The Liberal-National Coalition steamed home in Saturday’s federal election, leaving Labor and the Greens wondering what happened to the climate emergency.
ABC election pundit Anthony Green believes the Coalition will win a majority in the House of Representatives. It’s a view supported by Australian Electoral Commission figures.
Defying all poll predictions, the Coalition won a decisive second term. This is despite scoring only 4 per cent on the Australian Conservation Foundation’s pre-election climate action scorecard. Yet it now looks set to win at least a 77-seat majority.
This is devastating for the Australian Labor Party, with 68 seats predicted. The ALP had promised voters a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Pre-polls failed to read mood of voters
The Coalition’s own climate action policies were modest. They centred on an emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. It seems that for the Coalition, there is no urgency about the climate emergency.
However, Climate Council data backed by 28 climate science experts shows emissions still rising in 2019. It says the government cannot meet Paris Agreement targets on the current trajectory.
Disappointing primary vote for ALP and the Greens
The primary vote declined for the ALP, especially in Queensland. Even the Greens, with the most eco-friendly policies of all parties, only managed to increase their primary vote by 0.5 per cent.
Labor consistently beat the Coalition in polls over the last two years. The annual Lowy Institute Poll also demonstrated stronger Australian support for climate action this year than any other survey since 2006.
However, the Coalition’s scare campaign over the cost of climate action finally hit home.
The Coalition waged war on Labor’s policies on climate change and renewable energy. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told voters Labor and Greens’ environmental concerns would damage the nation’s economy. A strong economy trumped climate emergency concerns despite apparent public support for the latter.
It appears Labor failed to sell the economic benefits of Australia’s booming renewable sector.
Adani coal mine figures in Queensland protest vote
The Greens had protested against Queensland’s proposed Adani coal mine, while the ALP refused to commit to it. Morrison exploited both positions to great effect.
Both parties would decimate regional jobs and economic growth, he said. As a result, Labor was swept away in the Sunshine State. The party won only 5 of Queensland’s 50 seats.
Labor also promised an electric vehicle (EV) target of 50 per cent new car sales by 2050. This would wreck the traditional Aussie weekend, the Prime Minister said. He suggested Labor would force people to ditch their much-loved utes in favour of EVs.
Hope for genuine climate emergency action post-election
Despite the outcome, some newly elected MPs are keen advocates of solar energy and electric vehicles.
Independent Zali Steggall knocked pro-coal Liberal and former PM Tony Abbott off his perch in the NSW seat of Warringah with a strong pro-renewable pitch and a swing of 57 per cent.
Independent Helen Haines is flying the flag with a pressing climate emergency agenda in the northern Victorian seat of Indi, replacing Cathy McGowan.
Greens candidate Adam Bandt was re-elected in his Melbourne seat, while the Greens won a strong primary vote in the neighbouring electorates of Higgins, Kooyong and Macnamara.
The fact that staunch anti-renewable MP Tony Abbott lost his seat to a climate emergency action independent must also give the Morrison Government food for thought.
Reflecting the environmental concerns of Liberal voters, it may need to embrace renewables like solar panels, solar batteries, EVs and large-scale wind and solar farms to stay in power beyond the next three years.