Canberra Report: Let's get on with it, the clock is ticking

So now we know, the Prime Minister plans to hold a federal election in May. That’s if his Government survives that long.

With diminishing numbers in the House of Representatives and ongoing internal divisions, there is serious doubt they can.
Scott Morrison has attempted to manage that risk by reducing the number of days the Parliament sits next year. Governments can only lose power on the floor of the Chamber when the House is in session. So minimising our get-togethers slightly improves the odds for survival.
So brace yourself for the longest of long election campaigns. Adding to your pain will be the NSW election which will be held on March 23!


Last week while Sydney was inundated by flood waters parts of Queensland were burning and elsewhere in the same state bats were falling from the sky due to the intense heat. Our weather is becoming more erratic. We see the evidence every day and the scientists are confirming it with their data.

John Howard acknowledged it in the late 1990s and introduced some modest measures to address it. During 2007 he took a further step by committing his Government to an emissions trading scheme. But since then, we’ve spent more time arguing than doing.

No one is saying that action now will quickly reverse the problem. Rather, action now and into the future will help to arrest the growth in the problem. That’s what the overwhelming majority of scientists and economists tell us and we should do and we should be following their advice.

Those who still have their head in the sand often argue action on climate change will cost both the economy and consumers. That actually does not have to be the case. For example, since the time John Howard was Prime Minister, renewable forms of energy have become cheaper than any other.

But what may be the economic cost of not acting? Droughts, storms - including dust and fire storms - and even higher temperatures cause business disruption and lost revenue. Governments already spend billions of dollars each year on drought support and national disaster relief measures.

If you are still sceptical, think about it as an insurance policy. Doing something now may avoid much higher costs in the future. Economists and scientists call it the “precautionary principle”. The term defines actions on threats still uncertain but where the consequences of not acting are significant if the threat becomes a reality.
The quicker we act the less dramatic the action has to be. The quicker we act the slower the process need be. We should have been doing more for the last twenty years and now we need to catch-up. So let’s get on with it, the clock is ticking.

That doesn’t mean we will suffer job losses in the Hunter. There are two reasons. First, both our steaming coal and coking coal will remain in demand on international markets for many decades to come. Our steaming coal is relatively clean and efficient and will help developing countries make the transition to lower carbon forms of energy over time but because their demand for energy is growing so rapidly, it will take many years. Further, new forms of energy generation and storage will create new jobs in our national economy and the Hunter is well placed to grab more of its share of them. It’s a win-win.

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