Climate politics helped grow the seeds for the Liberals’ near collapse.
ANYONE keen to discover the origins of the Liberal Party’s December near split between pro and anti Malcolm Turnbull forces need go no further than reading the essay by Victorian policy analyst, Ray Evans, in the just-released 538-page book, The Howard Era.
In fact, State Scene urges a reading of Mr Evans’ chapter, ‘John Howard and the Environmentalist Movement’, and the 20 other chapters by some of Australia’s leading no-holds-barred political analysts.
Open-minded readers will undoubtedly conclude that, where John Howard was good he was excellent, and where he was bad he was awful – meaning the years 1996-2007 were a mixed bag.
One area in which his performance was indisputably awful was environmentalism.
No only was he out of his depth, but he made two disastrous appointments as environment minister – Ian Campbell (2004-07) and Malcolm Turnbull (2007).
State Scene has it on good advice that Mr Campbell as minister was under Mr Turnbull’s tutelage, being told what to do and how.
If Mr Campbell, a member of the Australian Democrats before joining the Liberal Party to become a key Noel Crichton-Browne factional chief, disputes this he should put his case on the public record promptly.
Mr Evans’ analysis begins by quoting the late American sociologist, Aaron Wildavsky, on what the climate warming crusaders ultimately sought.
Wildavsky warned in 1992 that that campaign was set to be a world-wide crusade: “Capable of realising the environmentalists’ dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favour of a smaller population eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.”
This crusade of hysteria against life-sustaining carbon therefore sought to institute total control of entire populations resembling what George Orwell warned against in the 1940s.
Little wonder Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus, author of, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, said: “I understand that global warming is a religion conceived to suppress human freedom.
“It is used to justify an enormous scope for government intervention vis-a-vis the markets and personal freedom.”
Unfortunately Messrs Howard, Campbell and Turnbull aren’t in President Klaus’s league.
They had instead set about imposing, with Kevin Rudd’s help, upon Australians precisely the ‘brave new world’ President Klaus warnsed against.
And the Liberals, by belatedly ousting Mr Turnbull by just one vote, nearly split their party but stopped it venturing into being one that valued enslavement over freedom.
Mr Evans writes: “John Howard has always regarded the environmentalist movement as just another interest group whose demands had to be balanced according to the political leverage they could exert and the economic costs of acceding to those demands.
“The problem was further complicated by the fact that environmentalism had many adherents within the ranks of the Liberal Party, both in parliament and within the rank and file.
“But instead of maintaining a constant opposition to the environmentalists, within and without the Liberal Party, Howard sought to appease them when he thought it was necessary; to trade with them if he found it convenient to do so; and to finesse them for political gain as he did with the logging industry in Tasmania prior to the 2004 elections.”
Although Mr Howard made a lot of his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol he – under Messrs Campbell’s and Turnbull’s guidance – set about going even further than Kyoto envisaged.
Mr Evans points out that by the late 1990s the later Campbell-Turnbull headed Department of the Environment, [had] now metamorphosed into the Orwellian entitled Department of Climate Change.
“Throughout the West the Greens, for more than 20 years, have demanded that we should shut down our nuclear and coal-burning power stations, and replace them with renewable energy.
“‘Wind and solar’, is the endlessly repeated incantation.
“This demand had received only lip service in Australia until December 1997, when Howard was persuaded to commit to requiring electricity suppliers to purchase electricity from renewable sources such as windmills, whenever the windmills happened to be delivering power.
“It was a decision taken without cabinet discussion or approval and it provided a secure financial platform for an ever-hungry, rent-seeking industry.
“The first commitment was for an additional 2 per cent of electricity that was to come from “renewable or specified waste energy”.
“Although an additional 2 per cent by 2010, on the basis of a 1997 consumption of 250,000Gwh would have been 5000Mwh, the (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target) was almost doubled, somehow, to 9,500 Mwh.”
Highly taxpayer-subsidised windmill megalomania will only end when Australians endure a summer when power-generating capacity fails to meet demand.
When that happens, wait for Liberal and Kevin Rudd-led Laborites to point at engineers and power utilities, when in fact they’re the culprits.
Mr Evans says the origins are found in Mr Howard’s negotiations with the Democrats – Mr Campbell’s former party – in exchange for their support for the GST legislation.
“In 1999, as part of the deal with the Democrats to get the GST legislation through the Senate, the Howard government passed the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” he writes.
“This legislation gave to the federal minister for the environment unprecedented powers to block any project which came within the reach of the Act.”
This Act’s objectives were:
• conserving Australia’s biodiversity;
• protecting biodiversity internationally by controlling the international movement of wildlife;
• providing a streamlined environmental assessment and approvals process where matters of national environment significance are involved;
• protecting our world and national heritage; and
• promoting ecologically sustainable development.
All these mean ever-more Canberra bureaucratic control with environment ministers now being able to get involved in any developmental projects they wish; centralism with a vengeance.
Put otherwise, Messrs Campbell and Turnbull took-over a department with powers equal to wartime departments during 1940-46.
In early 2007, Mr Howard arranged for his top bureaucrat, Peter Shergold, to draw-up plans for the implementation of an emissions trading scheme.
By June, the Shergold Report was ready.
“Dr Shergold said work should begin now on setting targets, establishing emissions monitoring systems, creating legislation, setting up an independent regulator, allocating permits and engaging international partners,” one report said.
“Dr Shergold added that the Kyoto Protocol was fundamentally flawed because it lacked a pathway for developing nations to cut emissions. ‘We need to move beyond Kyoto,’” Mr Shergold said.
Mr Evans writes: “Malcolm Turnbull was appointed to succeed Ian Campbell and he lost no time in seeking to white-ant Howard’s policy of non-ratification of Kyoto.”
In October 2007, just before the federal election, Messrs Howard and Turnbull, précised Shergold’s report, calling this cut-down version the Clean Energy Plan for Australia, without the Coalition party room debating it.
Mr Evans says: “Although Howard let it be known privately that he was skeptical of the claims made by the IPCC, the CSIRO and the Australian Greenhouse Office concerning anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the earth’s climate, publicly he never voiced any criticism of these institutions.
Messrs Campbell and Turnbull had swung a gullible vote-chasing Mr Howard their way and thereby laid the basis for the near party split of December 2009, something that may still happen.