January 25th 2020

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Wildfires: Lessons from the past not yet learnt

EDITORIAL America 'resets' foreign policy on China and Russia

CANBERRA OBSERVED After the fires, we still need an economy and to power it

GENDER POLITICS In trans Newspeak, parental consent is a 'hurdle'

REFLECTION Conjugal honour: Love of husband and wife joined together in pure intimacy

LIFE ISSUES Pro-lifers punished for exposing baby harvesting

LAW AND SOCIETY Cardinal Pell and the Appeal Court judges

LITERATURE AND SOCIETY The poetry of Distributism

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY Botany Bay: Always more than a dumping ground

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Finally getting Brexit done

HUMOUR The MacStuttles probe

MUSIC From retch to wretched

CINEMA Three times the bravura: 1917, The Gentlemen, Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon

BOOK REVIEW The contradictions of the dominant ideology

BOOK REVIEW Novel celebrates inventor of literary fairytales



HUMAN RIGHTS A Magnitsky-style law for Australia?

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After the fires, we still need an economy and to power it

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, January 25, 2020

Undoubtedly the fires of the summer of 2020 have altered the political conversation in Australia about climate change, but to what extent and what will be the actual response?

If media groupthink is any guide, the Morrison Government has not just been blistered but needs to be contrite for years of negligence that allegedly has contributed to the ferocity and scale of the disaster.

But it is also true that the Coalition won the federal election on the back of an energy policy that advocated for the continued export of coal.

The decisive Queensland vote – in support of jobs for the Adani coalmine – undoubtedly helped secure Scott Morrison his unlikely and unpredicted victory.

In fact, the last three elections have favoured the political party that advocated against a national price on carbon emissions and against the shutting down of coal exports.

Political leaders who lost their jobs from making the wrong political call on climate change include: Kevin Rudd, who went to water after calling it the moral challenge of this generation; Julia Gillard, who promised never to introduce a carbon tax and then proceeded to do so; and Malcolm Turnbull, who failed in his bid to have a bipartisan carbon emissions policy.

And yet there has been strong condemnation of the Federal Government for having “got it wrong” on climate change.

The vitriol against Scott Morrison has been unhinged as he has been labeled more culpable than the prolonged drought that has made the bush tinder try, more than the failure of state governments to reduce fuel loads or manage national parks properly, or the 180 alleged arsonists who have been arrested since the beginning of 2019.

The question is, what must be done now?

Mr Morrison says he wants to do more to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, but says correctly that he doesn’t want to do anything that will destroy jobs or harm Australia’s economy.

Which means sensible solutions that will actually work.

Switching to nuclear power is an obvious option if the Government were to move away from coal as a base-load electricity source, but a nuclear power plant is 10 to 15 years away at least.

Writing in The Australian newspaper, business commentator Robert Gottliebsen also acknowledges that the biggest single change the fires have created is that a much greater proportion of Australians now believe carbon is generating a climate problem.

Whether their conclusion is right or wrong is irrelevant, he says.

“Once a community has a clear view, they expect their politicians to respond – that’s why Scott Morrison is looking at new emissions targets,” Gottliebsen wrote.

However, the requirement is for practical solutions rather than for prime-ministerial virtue signalling.

“The PM must urgently accelerate his major commitment at the election to make Tasmania ‘the battery of Australia’. Tasmania has excess hydro capacity; but to get it to the mainland requires another interconnector,” he wrote.

“It’s only with that sort of connection that we can provide proper backup for the renewable generation installed by NSW, Victoria and South Australia. We also need better connections between the Snowy Scheme and Victoria.”

Other ideas worth considering include proper management of forests, which are in fact giant carbon storages; using indigenous rangers for proper reduction of fuel loads; more regular fuel-load reductions; and reintroducing cattle into the high country to reduce undergrowth.

Australian households have strongly embraced solar power for their homes but, according to Gottliebsen, the Federal Government should itself embrace big solar projects like the inland solar power plant to power Singapore – being proposed by billionaires Twiggy Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes – or even a solar and pumped-hydro scheme to divert water from North Queensland to the Murray-Darling food bowl.

Linking arms with the chorus of people urging “action” on climate change without actually doing anything is futile but sometimes awful events are the catalyst for bold, long-term thinking.

And that is where Mr Morrison’s real opportunity lies.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm