I know that “borked” isn’t a terribly grown up word, but I like it. And unfortunately, I think it pretty accurately describes the direction Australia is currently headed in terms of environmental credibility.
Short overview of the current political situation in Australia for those lovely overseas folk who read along: The current party in power in Australia (by a very narrow margin) is the Australian Labor Party (ALP), led by Julia Gillard. Ms Gillard won the last election, but prior to that, had seized leadership of the party (and thus the Prime-Minister-ship) from our last PM, Kevin Rudd in an ALP leadership coup in 2010. Cue lots of public resentment, comments about lack of legitimacy, the inability of the ALP to function without backstabbing etc. In the Gillard government, Mr Rudd had the role of Foreign Minister.
Fastforward to last week. Mr Rudd resigns as Foreign Minister after weeks of speculation and general political nastiness. He decides to challenge Ms Gillard for the leadership. At this morning’s challenge, Ms Gillard wins, remaining as our apparently unpopular PM. The ALP has now shown a complete inability to function together without squabbling and seriously damages its credibility and has essentially handed the next election to the opposition Liberal Party (who, contrary to their name, are actually the conservative party…)
And therein lies the risk. Tony Abbott, the current Liberal Party leader, has some “interesting” ideas on the environment and climate change. There are a few of his comments listed in a table on the Skeptical Science blog, but the gist of it is “I think the climate change science is far from settled.” He fought ferociously against the Carbon Tax, partly on the basis of such “unsettled science” and partly on the basis that carbon emissions in Australia will still rise in spite of the tax (any better suggestions though, Mr Abbott?). To make his point, he got on stage with a trucker who suggested that Ms Gillard “shove the carbon tax in a place where the sun don’t shine” (see this article) and allowed himself to be photographed in front of this poster (referring to Ms Gillard):
Classy work, Mr Abbott. Really nice stuff.
The thought of someone who so openly plays to people’s most base fears, discouraging science and rationality, running the country is alarming. I really worry for the environment if he ends up as our Prime Minister.