Non-think prevails on climate change religion

Terry McCrann

TONY Abbott was asked whether he believed in climate change at his opening media conference as Opposition Leader.

It was an inevitable question, even an appropriate one, given the decidedly small-c catholic opinions he has expressed on the subject. But it was also The Question on behalf of the media gallery, exactly capturing its crushing group non-think.

For him to have shown the slightest hesitation would have condemned him to eternal and endless characterisation, if not damnation; branded as a Hansonite denier from the get-go of his leadership. So he gave the understandable if unfortunate politically correct response. Yes.

Instead of posing to the gallery the counter-question: which climate change? The one that has been happening every day, every week, every month, every decade, every century, every millennium, since 4004 years before the birth of He Who Should Not be Named, or of the planet, whichever came first?

Or the climate change invented in the Climate Research Unit in Britain, the holiest of holy places of the First Church of Climate Apocalypse and Purportedly Pissed-off Gaia. The church that is about to have its great synod at Copenhagen this month.

He might have followed through with a supplementary counter-question: has any one of the massed might of the gallery ever, in two years of relentless droning from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Climate Change Minister asked them what exactly will their emissions trading scheme do about the climate change they purport to believe in, fear and are “acting” to tackle?

Yes, PM, D-PM and CCM, but what exactly will reducing our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 do to the climate? Even making the heroic assumption they are reduced under your ETS — which is currently in, if you’ll excuse the term, cold storage.

How many degrees will it lop off temperatures? How exactly will it keep the water from lapping at the feet of people in the front stalls at the Opera House?

I’d suggest those sorts of questions have never been put directly to those ministers. They certainly weren’t by Barrie Cassidy on the ABC’s Insiders last week, when he was given a golden opportunity by Julia Gillard droning on and on about the opposition’s refusal “to do anything” about climate change.

Gillard: “We want to act now to deal with climate change.” Missing response from Cassidy: how does this ETS deal with climate change?

Gillard: “We are interested in delivering this huge reform in the nation’s interests so we tackle climate change.” Missing response from Cassidy: how does this tackle climate change?

You could replay this sort of non-exchange 1000, 10,000 times over the past two years.

This is not about belief in, or scepticism over, climate change, but about policy and consequence. On the one hand a policy that does exactly nothing about climate change, as defined and believed in by Rudd, Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull and co, but a policy that would have a very real, dramatic, and indeed devastating, impact on the economy and all Australians.

There are two policy consequence issues. The ETS as a tax and the ETS as a direct intervention in the economy. In both cases the mainstream media, and the gallery in particular, have adopted the nothing-to-see-here, move-on, approach.

Paul Keating’s very effective assault on John Hewson’s GST in 1993 has been called back into play by Abbott. Its effectiveness was hugely leveraged by the media.

The interesting thing is that it had to be rebirthed by Abbott, in the absence of the media having the slightest interest in the subject.

The ETS will save the Barrier Reef if not the planet, nothing more to be said. Well, to be honest, not exactly. There has been lots of focus on “handouts to polluters” — the part of the money raised from the ETS directed to power stations to keep them open, and to export-exposed industries.

The media inanely parrot the government’s big lie about carbon pollution — a lie intended to create subconscious perceptions of dirty bits of grit, a lie the gallery again, in particular, should be calling the government on rather than retailing it.

Yes, PM, D-PM, CCM, but isn’t this all about emissions of carbon dioxide, so are we polluting each other as we talk? I don’t recall John Howard and Peter Costello getting a complete pass from the gallery on the impact of the GST in either the 1998 election or running down to its implementation in 2000.

It’s not only the Canberra media gallery. Never have the business organisations been more supine or more asinine.

They all make their ritualistic murmurs of obeisance at the altar of the climate apocalypse. Australian Industry Group’s Heather Ridout says we need a “national approach to emissions reduction that can form part of international action to address the threat of climate change”.

Even the Minerals Council, representing the great sinners, says: “It remains committed to the development of climate change policy that puts a price on carbon.”

Give us certainty is the inane clarion call of these business groups.

In effect, Ridout and her peers are demanding the certainty of the positioning of the deckchairs on the Titanic.