Thank God Tony Abbott’s not running the country

Looking back over the past weeks my main feeling is a truly profound sense of relief. The fact that the usual suspects – so-called conservatives — are so unhappy about the toppling of Tony just proves how right it was that it happened. Bye-bye Tones…

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One could debate some of it, no doubt, but there is more than a ring of truth about the trenchant editorial in this week’s Saturday Paper.

Abbott is an experiment that failed. He is proof that Australia cannot be governed from the far right, just as it cannot be governed from the far left. He was the last hope and final holdout of a group of people wishing desperately against a modern Australia.

His time in the office leaves a hole in this country’s agenda. A period of incompetent stasis. Two wasted years we must now hungrily get back.

He will not be missed. He should not be praised. He was a failure selfishly wishing that the world would fail with him. We can only hope his like will not be seen again.

Just a bit of the coverage in recent days, beginning with an excellent analysis by Patricia Karvelas: Leadership spills: We now realise this is just the Westminster system in action.

The difference now is clearly linked to the unpopularity of Abbott. But there’s much more to it. After Rudd was removed, there was a genuine crisis about our democracy. Many Australians seemed genuinely offended by the Westminster rules and believed they had been essentially voting directly for a prime minister.

Now, five years later, that mythology has been debunked. Voters are acutely aware that the parties not only have the power to remove the prime minister but will do it if they feel it necessary. There is a quiet acceptance of this.

Next, do watch/read the special Four Corners Dethroning Tony Abbott.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Tonight on Four Corners: the undoing of a prime minister. How Tony Abbott was brought down.

MICHAEL YABSLEY, FORMER LIBERAL PARTY TREASURER: I think it was incredibly well executed.

JOURNALIST: How are you feeling, Mr Abbott?

MICHAEL YABSLEY: You don’t have a successful leadership challenge without there being blood on the floor.

CORY BERNARDI, LIBERAL SENATOR: There was treachery of the highest order. We had a prime minister that was torn down. Whether he was good, bad or indifferent, it’s my view – my firm view – that it’s wrong to do that to a prime minister, particularly in their first term of government.

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINSTER 2013-15: I’ve never leaked or backgrounded against anyone and I certainly won’t start now.

PETER COSTELLO, FEDERAL TREASURER 1996-2007: That is the business of politics. You know, you want to be a surgeon, don’t complain about blood…

Then be considerably encouraged by the way Malcolm Turnbull presented on 7.30.

LEIGH SALES: And is everything on the table?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, all – I’m not going to rule things in or rule things out. This is one of the – this is one of the Canberra games. One of the things I’m trying to do is to change the paradigm so that it’s a more rational one. You know, ’cause you get into this crazy situation where politicians are backed up by journalists or their opponents to say, “Rule this in, rule that out, rule this in, rule that out,” or they’re asked to say, “Will you guarantee that this policy will work?” And the truth of the matter is that when you’re considering reform, you’ve got to be prepared to consider all of the advice that you receive. I mean, clearly, there are practical limits as to what you would do. But the important thing is to be open-minded, consult, engage intelligently, explain the challenges to the public in a manner that respects their intelligence and then make a decision, and having made a decision, then argue, advocate, in other words, why your decision is right.

Finally, what we have lost is more of this: Tony Abbott’s department discussed investigation into Bureau of Meteorology over global warming exaggeration claims, FOI documents reveal. I find this quite shocking, if not surprising. Looks like “all crap” was Tone’s true position. Meanwhile Malcolm Turnbull is doing a delicate dance on the issue, as needs must. But we also know what his true position is, and can look forward to some more rationality than we saw in the past two years.

You do recall Malcolm Turnbull in 2009…

But hang on! Look at Malcolm Turnbull’s blog!

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, “bullshit.” Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words, electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions.

The term you will see used for this is “least cost abatement”.

It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for….

And that’s just his first point.

And the 2015 dance:

LEIGH SALES: again against this backdrop of your first principles that you’ve outlined. Given that you say that you are a believer in the free market, lean government and so on, why do you support sticking with the Direct Action plan on climate change, which is a massive government intervention rather than a market-based mechanism?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, look, it works, Leigh. The real objective of climate change policy is to cut your emissions and there are many different roads you can go down. There is…
LEIGH SALES: Why not go down with one though that actually matches your first principles and is a market-based one?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: No, but, just hang on. The object of climate policy is to reduce your emissions. There are many different ways you can do that. You can do that by regulation, you can do that by putting a fixed price on carbon, a carbon tax, you can do it by an emissions trading scheme, you can do it by a series of measures which people describe as Direct Action, but in truth, what Greg Hunt has set up is an emissions reduction fund. It’s capped. It has been very successful so far. It has reduced – it’s cut about 47 million tonnes of emissions at a price of less than $14 a tonne. So, the fact is that what Greg has designed is a set of measures that he and we are confident will be able to reduce our emissions at the rate we’re proposing at a very manageable cost. Now, that’s the – so, the answer is: what’s good about the Emissions Reduction Fund and the other mechanisms the Government has in place? What’s good about them is they’re working. So, we’re not looking for theoretical or economic theoretical purity here; we’re looking for practical measures that work and where there’s no doubt that the – all of the advice we have suggests that the Government’s policies will achieve the reductions that have been – that we’re taking to the Paris conference of the parties.

Let’s see what develops.

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