Wednesday 7 February 2007


Malcolm Turnbull's first Ministerial performance and scepticism

There he was, on his first major parliamentary foray as a Minister, Malcolm Turnbull in full High School debating mode. His contrived performance had an air of High School debate about it too.

The case for Mr Turnbull, prescribed by debating captain Howard was “Labor’s position on the environment is extremist and ideological”. Turnbull was on the “affirmative” side of course and elected to pursue the argument that the opposition was bereft of necessary “skepticism” on climate change and appropriate responses.

It’s amazing that Turnbull would have the gall. Labor is proposing that Australia should attempt to come up with a position that puts us in touch with the rest of the world on climate change. It may not be perfect but it’s better than the enormous amounts of nothing that has been achieved here to date. Let’s apply our skepticism to real solutions. But our decade of denial will require some serious catch up.

No skeptic can abide the Government proposition that by some miracle, Australia's coal and other global warming related industries will survive the coming decades without major changes and probably pain. Let's prepare for it! The enlightened thinking seems to run that for every job and dollar lost in coal mining, new ones will be found in cleaner energy solutions. Howard and Turnbull are condemning Australia to last place in the energy innovation sector - a sector that is already producing great opportunities worldwide.

It was interesting to hear Turnbull, one of Howard’s new boys, extolling the importance of skepticism. Perhaps the saddest feature of the Howard decade has been the lack of scepticism in the Cabinet. While the Iraq War has torn the US Republicans and UK Labour to bits, Howard still feels no political heat over his decision. The past and present criminal absence of skepticism that put us there and keeps us there, is something that future Liberal aspirational cohorts Costello, Ruddock, Abbott et. al. will some day have to answer.

And where is our skepticism on anti-terror laws, the efficacy of our war on terror, our Pacific strategy, Guantanamo Bay and its attendant legal abominations and the Howard education and health policies?

Turnbull’s celebration of skepticism was absurdly misplaced yesterday. A healthy dose of skepticism is just what the country needs though. More and more of it please Malcolm. It will transform the Howard government. It’s even more powerful of course when mixed with conviction!

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