Does anyone listen to what Labor are saying?

John Quiggin has penned a piece We’re all “real Australians”:

    Labor won’t win elections by targeting some groups at the expense of others
Labor’s Chris Bowen outside his childhood home in Smithfield, in the Sydney electorate of McMahon, after the party’s loss at the 2019 election. Bianca De Marchi/AAP Image

Quiggin says that shadow health minister Chris Bowen, the member for McMahon in Western Sydney, tells us that Labor needs to win the trust of suburban voters. Then:

    Bowen seems to think, however, that lots of voters (though not enough to give Labor a majority) live in a place he calls the “inner city,” and that Labor is paying them too much attention.

That is after he has told us that Bowen “tells us that Labor needs to win the trust of suburban voters.”

Then after analysing the results of the last election, Quiggin tells us:

    In other words, Labor’s support base consists primarily of non-elite urban voters, while the Coalition depends mainly on rural, regional and well-off urban voters. This would be unsurprising if it weren’t for the fact that so much political commentary, including Bowen’s, assumes the opposite. (Emphasis added)

No source given, so I went looking, and found Bowen’s Jack Ferguson Memorial Lecture What would Jack think? Australia and the suburbs in 2020, posted on Chris Bowen’s site on 28 November, 2020. There is nothing else on that site on Bowen’s recent thoughts about suburban dwellers.

Bowen says Australia is “one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with 90% of the population living in urban areas”, and:

    from the point of view of the Labor Party, sometimes discussions of our political future and strategy seem like a zero-sum game between the inner cities and the regions, as if the millions of voters who live in suburbs are just flown over in the debate between the inner cities and the bush.

    Let me be frank, this debate sometimes frustrates me. We could win every Inner-City seat and every conceivable vote from possible voters in the regions and still fall far short of government, if we are not winning the support of the millions of voters in the suburbs.

The people in the suburbs are not travelling well, according to Bowen:

    Since becoming Shadow Minister for Health eighteen months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to think a lot about the health of Australians. But also about the health of our society. And the two are very much linked.

    We are in the middle of a pandemic. But we are a society with too many epidemics.

    And they are getting worse.

    We have epidemics of diabetes, obesity and mental ill-health.

    We also have epidemics of household debt and job insecurity.

    We have epidemics of drug addiction, with ice use still rife in too many communities.

    We are the most debt-laden, most depressed, most addicted and medicated, most insecure generation in our country’s history.

    There are real fault lines in our society. Things aren’t working as well as they should.

    And while these are national crises, there are particular ramifications in and for our suburbs, where so many Australians live. In many instances, it’s the suburbs where these phenomena are having the most acute impact.

Bowen says that Labor MPs are often painted us as inner-city elites, unaware and unconcerned about the lives of most Australians.

We need to remind voters, he says, that we are from the suburbs – from them, and for them.

    That we celebrate and will protect the rich diversity of backgrounds, faiths and vocations that the suburbs hold, and that each of them has a place in our Party.

What many in the suburbs need, he says, is a dignified, rewarding and secure life in the suburbs, not an aspiration to get out of them.

    we have to recognise a good life in the suburbs, supported by good public services and infrastructure, with access to safe and secure jobs, is a very noble aspiration for millions of Australians.

He then goes on to talk about three issues of concern:

    Firstly, is the impact of casualisation and the gig economy.

    Secondly, the decline of manufacturing and sucking of jobs towards the central business districts of capital cities.

    And the third is that rapid growth in housing in outer suburbs has not been accompanied by a growth in social and physical infrastructure, with negative implications for the health and well-being of millions.

On the first, he says:

    Australia has one of the highest rates of casualisation in the OECD. One in four Australian workers is a casual. Half of those have no guaranteed hours. That’s a problem for very many reasons, including the overwhelming evidence that such job insecurity damages physical and mental health.

    It’s not surprising that insecure workers face increased stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. It’s also the case that casual, insecure workers suffer physical ill-health than more secure workers. Insecure workers, for example, have a 34% higher risk of heart disease.

He cites a study of Australian rideshare and delivery drivers who earn an average of $10.42 an hour. That’s less than $100 for more than a full day’s work.

Bowen stresses that Neville Wran always asked of any cabinet proposal “What’s in it for Joe Blow and his Missus?”

Jack Ferguson as his long term deputy was a key player in this connection and a constant anchor in what the suburbs were thinking.

I’m not sure what Quiggin read, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t that speech. What comes through to me is an inclusive, empathetic and compassionate politician, who want to support the right of everyone to lead a dignified life of their choosing.

On his site Bowen has a series of speeches in recent months outlining the ideas and principles that underpin Labor’s values and help shape its policy agenda, on Financial stability, Australia and Indonesia, Openness, Opportunity, Innovation, The Middle Class, Action on inequality, Gender equality, Engagement with Asia, and Growth.

Bowen sounds as though he thinks Labor should be brave in its policy options.

Is anyone listening? Or would they rather just report biffo, and keep on saying that Labor is hopelessly lost in the weeds.

I suspect what Quiggin saw was the same as Katharine Murphy reported on when she wrote in the Guardian of Bowen:

    The senior New South Wales Labor rightwinger and shadow federal health minister has used a new essay titled “Australia’s social democratic moment?” to argue Labor won’t win the next election unless it reconnects with voters who have historically looked to the ALP to improve their living standards “but have been looking elsewhere in recent years”.

    Bowen says Labor in 2020 needs to define opportunity and aspiration more inclusively, finding better ways “to tell the story of our commitment to working people – and it can’t just be that we will make it easier for the children of the working class to get out of it”.

    He says the challenge is to convince voters Labor is not “merely interested in providing pathways to improved social mobility, but also improving the lot of those who can’t or don’t want to take that path”.

Murphy says:

    Bowen’s essay appears in a new collection of contributions by right faction players, including the former Labor leader Bill Shorten, the current deputy leader Richard Marles, and frontbenchers Jim Chalmers and Ed Husic, edited by Nick Dyrenfurth of the John Curtin Research Centre and unionist Misha Zelinsky.

I suspect it will appear soon on their “”>publications page. I like their theme Labor ideas for a better Australia, and on their main page the quote from John Curtin:

    ‘The nation looked to Labor, and it did not look in vain.’

Except that Bowen is saying that the nation will not naturally look to Labor in current circumstances.

Are the media actually interested in what Labor people are saying, or on climate change, for example, just interested in what Joel Fitzgibbon is up to? Murphy couldn’t get through the article without reference to him.

Chris Bowen, Richard Marles, Jim Chalmers are all on board with concerted action on climate change. On the weekend after the 2019 election loss Tony Burke penned an article – Tony Burke floats Green New Deal-style approach to Labor’s climate policy.

Burke says we can’t ignore the science and then there is the matter of intergenerational equity:

    “This issue is as much core business for Labor as anything we do in welfare or redistribution of taxation. This is about making sure we are looking after the disadvantaged, except the disadvantaged here isn’t between rich and poor, it’s between present and future.”

Tony Burke is classified as NSW right. As Leader of the House he’s in the core leadership group.

So Mark Butler, Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek all support Anthony Albanese who has made climate action as his number one priority, with ample support from the senior right wingers in the party.

Labor is formally consulting the membership and 500 branches in shaping the platform it will take to the next election. There are plenty ideas going around. Can we listen, please, rather than select something sexy to grab eyeballs from all the colour and movement?

Or a prop for something you wanted to say anyway.

44 thoughts on “Does anyone listen to what Labor are saying?”

  1. There are umpteen things to write about at present, but this one got under my skin – a bit.

    BTW if you want to see how the election turned out geographically, go to the AEC’s 2019 federal election results maps. There are probably only about four seats that are directly affected by coal mining in Queensland. That is four out of 30.

    I would not divide the seats up the way the AEC does, but there are six seats in the Gold and Sunny Coasts combined (more than Tasmania), and another dozen in greater Brisbane.

  2. Thanks, Brian.

    In the Victorian instance it’s a commonplace to call suburbs such as Collingwood, Abbotsford, Fitzroy, Carlton, Parkville, East Melbourne, Brunswick, North Mellbourne, South Melbourne, Prahran, South Yarra, Albert Park “inner city”.

    Quite a range of homes there, fron uni student share houses to cheapish apartments to overseas student hostels to fancy mansions to hostels for down and outs; many “gentrified” since 1970; still some welfare housing.

    Definitely a higher Greens Party vote. Some super-trendy going out through the hipster zones of North Fitzroy, Clifton Hill, Northcote, Darebin etc.

    Well-served by trams, trains, bike paths. Close to major hospitals, CBD workplaces and shops; MCG and Docklands and Tennis Centre; Zoo, parks, NGV, not far to Tullamarine airport or Spirit of Tassie and Port Philp Bay; Docklands.

    A pleasant area to live in.

    Of course there’s Melbourne weather to contend with, that’s a given.


    High on the Dray, down near the Bay.

    Gough made “sewering the new, outer suburbs” a campaigning measure. You don’t get much more basic and suburban than that. Practical. Sensible infrastructure. Onya Gough.

  3. Brian: Chris Bowen is the political genius who damaged Labor before the last election with his complicated franking credit policy. A competent politician should understand that all many oldies would have heard was that it was an attack on oldies.
    Many years ago I saw an article in the Australian on the voting split for blue and white collar workers. What startled me was that the split was about the same for both groups. Labor was no longer the party of the workers, perhaps because the Bob Hawke industrial reforms didn’t really appear to give any gains for the workers, even though it help people like me on the other side of the negotiating table.
    The ACT Greens/Labor alliance has successfully been in power for 4 terms of parliament. Perhaps Labor should be spending less effort fighting the Greens in what is no longer Labor heartland and go back to fighting for Australian strugglers?

  4. John, Chris Bowen came up with some very good ideas which would have produced more social justice and a more decent Australia.

    His franking credits and negative gearing policies needed a few obvious tweaks to make them politically acceptable. I blame Shorten and the other senior figures in the party for the fact that this was not done.

    He is one of the most connected politicians around in terms of staying in touch with the needs of ordinary people, but having policy ideas of what can be done.

    The ACT example, as I have said before, does not translate to polities with different voting arrangements. I can’t see why the Greens are not campaigning harder on changing the electoral system, as Steele hall did in South Australia, although I concede it would be difficult.

    Apparently the need for change in NZ became obvious when the Nats won a series of elections with a minority of the votes.

    As it stands the Greens put a major effort into taking skin off Labor in a handful of seats they think they can win, rather than helping Labor defeat the Coalition in the whole 151 seats. They frequently put politics ahead of principle in what they do in Federal and Qld state politics.

    They aspire to hold the balance of power by winning a few at the margins, leaving Labor to do the heavy lifting.

    When you say Labor should “go back to fighting for Australian strugglers” that’s exactly what Bowen is recommending, as well as policies for everyone, as befits a party of government for all Australians.

  5. John, when you say “Many years ago I saw an article in the Australian on the voting split for blue and white collar workers. What startled me was that the split was about the same for both groups. Labor was no longer the party of the workers…”, That’s what Bowen is saying. Labor can no longer take the votes of any group for granted. It has to earn then with appropriate policies.

    There are now other minor party options, like One Nation, where nearly half the votes in some elections came from Labor.

  6. Brian: “As it stands the Greens put a major effort into taking skin off Labor in a handful of seats they think they can win, rather than helping Labor defeat the Coalition in the whole 151.”
    Federally both the Greens and Labor compete in all seats as part of their senate campaigns.
    State wise there are a number of seats where the Greens actually have a better chance of beating the LNP than Labor. This is because there are who can come at voting Green but can’t come at voting Labor. (As a result a higher % of Labor preferences go to the Greens compared with Greens preferences going to Labor. ) Labor could certainly be more strategic if they concentrated on beating the LNP.
    “I can’t see why the Greens are not campaigning harder on changing the electoral system” They do advocate Hare Clarke style systems but get no sympathy from the majors.
    BTW Steele Hall was a LNP premier who did the right thing.
    Perhaps Qld Labor could do the right thing and support a fairer voting system that did not disadvantage minor parties?

    • Labor could certainly be more strategic if they concentrated on beating the LNP.

    Labor do just that. We contest 93 seats in the Qld elections and 30 in the Federal elections. The Greens are simply are not an issue in most of them, and where they are, I think the strategy is mostly to ignore them so as not to give them oxygen.

    In the seats where they are a factor, they are mostly just annoying. They swamp our visual field with corflutes, and letter box about 5 or 6 to one. Didn’t have any doorknocking this year.

    I kept a fair bit of the letterbox stuff. There was stuff directly attacking Labor, but none at all attacking the LNP.

    Federally whenever they attack the LNP they usually end up saying both “old” parties are just as bad as each other.

    When you argue that the Greens have a better chance of beating the the LNP, which is probably true in the higher income suburbs, what do you think we should do? Vacate the field? Urge people to vote for the Greens if they don’t want to vote for us?

    There are eight ALP branches wholly or partly in the federal seat of Ryan. We aren’t going to fade away just yet.

    I do think the Hare Clark system or the NZ MMP system would make collegiality easier. I intend to put my toe into the water in one of our branch forums planned for next year, but the net result has to be fewer major party seats or more pollies, so probably a snowflake’s chance in Hades.

  7. Brian: “When you argue that the Greens have a better chance of beating the the LNP, which is probably true in the higher income suburbs, what do you think we should do? Vacate the field? Urge people to vote for the Greens if they don’t want to vote for us?”
    What I think they should be doing is thinking about what gives them the best chance of beating the LNP and forming government even if they end up having to depend on the Greens to form government.
    As part of that a strategic ALP should identify seats where the Greens have a better chance of beating the LNP. In those seats they should run a candidate who concentrates on attacking the LNP rather than attacking the Greens.
    One of the smart things Beattie did when he had a big majority was to continuing to work on his relationship with the independents who gave him power in the tight election. Palechuk seems to have pissed of the Katter party (and the Greens?) Not smart.

  8. Vale Mungo McCallum.

    Apropos of nothing (as usual), here’s a morsel from an MA thesis written about the setting up by the Whitlam Govt of a Royal Commission into the Security Service(s?) circa 1974:

    The journalist Mungo MacCallum, memorably described by Whitlam as the “tall, bearded descendant of lunatic aristocrats,”

    Cheerio, Mungo, beard and all.
    Wild pen at Nation Review.
    Windmill-tilter with a vengeance.

  9. Jill Hennessy has resigned as Victoria’s Attorney-General, effective immediately.

    Nine newspapers reports that she is the sixth Vic Minister to resign or be sacked this year.

    Of course, the Law and administration of justice in Vic are just fine: see Gobbo (Royal Commission); see also serious criminal convictions quashed (Gobbo); see also Royal Commission report yet to be tabled (Gobbo); see also Pell verdict and appeal result (1-2) overturned in the High Court (7-0); see also sudden ‘police raid’ on public housing apartment towers; see also turmoil over “class actions”; see also Labor-aligned private law firms, et cetera .


  10. Yeah, Victoria has been a shit show for a very long time, just have a gander at their footy code.

  11. No John,
    but a visitor from The Future has lent me an infernal machine which is completely invisible to mortals and apparently very effective.

    She calls the machine a “Hide Ray”.
    I don’t understand a word of the “operator manual”.
    (I thought an operator was someone who worked Mr Bell’s “telephones”; and I abhor manual labour.)

    It simply won’t do.
    Next someone from the Tropics will be criticising our unique football “code”.

  12. Have a gander?

    What on earth have geese got to do with this?
    Oh dear, everything is so confusing….. I really wish Prince Albert had not perished.

    [We all thought Albert was in for the long Hall.]

  13. Ambi, the commentary I heard on Jill Hennessy today is that people start there political careers earlier in life than the used to, and then there comes a point where they look at the future and think the might like to do something else for the next few decades.

  14. Yes, nothing wrong with that at all, Brian.

    Folk have been saying workers these days should be prepared to have two or three ‘careers’ during their lives. Two or three different job types , if a ‘career’ was impossible with casual or P/T work.

  15. Don’t want to be a wet blanket, young John, but there’s a way to go isn’t there?

    Typical domestic set-up 3 to 5 kW; typical household 2 persons.

    Let’s keep encouraging rooftop solar (home, office, factory) as well as large scale solar ‘farms’.

  16. Fitzgibbon will carry on carrying on no doubt, and he has a point in saying that you need access to in-government resources before you finally decide what you can do.

    However, I’m here to tell him that Labor will go to the next election with an interim target, be it 2030 or 2035.

    Fitzgibbon wants to take climate change out of play. I think Albo wants it front and centre as a real point of difference.

  17. Do I listen to Labor? No. They always say the same thing in an ever more tedious way of expressing it while missing all of the key interests of the generation who have to clean up the mess when the boomers have dissipated.

  18. What I really want to know is what parties are committing to for the next term of government rather than targets for 10 to 30 years into the future. It helps if the next term plan is part of a longer term plan but the next term plan is still the key test.
    Federally the LNP is still locked into the dark ages but, in NSW the LNP state climate plan is looking good. Dunno what NSW Labor is saying. (Fortunately I live in an electorate with a Greens state member so the failings of NSW Labor don’t afffect me personally.)
    In Qld the ALP was pretty wishy washy but still wanted to complain when the Greens had the hide to compete in, and nearly win, Cooper.

  19. John, you always like practical, specific plans. It’s true that Qld does not have a plan, like NSW, as to how it is going to achieve net zero in 2050. A plan was promised last election, but not delivered. LEAN will be working on the new environment minister, Meaghan Scanlon, on the Gold Coast.

    Just before the election the Qld government called for expressions of interest to build stuff in the nominated renewable energy zones. Last Friday we had a govt media release Renewable zones to position Queensland into a clean energy powerhouse:

      Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her Government had been flooded with expressions of interest, with enough projects to create 60,000 megawatts of clean energy, with the combined capacity to power the nation.

      “Delivering new energy sources and new jobs is part of our plan for Queensland’s economic recovery by growing our regions,” the Premier said.

      “We’ve had expressions of interest for a further 192 projects that will charge up our state’s economic recovery, creating up to 57,000 jobs in the process.


      Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said that the Government would be shortlisting and approving projects that delivered the most benefit for Queenslanders.

      “Between Cairns and Townsville, our initiative has attracted strong interest from a variety of projects which will support the growing demand for new economy minerals extraction and processing, that are critical to the components required in the renewable and technology sectors.

      “While around Longreach and Rockhampton we’ve attracted expressions of interest from 67 projects, creating significant opportunities to enable growth in the state’s renewable hydrogen development.

      “The most popular has been the southern zone covering the Darling Downs with 72 strong expressions of interest, which is well suited to the region’s growing opportunities in sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.

    That was separate from and in addition to:

      “Importantly, we are putting $145 million on the table to fund transmission infrastructure, making it easier for renewable projects to connect to the National Electricity Market, encouraging even more investment.

      “This builds on my Government’s investment of $500 million into cleaner, cheaper electricity, which will continue to drive down power prices for industry and homeowners.”

    Separately again, the new government owned generator CleanCo plans to develop 1GW of renewable power, and I think a third of that in storage.

    If you go through the budget with a fine tooth comb, there will be more, including training people in landcare, revegetation after fire, etc.

    I think there is more in public housing design and stuff.

    For the 2016 election the ALP plans were pulled together and promoted. That was when Mark Bailey was minister. PR wasn’t anywhere near that under Anthony Lynham. I have found it frustrating not to have readily available information.

    Going back to the media release, there was this summary of Labor’s record:

      “In just over six years our policies have turned the energy investment climate on its head, transforming the state from the LNP’s zero-dollar, zero-megawatt renewables vacuum to an $8.5 billion energy investment and 7,000 job powerhouse.

      “I welcome the proponent estimates showing these projects would support more than $93.7 billion investment if these are all developed.

      “What this looks like today is clean electricity coming from 33 operational large-scale wind and solar projects and there’s another 11 already committed or under construction.”

      The Renewable Energy Zones are regionally-based power and jobs generators which open more doors for more industrial zones, hydrogen hubs and manufacturing jobs.

    The media just doesn’t report this stuff, apart from RenewEconomy in Queensland renewable energy zones “flooded” with 60,000MW of project proposals.

    On the campaign on Cooper, the Green did not campaign strongly on climate. I have on my desk a letterbox flier with eight promises. The 7th is

      “Build 100% publicly owned renewable energy by 2030, create 23,000 jobs a year.

    That’s 23,000 jobs every year, making 230,000 jobs in all!?

    That’s all it says about climate and the environment.

    Paid for by funding proposals that were never going to happen, by taxing big bank profits they don’t have, and trebling mining royalties.

    The only think I heard in the media from the Green was from Michael Berkman – a proposal to provide free breakfast and lunch to all school kids. Worthy, and needed, but also funded by the big bucket of funds that was never realistic.

  20. Brian: The Murdoch press is of course noted for its fair and balanced reporting so it is possible that the CM did not give a balanced report on Greens and Labor policies.
    Hope what you said above about what Labor says it will do happens quickly.

  21. Brian,

    I tend also to favour practical, specific plans. as you mentioned John does. Pollies need to get down to tin tacks at some point…. although they can do well to outsource some practical decisions to knowledgeable outsiders, e.g. the ARC for research grant funding; similarly for medical research funding.

    Then there are bureaus specialising in agricultural economics, trade, competition policy, etc.

    One that keeps causing trouble is the independent assessor of infrastructure proposals…..

    I like general policy statements too, but without an attempt to use those to guide specific plans, where are we left? Stranded? Drowning in spin and verbiage?

    Recently I read that when candidate Dwight Eisenhower was hesitating about keeping Richard Nixon on the Pres ticket, RMN phoned Dwight and advised that “sometimes there comes a moment when you just have to sh*t, or get off the pot!”

    Practical, specific plans are the sh*t.

    [Warning: farming metaphor
    In olden days when ‘muck’ was traditionally spread upon agricultural paddocks, an argument for more even distribution of income was expressed in these terms:

    Money, like muck, is more beneficial if it is spread around.]

  22. Ambi: The Conversation had this to say: “Tony Wood, director of the Grattan Institute’s energy program: “Morrison should announce that the government’s strategic objective is net zero emissions by 2050. To make that credible, he should complement his government’s technology focus with a commitment to deliver an economy-wide investment framework to deploy these technologies, with legislated milestones tightly set in the short term and consistent with the strategic objective in the long term”.
    Without tightly set short term the rest is waffle that could mean anything. However, it is also important not to get bogged down in the “How”

  23. John, I just took everything after the “?” off that link, and it still works.

    Good summary article from Michelle Grattan.

    Use what terminology you like. I’m for long term, medium term, next parliamentary period, next year, next month, tomorrow.

    Our problem at present is that we haven’t got the longer term one right. The climate works in decades, centuries and millennia.

    Aiming for zero by 2050 just puts us in a frame where we can expect the bad to get worse, and an unacceptable risk of tipping points that will take the game away from us.

    That’s what I’m obsessing about. It really doesn’t matter what you do in the next three years if it’s just going to be a variation of how you go down the crapper.

  24. Back to Joel Fitz, the joke this morning was that he was saying senior Labor people should get out and talk to the workers.

    At the time he spoke Richard Marles was going for a run in his Broncos shorts in Qld mining town, before talking to said coal workers.

    Fitzgibbon is doing good work for the Greens, but they should worry, because it’s also good work for Scotty.

    BTW Marles and Fitzgibbon are in the same ALP faction.

  25. I forgot to mention, John, the timetable is that Morrison is going to call an election late in 2021. The earliest he can go is August, but the word is October. He will ask for a mandate to lead us to the promised land post-Covid.

    His thinking is that Australians will still be inclined to thank him for what they think he did during the Covid crisis. He’s been good at claiming credit when the States have done well, and blaming them when they haven’t.

    He’s had general praise from the pundits who overlook that fact that he thought 2.1 million weren’t worth spending money on.

    Anyway Labor is having a national conference in March via the interwebs. They asked for policy inputs by November 30, and will have thing pretty well worked out by March. Then they will release a revised party Platform. Policies to take to the next election come when the next election comes.

    All I know is that the Platform is likely to be shorter, and they will concentrate on fewer policies in the election than they did last time.

    Dead set there will be new environmental legislation.

    Labor makes a big thing of following the science on climate change, and in government that usually means adopting whatever the IPCC says. There will be a new IPCC report starting early next year.

  26. Brian: A one tonne reduction in our emissions now will give a 30 tonnes reduction our in 2020 to 2050 emissions. A one tonne reduction in 2050 gives only one tonne reduction for the same period.
    That is one of the key reasons why I think the short term is so important.
    This doesn’t mean that we should be doing the research now to determine what we are going to to deal with the more expensive/difficult emissions.
    By and large I think 2050 is waffle unless it is backed up with short term plans.

  27. Yes, John, but you have to have an idea of the scale of the action required next year, and where it is going to get you over the medium to longer term.
    Since at least 2009 I’ve been banging on about the ‘carbon budget approach’ as reflected in this graph:

    It’s the area under the graph that matters. What you said is a different way of saying it, except you have no basis for how much you should do next year.

    I’ve been saying net zero b y 2030 and net negative after that since 2013, possibly earlier.

    The longer we leave starting something that means anything the deeper and longer we’ll have to go in drawdown. I think we can see now that DACS (direct air capture of carbon) will be necessary in addition to planting trees (which have a distressing habit of catching fire) soil carbon, kelp seeding of the oceans etc etc.

    So my view is that net zero by 2050 is not waffle, it is dangerously wrongheaded.

  28. Brian: “The longer we leave starting something that means anything the deeper and longer we’ll have to go in drawdown. ”
    My take is that lots is happening now and has been for some time so it is more about:
    1, Speeding up what we are doing.
    2. Looking for more cost effective ways of doing things.
    3. Doing the research for some of the more difficult changes.
    4. Managing the transitions.

  29. FYI Adam Bandt on climate action: “I’ve had enough. Another week has gone by with more half-baked announcements from the major parties on what they think we should do about the climate crisis, and each announcement is worse than the last. Under their plans we risk hitting a dangerous tipping point of 1.5 degrees of warming in less than ten years.
    The Liberal and Labor parties’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge that we need immediate action to tackle climate crisis is incredibly frustrating. I’m sure you are feeling as let down and furious at their inaction as I am.
    Greta Thunberg has urged us to act like our house is on fire, because it is.
    In an emergency, it’s all hands on deck. You don’t wait until 2050 or throw more petrol on the fire, you come to the rescue and put the fire out.”

  30. John, great comment from Adam Bandt, but where did he say that? I searched and could not find, which means that the comment was likely internal messaging to fellow Greens.

    I’d like to see him shouting from the rooftops.

  31. Also this:

      The Liberal and Labor parties’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge that we need immediate action to tackle climate crisis is incredibly frustrating.

    It’s just that Labor has been saying continually since Kim Beasley that we need action on climate, and has never said anything else. Fitzgibbon doesn’t speak for Labor. From the SMH recently:

      Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s closest allies say he is “not for blinking” on Labor’s climate change policies and will not be shifting the energy portfolio away from long-time frontbencher Mark Butler in an upcoming reshuffle.

      Mr Butler, a South Australian left-faction powerbroker, said on Wednesday his future in the job was a decision for Mr Albanese and he remained “passionate” about strong action on climate change.

    Bandt slips into his default ‘both major parties are the same’ routine, which is misleading and simply not true.

    Bandt knows that Labor is going through a policy renewal phase. Can’t he show a bit of respect and let them do it in an orderly fashion?

    The same goes for commentators like Mark Kenny.

    If Labor dumps Albo for Tanya or Jim, that’s fine by me, but I don’t think climate policy would suffer thereby.

  32. And to give credit where it’s due (international credit in this case) Margaret Thatcher decades ago warned of greenhouse gas dangers. She had a chemistry degree. Highly likely she was aware of the Arrhenius hypothesis.

    My (hazy) memory from around 1970 is that atmospheric scientists as we called them, were concerned about
    * acid rain
    * photochemical smog
    * ozone depletion
    * greenhouse effect
    * “nuclear winter” (after a war)

    That’s about fifty years ago .

  33. Brian: I was quoting Adam Bandt from the Greens internal newsletter.
    Labor is certainly better than the LNP on climate action but I think voting Green sends a clearer message than voting Labor. Hopefully the Labor message will be clearer after your conference.

  34. “There are no changes to franking credits Labor will be taking to the next election”

    – A. Albanese,
    pre-quoted in Nine Newspapers, Sat 2nd Jan 2021.

  35. Ambi, I think Albo is trying to find a way to be noticed. He’s making a speech today to rip into Scotty. This announcement was to signal to journalists that it may be worth turning up.

  36. Well, if a significant number of voters last time, were influenced by Mr Shorten’s policy on reforming the treatment of franking credits, Mr Albanese will also have seized their attention too.

    Brian, I don’t think the Labor leader needs to do any spectacular cartwheels to attract Canberra journalists’ attention; not when half of them are writing about “threats to his leadership”.

    Meanwhile: happy new year!!

  37. Ambi, I’ll say more about this anon, but I recall Kim Beazley going through a whole election campaign with the press only talking about whether he could ‘cut through’ or not. If instead they had written about what he was saying, which was quite sensible and in plain English, the he would have cut through.

    I can see the same thing happening the Albo.

  38. Brian: “I can see the same thing happening the Albo.” I can remember commenting long ago that Beazley was “a policy vacuum in search of power. ” Wasn’t impressed when he did come out with policy.
    Albo is just not grabbing me either. Shorten was good at cutting through. That was what the “kill Bill” campaign was all about and the focus of all that money Clive spent.
    Can’t imagine the conservatives running a kill Albo campaign.

  39. John, I thought Kimbo would make a good PM. In 2007 he had pruned the policy agenda down to five main issues, one of which was climate change.

    However, for some reason as soon as he opened his mouth people shut their ears.

    Then one day he said Karl Rove when he meant Rove McManus, and he was finished.

    I thought it forgivable if you’d flown over the Nullabor twice a week for a couple of decades, but the rest is history.

    I think Albo has some bright and honest people in the caucus. My personal thought is that his time was 2016.

    However, I do think the media have some responsibility in focussing on ideas rather than palava.

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