Enter Cosgrove

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I may elaborate on that later on…

Let me add that I think General Peter Cosgrove is a pretty good choice as Governor-General of Australia.

In Abbott should heed Cosgrove’s warning about the republic Alan Stokes reminds us about General Cosgrove’s 2009 Boyer Lectures:

In his 2009 Boyer lectures for that lefty elitist inner city money-guzzler ABC Radio National, Cosgrove said Australians are at once politically lazy and acutely politically sensitive.

We are, he said, sometimes blithely disengaged from all the noise and heat of the day to day political dialogue and combat.

”We leave that to the political class, and if they get too noisy and are not doing their jobs properly, we tip them out.”

Cosgrove hardly fits the far right anti-multiculturalism view either: ”We worry greatly about immigration issues because we know intuitively that we need and want successful immigration well into the future … to enrich our society in spiritual, cultural and material ways. We worry because it can put at risk one of the greatest treasures of our identity, our social cohesion … it is unthinkable for us to see it degrade.”

On indigenous affairs he said, ”Things cannot be right in the Australia of our minds if there is a remediable inequity in our society.”

Cosgrove supported immediate action on climate change, too. ”Let’s not muck about any more, let’s start now to solve the problems that we own,” he said.

And from the final 2009 Boyer lecture:

If there is a truly modern challenge, it is the spectre of climate change of such a profound nature as to threaten livelihood and even lives. Before a growing weight of scientific opinion drew the issue to worldwide attention, our energy concerns focused on the rapid rate at which we were drawing down the global stock of petro carbon energy resources. Sustainable and renewable energy options became priority subjects for research and development. With the advent of climate change predictions and the early evidence of global warming, this research and development gained enormous extra impetus.

The sort of climate change evidence and predictions shown to us were dire. Rising temperatures, melting ice caps, substantial rises in sea levels, disappearing islands and coastal communities, species destroyed, agriculture stifled for lack of irrigation, untold numbers of people without the food or water to survive. Say all that to me and I say back to you, ‘you have my full attention’ and ‘can you prove all that?’ To a large degree at the moment the climate change debate is a battle for the minds of the vast unscientific multitudes who must believe in order to act or to permit governments to act.

To me the science on either side of the debate resembles the sort of military intelligence I have been considering over the long decades of my military service: fact-based but leading from there with a series of assumptions to a future scenario upon which in all prudence we should base actions now and in the future. The climate change debate is probably more rigorously based than the usual military intelligence estimate because the forward projections are based on some widely agreed formulae, whereas military intelligence estimates have to try to get into the mind of the potential adversary (always very tough—think about Saddam Hussein and WMD!) But we are left with a preponderance of scientific opinion pointing to dire outcomes and presently a minority who might be called ‘climate change sceptics’. So you and I have to balance what we have been told and decide if and how we will ‘pay it forward’.

I come at this from the viewpoint that while I really don’t know if all that I have been told is true but if we are at risk of quite catastrophic climate change outcomes, say during the life of grandkids who might come along for my wife and me, then I am very uneasy about dicing with their future. I am very conscious of the huge change in direction and the expense and the turmoil and the impact on jobs, entailed in a radical move to non-carbon energy for Australia. But if we don’t do it, a country with our values, a country presently in the top 20 wealthiest countries in the world, a country depended on by millions of people who are our powerless friends and neighbours, how can we expect other nations to act and thus offset our lack of action. So let’s not muck about any more, let’s start now to solve the problems that we own.

At times like this when you are invited to act strategically, to look forward say 50 years, you see the downside of the relatively rapid electoral cycle of governments. The government of the day and the opposition are extraordinarily sensitive to the forthcoming federal election and the prism of the election and the need to retain or gain government starts to flavour agendas and actions. The will gets eroded and the intent gets blurred. I wonder if we need, through bipartisan support, a Commonwealth climate change commission with a charter and statutory powers to monitor and enforce a long duration, climate change mitigation strategy. We can’t have governments and oppositions daily scrapping over the concerted and co-ordinated action we need to take across the national community, if on a balance of probabilities we need to start our action now to avoid the climate change ‘noose’ sometime later in the century…