..



.

Business News

Might the bushfire crisis be the turning point on climate politics Australian needs?

  • Written by John Daley, Chief Executive Officer, Grattan Institute

Countries have long periods in which policies change little, and only by increments.

Occasionally there are turning points, when previously intractable policy problems are suddenly resolved, recasting policy for the long term.

Many are asking whether this summer’s environmental catastrophe might be such a turning point – a Port Arthur moment[1] or Australia’s Sandy Hook[2], Chernobyl[3] or Pearl Harbour[4].

The short answer is: it is too soon to tell, but the early signals from the federal government are not good.

Crises can provide a window for big policy changes. In such times, the normal political constraints are relaxed[5], although not for long.

Crisis can beget change

The need for revenue during World War I opened the way for the federal government to levy a national income tax[6]. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 stimulated many changes concerned with national security[7].

Typically, a crisis only leads to substantial policy changes if there is also a broader understanding about the need to act, and the shape of the change needed.

The economic theories of John Maynard Keynes[8] provided the basis for policies that ensured full employment during and after World War II.

The monetarist theories of Milton Friedman[9] provided the means to limit inflation in the 1970s and 1980s.

A library of pre-existing publications on national security directed policy in the wake of 9/11.

Theory is needed as well

Crisis and economic theory were essential to some of the big reforms under the Hawke and Keating governments, including a new approach to Australian retirement incomes.

Superannuation had been a patchwork of individual employer arrangements since before federation.

The stagflation crisis of simultaneous unemployment and inflation in the 1970s created the conditions for a new approach. Inflation rose to 15%, unemployment to 6%. It led to government-union Accords[10] and deferred wage increases[11] that were the basis for Australia’s universal employee superannuation scheme.

Read more: Australian politics explainer: the Prices and Incomes Accord[12]

Many see the 1986 Chernobyl disaster as a turning point in ending the cold war[13] and dismantling the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev acted decisively in the midst of a disaster that created a groundswell of support for change bringing in an system (capitalism) which had deep theoretical underpinnings.

Not every crisis leads to change

image US President Obama hugs Mark Barden, whose seven year old son Daniel was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012. MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA

For decades, gun control has been contentious in the United States, where gun-related homicides are ten times the rates elsewhere[14]. 26 people, including 20 children aged 6 and 7, in a gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

President Obama was personally committed to, and moved fast after the crisis to call for, tighter gun control. But change was stymied by powerful stakeholders[15].

By contrast, John Howard was successful in moving quickly after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre to tighten gun controls[16].

The Australian gun lobby lacked the political sophistication of America’s National Rifle Association, and Australia’s political system has fewer veto points than in the US.

The attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 brought World War II to America, mobilising huge levels of public support[17] for American involvement. Within days, Roosevelt had declared war on Japan.

The nation might not be ready

There are high levels of public support for action climate change in Australia, but can we say it is the same as “war fever[18]”?

Australia’s emissions policy has been stuck for a long time. Australia was recently ranked as having the worst climate policy in the world[19], and some of the worst outcomes.

Australia’s annual emissions are not expected to change much[20] between 2020 and 2030 – which doesn’t give Australia much chance of getting to near zero emissions by 2050, which is generally regarded[21] as what’s needed to avoid runaway climate change.

Many in public policy have spent years developing credible policy responses to climate change. But Australia has repealed or failed to implement five versions of climate policy since 2007[22].

Read more: The good, the bad and the ugly: the nations leading and failing on climate action[23]

There are reasons to believe the summer bushfire crisis won’t be any different.

No-one has accused the Prime Minister of moving too fast or too far in responding to the fires. In his interview with ABC at the weekend[24], he did not commit to tightening, or even reviewing, Australia’s carbon emissions targets in light of the fires.

Powerful stakeholders continue to deny the need for significant policy change: last month the federal resources minister, Matt Canavan, referred to the “bogeyman of climate change[25]” as a distraction from “shortcomings in managing our land[26].”

Fake news on social media and in some sections of the mainstream media about an arson emergency[27] has blunted the chance of a broad-based popular groundswell.

There’s hope, but not much

The proposed royal commission[28] might be a means to find a way forward on climate change. But by the time it reports, the fires will be out, and the moment of crisis will have passed.

For now, the fires smoulder on. It’s not too late for the federal government to seize the opportunity for substantial change. State governments may well use the aftermath of the fires to coordinate their responses to climate change – possibly without the Commonwealth. For the moment, they are understandably preoccupied with responding to an ongoing emergency.

Read more: Bushfires won't change climate policy overnight. But Morrison can shift the Coalition without losing face[29]

There is a real possibility that Australia will have to wait for another crisis – with different leadership, and more public consensus – before there is significant change on emissions policy.

The bushfire smoke that chokes 10 million people in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and elsewhere will no doubt contribute to changing attitudes, and it might even shift the media’s coverage of climate change, but there’s no guarantee that it will be the policy turning point we need.

References

  1. ^ Port Arthur moment (www.smh.com.au)
  2. ^ Sandy Hook (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Chernobyl (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Pearl Harbour (www.theaustralian.com.au)
  5. ^ normal political constraints are relaxed (www.cambridge.org)
  6. ^ national income tax (www.austaxpolicy.com)
  7. ^ many changes concerned with national security (theconversation.com)
  8. ^ John Maynard Keynes (www.investopedia.com)
  9. ^ Milton Friedman (www.econlib.org)
  10. ^ Accords (theconversation.com)
  11. ^ deferred wage increases (www.austaxpolicy.com)
  12. ^ Australian politics explainer: the Prices and Incomes Accord (theconversation.com)
  13. ^ turning point in ending the cold war (www.project-syndicate.org)
  14. ^ gun-related homicides are ten times the rates elsewhere (www.economist.com)
  15. ^ powerful stakeholders (www.politico.com)
  16. ^ tighten gun controls (theconversation.com)
  17. ^ mobilising huge levels of public support (www.theaustralian.com.au)
  18. ^ war fever (www.theaustralian.com.au)
  19. ^ worst climate policy in the world (newclimate.org)
  20. ^ not expected to change much (www.environment.gov.au)
  21. ^ generally regarded (www.theguardian.com)
  22. ^ five versions of climate policy since 2007 (grattan.edu.au)
  23. ^ The good, the bad and the ugly: the nations leading and failing on climate action (theconversation.com)
  24. ^ interview with ABC at the weekend (www.pm.gov.au)
  25. ^ bogeyman of climate change (www.theaustralian.com.au)
  26. ^ shortcomings in managing our land (www.theaustralian.com.au)
  27. ^ arson emergency (www.nytimes.com)
  28. ^ royal commission (www.pm.gov.au)
  29. ^ Bushfires won't change climate policy overnight. But Morrison can shift the Coalition without losing face (theconversation.com)

Authors: John Daley, Chief Executive Officer, Grattan Institute

Read more http://theconversation.com/might-the-bushfire-crisis-be-the-turning-point-on-climate-politics-australian-needs-129442

Digital Agency

Business Daily Media Business Development

Exciting Things About Sydney

Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities that boasts a population of over 4 million people. It is a city that is famous for its picturesque views, multicultural people, superb weather, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Accor announces new partnership with Grab to help members Live Limitless

Accor has announced a new strategic partnership between its new lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless and South East Asia’s leading super app, Grab. The deal brings toget...

Accor Pacific - avatar Accor Pacific

Upgrading to Deep Pocket Sheets

So, you have this amazingly comfortable bed that has a built-in topper and you are struggling to find the right bedding. You need to look for a sheet called deep pocket sheets or mega fi...

News Company - avatar News Company

Food you need to try in Beijing

Beijing is a beautiful and interesting destination for any kind of traveler. However, foodies will find a new heaven and will be able to try out tasty, flavorful and sometimes very special...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Best Budget-Friendly Attractions in Las Vegas

Perhaps no other city in the world deserves the moniker “Sin City” more than Las Vegas. This city has been illustrated in countless works of art as the place where dreams are made, lives a...

News Company - avatar News Company

Bahrain Property Show 2018: How does it reflect the real estate market development in Bahrain

It is no secret that the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are currently going through a lot of pivotal changes. Such changes do not include economic or po...

News Company - avatar News Company

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull