30 April 2019

Climate cooperation vital between those who want action

| Tim Hollo
Join the conversation

ACT Greens candidate Tim Hollo. Photo: Supplied.

Climate change is the defining issue of our times – and, finally, it will be the defining issue of this election. It is far and away the number one issue voters are raising in Canberra.

The central challenge is for the parties who accept the reality of climate change to work together maturely to deliver long-lasting action – and only those parties. The siren song of “bipartisanship” can cause serious problems on issues such as this.

There has never been a more crucial time for Labor and the Greens to unite to keep the blockers in the Coalition out.

Real, lasting breakthroughs come when parties which broadly agree on direction work together well. Here in the ACT, think of light rail, pill testing and our world-leading climate action. In each of these cases, the Greens advocated strongly and worked constructively with a cooperative Labor party to deliver major policy change. The ACT Government isn’t delivering Green policies across the board, but it’s more progressive because the parties are cooperating.

After this federal election, it will be vital for Greens and Labor to work together, as it’s mathematically impossible for Labor to secure a Senate majority. A Shorten government will have to choose between working in the Senate with the Greens or with the Liberals. And, given the rise of climate-focused independents and Greens challenging in seats as diverse as Canberra, Kooyong, Higgins, Brisbane, Warringah and New England, they may need to cooperate in the House again.

Labor has come a fair way on climate change. People like Mark Butler and Ged Kearney clearly understand the urgency, but others, pushed around by fossil fuel donors, are pulling them in the opposite direction. Their renewable energy target is stuck below business-as-usual. Bill Shorten’s refusal to give an unequivocal answer on Adani is emblematic. But his announcement this week that Labor would subsidise the expansion of fracked gas across northern Australia to the tune of $1.5 billion is a climate disaster in the making.

The Greens have a comprehensive science-based climate policy platform, centred around a ten-year transition from coal and gas to renewables. We have proposed an indicative timeline to close every coal power station, and regulatory measures to reduce coal exports down to zero by 2030. We have a suite of policies to expand renewable energy to power not just the whole country but also an export hydrogen industry. We will protect carbon in our forests and landscape, we will accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, and we will support workers through the transition.

This whole plan won’t be adopted in the next term of parliament. But putting it forward is the only way we’ll get near it. And we stand ready to work cooperatively, and with determination, with an incoming Shorten government to ensure that the next parliament puts Australia on the right path.

The thick of an election campaign may not be the easiest time for Labor to guarantee that they will work with the Greens. Importantly, an agreement to cooperate does not mean that each party should hold back from critiquing each other’s policies. But it’s possible to express that critique in the context of jointly ensuring that people who bring lumps of coal into the parliament should not be involved in developing climate policy. That’s why Bill Shorten’s rejection – so far – of cooperation with the Greens is so troubling.

Canberrans are rightly concerned about a repetition of the 2009 debacle. Nobody left that period covered in glory. But the central responsibility lies in Kevin Rudd’s declaration that he would never negotiate climate policy with the Greens, and would instead work with the Coalition’s Ian Macfarlane, who proudly saw himself as working on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.

What too often gets erased, however, is what followed. With more Greens in parliament than ever before, and with Kevin Rudd replaced by Julia Gillard – a leader who understood negotiation – Christine Milne proposed the Multi Party Climate Change Committee. The Committee brought the parties and independents who wanted climate action together around the negotiating table, joined by expert advisers, to nut out the policy. While the carbon price is gone, the Greens’ proposals of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency continue to drive the expansion of renewables.

Getting to this outcome took both parties pledging to negotiate. It took maturity and a willingness to move. It took a powerful civil society movement outside parliament demanding real action. And it took sidelining the Liberal blockers who were never going to move.

Australia faces three challenges. The first is to decisively remove from power those who refuse to act on the climate emergency. The next challenge is to ensure that there are enough Greens in the parliament to pull Labor in the right direction. Most crucially, those outside parliament must make their voices heard loud and clear, demanding that Labor and the Greens work together to deliver the strongest possible action.

I pledge to play my part in that. If the people of Canberra send me to parliament, I will work with Labor to achieve the best outcome we can get. If not, I will stand outside with the community and demand it. I hope Labor can say the same.

Tim Hollo is Executive Director of the Green Institute and the ACT Greens candidate for the seat of Canberra.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not reflect the position of Region Media.

Region Media’s election coverage policy can be found here.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Your party only wants action on your terms. We saw that with the Labour and the ETS. The greens made it so there was no action. Something would have been better than the nothing you left us with.

Don’t vote for these clowns. Even their climate and environmental policies are a joke.

OK, I’ll get shouted down, but these are serious questions. . . .

Imagine that you are prime minister and your government is 100% behind you.

Q1. What is the core problem that you want addressed?
It isn’t achieving certain targets (not meeting targets is not a problem in itself).
Nor is it the need to “transition from coal and gas to renewables”
Please don’t respond with more generalisations such as “deliver long-lasting action”
Define the exact problem please.

Q2. How do you propose to address the above problem?
What policies will you put in place?

Q3. How and when will you assess whether your answer to Q2 will have addressed the issue that you identified in Q1?

Tim Hollo, since I posted these questions, you have posted 3 replies elsewhere.
All of which referred back to the Labor party.
If you cannot or will not address such questions then you are indication that people should vote for someone else.

Tim Hollo, you do realise that voting has started don’t you?

It appears to be much easier to post and respond with generalisations about climate change than to answer specific questions.

Thanks so much for your feedback Tim (not!)

Anthony Pesec7:52 am 03 May 19

We all hope that the Greens have learned their lesson from when they blocked the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme one decade ago, ahead of an imminent Abbott Government which led to a policy vacuum thereafter (and countless tonnes of greenhouse gasses that would not have been emitted if the Greens were less ideological and more cooperative and practical at the time).

If voters want action on climate change they should vote for somebody with direct experience in the field of renewable energy, somebody that is independent of party politics and somebody that will sit on the cross bench of the Senate where they will hold the balance of power on making, breaking or influencing policies.

This is the reason that I am one of only four candidates nationwide that has been endorsed by the Smart Energy Council. As one of the most relevant advocacy groups for clean energy and climate change prevention in Australia they know who can and can’t be counted on.

Vote Independent. Vote Anthony Pesec for the Senate.

With respect, referring to independents in the Senate as “where they will hold the balance of power” smacks of arrogance. Should you buck the trends and be elected to the Senate, you MAY hold the balance of power.

Tony, you haven’t answered the pertinent question. Why should I vote for someone who will vote for billions and billions of dollars being squandered in the hope that the temperature might come down by point one of a degree in 500 year’s time?

It’s not “carbon” which invokes images of dirty soot and pollution, it is carbon dioxide – a harmless gas that plants breathe in. And it’s not “pollution” either.

I’ll be putting you last on my ballot paper.

Anthony Pesec4:32 pm 03 May 19

Whether or not I get in, the cross bench (which is predicted to be smaller after the election) will hold the balance of power on many issues.

“Current polls point to a comfortable Labor win, but the party has no hope of controlling the Senate. If there is a landslide, there is a remote chance Labor and the Greens could have a Senate majority between them, but this would be a “once in a generation” occurrence, says Australia Institute director Ben Oquist.

Psephologist Kevin Bonham agrees. “For Labor and the Greens to gain the balance of power following a Labor win, virtually everything has to go right,” he wrote in a detailed analysis this week.

Rather, a smaller but very powerful crossbench is likely to hold the balance of power, in the form of One Nation and Centre Alliance, with Derryn Hinch or Jacqui Lambie as contenders.”


Anthony Pesec1:00 am 04 May 19

Hi John. Considering that renewables are now becoming cheaper than new coal (that’s with storage and with no subsidies), why would you champion old technology that is dirty and more expensive, even if the overwhelming amount of science is wrong about climate change? It makes no sense.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.