Politics with Michelle Grattan
Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood on managing the shift in climate policy

Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood on managing the shift in climate policy

October 13, 2021

The Morrison Government is in the painful throes of a climate policy shift to embrace a target of net zero by 2050, ahead of next month’s Glasgow conference. This requires a deal with the divided, noisy, fractious Nationals.

We’re joined in this podcast by Tony Wood, Director of the Energy Program at the Grattan Institute, to talk about Glasgow, Australia’s policy and the fallout from the necessary transition to lower emissions.

“[The government] will talk about […] how technology will be fundamentally important to meeting a net zero target. And that’s absolutely true,” Wood says.

[But] policy will be important as well.

“The government job, then, is to address the barriers and issues that arise.

"In some cases, it will mean losses of jobs in some sectors, but it also means growth of jobs in other sectors. And that’s where the big opportunities lie.

"Sectors actually are not really looking to be protected from the consequences of reducing emissions. In fact, they want to be part of the process of driving these changes, so they can actually have some control over their destiny,” Wood says.

“So the farming community wants to be part of the solution. They’ve already committed themselves to net zero by dates which are much earlier than 2050. And now the Business Council, which represents some of those big mining companies for example, they’ve also committed to net zero by 2050.

"As you think about winners and losers […] we do know that one thing is for certain – that losers shout about their losses much more than the winners boast about their gains.

"So what the government puts in place to try and bring those areas of the economy along with them, where the concerns will arise, will be fundamentally important. They will obviously have had to provide some sort of concessions in the announcements around how they’re going to ensure that rural and regional and mining communities are being considered in this process.”

Word from The Hill: A prime minister, a prince and the ‘last chance saloon’.

Word from The Hill: A prime minister, a prince and the ‘last chance saloon’.

October 12, 2021

As well as Michelle Grattan’s usual interviews with experts and politicians about the news of the day, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where all things political will be discussed with members of The Conversations’s politics team.

In this week’s episode, they canvass Scott Morrison’s signal he now does want to go to Glasgow, as even Prince Charles increases the pressure on him to attend the “last chance saloon”. This comes as crunch time looms for the Nationals to agree to a new government climate policy.

Meanwhile the admission by federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne be branch stacked leaves Anthony Albanese is an awkward position as he prepares for the election.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Former judge Stephen Charles slams government’s integrity commission model

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Former judge Stephen Charles slams government’s integrity commission model

October 7, 2021

After Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation over an investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the debate about the federal government’s proposed – but weak – federal integrity commission is heating up.

Stephen Charles, a former Victorian judge who is a director of the Centre for Public Integrity, says the Coalition should totally rework its draft model to give it real teeth in dealing with politicians and public servants.

Pointing out that under the government draft, investigations of politicians wouldn’t have public hearings, Charles asks, “What does that show you about the concern they have of their activities being exposed? And […] remember the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars that this coalition has shown it is prepared to spend […] to its electoral advantage rather than in the interests of the public.”

“Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Article 36 of that convention requires Australia to have an effective body to deal with corruption, and those of us who’ve been arguing for a national integrity body have been pointing to Australia’s failure to comply with its obligations under UNCAC for a long time now.”

Charles agrees with the need to prevent the integrity commission being used by political players for their own purposes. “These powers must not be allowed to be weaponised by […] the political party in power at the time.”

“The body should be under the control of the judicial system, which in this case would mean under the control of the federal court […] there should be an inspector, and next there should be a parliamentary committee which should have its activities under continual review.” With those protections, misuse could be prevented, Charles says.

The push to run independents on issues of climate and integrity

The push to run independents on issues of climate and integrity

September 29, 2021

With the 2022 election looming, local activists are mobilising in many government seats to sponsor independent candidates. The push – stronger and more organised since the 2019 election – is driven especially by concerns about climate change and integrity issues, as well as the general declining faith in the major parties,

There will be substantial money and campaigning help for the more viable independent candidates. Businessman Simon Holmes à Court, with his Climate 200, is putting together a war chest that currently has more than $1.5 million, while former independent member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, who pioneered the “Voices” movement, is assisting local groups with advice on how to mobilise support.

Asked why people have shifted towards campaigns such as ‘Voices of’, Holmes à Court says these groups “are being set up by people who feel really let down”. He says expected target seats include Wentworth, North Sydney and Mackellar in Sydney, and Flinders, Kooyong and Goldstein in Melbourne. Hume may be also on the list. “There is a very strong ‘vote Angus [Taylor] out’ group [that] makes that an interesting seat as well.”

Noting many of the “Voices” groups are in safe seats, McGowan says “there’s a sense that if you’re in a marginal seat, you get better service from either the government or the opposition. But if you’re in a safe seat for either of those teams, you get missed out on… [the locals] want better representation and then they want more, certainly on policy areas”.

She points out crossbenchers can be “really effective. […] And I think people like the calibre of the crossbench. And in many cases they’re much, much more effective than a backbench, either in the opposition or in the government.”

Coalition free-for-all over 2050 target

Coalition free-for-all over 2050 target

September 28, 2021

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this episode, politics + society Senior Deputy Editor Justin Bergman and Michelle canvass the internal brawling that’s happening – which has included Nationals minister Bridget McKenzie attacking treasurer Josh Frydenberg – as Scott Morrison seeks a deal with Barnaby Joyce for the government to endorse a target of net zero emissions by 2050 for the Glasgow climate conference.

They also discuss Morrison’s indication this week that he mightn’t go Glasgow. The aftermath of lockdowns could make it a risky time to be out of the country.

British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell on AUKUS and climate change

British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell on AUKUS and climate change

September 22, 2021

The New AUKUS security agreement has bound Australia even more tightly to the United States and Britain. But it has brought blowback against all three countries from France – which was blindsided by the cancellation of its contract to supply submarines to Australia. 

On another front, Australia is under intense pressure from its two "great and powerful friends", the US and the UK, to improve its ambition on climate change in the run up to the Glasgow  conference. 

In the wake of AUKUS and on the cusp of Glasgow, we talk to Britain's High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, about security and climate. 

Treadell says Britain is "deeply disappointed at the reaction from France"  following the AUKUS announcement – which included the French cancelling defence talks with the United Kingdom. 

"We would hope that they will see the bigger picture, that our partnership from a strategic defence and security point of view should not be diminished. The areas where we already work with them, and likewise America and Australia too. All those things remain for us to work together on." 

"Obviously, they are disappointed, but I don't think they should regard it or interpret it as a loss of trust."

She says the French should bear in mind "there is a far more important strategic dynamic to safeguard, to ensure stability and peace in the region". 

As for Britain's part in AUKUS, the "gravity has shifted to this region in terms of geopolitics, economics, and therefore we need to be part of this region engaged with it". 

Looking to Glasgow, "We want to see high ambition from all the countries participating in COP 26. We see this as a really important economic agenda for the world, the economic transition that we need to make."

"I know that Prime Minister Morrison is working hard towards this, but we do understand the politics of Australia and all we can do as good friends and partners is to encourage and to say that we will be there to work with Australia to realise that level of ambition." 

"Australia has a huge opportunity to become a global leader in [...] key clean industries of the future. Australia has an almost unparalleled opportunity to create jobs and growth domestically and also to produce the key inputs needed for economies around the world to decarbonise inputs like clean hydrogen, green materials like steel and aluminium."

Word from The Hill: The Furious French and Porter‘s fall

Word from The Hill: The Furious French and Porter‘s fall

September 21, 2021

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this episode, politics + society editor Amanda Dunn and Michelle discuss the intense backlash from France over the Morrison government's AUKUS security deal with the United States and the United Kingdom, which will see Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines and other sophisticated military technology. As well, they canvass the mounting international pressure on Scott Morrison as he and President Biden talk climate change during the PM's current US visit. 

Michelle and Amanda also discuss Christian Porter's resignation from the ministry to the backbench after he refused either to find out names of donors who helped fund his defamation action or to give back the money.

Word from The Hill: Christian Porter’s anonymous money pot

Word from The Hill: Christian Porter’s anonymous money pot

September 14, 2021

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this episode, politics + society editor Amanda Dunn and Michelle discuss Christian Porter’s extraordinary “blind trust” – where generous benefactors (assuming there’s more than one) are helping out with his legal bills in his now discontinued ABC defamation case. Porter, it seems, doesn’t know who he should be thanking because the donors are anonymous.

Amanda and Michelle also canvass Gladys Berejiklian’s on-again-off-again media appearances, and Scott Morrison’s trip to the US next week, which is likely to include some interesting exchanges with President Biden on climate policy.

Kate Jenkins on the women‘s agenda

Kate Jenkins on the women‘s agenda

September 8, 2021

In the week of the National Summit on Women's Safety, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins joins the podcast to discuss progress – and lack of progress – on issues of vital importance to Australian women.

Last week, the government passed aspects of Jenkins' Respect@Work report into law. Of the 12 recommendations which called for specific legislative reform, only six were enacted. In particular, the recommendation for placing a "positive duty" on employers to protect employees against workplace harassment has not been adopted. This cherry-picking has attracted considerable backlash. 

Jenkins intends to continue pressing the government on the six unimplemented measures.

"When they gave their full response to the 55 recommendations in April [the government] did indicate they would do some legislative reform now and they would take longer to consider the other six."

"So they haven't said no to me right now, and I am going to hold them to their commitment that they will continue to consider those reforms."

The women's safety summit came when the conversation about this issue is front of mind, following marches early this year, sparked by the Brittany Higgins' allegation of rape in Parliament House, and the allegation of historical rape against Christian Porter, which he denies.

Jenkins says achieving gender equality is an issue in "many other Western countries" but Australia ranks 50th on the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index.

"We started in 2006 at, I think it was, 15. So [...] other countries have been really moving at a faster pace than we have."

"We are world-leading in terms of [...] educating women and girls. So the problem does tend to arise once those women leave university, get streamed into lower paid jobs, get expected to stay at home, don't have access to good, flexible, affordable childcare. There's a whole range of things that then build up in the Australian community. And I think it's time we change that."

Word from the Hill: A Father‘s Day backlash hits Scott Morrison

Word from the Hill: A Father‘s Day backlash hits Scott Morrison

September 7, 2021

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this episode, politics + society editor Amanda Dunn and Michelle discuss the criticism Scott Morrison has already faced this week. 

Firstly, his trip to Sydney to visit his family for Father's Day, which required a special exemption to return to Canberra, brought a sharp backlash when so many families couldn't reunite for the weekend. The PM didn't breach the rules – but did fail the pub test.

Secondly, while his address to the National Summit on Women's Safety acknowledged that "Australia has a problem" when it comes to ensuring women feel safe, critics including Australian of the Year Grace Tame are scathing of his and his government's performance.

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