The Liberal Party has turned into a bad disaster movie.
The key to a bad disaster movie is that at some point early in the film the main character needs to be confronted with evidence of impending doom – be it volcano/hurricane/plague/plane crash/tornado/cruise ship capsize/iceberg/Celine Dion song. Upon seeing this evidence the following exchange takes place:
ALL KNOWING STAR: I don’t like it; it looks to me like this place is going to blow, just like it did 10 years ago in South America in the scene shown before the credits when I witnessed an explosion and plague but wasn’t able to stop it.
HIS BOSS: Don’t be stupid. All conventional science and knowledge tells us that everything is going to be alright.
AKS: Yes, conventional science. I think we’ve been looking at this all back to front; don’t you see this confirms everything I have been arguing these last 10 years.
BOSS: Listen! I don’t want to hear any more of your so called theories, that kind of talk is what got you fired in the first place – and if word gets out that you’re sprouting them again, the Government will cut all of the institute’s funding.
AKS: Funding be damned! We’re talking about people’s lives. And not just people, but my life, your life, my-ex-wife’s life, and that little kid little Jimmy who has a lisp and a bowl-haircut’s life, and little Jimmy’s sexy-single-Mom’s life.
BOSS: Are you crazy! I command you to keep quiet. If you say anything at that town meeting we’ve been invited to by little Jimmy’s mom who is also the town mayor, I will consider that your resignation!
AKS: I won’t keep quiet! Crazy you say? Maybe I’m so crazy that I’m really sane. Maybe I’m the only one who’s sane here. Maybe I’m just crazy enough to see that it’s all of you who are crazy and that because you’re all crazy you think the sane man is crazy and...err... ooh look it’s Jimmy’s mom, and she has coffee.
And of course the volcano blows, the plague comes, the plane crashes, Celine Dion sings, and that damn “conventional wisdom” is once again shown to be wrong.
Which leads me to Julie Bishop.
This is her writing on her blog in The Age this week:
Freedom of expression is one of the principles that underpin the health of liberal democracies the world over. It is also normal and indeed essential for scientific research to be subjected to scrutiny and to be challenged.
That is why there is cause for concern about aspects of the current debate about climate change....
In recent weeks, I have received numerous messages from experienced scientists, including earth and climate specialists, who have argued against the conclusions of the Garnaut report.
I have urged some to make their concerns public, but they are apprehensive lest they be labelled a 'sceptic' or even worse 'a denier', and subject to personal abuse for having the temerity to question conventional wisdom on climate change.
There you have it. Bishop has decided the Liberal Party needs to be the All Knowing Star who stands up to the inflexible “conventional wisdom on climate change” and allow the questioners who are being silenced by the establishment (evil bastards) the freedom to state their views. Brave Julie Bishop. Bless you.
I hope she doesn’t stop there. I want her to start bringing into Liberal policy such conventional wisdom challenging science as that which suggests the links between smoking and cancer are overstated, or that which believes immunisation of children is unnecessary and even dangerous, and of course the science that knows as a fact that daylight saving is ruining the carpets and stuffing up the chooks.
And don’t give me the “oh she is just calling for a balanced opinion”. As Jeannie Bueller so succinctly put it, dry that one out and you can fertilise the lawn. A politician does not urge anyone to make a view public unless they agree with it. If she didn’t agree with it why is she writing this article? Because of her belief in the purity of democracy? Please.
Now to continue the disaster theme, it’s not that unusual for a political party to turn into a train wreck after an election loss, but it’s rare for them to advertise the fact and give the time and date it will occur. The Libs have decided to do so.
It started with rumours of Peter Costello’s resurrection and then Andrew Bolt’s assertions on Insiders last Sunday and in his column this week that “Brendan Nelson will next week put his leadership on the line by tackling rival Malcolm Turnbull over global warming”.
You see next week the Libs are coming back to Canberra for a two day party summit at which the response to the ETS will be agenda item Number 1. Agenda item Number 2 will be to repair to the Canberra Hospital for knife removal from everyone’s backs. To whit:
While Liberal frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt are preparing a submission on the Coalition's response, the MPs have broken their silence to urge Dr Nelson to dump the Coalition's election policy of supporting a scheme in 2012, regardless of action by other emitters.
Liberal MPs have said they will push their colleagues to adopt a harder line against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme at next week's Coalition talkfest. The potential brawl could force the Coalition to block the Government's preferred model and ensure climate change features prominently at the next election.
But it could also pit Brendan Nelson against leadership rival Malcolm Turnbull, forcing Liberal MPs to decide whether to retain the status quo, or switch leaders.
West Australian MP Dennis Jensen is among those heading the push against emissions trading. But he is expected to have strong backing from other carbon trade sceptics, including Senator Mitch Fifield, South Australian Cory Bernardi and party powerbroker Nick Minchin.
Guess we’ve narrowed down the list of who is Bolt’s confidant)
All the while Kevin Rudd and the ALP must be wondering what they did to deserve such luck.
There they were thinking this whole Emissions Trading Scheme thingy might be a tough sell, and could bite them in the bum come the next election. But if the Libs follow the Bolt line of trying to argue that human impact on Climate Change is all a bit of a myth that has been blown out of proportion by... err... the left wing radical elements of the... err... establishment (you know Al Gore, NASA, CSIRO), then the ALP can start thinking about what champagne to order for the election party come 2010.
Here’s the situation in a recent poll done by The Australian (hardly a paper that likes to bolster the ALP’s chances):
58 per cent of Coalition voters believe Australia should take action [on climate change] even if other countries do not.
Only 25 per cent of the 1700 voters polled believed Australia should act only when other major economies agreed to do so. (i.e the Nelson policy)
Now maybe I’m confused, but tell me when was the last time a party won an election by doing something on a major issue even a majority of its own supporters thinks is wrong, and that only 25% of the whole population thinks is right?
And let me tell you this will be the issue of the next election. Interest rates seem to be on hold, and inflation is forecast to fall slowly over the next two years.
And it is the issue because Malcolm Turnbull will not be able to take the hard Bolt line – he will lose his seat – remember how tough it was for him last time over a pulp mill in Tasmania, imagine him having to tell the Wentworth electorate he supports a wait and see policy regarding the “conventional wisdom”.
And if Turnbull cannot support such a position (and I’d suggest he also does not believe in such a position) then the challenge is on. And if he wins, then you have Minchin and his cadre (throw in Abbott and Bishop) who believe Turnbull is a lefty-tree-hugger, and thus they will destabilise and challenge and hinder. Them's party splitting type machinations.
All in all not a good position to be in.
And while all this is going on, the ALP continues to look forward thinking, consistent, in control. In short looking like a Government.
If the Libs want to have any chance at the next election they have to fight on their strengths. And hoping they can turn climate change into an economic issue can only work if they first convince the public they actually agree there is a climate change problem. Otherwise they are just doing the Climate Change equivalent of Mark Latham signing a big piece of cardboard pledging to keep interest rates low.
But Andrew Bolt keeps whispering in the ears of senior Liberals with such suggestions as this:
But there is one other step Nelson could - and should - take. He is hesitating on how much scepticism he should show about the global warming theory on which Rudd's plans rest.
Many Liberals, like some senior Labor politicians, are sceptical about claims that man is heating the world to hell, but fear that an evangelical media will kick them to pieces if they say so.
But suddenly there are signs of a shift in the debate. More reporters are finally mentioning a once-taboo fact - that the world hasn't actually warmed over the past decade, and over the past couple of years has even cooled.
Yep, conventional scientific wisdom versus the Liberal Party. If they want to run with that line come the election they might as well concede now.
Maybe Kevin Rudd should send Andrew Bolt a gift - I wonder if he likes Celine Dion?