Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


In the 'climate wars' Tony Abbott is Hiroo Onoda

  • 12 October 2017


With the Coalition's flagged rejection of the Clean Energy Target and former PM Tony Abbott's recent speech spreading climate denial myths, the media is once again talking about Australia's 'climate wars'.

But war is no longer an appropriate metaphor because former 'enemies' of action on climate change — the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, and the big three energy retailers — have crossed the trenches. All year they've been calling for effective climate policy, such as an emissions intensity scheme or clean energy target, to bring investment certainty and reduce emissions. Only the Minerals Council and the Institute of Public Affairs are left slogging it out in defence of coal.

So rather than a war, what we have is a classic 'holdout' situation. The conflict has finished, but a stubborn and deluded band of stragglers don't want to believe it, so they've barricaded themselves in the hills to keep the fantasy alive. I'm referring, of course, to the small rump of conservative MPs in the Coalition led by their belligerent General, Tony Abbott.

There's an historical analogy here. Abbott is behaving like the infamous Imperial Japanese officer Hiroo Onoda, who refused to accept his country's surrender in 1945 and spent a further 29 years fighting phantom enemies in a remote tropical jungle.

Stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines, Onoda was one of thousands of Japanese soldiers scattered around the Pacific when World War II ended. While most were captured or went home, some guerilla holdouts continued to fight and pillage villages for years, posing a problem for rebuilding war-torn regions.

The US military, with the support of the defeated Japanese, dropped leaflets explaining that the war was over. Some soldiers accepted the information and gave up arms, but Onoda and his three enlisted men thought it was enemy propaganda, a trick to flush them out of hiding.

And so they continued to serve their beloved god-Emperor, murdering about 30 innocent islanders, who they considered enemy agents, over the next quarter century. Onoda only accepted the new reality in 1974 when his former commanding officer visited in person to relieve him of his duties.


"Abbott wants to reject the Clean Energy Target not because he's analysed it closely and discovered fatal flaws, but because adopting it positions the Liberals too close to Labor. It's all selfish, short-term politics."


Like Onoda's band of soldiers thwarting efforts to rebuild local villages in peacetime, Tony Abbott's skirmishes into