It was a year ago today that the hottest gig in global warming opened in Copenhagen, amidst expectations that the world’s leaders would rise above their geographical interests and make a stand for the future.
Twelve months on and the hopes of Copenhagen seem as retro as a Midnight Oil album, the world has opted to sleep even when our beds are burning.
While the lack of political action over the past year has been well documented, this week’s Essential Report picks up another dynamic that is both a response to and a driver for this inertia. For the first time, we have found less than 50 per cent of Australians think climate change is real.
|Dec 10||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
|Climate change is happening and is caused by human activity||45%||53%||32%||76%|
|We are just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate||36%||27%||53%||14%|
The magic of Christmas lies in the expectation. You hang out the stocking, leave a piece of cake and a stubbie for Santa and head off to bed.
When you wake up, there it is laid out for you, something shiny and new that you really, really wanted.
In this spirit it should come as no surprise that the Federal Parliament’s final act of the year was the passage of legislation enabling the rollout of the National Broadband Network, the embodiment of Labor’s hope that something better lies around the corner.
And there are grounds for optimism. In an era of cynicism with nearly every aspect of politics – and despite a concerted Opposition attack – this week’s Essential Report shows strong and increasing support for the network.
As if dealing with four independent blokes, a Green bloke and a blokey bloke in charge of the Opposition is not enough, now Julia Gillard is developing a problem with blokes outside the Parliament.
Having politely indicated that they were happy with a female Prime Minister in the lead-up to the federal election, this week’s Essential Report picks up sharp moves in the attitudes of the brotherhood.
In the absence of any compelling policy development to explain the surge, we are left with the Bradley Effect, the theory created to explain why an African-American candidate lost the 1982 race for Governor of California despite having a massive lead in the polls.
The details of the Bradley Effect later, first some numbers from this week’s Essential Report.
If the mid-term drubbings and G20 currency fisticuffs with China are not enough, Barack Obama will return home with more bad news: Australians think his nation has lost its mojo.
While Julia Gillard and entourage were all smiles at the official photo call, they politely chose not to disclose they were representing a nation that thinks the USA is in decline.
In fact, 60 per cent of all surveyed in this week’s Essential Report see the American Empire’s influence becoming weaker, with just 20 per cent believing the USA’s influence on the world is on the rise.
Nations may rise and fall by the sweep of history but governments are decided at the kitchen table, where all politics becomes not just local, but personal.
This is the place where bills and mortgage payments are pored over, family budgets are scrutinised, jobs and school are discussed. It is the space in family life where things have to add up.
Anyone trying to dig Labor out of its current hole could start by turning their attention to the kitchen table, because if this week’s Essential Report is anything to go by, Labor is in the middle of an increasingly messy food-fight.
Joe Hockey is swanning around the airwaves like the coolest kid at school, convinced he’s discovered a new fad that’s sure to catch on. It’s called regulation and it rocks.
Of course many old hands may wonder whether all Joe has done is stumble upon a bit of retro, like some early Midnight Oil recordings, but right now Joe is stoked, he’s got a new tattoo and everyone is checking him out. Even the Greens want to play with him.
Still, if the old post-election cliche that the ‘people always get it right’ has any sort of credibility, Joe’s biggest risk is he’ll soon be overtaken by a bunch of converts who want to take the trend way more seriously than a wide-boy with a beat-box can.
As the latest Essential Report shows, there are votes to be won in regulating the bastard banks, especially in a week when Westpac is tipped to tip the Big Four’s profits over the $20 billion mark.
If political progressives want to stop the ALP from drifting to the Right, energetically backing the decision to move women and children out of immigration detention looks like a good place to start.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Immigration minister Chris Bowen took the new minority government’s first truly brave decision last week, yet all they got was a sullen acceptance from a Left still acting like jilted lovers after the disappointments of the election campaign.
As the Federal Government attempts to quell the backlash to its plans to save the Murray Darling by slowing the process to a crawl, it would do well to consider the lessons of the recently aborted Emissions Trading Scheme.
If there were a structured training program for politicians (and maybe there should be) the former Rudd government’s failure to deliver on its commitment to address climate change would be a required text.
It is a story of how tortured process can kill off reform, confuse would-be supporters, drain the public of confidence in their government and ultimately leave leaders in a no-win situation.
Read Essential's ongoing research on the public response to Covid-19.Download this week's Report