Empty Rhetoric: Obama’s BS On Climate Change

THE POLITICAL LEFT — internationally — is cock-a-hoop in the wake of a “deal” between China and the USA on climate change, announced last week by US President Barack Obama; far from isolating Australia, this arrangement will never even take effect, and far from achieving anything meaningful, it will disappear behind the shifting priorities of Chinese pragmatism and the reality that Obama has lost control of his own government.

I have continued to be deprived of the time I would like to post on this site over the past few days, and whilst I haven’t published anything I have certainly been keeping track of the goings-on at both the G20 summit in Brisbane and in politics generally; we will, I’m sure, touch on several of the “missed” issues as we move into the week.

But I wanted to comment on the “deal” on climate change that was announced late last week by Barack Obama, because it’s been some time (and distance) since such an unutterable pile of sanctimonious bullshit was last dumped on “believers” and the gullible and/or stupid — assuming, of course, those groups aren’t comprised of exactly the same people.

And in terms of the distance travelled since the last batch of comparable verbal diarrhoea was encountered, the name of a town called Copenhagen springs to mind.

I’m not going to pull apart the specifics of the promised deal; there is no need to do so, save to note that China and the President of the United States appear to have confirmed a framework of aspirational targets to enact swingeing cuts in global emissions, with China and the US ostensibly providing the world “leadership” that has been conspicuously absent, often demanded by the “believers,” and claimed for patent purposes by the Australian Labor Party and the Communist Party Greens in the form of a tax.

Rather, I simply wish to point out why this latest exercise in verbal defecation won’t even yield a solid stool, let alone emissions reductions, and anyone who accepts the announcement by Obama without a very big pinch of salt probably needs their heads read.

On the Chinese side, it has been a fashionable argument of the Left (and the Greens in particular) to observe that China has been closing down coal-fired power generation plants, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, and such an observation is correct.

But this characteristic and deliberately misleading half-truth neglects to add that the decommissioned coal-fired plants are being replaced by new, far larger plants (that also swallow tons and tons of coal) and being augmented by new nuclear power generation and hydro-electric capacity, too; far from reducing her energy footprint, China is rapidly and exponentially expanding it as it caters to the energy consumption needs of a modernising — and ballooning — new middle class comprising hundreds of millions of affluent Chinese.

To date, China has exhibited scant practical interest in emissions reduction, combating climate change, tackling global warming, or any of the other emotive watchwords of the Left.

The “science” of climate change — settled or not, depending on your view, and not even relevant on this occasion — has failed, if it is true at all, to curb or even alter the course of colossal industrialisation of Chinese industry, commerce, and consumption, and there is no reason to believe this will change.

What China does have a reputation for is pragmatism: pragmatism through the prism of its own interests and its own agenda, and this, I suspect, is where the “deal” announced by Obama comes into play.

After all, China has faced relentless criticism and sustained political pressure from the global Left on this issue; what better circumstance in which to strike a “deal” could it wish for than with someone who currently stands in the shoes of Barack Obama?

A big hint that this “deal” is nothing more than a partisan political stunt (agreed to by the Chinese for reasons of pure and understandable expediency) was glaringly evident from the start; the USA and China may very well be the two biggest emitters in the world, but the complete absence from the structure of the agreement of any of the others — India, the EU, the UK, Russia, or the developing bloc in South America — somewhat tarnishes the glittering light in which the “deal” was presented.

But Obama, with two years remaining on his presidential term, can do little more than talk.

Already unable to control the US House of Representatives, his Democratic Party was brutalised in mid-term elections last week that saw it also lose control of the US Senate; consequently, Obama is — to use the American vernacular — a lame duck in every sense of the word.

In practical terms, it means Obama can promise whatever he likes, but unless it’s something he is able to decree by the Executive Orders he has proven so enamoured with during the past six years, his initiatives will never see the light of day: and anything that radically targets climate change — a subject viscerally detested by the energised Republicans who now operate the levers of legislative government in the USA — will be bitterly and ruthlessly savaged by his opponents.

It is all well and good that the G20 summit in Brisbane has concluded with the issuing of a communique that pledges constituent nations to “support strong and effective action to address climate change;” these are mere words, and whether you fit the “believer” or “sceptic” approach to climate change, they will amount to precisely nothing.

The Chinese, for their part, can hardly be blamed for signing up to Obama’s plan; after all, with a complete inability on the US side to deliver, they will be held accountable for nothing by doing so.

And if a Republican wins the White House in November 2016 — which is a distinct possibility, with Jeb “the competent one” Bush increasingly likely to seek his party’s nomination — this “deal,” announced with such fanfare, will quietly cease to exist at all.

Which, frankly, is as it should be.

I’m not passing any judgements on the merits or otherwise of what the agreement sought to achieve; merely to note that far from the big win the lunar Left thought it had scored, it is nothing more than an empty, empty promise.

What it was, however, was a flagrant play at partisan politics.

Far from isolating Australia, the “deal” probably makes the Abbott government’s Direct Action plan look good (or at least, to look better than it otherwise would); after all, doing something, however spurious, is better than doing nothing more than talking.

And with the darling of the American “moderate Left,” Hillary Clinton, seeming more likely than not to stand against (we presume) Jeb Bush in 2016, there is a clear vested interest for Obama to pump up the hot button issues US Democrats crow about at election time, but rarely — if ever — deliver on.

Obama can hardly crow about healthcare, employment, education, welfare reforms or the state of the US budget deficit: after six years as President (and too long to keep blaming George W. Bush), these are all signature failures of a regime seemingly obsessed with European-style socialism and the unproductive sovereign debt levels that accompany it.

And he can hardly claim to have been a successful President in international affairs when the Cold War has all but resumed on his watch, with Russia emboldened by his policies of strategic disarmament and the perception that if push came to shove, Obama would do nothing.

Just like the annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian-orchestrated insurgency in Ukraine have been met with little meaningful response.

And elsewhere in the world, and particularly in those areas in which America traditionally prides itself on its influence in the Middle East and Asia, the number and scope of dangerous flashpoints have exploded on his watch as President.

Hence the grandiose rhetoric and posturing on climate change, and this “deal,” from Obama: just about the only agenda item in the Democratic manifesto his administration has singularly failed to bugger up thus far.

Nobody ought to believe for a moment that “progress” has been made on climate change this week, if that’s what they are looking for: it hasn’t.

And far from being hailed as a hero and a man of principle, this “deal” of Obama’s should be examined in context of the spectacular failings of his administration and the failure he has been as President, and the tacky attempt to reset US Democratic politics in Clinton’s favour by using this incendiary hot-button issue in an international setting when his own domestic political shortcomings now dictate he can deliver absolutely nothing.

This is empty rhetoric, delivering an empty promise, premised on little more than hot air and bullshit.

But Obama has made a political career from these attributes for years, so it ought to surprise no-one.

It should, however, make plenty of people who “believe” — in both Obama and in climate change — very angry indeed.

And when all is said and done, China — in agreeing with Obama — can hardly be blamed for it.


Palmer Palaver: Clive Might Do Tony A Favour On Direct Action

THE OPEN THREAT by eccentric mining billionaire and federal MP Clive Palmer to act to block the Abbott government’s Direct Action policy on climate change — up to and including forcing a double dissolution election over the issue — can hardly be ignored. The fraught subject of “carbon politics” is one on which Australia is a fool to seek to lead the world, not a hero, and in blocking Direct Action, Palmer may be doing Abbott a favour.

The decade-long political shitfight over “climate change” — whether it exists, whether it is natural or man-made, and what (if anything) can or should be done to stop it — has wreaked a trail of political destruction in this country that to date has claimed two Liberal leaders, two Labor Prime Ministers, and ruined a swathe of careers and professional reputations in academia, business, the media and the public service.

This poisonous issue has seen anyone not marching completely in lockstep with those amalgamated in the unanimity of prosecuting the climate change case branded as “deniers” and other insulting terms to suggest they are frauds and charlatans, with disgustingly reminiscent echoes of the language of the Holocaust used to harden the assault; a more recent development has seen the climate change lobby attempt to reclaim control of the debate by suggesting the “deniers” had shanghaied the issue to such an extent that they — purveyors of “the science” — now face the risk of being “burnt at the stake” and similarly quasi-emotive gobbledygook.

That “science” — robustly proclaimed as “settled” by its proponents — looks at least a little shaky, with average global temperatures having failed to rise now for some 15 years, and with some of the wild predictions designed by warriors of the heavily Left-leaning climate change industry (such as Al Gore’s prediction that the polar ice caps will have melted by next year) shown up for the blatant fearmongering and blunt battering instruments they always were.

Of course, to utter a syllable questioning “the science” is to elicit howls of moral outrage from the climate industry and the political Left that make responses to historical moral outrages experienced by Australia and the world look mild; indeed, a couple of weeks ago — in one of the ABC’s routinely offensive QandA expositions of Leftist social thought — there were open suggestions that anyone who did so should be denied airtime on TV or space in print.

Such people were a menace to society and to themselves, the outrage peddlers puffed: some of them, unsurprisingly, senior Fairfax and ABC  journalists. It is ironic the episode considered questions of freedom of speech, with the exquisite oxymoron that the very people chiding those who disagreed with them and suggesting they should be denied the opportunity to air their views were those claiming to be the strongest defenders of the right to speak. With the qualification that nothing they disagreed with themselves was ever said, of course.

I don’t propose to get into a long diatribe on the rights and wrongs of climate change science; that has been more than adequately covered in other forums, and this column — and contributing commenters — has conducted a robust debate on this, intermittently, over the past few years.

What is clear, however, is that whether you are (and excuse me using these ridiculous labels — I do so merely for simplicity) a “believer” or a “denier,” the vast majority of the Australian electorate is in no way supportive of a carbon tax, and it is here I want to make what will be — having laid the background to them out — a fairly straightforward series of remarks.

It is beyond dispute that last year’s federal election provided the Coalition with the clearest possible mandate to rescind the carbon tax inflicted on this country by the ALP and its puppet masters at the Communist Party Greens. After all, Tony Abbott spent at least two years campaigning on very little else.

I have long held, and have said here repeatedly, that the carbon tax is not a market mechanism aimed at reducing carbon emissions, but rather a taxation mechanism: the figures from the first year of the tax’s operation, during which emissions fell by less than a percentage point, bear this out.

I have also said (as have many, many others from politics, the media, academia and business) that Australia (to put it bluntly and succinctly) is barking mad to saddle itself with such ridiculous, economy-destroying measures when the real global polluters sit on their hands, idle, and do nothing.

Whenever you point this out to the “believers,” the standard riposte is that the US, China, Japan et al are “talking about” introducing economy-wide measures to cut global emissions. “Talk” and “action” are mutually exclusive concepts in this context, and whilst the comeback from the “believers” might be correct in its most literal sense, it is — at the very least — disingenuous, and intellectually dishonest in the extreme.

And those who point to the emissions trading scheme in Europe would do well to note that it applies to mostly basket case economies that have been raped and pillaged by European socialism, and the state of those countries is argument enough to leave well alone when it comes to the question of whether their policy settings should be emulated.

One point I would make is that no matter the merits or otherwise of the science relied on by “believers,” climate change has become a political issue in its application, not an environmental one. The proof lies in the fact that the Left’s prosecution of it is identical to the methods and tactics it applies to other pet causes, gay marriage being the other one currently occupying its focus.

And I should simply point out that on climate change at least, those methods and tactics now pose the risk to the “believers” that they will lose the fight altogether: fair-minded and reasonable people are not convinced of anything by defaming, abusing or seeking to vilify them; nor are they likely to be swayed by being compared unflatteringly to the wholesale slaughter of millions of Jews by Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.

Here in Australia, there is now indisputable evidence (hard, rock-solid evidence in the form of votes cast at general elections) that whatever Australians think of climate change and its science, they refuse to support the prescriptive measures of the Left in dealing with it.

Certainly, a Labor government found the political will to legislate the carbon tax when instructed to, bent over and with its trousers lowered, by a Greens party happy to threaten to withdraw the existential lifeblood of critical preference flows to ALP candidates if it refused to do so. But this type of “will” is the worst kind: it isn’t courageous, it isn’t daring, and its self-interested vagaries do not equate to the provision of leadership.

Now, Clive Palmer has described Abbott’s alternative to the carbon tax (and the emissions trading regime supposed to follow it) as “hopeless;” he says it is “gone” — which, in Palmer-speak, means he will direct his Senators to refuse to pass the measure through the Senate.

Not to be outdone, there are reports that Abbott and his Environment minister Greg Hunt are readying to call Palmer’s bluff by embedding the enabling legislation for Direct Action in the appropriation bills for the Budget: effectively daring Palmer to block the budget, potentially setting up a double dissolution over the issue toward the end of the year.

Direct Action, primarily, is concerned with achieving “the same reductions in emissions as a carbon tax, without the carbon tax” at a cost of $3.2 billion over four years, with the payment of incentives to polluting industries to quite literally clean up their act.

Whether it would work or not, the politics of climate change are now so toxic as to render even that consideration moot, in my view: even if it proved effective, the next fight will be over whether the same result could be achieved more efficiently and at less cost to the federal budget by a reimposition of the carbon tax, and then away we go again.

I think Abbott would do well to concentrate on fighting the fights worth fighting; there is nothing in climate change or emissions trading for the government to gain from, and this may be a time when unforeseen circumstance — the intervention of Palmer — opens the door to quietly dropping a silly policy that wouldn’t have otherwise opened.

The easiest thing for Abbott and Hunt to do — knowing they will please relatively few people by legislating their package, and that the glowy-eyed warriors of the Left will continue to hunt* them over the issue no matter what they do — is to announce that the composition of the Senate makes it impossible to introduce the Direct Action package, and for that reason the promise to do so will not be kept because, in the most literal sense, it can’t be.

Any such announcement, of course, ought to be contingent on some sort of binding and non-negotiable undertaking by Palmer to repeal the carbon tax, and one without his self-interested demands of retrospectivity attached to it: meeting such ambit claims will sit even more uneasily with the electorate than retaining the tax would.

Abbott could then redirect some of the money to what used to be simply called an “environmental package” — something on the lines of the Howard government’s Natural Heritage Trust, with some of the aspects of Direct Action factored in to provide incentives for polluters to reform — with the rest of the money, say $1 billion of it, going straight to the budget bottom line to help close the deficit gap Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey urgently need to address in the coming budget.

A promise to revisit some form of emissions trading at a time the US and China do so — perhaps with the objective of everybody acting simultaneously — could then shut the door on the destructive daily  politics of climate change in Australia, and the government could move on to other issues.

The “believers,” whether their cherished science is right or wrong, must confront the reality that their desired political action is so politically explosive in Australia that further pursuit of it is impossible without the large emitting countries on board; and rather than forcibly advocate a regime that will destroy huge chunks of Australian industry while the world sits back and laughs at us, their efforts should perhaps be redirected across the Pacific and the South China Sea.

They won’t do that, of course: Uncle Sam would laugh at them. In China, their views would — very simply — be unwelcome, to say the least.

They could, however, retain the pious and smug sanctimony of “knowing” they are right — something they will do irrespective of the fate of the carbon tax or anything that might follow.

Palmer — for once — may be doing Abbott a favour by refusing to vote Direct Action through the Senate, even if his actions in doing so are unintentional.

It may be that Abbott and Hunt rethink their approach, and quietly let Direct Action be euthanased. It would save an awful lot of grief for next to no result: after all, even the carbon tax — that preferred vessel of the Left — has already been shown to be as good as useless.



*with no pun intended.

Climate Change: No-Show At UN Talkfest No Big Deal

FOR ONCE it doesn’t really matter whether you subscribe to the mad theories of man-made climate change, or if you’re what proponents of the so-called “settled science” peddled by those who do would call “a denier:” Australia’s non-attendance at a UN talkfest in Poland next week is inconsequential.

If Kevin Rudd were still Prime Minister (as he was in 2009, when a similar non-event was held in Copenhagen), the Australian government would be sending a “delegation” consisting of the Prime Minister, a number of senior cabinet ministers, and a small army of advisers, bureaucrats and quasi-official hangers-on — all at taxpayers’ expense.

Too often, governments and international forums that are convened and/or dominated by the Left pay more attention to the appearance of “doing something” on given issues instead of actually knuckling under and doing it.

When that issue is climate change, considerations of domestic and international prestige take precedence over the formulation of practical, workable solutions.

What was once boldly proclaimed by Rudd as “the greatest moral challenge of our time” has evolved into little more than a political football, laying bare the lie that urgency is paramount in addressing it.

Each year for at least the past ten years, one globally renowned authority on climate change or another has decreed that if “we” fail to act by the end of next year (insert year here), it will be “too late.”

Taken at their word, these supposed experts have already told us the damage is done.

Of course, the reality is somewhat more straightforward; the so-called “settled science” surrounding climate change and its causes is nothing of the sort.

In fact — depending on to whom you listen — there is growing evidence that the global climate has ceased to warm and, in fact, has resumed a phase of cooling.

I have little doubt that the Earth’s climate is changing, and as readers have heard me say on multiple occasions, I believe changes in the global climate are part of a natural cycle that has continued, through warming and cooling, for millennia.

Even so, world forums conducted by the United Nations on the question of climate change have never resolved a thing (although the 2009 session in Copenhagen could arguably be seen as the point Kevin Rudd’s leadership of the ALP was rendered terminal, and in converse that Tony Abbott would likely end up as Prime Minister of Australia).

My point is that whether you’re a “believer” or a “denier” on climate change there’s nothing for you at the Poland forum, so what’s the point of sending a delegation to it?

This is a fraught issue; politically speaking it costs votes — a lot of votes.

To date, it is beyond question that three Prime Ministers and two opposition leaders — across both the major parties — have been destroyed by the politics of climate change.

But prancing and posturing at a United Nations talkfest is an utter waste of time.

It’s pleasing to note that the freshly minted Abbott government is sending nobody on behalf of Australia: not the Prime Minister, nor his Environment minister, nor some lackey rustled up from the civil service to push paper and take notes.

The issue of climate change needs to be excised from the question of the management of the environment, with the latter given precedence; after all, if the phenomenon is a natural occurrence (as I believe it to be) then “adaptation” is the premise that must underpin any response, for management and prevention are obviously meaningless objectives.

In that context, there are options for governments to consider. But carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes and the like should be seen for what they are — instruments of revenue generation, not climate management — and the obsession with inefficient, unreliable and colossally expensive “renewables” should be abandoned.

Until those changes occur, and until the climate change debate is shoved onto a less ideological and fanatical basis in spite of its most ardent proponents, there is little point wasting good money sending elected representatives and their minions to talk about it.

To this end, Australia’s non-attendance at the latest UN forum is to be applauded: and aside from the obvious reasons for doing so, the government is also saving the overstretched taxpayers of this country a little money in the process.


Carbon Tax: Greens Stooge Bill Shorten Sells Middle Australia Out

“ELECTRICITY BILL,” as Prime Minister Tony Abbott has started calling him, today sold most of the Australian public down the river, offering — well, nothing — on abolishing the carbon tax. The “new” ALP stance sees Shorten take the Greens’ bait, and shows Labor has learnt nothing from its defeat.

Earlier this week, we covered the unspectacular rant that Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne aimed at new Labor leader Bill Shorten; I honestly thought that just this once the ALP might have had enough brains and smarts, in short, to tell her to get stuffed.

It seems I gave Labor more credit than it deserved.

Showbag Bill today nailed his colours to the mast for all to see as a stooge and a patsy for the Greens; far from arriving at any sensible or principled response to an unmistakable message from Australian voters on 7 September, Labor has repackaged the same half-baked “policy” it took to the election under Kevin Rudd, and called it an “offer.”

Interested readers can see the Murdoch report here and the Fairfax take on it here.

As the first key policy announcement since assuming the role of opposition leader, and especially on an issue that has been so politically fraught over the past decade, this very much carries Shorten’s imprimatur.

In the face of taunts and emotive blackmail from the Greens, it is a pathetic surrender; as a political statement, it is an abject failure; and in relation to most of the two-thirds of voters who gave their primary votes to non-Labor candidates last month, it’s a sellout.

Labor’s “offer” to “terminate” the carbon tax on the condition that Tony Abbott introduces an emissions trading scheme is absolutely nothing, and stinks of the sleight of hand with which Rudd attempted to hoodwink voters in his desperate bid to neutralise the carbon tax as a negative.

Under that fork-tongued utterance, the fixed carbon price was indeed to be abandoned: in favour of the floating European price as part of an emissions trading scheme.

The European price, in turn, is today a fraction of the $24.15 per tonne at which the carbon tax is presently fixed, but is projected to rise within a few years to a level in the vicinity of $40 per tonne.

In other words, the Greens’ strategy of being prepared to give a little ground in order to slug businesses and consumers a whole hell of a lot more in a few years’ time is — and remains — official ALP policy.

Shorten is at least honest enough to acknowledge that today’s announcement and the Rudd policy are effectively one and the same.

But the statement reveals an utter contempt for the wishes of the people as expressed through the ballot box, and is a hamfisted attempt indeed to present a credible stance on a difficult issue.

It fails to reconcile those elements within the ALP who support allowing the Abbott government’s bills to pass to clear the air with those calling for the party to stand firm behind its “principles.”

It leaves the Labor Party open in perpetuity to a continuation of the attack from the Coalition that the Greens really control the ALP — a contention which, based on today’s developments, appears very near the mark.

At the very least, it renders the ALP unable to ever again cast the “WorkChoices” stone at the Coalition with any authority — not that it had any authority and credibility in the first place to do so.

There goes the 2016 ALP election strategy — at a stroke.

The irony is that having purchased a whole lot of additional grief today, Shorten’s announcement of Labor’s “new” climate change policy is likely to change very little indeed, with the Coalition seeming able to command the numbers in the Senate from July next year to enact its intended repeal of the carbon tax.

But the real damage to be inflicted — and inflicted upon Labor, no less — will come if the peculiarities and petulance of Clive Palmer see the Abbott legislation voted down in the upper house after the new Senate is constituted.

Should that occur — and a double dissolution eventuate — far from venting their fury on Abbott for taking them back to the polls so quickly, Labor is likely to face voters’ wrath for putting the government in the position to have to do so in the first place.

It is then that Labor — under the alleged leadership of its frontman, Electricity Bill — will face the full consequences of yet another pathetic surrender to the Greens in defiance of the popular verdict articulated at an election not two months ago.

It seems Showbag Bill will need to find new tricks with which to wow and dupe the Australian public; the present repertoire is one that’s not only a dud, but which everyone in Australia can see right through the punchline of.

Everyone, that is, except Shorten and his masters over at the Greens.

One more word on Malcolm Turnbull

Remembering that I said what I said about Malcolm Turnbull a few days ago, I was baled up yesterday in Collins Street by a (Liberal-voting) acquaintance who had read my post and thought I was way out of line.

Apparently, I was in mortal error, because “everyone” knows Malcolm is right; “everyone” knows climate change is an “irrefutable fact;” and “people like me” will regret it “big time” when the seas rise, the crops die, etc etc etc.

Oh, and the Liberal Party is a broad church, isn’t it? I should welcome his comments.



The latter point first: yes, the Liberal Party is a broad church, but in that context, Turnbull was flying a kite. It isn’t party policy. My position on his comments does not preclude him from holding the views he clearly holds, but as a senior shadow minister he ought to know better and to have kept quiet in the context of the programme on the ABC. Turnbull was flying a kite, and his motives in doing so were perhaps outlined the following day in his “baton in knapsack” speech in Queensland.

But more to the point, the greatest problem with the climate change lobby is that if you have any other position than theirs, and different ideas than the approved ones, you’re an idiot/a mental cripple/a suicidal lunatic/as dumb as dog shit and so forth.

Ice ages and heat ages have been occurring on this planet for millions of years. We have records going all the way back to about 150 years ago. Whooppee!

I stand by my analysis a few days ago of the events surrounding Turnbull.

But I make this point in regard to climate change: for those so deeply ingrained in the “reality” of “irrefutable man-made” climate change, if you disagree at all, even by degrees, you’re not very smart, you’re an idiot, you don’t have any brains, you’re a dickhead.

I’d just wonder what merits their lobby really has, when these are the type of tactics their arguments have to take as a matter of course.

Malcolm Turnbull Rears His Treacherous Head

In the last 24 hours Malcolm Turnbull has made extraordinary comments on Coalition policy and the Liberal Party leadership that must be addressed.

Remembering that Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership in late 2009, partly over the Godwin Grech fake email affair but mostly because of a revolt by his own MPs over the climate change policy he surrendered to Kevin Rudd over, these are unhelpful in the extreme. Yes, I write as a conservative, but for Turnbull to choose this point in time to recommence the airing of his views, and in so doing undermine Coalition policy and by extension the leadership of Tony Abbott, shows appalling political judgement.

Don’t forget, he crossed the floor of Parliament to vote against his Party’s ongoing policy on climate change as a backbencher following his loss of the leadership. Fair enough. He’s had his minute of defiance.

However, this latest outburst, in the context of his role as a senior Coalition shadow minister is, to use a Rudd phrase, a bridge too far.

The first point I would make is that Turnbull is shadow Communications spokesman, not shadow Environment spokesman, and as such he is bound by shadow cabinet decisions on issues relating to Coalition policy.

Further, he is not a member of the parliamentary leadership team, which limits his right to speak freely across a range of portfolios.

I note Turnbull isn’t making statements on immigration policy, or health policy, or industrial relations policy.

No, to make portentous, grandiose and inflammatory statements, always go for the hot button issue — climate change.

And “hot” the button is. Incendiary. Thus far, climate change policy has destroyed the leadership of former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson; it ultimately contributed fulsomely to destroying Kevin Rudd’s Prime Ministership; it will destroy Julia Gillard and the contender to succeed her, Greg Combet; and it contributed to the downfall of the Howard government (but from the “Johnny come lately” perspective there).

Whether you like it or not, whether you believe in climate change or not, one stark truth has emerged from Australian politics in the last three years: people may want to save the environment, and tackle this and that, but at the first sign of it costing a red cent from the back pockets of voters personally, support for the whole thing vanishes.

Like it or not.

Turnbull treated his audience on Lateline last night to some genuine pearls of wisdom. For instance, who would have guessed that “the virtue” of Coalition policy on climate change “from the view of Mr Abbott…is that it can be easily terminated…”

“COALITION CARBON PLAN AN EXPENSIVE CON,” Melbourne’s Herald Sun predictably screeched.

“DIRECT ACTION A SHORT-TERM FIX,” headlined The Australian.


Out came the statement of support from Abbott’s office.

Malcolm Turnbull is no fool; he would have known the explosive headlines that would follow his remarks in contradicting Coalition policy so blatantly.

Not content with this success, however, today he fronted the Queensland Media Club, refusing to rule out a desire to return to the Liberal leadership. “Every member of the House of Representatives has a field marshal’s baton, or the leader’s baton, in their knapsack, so nobody can ever discount that sort of ambition completely,” he informed his audience.

Today, Turnbull’s colleagues were justifiably livid. “It was a disgrace. He’s never been a team player, he never will be a team player,” said one MP. “It’s probably frustrating for him to see Tony (Abbott) going so well. I can’t imagine he would have too much support this morning from his colleagues,” said another.

Well, quite. I guess if you were in Turnbull’s shoes, and saw the voting intention ratings Abbott is generating — enough for the Coalition to reduce Labor to 40-50 seats in the 150-seat lower house, mind — you could understand him thinking, “grab the leadership, win the election, be Prime Minister, roll out the pet projects…”

The problem is that under Turnbull — and I’ll use Newspoll from The Australian although all the polls were very, very similar — the best two-party vote the Coalition could muster was 48% (enough to lose by a fraction less than Howard did in 2007); the worst was just 41%, low enough to wipe the Coalition out for three terms.

On average under Turnbull, the two-party Coalition vote was about 43-44%. To put this in context, Paul Keating was slaughtered in 1996 with a tick over 46% of the two-party vote.

As preferred Prime Minister, Turnbull mustered 26% against Rudd’s 54% in October 2008, and 16% to Rudd’s 66% in July 2009. (Recently, Tony Abbott trailed Julia Gillard on this measure by just 3%).

As strange as it sounds today, and despite already beginning to lose control over the Labor Party in private, had Rudd gone to a double dissolution over climate change in late 2009, Turnbull would have led the Coalition to annihilation. So much for his “principled stand” on climate change. A similar stand on the same issue by Rudd killed the latter off just as it did Turnbull.

For Turnbull to return to the leadership, it would be a game-changer all right: the Gillard government would receive instant capitulation from the opposition on climate change policy, far less rigorous scrutiny of its policies, the benefit of the policy differentiation between government and opposition beginning to blur, and the emergence of a sense within the electorate that perhaps “the devil you know” is worth sticking with. Turnbull has already championed the concept of a sovereign wealth fund being established on the back of mining revenues. Just as the carbon tax would be introduced without opposition, so too would the MRRT.

Malcolm Turnbull is an impressive individual; Rhodes scholar; highly successful merchant banker and lawyer; and, frankly, quite a great guy to have conversations with. I know — once upon a time, in the early 1990s, with Malcolm heading the Australian Republican Movement and myself a precocious young monarchist, our paths crossed several times.

However, just as Turnbull has little electoral appeal, he also has form for undermining his colleagues and party policy.

Shortly after being deposed by Abbott, Turnbull couldn’t resist speaking out on climate change policy. Whilst a backbencher, my view was that he was undermining the new leader and that it had to stop — and whilst I didn’t believe for one minute I would be listened to, and that I would be dismissed outright, I nonetheless sent Turnbull a private letter on Facebook. For now, I do not propose to publish that here, but the upshot was, and I used these words: Malcolm, please, SHUT UP!

It is time for Malcolm to shut up, or go to the cross benches. The third option, a leadership challenge almost guaranteed not to succeed, would not be worth the political damage it would do to the Liberal Party just for him to try to prove the point that Malcolm is right, and that what Malcolm wants, Malcolm should have.

Analyse the polls, Turnbull. Like it or not, Tony Abbott is in tune with the mainstream majority of Australians. Just as Gillard and Labor are not, neither are you.