News from the front desk, issue 461: Dear PM Scott Morrison, this is your time. Your chance to shine and step up to the winners’ podium on the global stage, the number 1 spot at the political Olympics. The spot that that one of your predecessors Kevin Rudd was about to ascend when he embarrassingly stumbled – on an ego that didn’t quite match his ticker.
This is your moment to do what no other man or woman in Australia can do. Nor other party. Not the ALP with its tail between the legs and new found love for your own constituents in the coal industry.
Not the Greens with their consensus ideology that’s looking like a life sentence to mediocrity and internal scrapping.
This is your chance alone to show leadership and grasp the mettle on climate. To step up and show you can be a leader, look reality in the face, and act decisively for the greater public good. And secure your place in history.
There has never been a better time to be prime minster, Mr Morrison.
At all other times in Australia, decisive action on climate has been impossible. The private pressure you must have borne that forced you to nuzzle and coddle a lump of coal is yours alone to bear.
But look what fate has bestowed on you now. The momentum is huge.
Half the biggest wealthiest state in the country is on fire. More than 700 homes lost.
Night after night we see exhausted firies risking their lives, unpaid by their bosses, battle the inferno that shows no sign of stopping through our summer.
You will have been sensitive to those brave fire fighting leaders clamping together to declare this not something they’ve seen in their lifetime. You must have felt humbled by the crowd sourcing campaign to raise money to feed those brave men and women. For food, PM!
While your armed forces sit in their barracks, we imagine gnashing teeth in frustration that they can do no more.
You must have called upon enormous reserves to stand amidst the smoke this week and say, it’s bad but nothing to do with you.
In your heart you surely know there is so much you can do.
And now the writing is on the wall. Ministers are falling like canaries in the coal mine (hopefully our last coal mine.)
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley again has claimed that climate change is behind the bushfires ravaging the east coast. And “Liberal MP Tim Wilson has declared that by 2030 half of Australia’s energy would be renewable.
And you Scott Morrison yourself declared you are embracing 50 per cent renewables target, same as the ALP.
So you must be encouraged to take the plunge and go further.
Global sentiments will spur you on. Reports from overseas say some countries are spruiking disgust with Australia’s inaction in the face of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid and the nightly news of our private hell. Perhaps we shall be cast as a pariah state and be denied nice things from France and other parts of Europe. Sweden has already turned its back on our investments.
We imagine Mr Morrison that in your quiet moments you have been shamed to see the world watching half our premium country burn, or dry out or both. While you have been victim to the biggest bullies the natural world has ever known.
We imagine you will be horrified to learn that the NSW state government is almost on a war footing to bring water to 90 towns before it’s forced to shut them down and relocate their citizens.
To see the extent of this (still secret) patch job on our Country must be sobering indeed: water pipelines, (at Broken Hill just one cost $500,000), weirs (what happens to the downstream folk?) and bores (tapping our precious aquifers) plus reverse osmosis because the raw water will be disgusting to drink and will need treatment. The cost cannot be borne for ever.
At Bathurst the irrigators who produce so much food for our biggest city are on 20 per cent rations. The dam is 37 per cent full now and dropping at the rate of 1.1 per cent a week.
Even in the cities things are grim. Melbourne dams are down and Sydney’s major dam is heading to 40 per cent capacity with restrictions only just announced (at a safe distance from the state election earlier this year).
How must you feel Mr Morrison when our big cities are running out of water but there is no grand ambition recylce our water.
Why are we not recycling all our water?
To be fair public opinion has its share of blame. A famous referendum in Toowoomba in Queensland in 2006 rejected recycling its water supply despite a drought and despite the clear evidence that many places in the world do so and live to tell the tale.
With your brilliant marketing skills Mr Morrison you have a chance to demonstrate your power of persuasion and make us change our minds.
At the corporate level you will have immense support on climate.
Already there is a shadow price on carbon. It’s ready made for you to bring it to the light.
See how a former High Court Judge Kenneth Hayne has thrown newspapers into hysterics with his take on the legal imperative of corporates and investors to consider climate risk in their decision making. Lawfare they’re calling it. You might change that tag to Fairlaw.
And you can surely make a call to the editor of The AFR and chide him for the recent editorial that castigated Haynes by complaining that using law in this was as tantamount to privatising climate response. Like it’s a bad thing.
Here’s the passage:
The notion that directors should be responsible for implementing cuts to company-related emissions that exceed the Morrison’s government’s emission targets would essentially privatise the nation’s climate policy and usurp the sovereign role of the Australian parliament and people.
Mr Morrison you can point out that privatisation is a good thing. You love it. Even here. The entire free market neo liberal political economy loves it. This will let you off the hook.
Why not privatise climate response, you can say.
Except we suspect you don’t want to be let off the hook.
We suspect you might cast your eye over the ditch Jacinda’s way and see if you can catch a fleeting strand of fairy dust, enough to give you magic strength and courage.
We think you want to say, yes Australia’s emissions are small in number by global standards, but so was our contributions to two world wars.
Yet in terms of heart and soul we were giants.
We think you will not want to miss you chance to be a giant of history.
Go on, Mr Morrison. Say it: Australia, We are small but we are LOUD!