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Five reasons the LNP's carbon scare campaign is doomed

  • 03 May 2016


It was as if Australian politics had regressed four years overnight. No sooner had Labor released its new climate change plan than the Coalition was resuscitating Tony Abbott's 'carbon tax' line.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt called it a 'massive electricity tax', Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said it would 'make people poorer' and even Prime Minster Turnbull repeated the mantra.

You could almost hear the collective groan in lounge rooms around the country. Not this again.

But the Coalition's attempt to revive the defining debate of the 2013 federal election won't work. As other commentators have noted, Labor's plan has been carefully crafted to avoid the carbon tax sledge. More importantly, external factors have changed to make a scare campaign less potent. Here are five reasons why.


1. It makes Turnbull look fake.

Turnbull was initially popular because people thought he was moderate. He could appeal to the political middle, not just the conservative base. But, as we've seen, his own party prevents him from adopting the more socially progressive policies the middle wants. The narrative of Malcolm the moderate has become Malcolm the compromised. Less turn, more bull.

This lack of authenticity is Turnbull's Achilles heel. When you came to power on a platform of not being Tony Abbott, sounding like Tony Abbott is a bit of a problem. Every Abbott-era slogan that leaves Turnbull's lips reinforces the view that he's just not being genuine.

And nowhere is that more obvious than over an emissions trading scheme, which Turnbull actually crossed the floor of parliament to support in 2010. 


"Remember Barnaby Joyce's $100 lamb roasts? He claimed Gillard's 'big new tax on everything' would jack up the cost of a Sunday roast to triple figures. It didn't."


2. Business isn't so opposed.

Tony Abbott's anti-carbon tax campaign was fuelled by the united opposition of powerful business lobby groups. The Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Minerals Council issued joint statements condemning Labor's carbon price.

This time round the response has been less united. In fact, the Business Council of Australia is broadly supportive — Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott described Labor's climate plan as a 'platform for bipartisanship'.

What business wants now is certainty to attract investment, not more political tug-of-war. That leaves the Coalition with far less ammunition than before.


3. The sky didn't fall in.

Remember Barnaby Joyce's $100 lamb roasts? He claimed the Gillard government's 'big new tax on everything' would jack up the