The Opposition is supposed to help a new government after an election
Labor under Julia Gillard introduced a carbon pricing scheme in order to 'make big polluters pay', and therefore curb carbon emissions. Unfortunately, prior to the 2010 election, Ms Gillard had promised she would never do such a thing. But, without a majority and having to court Greens and Independents in order to govern, she changed her mind.
Leaving aside the fact that a significant proportion of Aussies males were, are, genetically averse to a female in charge of the country; and even greater numbers of citizens of either sex are seemingly unaware that climate action is going to necessitate higher electricity prices and a curtailing of many aspects of their privileged lifestyle; carbon pricing was never going to be popular, despite household rebates. The then Opposition, led by Tony Abbott, rested their pre-2013 election platform on three bullet points – stopping the boats (of asylum seekers), repealing the carbon 'tax', and getting the economy back to black.
No one with even the slightest grip on political reality expected Labor, by now led by second-time-around Kevin Rudd, to win. And they did not. In the House of Reps, after the two-party-preferred vote, the Coalition (of Liberal and National parties) had 53.49 per cent and Labor 46.51 per cent.
As the old Opposition took up the strings of power, Abbott duly introduced his carbon tax repeal legislation, declaring that, since he had a mandate from the Australian people, the new Opposition should fall in behind his proposal for abolition. He knew, of course, that his only chance of getting the law through the Senate would be when its composition changes in July this year. Then, a scattering of more sympathetic cross-benchers will take their seats and the Greens and Labor may no longer be able to block the repeal.
Mr Abbott is in a bit of a hurry to get done what he said he would do. The stopping of boats isn't going too well at present, and the task of fixing the budget may be larger than Treasurer Joe Hockey. Hence the pressure on Labor to help him realise his carbon tax dream.
So how exactly does this work? Labor are supposed to abandon their emissions policy and then what? Return to it at a later date, maybe with a different name, when they would undoubtedly and immediately be accused of duplicity? And this mandate? Surely, only if there had been a referendum on that one issue alone, would Abbott be able to say the Australian people had endorsed the repeal of the carbon price. Black and white. No ifs or buts. Did any voters vote on one issue alone? Maybe Abbott's charm and personality were as big a draw as his promise to line the pockets of little people as well as big mining. And if a single issue could possibly be identified, wasn't it anyone-but-Labor? Time for a change, and all that?
How Labor repackage their climate policy between now and the next election is a massive challenge. I'd love to think it was top of their to-do list, but I see little evidence of that.
I have never come across the suggestion that an Opposition party support a recently-elected government to undo the former's legislation. Especially not important legislation. Drastically reducing Australia's vast emissions should be a bipartisan issue. And if the LNP were calling for all-party support to implement measures up to the task of tackling the crisis, there wouldn't be anything not to get.
Obsession with Aussie crime cases
There can be no other word for the national fixation about a convicted drug mule with a classically bogan name who was recently paroled in Bali. There is much speculation about the many possible reasons for this preoccupation. I tentatively explored the issue with one Australian friend, but we quickly lost the will to live.
I am extremely grateful for two things: that I didn't live here in 2004-05, when the Bali incident happened; the proceeds-of-crime laws in Australia, otherwise we'd hear about her for ever more.
This post was last edited on 11 November 2016