Howard’s children

Mike Steketee was one of several commentators echoing Turnbull’s point that the ETS is basically the policy that the Howard Government took to the 2007 election.

He infers from this that the poor old Liberal Party has been captured by a rump of reactionaries who have taken advantage of the party’s current authority vacuum. By this account, while he might have shared their views, Howard was too pragmatic not to recognise that public opinion favoured restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

Given that the majority of the parliamentary Liberals are probably not climate change sceptics, and that a dozen of them might be knocked off in an ETS election, this makes the rage against Turnbull seem more irrational than it is. Furthermore, it lets Howard off the hook too easily.

Of course many of the Liberals are true AGW deniers, but what really send mots of them into fits of indignation, even the non-deniers, is multilateralism. They think that the United Nations, along with all the treatises set up under its auspices, is a device for corrupt and backward countries to gang up on honest and prosperous countries like ours, with the connivance of hypocritical European governments harbouring ulterior motives, cheered on by naive left-wing Western intellectuals. The Kyoto Protocol was just another strand in this plot, along with opposition to the Iraq War, condemnation of Israel, and criticism of Australia’s refugee and indigenous policies.

It was Howard who set the tone for this attitude of contempt and heroic non-cooperation. While his resistance to carbon cuts may have melted in his last year of office, his opposition to ratifying the Kyoto agreement remained as stubborn as his refusal to apologise to the Stolen Generation. And he maintained the rage after leaving office in his famous Irving Kristol Lecture :

Those who hold to conservative values continue to face a major ideological battle.

The left liberal grip on educational institutions and large, though not all, sections of the media remains intense.

Global warming has become a new battleground. The same intellectual bullying and moralising, used in other debates, now dominates what passes for serious dialogue on this issue.

In office, most of his positive climate initiatives involved unilateral action, and he enjoyed claiming that Australia had met its notional Kyoto targets without needing to sign. His one multilateral initiative, the ‘Sydney Declaration’ he produced at the 2007 APEC, with its emphasis on ‘aspirational targets’, had a subtext of defiance toward multilateral prescriptive arrangements.

The Liberals, if not the whole Coalition, will eventually sign on to the ETS bill in some form, though many of them will do it reluctantly. What Howard’s Disciples won’t countenance is the sight of Kevin Rudd at Copenhagen proudly making Australia a dupe of those Machiavellian multilateralists who connive to enmesh us in their web of treaties.

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13 Responses to Howard’s children

  1. Alphonse says:

    Yes, “strutting the stage at Copenhagen” is right up there with “fatally flawed”. Even Parish has absorbed it.

    The “passing no bill is better than passing this bill” argument would sound more respectable without the “strutting” animus. The Greens eschew it, to their credit.

    I agree with Garnault and the Greens about the bill, but it would be better for all concerned if as many nations as possible ante up with legislation before Copenhagen. Deficient legislation can always be derided there and amended here.

    Minchin’s position can fairly be summed up as “any problem that can only be solved by internationalist collectivism does not exist”. Howard’s rider: “unless an election is at stake”.

  2. Edward Mariyani-Squire says:

    Yes, we should have a memory that is a bit longer than a few weeks and not let Howard fade into the background here. This is well and truly part of the “Howard Legacy”. We should note that the most strident of the delusional denialists in the Liberal Party are all thoroughly creatures championed by Howard. Howard seems to have been a shrewed enough political operator to promote people who were such ideological loonies that their political nous was pretty much self-neutered. This ensured dogmatically loyal footsoldiers who were incapable of seriously challenging their father-figure. Perfect for party stability while Howard was there. But once the general departs, what directs those ideologically brain-dead footsoldiers? Ideology alone. Thus their politically suicidal trajectory – e.g. witness Abbott is to challenge purely on the basis that Hockey may offer a conscience vote on the ETS (which may result in it passing within the party).

    As to the content of the ideology itself, James has hit the nail on the head – unilateralism, backed by a latent zenophobia and a complementary good-old-days nationalism – is the milk on which the denialists were raised. The problem is not the ETS itself, which, with the amendments is frankly embarrassingly generous to big polluters, whom the Libs are supposed to represent. The problem is that it represents “capitulation” to “foreign” institutions and imperatives. The ETS is the enivornmental version of the over-turning of the beloved Howard mantra of 2001, “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.”

  3. observa says:

    Those who hold to conservative values continue to face a major ideological battle.

    The left liberal grip on educational institutions and large, though not all, sections of the media remains intense.

    Global warming has become a new battleground. The same intellectual bullying and moralising, used in other debates, now dominates what passes for serious dialogue on this issue.

    Profound and prophetic words I would have thought given the Climategate at EAU. With the breaking news that they have ‘lost’ the raw temperature data in a move, all those millions in political grants, man years of manipulating the system of peer review and bullying and ousting any dissidents to their cause and refusing to release their raw data and methodology have all come to nought. With only their homogenised, pasteurised data left, it’s all just junk science and the biggest scientific scandal of our times. Run that by me what Howard said again?

  4. observa says:

    Lazarus with the quintessential bypass anyone?

  5. They think that the United Nations, along with all the treatises set up under its auspices, is a device for corrupt and backward countries to gang up on honest and prosperous countries like ours, with the connivance of hypocritical European governments harbouring ulterior motives, cheered on by naive left-wing Western intellectuals. The Kyoto Protocol was just another strand in this plot, along with opposition to the Iraq War, condemnation of Israel, and criticism of Australias refugee and indigenous policies.

    OK – a bit extreme.

    How about “United Nations FCCC, is a device for corrupt and backward countries to gang up on honest and prosperous countries like ours, with the connivance of hypocritical European governments harbouring ulterior motives, cheered on by naive left-wing Western intellectuals.”

    Sounds about right to me. The UNFCCC is a body on which the vast majority of voting countries have no commitments, but vote on the commitments of others. Oh – and demand compensation.

    It’s a pity that a job which is probably of grave importance is left to such an outrageous set up.

  6. observa says:

    James, if you moderated my previous comment because you didn’t like the glaringly obvious conclusion you will ignore it at your peril as will so many others. I would urge you to read Monbiot’s stance and reconsider your position (if I read your action correctly). The speed with which he recognised the obvious did him great credit and I take my hat off to him for that. I can understand now when he laments how alone he feels for taking it.

  7. James Farrell says:

    Observa, I didn’t moderate any comment. It must have been a technical hiccup. Please post it again if you’re so inclined.

    Update, 1.10pm: It has shown up now.

  8. Howard’s motto, unlike Abbott, always was ‘no enemies on the right’ . Howard’s position could offer no resistance to the a rightward drift of ‘movement conservatism’. It’s an old story consider how interwar European conservatives caved to fascism so easily. Ronald Reagen was more pragmatic than Bush II but Reagen paved the way.

  9. Sam Roggeveen says:

    James

    I think your characterisation of Liberal attitudes to multilateralism is a bit too stark. Still, there’s some support for your thesis in the archives of The Interpreter, from Andrew Robb. Read on here.

  10. What if everyone has a cold shower (think of the carbon) and uses the Abbott ascendency as an opportunity to rethink the need for dramatic action in the light of the breaking news on the frauds that have been used to whip up climate change alarm?

    It will really help when media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the ABC give straight feeds on these issues. In the meantime it helps to read Andrew Bolt, even if you think he needs a cold shower as well.

  11. James Farrell says:

    Thanks for the link on your blog, Sam. I read your critique of Robb, and would have commented there if comments were allowed.

    I don’t quite agree that there is no apparent link between liberalism and a preference for bilateralism. You can vaguely see where Robb is coming from: he isn’t saying that the state oppresses the individual by making international treaties on his behalf; rather that, if you think of individual countries as individual people, then bilateral international agreements are the analogue of voluntary contracts between individuals, whereas multi-lateral arrangements are to countries as intrusive states are to individuals.

    The point to make against this is that liberals don’t eschew the state altogether. As you said yourself, they ‘see the role of the state as largely to preserve the freedom of the individual’. One aspect of this is establishing property rights, and that, as it happens, is precisly the role that’s relevant to the discussion of climate action. Now that we realise that disposing of carbon dioxide isn’t free, we need an international system of property rights to the atmosphere that has legitimacy and mechanisms to enforce it. Bilateral negotiations can’t deliver that.

  12. melaleuca says:

    “In the meantime it helps to read Andrew Bolt, even if you think he needs a cold shower as well.”

    Andrew Bolt appears to be the new libertarian God King.

    The new Catallaxy management is feeding Bolta lines of attack on climate change (note the Sinclair Davidson hat tips at Bolt’s blog) and the Bolta is easily the most quoted authority at the Australian Libertarian Society blog.

    But we mustn’t be unkind about the predilections of others.

  13. observa says:

    My apologies James as it must have been a glitch with Word Press and that message- ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’. I have been ‘moderated’ at John Quiggins for quite some time although he seems to have an echo chamber of ‘anti-delusionists’ and ‘ant-fruitloops’ there now which may suit him. I have a hunch he is aware the MSM pop in and tune-in to any interesting dissenting themes, particularly after I raised the issue of State Premiers playing bad cop to Rudd’s good cop at the last election and the MSM were complicitly playing their game. Within 24 hrs they were all over it and the Premiers backed off somewhat. In fairness to John it’s his blog and yours truly does get a bit ‘out there’ at times, as the shindentitis from MrsO who is perhaps somewhat wiser like JQ in such matters, can well attest. No doubt it comes from frequenting less dainty smoko crib rooms from time to time. That said I’ll repeat here my take on a bigger picture at Harry Clarkes for all your serious contemplation.

    As an AGW agnostic I prefer to think of it as a battle between the data deniers and data doubters and with the news that the careful, methodical and empirical folk at EAU have lost their raw data in a move and only have their homogenised, pasteurised version of it available for scrutiny now, there is no doubt the data doubters have won the day. As every true scientific skeptic worth their grants would know, that means ALL conclusions that have been drawn from EAU CRU research based on that original raw data are now junk science. Given the millions of dollars of taxapyer grants and man years they have absorbed all for nought, and its global implications, that is a scientific scandal of massive proportions now. As for the other conclusions that can be drawn from their correspondence over the years detailing their activities, its as clear to me as George Monbiot that they have been and are political hacks masquerading as real scientists.

    I take my hat off to Monbiot for recognising and calling it as quickly as he did while I held my breath. As he laments now he feels so alone for his stance of the highest and most personally difficult integrity and given the wall of silence from those who should know better, I can empathise with his plight. Treachery and treason for the scientific method and intellectual pursuit of truth are not too harsh a words to describe these charlatans now, but you wouldnt know it listening to the silence of so many of our tertiary lambs on this. They will eventually get what they so richly deserve from a disgusted public over this for their conspiracy of silence. That silence will only serve to reinforce the notion that scientists and intellectuals are really just a corrupt bunch of public tit boffins that cant understand the real world and its people.

    And still in moderation there (that glitch again perhaps?)-

    Do you people really know whats at stake here? If you dont then youd better take some time out to get up to pace and theres no better place to start than with the story of the David data doubters vs Goliath data deniers here-
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/
    http://www.climateaudit.org/
    Follow the links and listen to the data deniers plead the peer review defence particularly the UNs Pauchari when that corruption has been one of the very issues under the microscope here. Phil Jones has now stood down and Penn State are having an enquiry to ask Mann to please explain.

    The shock waves of EAU tumult have quickly crossed the Atlantic and where do you think theyll stop? How much climate science has been based on this massaged, manipulated data that no longer exists in raw terms? Do you really think the shockwaves of this will not reach Copenhagen or even a DD election in Oz? I can think of one world leader in a Czech President who will be only too willing to lecture the Groupthinkers at Copenhagen on this. How many more? India, China..? Yes its a major setback for AGW science and its immediate prescriptions but get over it and see quickly and clearly as Monbiot and others have, that there is a greater danger in defending the indefensible here. It is the reputations of you all. Get angry and get loud now and worry about the true, verifiable science results and their policy implications later.

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