By Oliver Yates
Time is up. The Liberal party won’t reform, so it is time to stop fighting, split and take the opportunity to compete for the support of the public.
The Liberal partyis now broken, brand-damaged and unable to attract new members that would enable it to represent a “broad church”.
The failure of the existing Liberal party to address climate change or to support an integrity commission is unacceptable.
Nowhere is this failure more obvious than in its continued support for the Adani coalmine and new coal-fired power stations.
I expected more from Scott Morrison after the Victorian walloping. Instead we get the very same. Slippery answers to everything. Coal, coal, coal and soaring greenhouse gas emissions.
Scott Morrison Australia’s new Prime Minister loves coal
Refusing to reduce emissions as cheaply as possible is irrational, immoral and economically reckless. Achieving emission reductions of just 2% a year as proposed by the Labor party in the electricity sector costs very little and won’t risk system stability or security.
We should be aiming for a 2% reduction in emissions every year to ensure Australia does its fair share to tackle climate change. Instead, emissions are increasing and are at a seven year high.
Something must lie behind the failure of the Liberal party to accept policies that are economically rational and environmentally sound, so some sunlight from an integrity commission should be welcomed by all Australians.
Wherever you look, something is wrong.
The pursuit by ministers of baseload coal power when we need dispatchable renewable energy and storage.
Claims by ministers that we need more fossil fuels and that they are cheaper than renewables or that clean coal is the answer.
Claims by ministers that as Australia only emits 1.3% of global pollution we have no role to play, ignoring the fact that we are only 0.3% of the population and that we will be heavily damaged by the impacts of climate change.
Students protest against the Adani Coal Mine in Parliament House
And the final insult – allowing the Adani coalmine to proceed when it lacks a social licence, is completely inconsistent with the need to tackle climate change and frankly smells with donations, overseas trips and wedding parties.
We desperately need an integrity commission to investigate potential conflicts of interest that see a revolving door between the coal industry and minister’s offices. It is hard to believe donors don’t have influence on the selection of ministers to some degree.
Adani donations to the Liberal National Party
Members of parliament that are selected to be ministers stand to receive additional pay of more than $150,000, boosting their remuneration towards $500,000. It seems obvious that such ministers would be more likely to promote the views of the large donors that influenced their appointment in the first place.
We need a parliament that accepts science.
We need a parliament that respects our geography and rationally accepts that our neighbours and their views have special relevance and their concerns deserve special attention, just as my neighbours on my street deserve my special consideration.
We need a root and branch review of the political remuneration system that ensures that it provides the right incentives for all politicians to work for the benefit of our country rather than fight against each other to secure the “spoils of government”.
As a Liberal, I have had enough and, as evidenced by the swing in safe Liberal seats in Victoria, I am not alone.
Students in their thousands protesting for climate action
We must provide alternatives for Liberals to vote for at the next federal election, and I hope to see independent Liberals provide electors in safe Liberal seats with that choice. We need to return to the day where politicians know that their job is not to retain their job but rather to represent their electorate, who, if they are lucky, reward them with their job.
The Liberal party brand has been so damaged and trust so completely destroyed that no amount of “shuffling the deck chairs” will change the outcome of the next federal election.
It is simply impossible for many Liberal voters to vote for a party that:
works to prevent any action on climate change
has the potential to be controlled by the mining industry or whichever new industry is willing to pay for favours (clubs, internet gambling, pokies, firearms and many more)
rejects the establishment of an integrity commission
rejects donation reform and transparency and promotes members for their fundraising skills rather than policy and communication skills
backs the Adani coalmine, which has no social licence and is inconsistent with our need to tackle climate change; and
regardless of the election result seems to be heading towards installing Tony Abbott or Peter Dutton as the next party leader
Liberal voters will align with independent Liberals who have real world experience, who will put the interests of their electorates first and who support:
tight fiscal responsibility so the country operates within its means
strong border controls, backed by a compassionate approach to the treatment of refugees
free enterprise and small business, balanced with appropriate regulation to ensure competition is fair
transparency, integrity and trust; and
real action on climate change that is consistent with what the science is demanding
While I am sure many “shock jocks” who are doing daily damage to the Liberal party will yet again venture to their usual corner of scare tactics about the arrival of independent Liberals, there is no justification for that.
Independent Liberals will move with transparency and integrity, and will clearly state their principals and beliefs so electors know what they are voting for. Just imagine how refreshing that would be in the current world of dark party politics where trading principles for position and power is considered a positive skill.
Once the Liberal party reforms and rebalances, Liberal independents might elect to join again.
• Oliver Yates is a member of the Liberal party and former chief executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation
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