Politics Opinion

Labor will ignore its mandate on climate unless activists apply pressure

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Climate activists need to send a message to PM Anthony Albanese to do more against climate change (Image by Dan Jensen)

Winning the Federal Election on the promise of better climate policy, Labor has disappointed many by forging ahead with new fossil fuel projects, writes Tom Tanuki.

MANY JUBILANT Labor fans are convinced that we’re done with politics now and get to have a big nap as a treat. Popular Labor public relations Twitter account PRGuy17 seems to have shuttered, sort of. Labor public relations YouTube correspondent Friendlyjordies has pivoted to talking about lying women, the most popular topic for all bottom-feeders after the recent conclusion of Celebrity Boys vs Girls Superbowl

Another professional Twitter user, Ronni Salt, released an eye-wateringly saccharine piece for The Shot which frames former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s one-term Government as a movie that concludes with his exit (of course). The article has lots of cameras panning about in it and stuff. It’s very, um, epic.

In more insufferably mawkish antics, someone made an account for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s dog (which he apparently thought was a bit creepy). But I didn’t see any Twitter stan accounts created for the boat full of asylum seekers that Anthony Albanese turned back on his first day of government.

Extreme-leftist killjoy Sean Bedlam bridged the gap:

‘Hewwo hoomans this boat is in Australian waters and you will be escorted by force back to your country! Ruff ruff!’

Labor fans get a bit pissy at this sort of stuff. The standard refrain we’re hearing is: “Any chance of giving the new Government a week or two before bagging them?”

It’s as though a new government is a newborn baby, just plopped out of the womb and I ought to rear my baby for a bit before criticising it for aiding in the death of refugees.

I don’t remember having a baby. I remember voting in an election and seeing a fully-developed political party with a history of its own winning government. What is there to nap about when considering that party’s track record and upcoming plans?

Labor’s grand undertaking on climate includes allowing 114 planned new goal and gas mines to continue. Sounds like the kind of resolute action we need to stop burning and flooding.

Just one of these 114 new projects is Scarborough, a $16.5 billion fossil fuel project offshore near Western Australia, which will drastically increase emissions once completed. The project will be led by Woodside Energy, which is the biggest fossil fuel donor to the Labor Party. Sounds promising!

The pandemic period saw what Amnesty recently described as a global “grossly disproportionate effect on those who already faced systematic discrimination”. Now Labor is here to help the most downtrodden, including those in poverty who were most likely to receive COVID penalties, by... leaving Jobseeker rates at their already inadequate rate. Amazing. Let me celebrate Prime Minister Albanese’s childhood living in housing commission while pretending I don’t notice people living in those buildings right now.

These are some reasons why I’ll work with fellow extreme-leftist killjoys on matters including climate activism. I don’t feel like shutting down my Twitter account or writing a corny article about how the “movie” is “over”. I’m inclined to agree that we just witnessed a strong voter mandate for climate action in the Federal Election, but I reckon this centre-Left Government will squander that mandate unless they are pressured. The pressure we can apply is activist pressure.

But Labor as a political party is demonstrably anti-activist in recent history.

We’ve seen a successful Victorian State Labor Government militarise their police force over several election cycles. Then they brought it to bear against not just anti-lockdown protestors, but people in housing commission blocks, environmentalists and refugee rights activists, too. Sorry to be a killjoy, but though that might be a state and not federal issue, that is the same political party borne of the same ideology.

At the beginning of May, we saw Victoria Police pepper-spraying a couple of dozen protestors who were there to stop the transfer of refugees back to offshore detention on Christmas Island. This video is nothing short of shocking.

If Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe wasn’t there to castigate Victorian Police thugs attacking the small group of non-violent protestors, what else might they have done? And if this violence, carried out in aid of defending offshore refugee detention, is presided over by the same political party that now controls the nation, can we expect these policies to end without pressure?

We need immediate, robust climate activism to combat the Labor Government’s 114 planned fossil fuel projects. But with a draconian anti-environmental activism bill introduced last week by Labor in Victorian Parliament – which would see protestors face fines of up to $21,000 or 12 months in gaol for trying to prevent native forest logging – can we really afford to assume that Labor is the friend of the climate activist?

The aftermath of this Election only highlights a long-standing divide between a comfortable centre-Left, ready for a nap, and the activist Left, the domain of extreme-leftist killjoys. The centre-Left is happy to barrel towards broadly the same climate apocalypse, as long as it’s couched in greenwashed language. They’d be content to disregard the ongoing madness of our fascist offshore detention policies as long as one high-profile family is allowed in to stay.

I can put up with being seen as a killjoy. I’m sure I’ll sleep at night. What I can’t stand is seeing a strong mandate on progressive policy get squandered by yet more predictable major party inaction.

This month, Blockade Australia will be converging on the streets of Sydney to protest climate inaction from 27 June to 2 July. I’m looking forward to joining the action.

Tom Tanuki is a writer, satirist and anti-fascist activist. Tom does weekly videos on YouTube commenting on the Australian political fringe. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_tanuki.

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