Main Image

03 November 2021

Wheels up. So far Prime Minister Scott Morrison's latest international innings is none for one.

He turned up in Rome this past weekend for the G20 Summit and immediately got tangled up again in the ugly diplomatic faux pas that is the entrails of the French submarine deal.

Now he's in Glasgow for the UN's Climate Change Conference (COP26) and we are peeking through our hands for the next embarrassing episode in Mr Morrison's climate charade. The fact that he has arrived a week after essentially announcing nothing in his own country is cause for concern and positively reeks of a Seinfeld script, the show that was famously "about nothing".

The Coalition have confirmed they would go to the next election with a net zero emissions by 2050 policy, but they released this with no costing and little detail.

It's impossible to swallow any climate change pretension from the same government of deniers who crucified Labor's policy at the last election.

Mr Morrison has sold us a lie for the price of the pomp and pageantry of turning up to Glasgow and putting on a pantomime performance for the ages.

Mr Morrison paints Australia small and Australians have cause to be extremely cynical and frustrated. After denying climate change existed and refusing to make inroads on what is one of the major crises of our times, they are trying to hustle us. Promising to be all things to all people.

The vast majority of Australians want to see action on climate change. We want it to work because we love our country and we want our world to be safe for our families and future generations.

Rather than coming up with a viable Australian solution, the Morrison Government is already costing us thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

It will leave it too late to spare our farmers, our coasts, our reefs, and the worst of what could come environmentally.

It will also see Australian families pay more for their energy and the cost of living keep rising.

Australia has a proud history of doing things our own way.

Way back at the end of the 19th century, our country invented the "third way" long before anyone else coined the phrase, we created the Australian way.

We built a political and economic system on the centre ground. A commonwealth in spirit, as well as name.

Since our earliest days we have worked together to provide a fair working system and one of the best social safety nets in the world.

The Australian way applies to every major reform that has made our lives fairer and better, and includes Medicare, universal superannuation and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

We have forged our future and made our nation the best place to live in the world and it's no coincidence that Labor has led the way on each of these seismic, life-changing benefits of being an Australian.

Now we must look at climate change in the same way.

The Australian way is about leading the world, not being dragged kicking and screaming. We have already left it too long.

Since 2013, we have watched successive Liberal Governments dodge all responsibility for protecting our environment. The Australian way is not about dodging the issue and shifting the burden onto future generations. Right now, we need to have a vision and take every single Australian on the journey.

Because each Australian is coming at this from different place, but the world is moving rapidly towards renewable energy and we need to find an Australian way forward.

We have a once-in-a generation opportunity for Australia to jump ahead of the pack. Labor leader Anthony Albanese and shadow minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen will continue to outline our party's way forward on climate before the next federal election.

While Mr Morrison is leaving Australia increasingly isolated on the world stage and refusing to provide leadership, a Labor Government will create jobs, cut power prices and reduce emissions.

On Mr Morrison's watch, 2700 clean energy jobs have disappeared. On the upside, Labor has already detailed plans and policies to drive down our emissions and create jobs.

While Mr Morrison embarrassingly said electric vehicles would end the weekend, Labor was already ahead of the curve. Our electric car policy now will make it cheaper for Australians by reducing tax on them.

We will create jobs through a program for new energy apprenticeships and we have the national reconstruction fund to support new industries.

It is a race to seize new economic opportunities for the regions and stop Australia becoming an automotive Third World country where we only get to buy the cars that no one else wants to.

The Coalition Government is divided on even the basic science of climate change.

It means that come wheels down in Australia next week, we can expect more of the same from the Seinfeld rip-off.


This opinion piece was first published in The West Australian on Wednesday, 3 November 2021.