Thursday, 19 September 2013

Election reflections: has Tony Abbott really got a mandate on the carbon price? Where to for climate and health?

Classified as - reflective journal, politics, advocacy

From my local cafe: many voters weren't impressed with the party leaders!

So the federal election results are pretty well all in and it looks like we will have:
  • a large Liberal National Party (LNP) majority in the House of Representatives (probably 90 MPs)
  • a much reduced Labor (ALP) representation (probably 55 MPs)
  • two Independents, Andrew Wilkie continuing in Denison (Tas) and Cathy McGowan, newly elected, in Indi (Vic)
  • one continuing Green MP (Adam Bandt in Melbourne)
  • one continuing Katter's Australian Party (KAP) MP, Bob Katter in Kennedy (Qld)
  • and possibly one Palmer United Party (PUP) representative, Clive Palmer in Fairfax (Qld), though that seat is still too close to call
(See the Australian Electoral Commission for details)

The Senate counting is not finalised and won't be for a while, but it seems we may have some odd results, with some "micro-parties" being elected through preferencing arrangements, including possibly The Motoring Enthusiasts Party (which only gained 0.5% of primary votes) in Victoria.

It is clear that the LNP coalition government will not have a majority in the Senate. Therefore it will have to negotiate to get controversial legislation passed through the Senate.

Judging by policy positions of likely new Senators from parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party in NSW and Family First in SA, however, it looks as if the LNP may be able to repeal the carbon price legislation, once the new Senators have taken their seats in July 2014. (For more background on this, please see my previous post)

Greg Hunt, the new Minister for the Environment, has said that the LNP is still committed to achieving Australia's 5% emissions reduction target by 2020. However the Climate Institute has found it is unlikely that the LNP Direct Action policy will be able to achieve this in practice.

Tony Abbott has talked about the LNP having a "mandate" to get rid of the carbon price and supporting mechanisms, but in practice the situation is much less clear.

On primary votes there has been a swing of about 4.5% against the ALP, and about 3% against the Greens, but the swing to the LNP coalition was much smaller, only about 1% (AEC). Most of the swing away from Labor and the Greens went to minor parties, particularly the Palmer United Party (PUP), and to micro parties or independents. Some of this then flowed back  to the LNP on the two party preferred vote through preferences.

So while it is clear that swinging voters voted against Labor, and to a lesser extent the Greens, it isn't clear that they were voting for the LNP, at least not as their first preference.

It is also not clear that the carbon price influenced their votes. A Crosby Textor survey in marginal seats, for example, showed that very few people spontaneously mentioned the carbon price (or "tax" as it was called in this survey) as a factor influencing their vote.

The Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) sees climate change as major threat to population health and well-being and has called on the parties to do more to address this. It is important to continue working at local level for a sustainable climate and environment, even if it becomes more difficult under the new federal government.

In terms of broader advocacy, there is currently a petition on asking the LNP to reconsider its decision to get rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). I urge readers to sign this petition.

The government cannot actually get rid of the CEFC until legislation is passed, but they have already ordered the CEFC to stop funding new clean energy projects. As I said in my earlier post, there are two major climate change reports due very soon, one from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 27 September, and one from the Australian Climate Change Authority (CCA) in early October. (The LNP government also intends to get rid of the CCA but I understand this report will still come out.) The new government should not be taking such rushed action before people have had a chance to see these reports and publicly discuss them.

In a future post I will look at broader advocacy, including what the AHPA and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) are doing and what people working in local communities can do.

I also plan look at the issue of gender and politics in my next post. I believe that the LNP, in opposition, drew on sexism to create a false impression that Julia Gillard (and the government she led) was unusually incompetent and untrustworthy, to a greater extent than Australian governments have generally been. I also believe that Kevin Rudd, in taking over the leadership of the ALP, was in a sense assisted by this. This raises huge moral questions, not only about the supposed 'mandate' of the LNP, but about politics in Australia more generally.

(About the photo: according to the ABC Vote Compass, overall voters ranked Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Christine Milne all poorly. Mr Abbott pulled ahead a little bit in the campaign, but none of them scored more than 4/10. The Greens were popular in my local area, however, and I think a lot of people there, especially women, didn't think much of Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd!
Note that Vote Compass was not a random sample, but was weighted to reflect the population)


Anonymous said...

I think that Abbott is going to have to do a double dissolution. Whether before or after July he is going to find the senate too dodgy to manage, and will have to DD his way out of it if he wants to deliver on either his election promises or his vision.

The sexism thing is really depressing, and the unwillingness of the left to confront it - or to deal with Rudd - also depressing. I have basically been banned from Larvatus Prodeo for arguing the point (my comments are on auto-moderation and being deleted without warning or edit since I started disagreeing with Mark), and I think the men of the left seem to be drawing the wagons around Rudd. It's really depressing, and I think we haven't seen the last of Rudd or his toxic legacy yet. Sad, sad times for the industrial left ...

Val Kay said...

Commenting on this site is quite difficult I think - it's a pity, I like the layout but there are some limitations. I might have another go at trying a different one with better comment facility sometime.

Anyway in response to your comment about the DD, I really have no idea. I think it would be risky fir Abbott to do that in the first year as he might get a backlash and end up with a Senate that is more difficult for him than the one he has now. I'm just waiting to see what happens and trying to find ways to help make sure the progress we have made on reducing emissions in the electricity sector doesn't get lost. Looking at health impacts of climate change is I think a useful approach and more people in the health sector seem to be getting on board with this.

Re LP, I sympathise, something similar happened to me a while ago. It is depressing that it's so difficult to discuss sexism and gender there. I am hoping that by doing a post here, in a calmer atmosphere, I can help with that situation too. It will be hard work because I will have to be really precise in how I write it.

Anyway all the best

Val Kay said...

Sorry I mean Abbott might end up with a Senate that is more difficult for him than the one he will get in July next year when the new Senators take their seats, of course!

Anonymous said...

I've just changed the settings to make this easier to use so this is test

Anonymous said...

Hi Val, this is Linda from LP. Just testing.

Linda said...

Oh look at that it worked. I have always struggled with the Blogger format.

Val, please don't worry too much about LP. It can be a very informative and entertaining place to be but it will never be enough for a woman with feminist consciousness; it's a great entree, but you need a main. It can also be a bit exclusive for newbies and outliers (like myself), because it is a quite well-established group as you can probably see, with the group norms very well entrenched for years and years. Some group members will abuse their level of comfortability within the space, too, men and women.

You should be able to click through to my blog on my username; it won't be your main course because there is not the same level of readership or community as at LP, and I am very radical, by which I mean always searching for the root cause of women's oppression at the hands of men and constantly digging deeper and deeper for it and naming it, but I do talk about australian politics and issues most of the time.

I look forward to talking to you more here because I have enjoyed your posts at LP.

All power to you sister.

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Val Kay said...

Thanks Linda and I will definitely check your blog out

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Val I think I just did a big comment that got eaten?

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Val Kay said...

Hi Linda and FN I just want to note that that while I have some sympathy with some of the points you've made about LP, I have to ask you not to criticise individuals. I think it's ok to make general points but not to say things about people that could be unfair and damaging to their reputation. Sorry I should have said this earlier. I might have to edit some of the comments if I can.

Val Kay said...

Sorry I probably didn't put that very well. I'm committed to open and free speech as much as possible but I think as someone who is publishing this blog I also have to very careful about not damaging people's reputations. Sorry as you know I'm new to this and this is taking me into unfamiliar ground.

Val Kay said...

Just to explain a bit more, I've had to remove a few comments out that contained criticisms about individuals on other blogs. I can understand that people may get frustrated if their comments to someone on other blogs get deleted but I can't publish personal criticisms here because that's not fair.. I guess people can ( and I know I can) get tempted to let off steam on the Internet and talk as if we are having private conversations, including private grumbles, but of course we are not. So I am happy to discuss general principles and ideas about how we can or should discuss any issue related to environment equity or health (including sexism) publicly, but that is different from criticism of individuals. I will be more aware of this when publishing comments in future and hopefully it can be sorted out before publishing if necessary so I won't need to remove whole comments again. Also please note I deleted one of my own as it followed on from others, which means it's gone forever - not meant as cover up but just being considerate of other's rights.

Anonymous said...

This is a test comment.

Val Kay said...

I'm republishing a comment from Linda on 28 September 2013, below.

As per my previous comments, Linda's original comment contained criticism of an individual blogger and I decided that particular criticism shouldn't be on this blog. However as far as I can work out, I can't just delete parts of comments on blogger, so I had to delete the whole comment. After discussion, Linda has agreed I can republish it with the criticisms of that individual taken out, so I've copied it below.

From Linda:

"Val, I don't know where you will find time with your thesis! But there is already plenty of work on the internet, in the radfemisphere, if you want to see what others have written/are writing. Btw how far into your PhD are you? My beautiful daughter is doing PhD at Sydney right now.So much hard work!

Val and FN - this is the point I was trying to make at LP WRT leftist men and sexism; with a very few exceptions, like yourself FN and I'm thinking also of Richie at Crimitism, Jackson Katz, Robert Jensen, Michael Flood, left wing men are just as sexist as right wing men and oppress women in very similar ways. The realisation of this was the catalyst for the Second Wave of Feminism. Recently we saw more evidence of it within the Occupy movement, with all kinds of horror stories being reported about the way men were treating their female comrades, sexually assaulting them, telling them not to complain about it, the Pussy Riot back story etc. I'm saying how many more times do we repeat our mistakes? We have seen what happens to the few men who do speak up for us. Michael Flood has received death threats for his work on mens rights activists. FN gets put on permamod [comments on individual deleted]

WRT to that post FN refers to [this refers to an earlier blog post on Larvatus Prodeo], I took it as a big statement on LP: "The adults are back in charge, the feminists have had a bit of a say and we've been very patient with them, skittish creatures that they are, but now it's back to men and their superior reasoning."

It reminds me of a core principle of feminist thought; not all men are abusive towards women because so long as some men are, all men need not be. This can be applied to the left wing men/right wing men dichotomy. Left wing men can afford us some basic recognition of the right to social justice so long as the right wing men are keepin' it real and maintaining the social order - for ALL men.

[comments on individual deleted]

I don't think the left is the way out of male violence, tyranny and power, for women.

Sorry for rambling on, Val, I might just go and do a new post of my own. It's the first time I've felt inspired to for some time. "

Posted by Linda to fairgreenplanet at 28 September 2013 00:18

Val Kay said...

I'm republishing with edits a comment made by FaustusNotes on 27 September 2013. As per previous discussion, the edits are comments made on an individal.

"Linda, yes, it's a bit of a wtf? Right wing commentators at LP get a much easier run than critical leftists [comments on individual removed]

I was actually going to give up on LP after the threads about Rudd's asylum seeker shark-jump revealed the racism of many commenters there. I guess I should give up. The thing is that there is no left-wing community blog in Australia that I know of that is tolerant of (how sad to set such a low bar!) feminist, animal rights and queer ideas, and where men and women can gather to discuss ideas in some kind of pro-feminist environment.

I am contemplating a post about this on my own blog. I think that Rudd has left a poisonous legacy, not just within the ALP, his willingness to tolerate sexism and classism in pursuit of his venal goals has left a big, poisonous wound in the left more generally, as evidenced by the collapse of the community at LP. I can't quite work out how to come at it, but I think the Australian left needs to take stock of how it views women and feminism and [comment on individual removed]
Val your plans to analyse the comments and posts at LP for evidence of this stuff is a really good idea, and I really hope you do it. I know it's exhausting, but actual real analysis on blogs is rare and I think you should pursue it. (Though you might think about an academic paper first?)

Linda said...

Thanks for going to the trouble of sorting this out, Val. Having spoken to you I totally understand your misgivings around my comment appearing here and the potential consequences for you.

Val Kay said...

Thanks Linda and your comments are always welcome.
I think I'm more of an ecofeminist than a radical feminist, but it's always good to hear different viewpoints.

Linda said...

I only know a very broad definition of ecofeminism so I would be interested to know your interpretation of it, Val.
I'm always saying that patriarchy must end if we are to save the planet so I am open to principles of ecofeminism, I imagine.

Val Kay said...

Thanks Linda. I think this definition from Wikipedia is not bad although I think we tend to have our own personal definitions of feminism(s) don't you think?

I'm going to try and write about this soon because I didn't explicitly look at how feminism influenced my thesis when I started - it's only now as I'm getting into the later stages that I'm getting the confidence to do so.

I'm getting an ever longer list of 'things I'm going to do' so don't know when they'll all get done but look forward to your future thoughts as I go along

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.