Australian polls have plummeted, and the credibility gap I mentioned earlier has already translated into votes. Whether people agree or disagree with the Emissions Trading Scheme, no one is impressed when a leader hypes something in the most hyperbolic and inflammatory terms, then bails suddenly, as if it was not a big deal.
The front page of The Australian today:
KEVIN Rudd’s personal standing has taken a hammering after his decision to dump his climate change policy last week, and for the first time since 2006 the Coalition has an election-winning lead.
Curiously, while the Labor Party dropped 8%, the Greens primary vote (10%) didn’t pick up a single point. The Coalition (the main opposition) gained just 3% (to 43%), so most of the rest of the disillusioned voters went to “others and independents”. All the commentators are writing it up to the “Climate” issue.
It may have taken a long time to come, but eventually things based on bullying and bluster crash to Earth. Both sides of politics could have stood taller in this if they had bothered to get a forum of advocates and skeptics together in the same room (perhaps a Royal Commissioner’s room) to politely explain both sides of the story, and it should have been done in John Howard’s time when Kyoto was being floated. It’s not that they would have necessarily become skeptics, but they would have been informed–they would have realized that very little was as certain as the IPCC described–and that it was precipitously dangerous to base their own reputations on the one-sided propaganda material coming from there.
The last time the Coalition was in front on the two-party-preferred basis, according to preference flows at the last election, was in August 2006 when Kim Beazley was opposition leader and John Howard was prime minister.
It’s hard to imagine there won’t be a rebound for the Labor Party, but a major line has been crossed. Only a few months ago, hardly anyone would admit that the conservative Coalition even stood a chance. Now the tables have turned, and the number that decide elections, the “two party preferred” support, has the Coalition ahead 51% to Labor’s 49%.
I predicted the Labor Party would pay dearly on Nov 25th as I discussed the ETS legislation that at the time, appeared as if it would pass. It was the week following ClimateGate.
This now is the start of the Cliff of Political Oblivion. The Continental Shelf of Abject Derision looms.
The majority of the public will realize that the Labor Government has wrecked the economy over a fraud driven by status-seeking zealots and profit-seeking corporations, and Labor will be very unpopular. Then in the Labor Party the pragmatists will battle the politically correct (who will never concede). Climate change could tear the Labor Party apart sometime in the next few years.
This has by no means played out in full. It is probably only just beginning, but the signs of a new dynamic are there. The public is just beginning to understand the force of the money in climate, and the Labor Party is set for an internal civil war. The fastest way for Labor to neutralize this issue would be to convene a top independent scientific investigation to figure out the real risk-benefit ratio of curbing carbon emissions. Then they could blame the IPCC and the UN, and focus on real environmental problems like eroding top-soil and falling fish stocks. And pigs will sing the National Anthem.
This is by no means over. Tony Abbott thinks Rudd just wants to take the ETS off the election agenda (since an election later this year is likely) then introduce it in some guise anyway. Rudd is still funding The Federal Climate Change Department to the tune of $90 million a year. As Simon Benson points out, to maintain the stalled Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, there are 61 senior bureaucrats earning top-notch salaries of up to $298,000 each.
“But none of the 408 staff within the department will be shed even though the department’s key function, the CPRS, has been axed.”
Hat-tip to the ClimateGate whistle-blower or hacker whoever you are. Thank you.