Monday’s The AFR View accused me and others in the Nationals for the party “repeating its own past mistakes” and returning to the McEwen-like “protection all round” policies that “encouraged the idea that farmers should always look to governments to underwrite their incomes”.
There was just a slight irony. Those pushing for carbon credits for farmers want vast new government-backed programs that “underwrite” the incomes of farmers. The Australian Financial Review’s editorial supports policies that are much closer to its description of McEwenism than anything Barnaby Joyce, I or other Nationals support.
The greatest protection racket in modern times is the various rent-seekers and climate spivs suckling on the billions of climate or renewable energy funding. Far from the inheritors of Bert Kelly’s fine legacy, the Financial Review departs from his common wisdom by supporting these government-funded boondoggles.
And that is why I am against these things. I see government up close, and I don’t think it is a smart idea to hitch your business star to the supposed stability of a government program.
Some would accuse me of contributing to such uncertainty, but I am not the one advocating for policies, such as a carbon price, that have been rejected by the Australian people four times in a decade.
How can stable policy occur in a democracy if we repeatedly fail to accept the people’s will?
This is not to say that there is not a role for government to manage environmental and other issues. Climate change is a problem, but it is not the only problem we face. There are three big C’s right now. COVID-19, climate change and China.
COVID-19 will eventually be defeated one way or another. It remains the most important thing for government to manage today, but it is unlikely to be a major issue over the long term.
In contrast, all of the big problems with climate come well into the long term, and the issue of climate is linked to the China issue.
Many in the corporate sector want Australia to sign up to a target of net zero emissions. Few explain how this would help cool the planet if we can’t trust China.
China already accounts for one-third of the world’s emissions. If the rest of the world reduces its emissions, this will only help China to steal more industrial capacity and jobs, and probably increase global emissions in the process.
There is no doubt that China will take advantage of the West’s naivety, just as it has done over the past two decades.
Twenty years ago, we let China join the World Trade Organisation. We hoped that greater trade would encourage China to open its economy and liberalise its politics. We were wrong.