After yet another week where politics was dominated by climate change and asylum seekers an issue that many thought went out of fashion with the Cold War trumps both: the protection of Australian jobs and industries.
Despite unemployment sitting at historic low levels, this week’s Essential Report shows industry protection is the sleeping giant of the national debate, trailing only economic management and health as a voter priority.
And with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott working tirelessly to derail the carbon price; embracing industry policy could be the Government’s best bet at neutralising his scare campaign on jobs
The compelling narrative emerging from the Canberra Press Gallery is that Labor is dead, Gillard is a dud leader and the whole show should put itself out of its misery and hand power to the Coalition.
It’s a message reinforced with the release of each major opinion poll; take this week ‘Budget falls flat’, ‘Gillard on the nose’, ‘More troubles with boatpeople’.
The problem is that polls and analysis are completely different beasts and if you judge the national debate purely on the numbers, there is a very different story – a government weighed down by a major reform, stabilising in key areas.
1. Preferred Party
The Coalition has an election-winning lead, but it is two years out from the election. The polling numbers have been stable since the announcement of the carbon tax – proof that Labor requires a long game if it is to win the next election.
This week’s Essential Report actually picks up a minor bounce to Labor, exaggerated by some rounding issues, but like the other polls, Labor is behind but not miles behind.
|2PP||Election 21.8.10||4 weeks ago||2 weeks ago||Last week||This week|
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.
It was a year ago today that the hottest gig in global warming opened in Copenhagen, amidst expectations that the world’s leaders would rise above their geographical interests and make a stand for the future.
Twelve months on and the hopes of Copenhagen seem as retro as a Midnight Oil album, the world has opted to sleep even when our beds are burning.
While the lack of political action over the past year has been well documented, this week’s Essential Report picks up another dynamic that is both a response to and a driver for this inertia. For the first time, we have found less than 50 per cent of Australians think climate change is real.
|Dec 10||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
|Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity||45%||53%||32%||76%|
|We are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate||36%||27%||53%||14%|
As the Federal Government attempts to quell the backlash to its plans to save the Murray Darling by slowing the process to a crawl, it would do well to consider the lessons of the recently aborted Emissions Trading Scheme.
If there were a structured training program for politicians (and maybe there should be) the former Rudd government’s failure to deliver on its commitment to address climate change would be a required text.
It is a story of how tortured process can kill off reform, confuse would-be supporters, drain the public of confidence in their government and ultimately leave leaders in a no-win situation.
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