oakeshott and Wilkie might struggle to find common ground on climate with a Coalition government, which would make Australia one of only three G20 countries to be led by a vocal climate sceptic.

Read it here.


  1. While the independents might secretly wish for an ETS, their electorates probably don’t. It all depends on whether they’re going for personal glory or longetivity in politics. The road to minority governments is littered with the bodies of independents who thought they could work a good deal for themselves whilst ignoring their support base. You’ll note that the ‘Fishers and Shooters party’ and ‘One Nation’ combined Senate votes in those electorates outpolled the Greens. It’s not ETS heartland at all. The Libs changed their policy on the basis of hearing from their support base, it’s not unreasonable that any of the independents wouldnt’ act the same way.

    The greens have already knocked back the ETS, and with increased numbers in the Senate are likely to be more demanding. Labor is running scared of Tony Abbot and his ‘great big new tax’ line, and they certainly are in no position to have the electorate spooked any further. The ETS backflip was a major factor in the governments downfall and with a stated policy for 2013, further backflipping is going to erode what little credibility they have left on this issue. Most other countries in the world have given up, and the carbon markets are rife with corruption and thin trading levels. Without the USA and China on board, it’s going to be a frivolous exercise doomed to failure.

    The other angle is that with Labor essentially having no policy on Global Warming, and Liberals essentially headed by a climate skeptic, all of the ‘Global Warming is important to me’ vote went to the Greens, at least on primary votes. Yet the Green vote nationally was about 10-15%. From this we can deduce that only 10-15% thinks that ‘action on climate change’ is important enough to decide their vote. In a stable democracy (which we have, despite a hung parliament) 10-15% support on a nationwide economic policy means it is doomed never to be implemented. There’s only one or two scenarios where it can get up, and about 100 scenarios where it gets defeated. Numbers in the Senate are useless if you don’t have the numbers in the House of Reps to put the legislation up in the first place.

    No, I think the ETS is a toxic policy that will continue to claim any leaders who try and dance with it. The body count is rising : Turnbull, Rudd, Gillard…perhaps we might be adding some independent MPs to this list. It takes 1000 words to explain, and 5 words or less to destroy.

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