Australian Liberal Party’s Climate Policy

Australian Liberal Party’s Climate Policy, by Graham Lloyd.

Climate-change politics has claimed another political leader in Bill Shorten. The lesson of climate overreach has been relearned.

The Australian public supports action on climate change but is not prepared to bet the house of it. …

The inside story of how Labor’s climate change election was derailed in Australia provides a fascinating insight into how a small group managed to turn Labor’s perceived strength into one of its greatest weaknesses. The strategy involved two conservative think tanks, former deputy prime minister John Anderson and Mitch Hooke, the architect of the mining tax campaign that beat the Rudd government into submission.

To succeed, the group had to overcome resistance from within the Liberal Party, persuading Tony Abbott to drop the call to leave the Paris Agreement and encouraging moderates in vulnerable city seats to hold their nerve.

Major mining and business groups shunned the plan, which was executed with the help of individual philanthropists. …

The key was to steer the climate change narrative away from science and morality and back to economics and cost.

All major players — Anderson, Hooke and Nick Cater from the Menzies Research Centre — had links to modeller Brian Fisher [whose house was egged recently]…

All insist Fisher was free to act independently but his work was underpinned by support from the Menzies [MRC] and Page foundations and injected by them into the political arena for maximum impact. …

The big aim was to turn discussion of climate and energy policy from an emotionally charged argument about science to a discussion about economics. …

Anderson says neither Page nor Menzies directly funded the Fisher research but both could see the significance of it.

The conclusion was that Labor’s overreach on climate was as much a problem for the party this election as it was in 2013.

Fisher’s modelling on costs, clearly, had the capacity to prompt a turnaround in sentiment. …

Fisher has been left dazed and partly bruised by the experience but says his research was always completely independent. … Fisher says he was not supported in the research, which has cost him “a bloody fortune”.

Fisher is surprised at the reaction his research has provoked.

“There has always been debate and a lot of robust discussion in an intellectual sense, but I have never encountered a situation where people became bordering on violent,” Fisher says.