EDITORIAL: Climate kerfuffle is a hollow distraction from real problems facing Australians

Editorial
The Nightly
3 Min Read
As our leaders bickered over whether Peter Dutton’s pledge to walk away from Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction goal constituted an abandonment of our obligations of the Paris Agreement, Australians sighed and tuned out. 
As our leaders bickered over whether Peter Dutton’s pledge to walk away from Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction goal constituted an abandonment of our obligations of the Paris Agreement, Australians sighed and tuned out.  Credit: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

There could be no better way to illustrate just how far out of touch Australia’s political class has become than the argy-bargy over the nation’s climate targets which is currently consuming Canberra.

As our leaders bickered over whether Peter Dutton’s pledge to walk away from Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction goal constituted an abandonment of our obligations of the Paris Agreement, Australians sighed and tuned out.

On their lengthening list of concerns, Australia meeting or not meeting an interim target set in an international climate accord simply does not register. If it does, it’s a long way below finding the money for the kids’ second-semester school fees and how they’ll cope financially if the RBA does go ahead and hike interest rates again.

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That’s not to say they don’t care about climate action. That matter has been long put to bed. Australians know their nation has a role to play in the fight against global warming, and that means reaching the net zero goal by 2050.

Next issue, please.

Peter Dutton
As our leaders bickered over whether Peter Dutton’s pledge to walk away from Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction goal constituted an abandonment of our obligations of the Paris Agreement, Australians sighed and tuned out.  Credit: Lukas Coch/AAP

Anthony Albanese’s move to call a public holiday snap press conference in order to quibble over interim targets should be called out for what it was: a hollow distraction from the real issues of cost of living and how our nation is going to handle the inflation challenge.

The nation is teetering on the precipice of a recession. Growth of just 0.1 per cent is all that is keeping us from plunging over the edge. Business insolvencies have reached a record high. The hospitality industry is on the verge of a spectacular collapse. Families can’t pay their mortgages.

And the Prime Minister is standing off in the distance, waving his arms and trying to get us all to look over there and away from the slow-motion car crash unfolding in front of us.

Our politicians need to start focusing on the issues that are affecting voters in the here and now.

Of course, governments too focused on the short-term is a recipe for disaster. Having an achievable energy strategy that allows us to meet our international obligations while supporting a resilient economy matters deeply.

On this and many other issues, we would like to think our leaders are able to look beyond the horizon. Unfortunately, it appears that walking and chewing gum at the same time is beyond their capability.

Just a month after the Budget and with the long-awaited stage three tax cuts due to come into effect in just a few weeks, the economy looks to be an afterthought for our leaders.

Voter disenchantment is starting to filter through to the polls. Peter Dutton is closing in on Anthony Albanese as preferred prime minister. The latest Newspoll has Labor and the Coalition neck and neck on a two-party preferred basis.

That’s a result that many in the Coalition are celebrating. But they shouldn’t be.

Instead, they should be asking themselves how on earth they don’t have a clear lead. They’ve failed again and again to seize the opportunity to launch a cogent economic argument that would put voters on their side.

It’s little wonder Australians are losing interest in politics when no one is bothering to speak to them.

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