Sex scandal! Now I have your attention, I want to talk about politics. That’s the show on TV where the woman with dyed red hair swaps insults with the boofhead in the suit.
These overpaid and out-of-touch liars run the country. But they never listen to us ordinary folk. While we are fed up with living costs and boats they just want to waste our money.
Labor’s hopeless: they stuffed up pink bats; wasted zonks in school halls; they can’t stop the boats and they want to bring in a big new tax on everything. And the other mob? Not much better: he says no to everything and wears budgie smugglers. I can’t stand either of them.
This is a pretty fair summary of the state of contemporary political debate; a series of swapped insults thrown at a disengaged electorate who has neither the time nor inclination to engage.
The future of the Gillard Government lies in its ability to untangle one of the most diabolical knots seen in recent Australian political history.
From a distance it just seems like an ungodly mess, but look closer and the carbon pricing scheme is a series of public policy SNAFUs all snagged around each other, that pull themselves tighter with each attempt to free up a strand.
Talk about national leadership and the line leads to pre-election lies; talk about science and the deniers claim two sides to a story that has long been settled; talk about investment in renewables and the fears of workers in carbon-exposed industries ring out.
This is indeed one hell of a knot. And the killer at the core of this tangle is the way talk of household compensation actually seems to fuel rising anxiety around cost of living pressures.
The climate change debate may be getting warmer with much hot air expended over who should and should not say “Yes”; but the real question for those who want action is “do you accept the science?”
More than party political affiliation, a belief that climate change is real is the key determinant of whether or not someone will support the Federal Government’s carbon price.
It stands to reason really; people who do not accept the science will be hard-pressed to be convinced of the need to pay more for carbon-based products – regardless of any compensation package.
Context is everything. All of a sudden Labor’s political predicament does not seem as dire; no-one is dead or missing; nuclear reactors aren’t melting down; the only after-shocks are electoral.
The enormity of the Japan catastrophe wipes everything else from public consciousness, allowing a wounded prime minister and her team to step back from the limelight, reflect and regroup.
As this week’s Essential Report shows, there is a path to repairing the damage the government has suffered and a way of setting up a debate that could, in the long-term, see it regain the political initiative.
Like so much in politics, the secret lies in the questions you ask. Ask whether people support a price on carbon and the answer is a decisive ‘no’.
The media works in eight-hour news cycles, politicians live and die by three-year cycles, while the planet’s climate is working on a significantly longer time frame.
The way these three cycles interplay over the next few months will determine not only the outcome of the next federal election but whether Australia will be a beneficiary or a victim of the shift in energy use that climate change will inevitably require*.
As this week’s Essential Report shows the Government has taken a short-term hammering after it’s decision to move on a carbon price. Not only has the Government failed to win popular support for its carbon pricing scheme, this has translated into a 4 per cent turnaround in the Two Party Preferred.
Of particular concern to Labor would be the high level of strong opposition, compared to strong support for the plan and the fact that barely half of Labor voters are backing the scheme.
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