Will the Australian Labor Party follow in the footsteps of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern?
Australia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with only three people per square kilometre, compared to America which has 36 people per square kilometre (lowered by Alaska’s vast expanse), and the UK, which has a whopping 281 people per square kilometre. Yet Australia has been accused by some of being the cause of erroneous weather patterns across the world.
Is this plausible when countries such as China, America, and even India are producing emissions at a greater rate than money was printed in Weimar Germany?
Whilst Australia undoubtedly requires a viable plan to fulfil even 50 per cent of its Net Zero targets, if the wheels fall off the federal budget, it will not be possible for any policies to be implemented, let alone Net Zero.
Whilst we certainly have some catching up to do with the rest of the world when it comes to our use of renewables (which sit at 24 per cent of our total energy supply, compared with 41.1 per cent in Germany, for example), we cannot simply jump headlong into using renewable energy.
To wean ourselves off fossil fuels, we require a long-term plan that is sustainable, in addition to being both economically and environmentally viable.
This election has evidently given Scott Morrison a small sense of urgency, regarding his party’s transition into alternative energy sources and it has forced him to question his way of addressing the populi.
However, does he warrant a second chance?
Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, claims that he has answers to the questions which pollution and Australia’s emissions pose. He offers voters increased reef protection funding, a 43 per cent fossil fuel emissions reduction target by 2030, and perhaps a more empathetic approach.
However, with his claims comes a huge caveat: ‘money does not grow on trees’.
The ALP has promised, in addition to the above, to increase workers’ wages at an inflation-indexed rate of 5.1 per cent, as well as to subsidise housing for low-income earners by up to 40 per cent.
The federal budget looks to be tremendously tight, yet according to Albanese, achieving all of this contemporaneously is affordable and not going to contribute to inflation.
Scott Morrison, whilst he has upset a portion of a sensitive post-pandemic population, may have the potential to develop the ‘auctoritas’ and ‘humanitas’ to stand up to China if given a second chance and if he is able to learn from previous errors.
As recent global events have highlighted, increased Australian capital must be set aside for defence.
If Labor exceeds the federal budget, we may see politicians looking elsewhere for funding, in the form of loans or funding from overseas investors.
I need not name which country will be so generous as to offer Labor leaders loans…
If the issue of defence is taken lightly by whichever party is elected, Australia will unfortunately have to have its cake and eat it, just as the New Zealand population has.
Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton’s hard line on China must be maintained by whoever wins this election.
We have already seen the Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka fall into turmoil and dependency on totalitarian leaders as a result of poor economic management. We are now beginning to see countries in Europe experiencing similar constraints.
Our trans-Tasman neighbours are sliding down the slippery slope of insubordination too and, unfortunately, they are stuck suffering until the 2023 general election. Only then can voters take a stance against autocracy.
Labor will also undoubtedly invest in ‘embellishments’ such as transgender issues or those of diversity. The reality is that we require unity and consistency, not diversity. Peripherals are only the icing on the cake when it comes to throwing away taxpayers’ money and an education budget that ought to be better allocated.
Whilst Albanese claims to have solutions, he does not have a financial portfolio to fund them. As nice as his intentions may be, Albanese will not necessarily be able to fund defence, which is crucial from a geopolitical standpoint.
With China sitting on our doorstep patiently waiting for us to hold out our hand and ask for money – whether it be in the form of increased trade agreements or ‘funding’ for construction projects – if Labor blows the budget, we soon will not have a Great Barrier Reef left to save.
The federal government has a very difficult job over the next three years and even thirty years.
A hung parliament has the potential for three years of pushing policies back and forth and, as Defence Minister Peter Dutton recently stated, can we afford to ‘risk Labor’ with our national security?
It is very hard to tell whether any major party has an effective policy or plan in place to tackle pollution, however, neither plan will come to fruition unless we fund defence.
Taking a risk on aspects such as defence could lead to us following in the footsteps of Jacinda Ardern’s frivolous foreign and economic policies, in what is very much becoming a primitive political playground under the New Zealand Labour Party.
Natasha Poole BA & MA Hons Litterae Humaniores, University of Oxford, UK
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