Leading article Australia

Labor does the Time Warp (again)

30 March 2019

9:00 AM

30 March 2019

9:00 AM

For those who enjoy their schadenfreude neat, there was plenty to savour watching the NSW election results on the ABC. After the victories for climate zealots in Wentworth and Victoria, Aunty predicted well-deserved punishment for the Coalition.

Former Labor press secretary Barrie Cassidy was bamboozled as voters rejected Labor’s nutty renewable energy target of ‘at least’ 50 per cent by 2030 and only botox prevented deep furrows forming on the alabaster brows of certain ABC newsreaders.

Having spent months tarring the Coalition as sexist, the workers’ collective almost choked congratulating them for fielding the first woman ever to be elected premier of Australia’s most populous state.

Even harder to stomach was the fact that Nationals were tossed out in three seats in favour of a party so far to the right that it doesn’t even have a climate change policy and campaigns to have hunting, shooting and fishing recognised ‘as appropriate cultural activities and sports for all public schools.’

It was no surprise the seat of Murray fell to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party after it was held from 1999 to 2017 by Adrian Piccoli, not because the NSW education minister had the dubious distinction of being the first minister to sign up to then Prime Minister Gillard’s Gonski plan (agrarian socialism is always a winner in the bush) but because the Nationals supported Safe Schools, backed the ban on greyhound racing and signed up to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Murray-Darling water plan.

The Liberals, on the other hand, got lucky when Labor chose Michael Daley as leader. While Mr Shorten called for an end to ‘dog whistling… about immigration and asylum seekers,’ and merely asking for milk in your tea is enough to get anyone else damned as racist, Mr Daley did the Time Warp with a new twist on Labor’s White Australia policy, telling voters that wealthy Chinese with PhDs were driving dinky di Aussies out of Sydney.

Mr Daley’s antediluvian commentary created more chagrin and not just for the coterie of luvvies. With most voters discriminating only between workers and shirkers, his divisive words will hurt federal Labor as much as the party’s mad decision to weaken asylum seeker policy.

Those claiming the NSW election offers cold comfort to the Coalition say ‘Shorten has done the hard work on policy development.’ Unfortunately for Labor, it’s the sort of hard work John Hewson did before he went on to lose the unlosable election. Mr Shorten’s negative gearing policy has already ground the housing market to a halt and his tax on franking credits will punish older Australians who were foolish enough to try to provide for themselves in their twilight years.

To win the federal election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison must campaign hard on Labor’s reckless target to generate 45 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2030, driving home the pointless pain of job losses as Australian emissions are cut, only to be swamped by massive increases in Chinese emissions.

Mr Shorten is already being wedged by the Greens into an even more extreme policy, signalling Labor is ‘highly unlikely’ to use Kyoto carryover credits to meet its target, meaning its climate cult economy will result in a 94 per cent increase in electricity prices.

Yet Gladys Berejiklian sounded dangerously complacent when she told 2GB’s Alan Jones this week that, ‘In NSW, I feel we have the best balance in the nation because last summer Victoria had to take from us and the summer before that South Australia did.’

Even without Labor’s loony policies, when Liddell power station closes in 2022, NSW will be Australia’s most electricity-impoverished state in a nation with a total energy deficit six times larger than today.

Under Mr Shorten, three of NSW’s four coal-fired plants will close by 2030, there will be no coal-fired power in Victoria and Queensland will be reduced from eight to five coal-fired generators. Indeed, when the Coalition faces re-election in 2023, the risk of blackouts will be twice as high as they are in Victoria today.

Ms Berejiklian’s best hope is not a jump to the left but a step to the right, encouraging local gas extraction to firm renewables. And when federal Labor does the Time Warp, Mr Morrison, and whoever leads the Nationalso need to step firmly à droite. Then, if Malcolm and his mates can be induced not to sabotage the government, there’s a chance the Coalition could be re-elected.

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