1. Barilaro blows himself up
That was the AFR’s irrepressible cartoonist David Rowe opposite Laura Tingle’s weekly column Crisis spins from COVID-19 to koalas in the premier state also published at ABC Online as The Nationals’ dummy spit over koalas is another sign of their ongoing struggle for relevance.
Barilaro would have us believe it was about an existential threat to farmers’ capacity to manage their land, or more plainly to fell trees inhabited by koalas.
Seems it is more about developers clearing land for housing.
Why would Barilaro raise this now after the laws were passed in March by a government that included the Nationals in Coalition? Laws which were:
designed to protect endangered koalas by increasing number of tree species which need planning exemptions to show they are not koala habitat, or that development will not adversely affect koala habitat.
Barilaro extracted exactly nothing from Premier Berejiklian. Cabinet will discuss the matter further exactly when originally scheduled.
If the Nationals want a deal like WA had from 2008 – a Liberal minority government with two National cabinet minister, a guarantee of supply, but the right to vote against issues that affected the regions, then the time to negotiate that is when forming a government after an election, not unilaterally at the time of their choosing.
State chairman of the Nationals, Andrew Fraser, wrote to party members on Thursday that “it is now a real make or break situation for our party”.
I know very little about politics in NSW, but I suspect the existential threat is to the National Party itself, and the real worry is Shooters and Fishers and the like.
Barilaro has now been asked by senior Liberals to consider his position.
2. Original sin in politics
Peter Brent in The gloves are off tells us that Team Australia has been disbanded, the notion that all the leaders would put party politics aside and co-operate in the national interest is over.
- long before the pandemic, among committed Liberals, Andrews was the most loathed Labor leader in the country. They see him as the most “left wing” of the lot. In fact Victorian Liberal MPs, state and federal, seem to view his very existence as an affront, and many of them have quite evidently been bristling under the Covid-19 political détente. And parts of News Corp, not just Sky After Dark, have also whipped themselves into a “Dictator Dan” frenzy. Everyone’s spending more time these days on the internet, a place not known for its calming influence.
Then Newspoll showed a dip in the Coalition’s fortunes, so:
- “federal sources” attributed the Newspoll findings to “frustration with the Morrison government being unable to influence border closures and other state government impositions.”
So the gloves are off.
Andrews, Brent says, may not have returned serve and may hope for better days. However:
- it’s hard to see Andrews still being premier at the next election in 2022, not (directly) because of Sunday’s or any other announcement, but due to that original sin — those hotel quarantine blunders — which has led to all these deaths and misery. That will always haunt him. (Emphasis added)
In fact the attacks on Andrews started well before last week by Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt.
3. Has Palaszczuk suffered a king hit?
It certainly looks like it.
As Brent pressed the ‘publish’ button, news came through of what may be seen from a future standpoint as Annastacia Palaszczuk flaming out in her political career. He linked to a Brisbane Times article about Canberra woman Sarah Caisip ‘My dad is dead and you made me fight to see him but it was too late’.
Queensland authorities tried to play according to the rules they had set up, but the rules could not be made to work in the situation we found ourselves in, that is, the real world.
And there is a question of competence.
Of the many articles I’ve seen so far, I’d suggest:
Scott Parnell in Is Palaszczuk in danger of keeping everyone safe except herself?
Well, no, not everyone. She had a duty of care to people in Northern New South Wales.
There are many parts to this story, many are worse than could be imagined. I can’t do justice to it in this space, but in political terms I suspect Palaszczuk is toast. Parnell says Labor has built a presidential-style re-election campaign around Palaszczuk. That plan is now in disarray, and probably not recoverable in the space of a few weeks, if ever.
Still, politics in Queensland can offer surprises, so the future is open. The CM says the YouGov poll taken at the end of August shows Palaszczuk’s net support at -5, as against the LNP’s Deb Frecklington’s -21. Party vote was LNP 38, Labor 32, Greens 12, and Other (Katter One Nation etc) 18, giving a TPP of 56-44 to the LNP. Yet on most government functions Labor is favoured over the LNP.
The attacks from Morrison did not start last week, they go back to at least mid-May, supported by others, notably Peter Duncan and Andrew Laming, Member for Bowman, which have been loud and routinely bending the truth.
The Government has capped returns at 4000 per week, and a spat has developed whether it is the states or the Feds to blame, with health Minister Greg Hunt saying he is working constructively with the states to get everyone home by Christmas.
This should not be a problem as the figures at the bottom of the first link show the states are taking 3,975 per week (with NSW doing the heavy lifting), so with about 15 weeks to Christmas and 25,000 wanting to return, the states are providing capacity to take close to 60,000.
It is opportunistic and egregious for the Commonwealth to be blaming the states on what is one of their core responsibilities. Many of the people stranded overseas have no jobs, are borrowing money to live, can’t afford the expensive seats available, or find themselves with no travel links at all.
5. Saving the environment
Scott Morrison has a duty of care to the planet, and to the web of life thereupon, that he seems incapable of understanding and appreciating. The simple story is this:
- The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) 1999 has not protected the environment in Australia. The Federal Government set up an inquiry under former ACCC chief Prof Graeme Samuels to undertake an Independent Review.
- The interim report published on 20 July recommends legally enforceable “national standards” to stop the decline of Australia’s natural environment, “one-stop shop” or “single-touch approvals” by delegation to the states, and a “strong, independent cop on the beat”, but no new “climate trigger” as argued for by many conservationists.
- While the report was being prepared, the Auditor General released a report finding 80 per cent of approvals under the laws were non-compliant or contained errors.
Labor claims there had been 510 per cent blowout in environmental approvals made on time because of a 40 per cent cut in funding for the environment department.
In the last Weekly salon at Item 6 I reported on how the Government tried to ram new legislation through the parliament without debate.
Apparently it was a rehash of failed Abbott legislation, with delegation to the states, no standards and no cop on the beat. To me, delegation to the states invites corruption and industry capture.
This legislation was deemed so urgent that it could not wait for the final report, due in October. Fortunately, Labor and the Greens were able to delay the legislation in the recent sitting. Laura Tingle now reports (link above) that Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff and independents Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie have said they won’t vote for the changes when they hit the Senate next month. With One Nation, the Government only needs support from one of that trio to pass legislation.
Adam Morton from The Guardian tells of a study of 220 scientists which shows Australian scientists say logging, mining and climate advice is being suppressed:
- The society found about a third of government and industry-employed ecologists and conservation scientists who responded said they had experienced undue modification of their work. About half the government scientists and nearly 40% of those working for industry said they had been blocked from releasing or discussing what they had found either publicly or internally where they worked.
Slightly more than half of all respondents (56%) said they felt the constraints on public commentary had become more severe in recent years.
Colleague Lisa Cox writes of the ‘Recipe for extinction’: why Australia’s rush to change environment laws is sparking widespread concern.
An independent watchdog and written standards are the last things this government wants. Underlying their whole approach to government they reveal a disturbing lack of respect for science and truth.