Guest essay by Eric Worrall
It is a good day to be an Aussie climate skeptic. Two key small party senators, part of a group which holds the balance of power in Australia’s divided Federal senate, both agree a carbon tax is a bad idea, but for different reasons.
Senators clash over climate change
In an early forecast of the new Senate climate, a pair of crossbenchers have clashed over the best approach to take to environmental policy – though both agree tax isn’t the way.
One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts says he’ll only support policies based on empirical evidence, and he doesn’t believe the evidence shows any need to tax carbon dioxide.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm says his small-government party just doesn’t believe there should be more taxes, on anything.
‘Our policy is we’re politicians or political people, we stay out of the scientific debate,’ Senator Leyonhjelm told ABC TV on Sunday
‘Excuse me just a minute, David,’ Senator Roberts replied.
‘That’s disappointing to hear that you’re going to make policy without basing it on data.’
Senator Leyonhjelm retorted: ‘There’s plenty of data to show high taxes and costs on business are bad for the economy. That’s all the data I need.‘
Senator Malcolm Roberts has a long track record of climate skepticism. He was just elected as number two on the Pauline Hansen One Nation team, a small but growing conservative party which vigorously opposes uncontrolled immigration and climate boondoggles.
David Leyonhjelm is the leader of the Australian Liberal Democrats, a hardline small government Libertarian party. The Libertarians take a more neutral view on energy policy, but they vigorously oppose government interference in free markets, and oppose any extension of government power.
Just before the most recent election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the leader of the most important group of small party Conservatives, the One Nation team, as being “not welcome” in Australia politics.
Any attempt to pass major climate funding bills is going to turn into an absolute circus. The mainstream Australian Federal Coalition Government just barely scraped a majority in the representatives, thanks to an exceptionally weak campaign, and relies on conservative leaning minority parties for support in the Federal Senate – most of whom are hostile to carbon pricing.
Despite battered Aussie PM and former Goldman Sachs Chair Malcolm Turnbull’s track record of enthusiasm for renewables, it seems likely that in this term of government at least, the Aussie PM simply has no room to manoeuvre on climate issues.
Update (EW) – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was incorrectly described as a current chairman of Goldman Sachs
Update 2 (EW) – Video of the climate exchange between Leyonhjelm and Roberts. (h/t clipe)