Do it in Gaelic
In August, as Australian politicians hung tough on asylum seekers, the Melbourne Writers Festival asked Jeremy Harding how far governments can patrol migration. With grateful acknowledgments to the Alan Missen Foundation and Liberty Victoria.
The Australian Labor Party’s defeat at the polls on 7 September seemed likely long before the country had any sense of the opposition’s spending projections. Kevin Rudd and his campaigners were sure they could see the spending gap. They stuck in a finger and tried to create a gaping hole. But when they proclaimed a $10 billion shortfall in Tony Abbott’s budget plans, two senior figures at the Treasury and the Finance Ministry cast doubt on their sums. Whatever voters thought about the last six years of Labor government on the eve of the election, the civil service seemed to have reached a view.
Vol. 35 No. 19 · 10 October 2013
From David Campbell
Jeremy Harding writes that the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to ‘the existing system’ of climate change policy based on a carbon tax ‘was one of its strong suits’ (LRB, 26 September). In one sense, what Australia’s policy is or was hardly matters: emissions taking place in Australia make up perhaps 1 per cent of the global total. But Australia is one of the largest coal exporters in the world, and a principal source of imported coal for major emitters – China, India and Japan, for example – which have no Kyoto commitments and whose emissions alone make overall global reductions impossible. Australia’s recent relatively healthy economic performance is based on raw material exports, coal exports in particular. Did the Labor Party think this coal would not be burned? The Australian carbon tax was not merely fatuous, it was hypocritical. Though the election was dominated by the Labor Party’s grotesque self-absorption, this hypocrisy was an important factor in its defeat.