Tony Abbott, new Liberal Party Leader: a swing into uncertainty for business and climate change

So 42 to 41: The vote that this morning that ensconced Tony Abbott as leader of the Opposition against Malcolm Turnbull and completed the rent that will drive Australia into two camps, divided along climate lines. How deep and divisive this will be on a social and political level remains to be seen.

But that’s not all. This morning’s decision to change leaders, to Abbott who these days is fundamentally opposed to the emissions trading scheme, will also cast a horrible pall on the property and business community which will no longer know what to expect in terms of preparing for climate change. Especially with a potential double dissolution.

At the launch of NABERS’ new rating tool for shopping centres this morning at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant in Sydney, the feeling was that a general election would mean that new legislation, such as mandatory disclosure, would be put on hold.

Only last month at the Australian Property Institute and Australian Direct Property Investment Association conference early in November, Mark Davis, director, Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, said Mandatory Disclosure was heading for a mid 2010 implementation, but this depended on the passage of legislation to support it.
A double dissolution means there would be a risk, but no certainty, that the bill would be put on hold. The government might think it’s too important and push it through anyway, one source said.
On a broader scale, business in general will be worried about what shape the ETS will now take, how many more concessions or delays Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party will squeeze out of it and what else will change around climate change policies and actions.
Dave Peebles, naitonal director for policy based in Canberra, however, thinks that other than Mandatory Disclosure, most of the policies to improve energy efficiency and cut greenhouse emissions are supported by both sides of politics, so will still push through.
“Our argument is that the ETS is one part of Australian’s response to climate change” he told The Fifth Estate this morning.
For Malcolm Turnbull, however, the fight might not be over. The vote was too close. Fran Bailey, expected to have voted for Turnbull, was in hospital not able to vote and there was one informal vote as well. Maybe it was Turnbull’s- getting out of the limelight in all this heat, might be a good move. He’s already announced he will retire to the backbenches – a perfect place, historically, from which to plot a comeback. At his press conference today, he and wife Lucy did not look at all like sad losers.
And all this while prime minister Kevin Rudd is overseas talking to Barack Obama.

Mr Rudd, time to come home.

See political analyst Antony Green’s take on the likely scenarios to play out:

The Fifth Estate – sustainable property news

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