The Turnbull government appears to stumble from one self inflicted crisis to another. Having turned the Backpacker tax into a matter of national economic emergency, it now fails to stick with a mere announcement of a pending review.
Malcolm Turnbull, not drowning, not even waving
After two days of vocal opposition from the Coalition backbench, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has been forced into a humiliating U-turn on climate change policy less than 48 hours after releasing details for a pending review.
Further stoking Coalition pressure, Tony “No sniping” Abbott declared on Tuesday night that “we’re against anything that’s a carbon tax or an ETS by stealth”.
And here are his supporters.
Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, freshly returned from three months at the United Nations in New York, said transitioning to an emissions intensity scheme was “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. It is not in the Australian national interest for the government to chase policies that ingratiate it with the Greens. To get back on the right economic track, we need the cheapest electricity in the world.”
He’s back. Cory Bernardi garners political support
West Australian MP Andrew Hastie said his overriding concern was the cost of living for families and asked: “Why would we unilaterally, economically disarm [by adopting a price on carbon]?
Andrew Hastie and his political supporters
South Australian MP Tony Pasin said that given the current economic climate, “the government should be doing all it can to put downward pressure on the cost of electricity generation to reduce the power bills of hard-working Australians”.
Standup star Tony Pasin breaks them up in Parliament
NSW MP Craig Kelly said it was fair enough for Mr Frydenberg to leave “everything on the table” as the review was undertaken but then added: “I do not see how any form of carbon trading scheme would put us at a national competitive advantage”
Craig “I’m with Tony” Kelly
Another MP, who asked not be named, said “There is very real concern among colleagues that this goes down a track we were promised we would not go down.”
Faceless Man has colleagues who are not only faceless but silent.
And this volte-face was achieved before the real heavyweights came out from underneath their rocks.
Is Josh Frydenberg simply a maverick? Did he take this particular announcement to Cabinet before he made it?
If he has any support within the coalition it has been strangely silent. The normal expectation would be that the Prime Minister would support his ministers in situations like this.
But he hasn’t and he appears to be leaving the running to Tony Abbott.
As I said yesterday, the decision to cut the Green Army was equivalent of giving Dan Carter a free kick in front of goal.
This one is like giving 110kg Dane Coles the ball 15m from the line.
Comment from Katharine Murphy in The Guardian
What an extraordinary capitulation.
Just 24 hours of controversy from entirely predictable quarters and a carefully calibrated process to try to engineer a truce in Australia’s utterly wretched climate politics has been all but abandoned by its architects.
Josh Frydenberg has gone in the space of 24 hours from saying quite clearly the government would consider an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity sector to trying to pretend he said no such thing.