Laugh Away, Fuzzballs
As the seat count drags on, the three rural independents – Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott – are maximising their moment in the spotlight.
Their policy wish lists range from the probable (parliamentary reform) to the plausible (a more generous broadband deal from Abbott; a more sensible climate outcome from Gillard) to the ambitious (a ”unity” government, where partisanship is suspended in favour of yoga mats and hemp pants; and Katter’s apparent desire to stop imports).
That’s the stated agenda. Unstated, but important, will be reward for their constituents. Sure these guys are serious people with serious public policy aspirations, but they also want to get re-elected. No modest trinkets? Only indirect influence? Sorry, get real.
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have little choice but to go along for this ride.
The people have spoken, and the bottom line is they couldn’t decide. Having failed to comprehensively win over the voters, now the Labor and Liberal leaders must woo an ornery bunch whose stock in trade is bagging conventional politics and politicians.
The fun in this instance is watching Julia and Tony squirm. Not in their wildest dreams would they have imagined their vision of forming government and striding into Parliament as the incoming PM would be held hostage by these bushies. I didn’t either.
Surprisingly Climate Change is not as tricky for these guys as it is for the straight Nats and the hopelessly sceptical Abbott-Libs.
Mr Oakeshott also accepts that climate change is real and needs to be tackled.
He says there should be a market-based scheme to provide incentives to reduce emissions but he did not think Labor’s emissions trading scheme got all the details right.
Mr Oakeshott said we should go back to the drawing board, in the form of the 2008 Garnaut report on climate change, as the starting point for devising a new market-based scheme
Mr Windsor also believes in climate change and wants action. He opposed Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme because it was too watered down to suit the interests of big emitters.
But he had little to say today about whether there should be a market-based approach or about the design features he would like to see in any new version of an emissions trading scheme.
Mr Katter was evangelical about aspects of environmental policy which will help the bush.
He told the National Press Club there should be more government subsidies for biofuels such as ethanol and a “clean energy corridor” in his electorate comprising a massive transmission line to Mount Isa straddled by giant wind farms and solar/biofuel electricity generation plants.
Go figure. One would think that buying these guys’ position is actually easier than being friends with their whacky causes.
What’s In A Name Moment Of The Day
By the way, has anybody notices the Roman connotations of Julia/Julius Caesar and Tony/Mark Anthony? Maybe they have. It’s interesting that there’s another Tony in the independents mob but a Bob and a Rob.