Wren's Week: Bettina Arndt condemned, Matt Canavan attacks net-zero policy

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Bettina Arndt will possibly lose her A.M., while Matt Canavan is on the attack over the net-zero climate policy (Screenshots via YouTube)

Feminist writer Bettina Arndt is facing criticism over comments on the murder of Hannah Clarke while Matt Canavan has been unleashing his own criticism, writes John Wren.

WHERE TO START, where to start?

Following on from last week’s column regarding domestic violence, the Senate moved a motion requesting the rescinding of Bettina Arndt’s Order of Australia. This was a very rare event in Australian politics. The motion was instigated by Labor and saw every senator in the house bar two sit on the Opposition benches when the vote was taken.

Labor, Greens, Liberals, Nationals, Centre Alliance and Independents came together as one to recognise that Arndt is undeserving of the award, many speakers even saying her award brings it into disrepute for future recipients. The vote is symbolic as the awards are decided on by an independent panel, but the vote now gives that panel some political cover to rescind the award when they next meet to consider it.

Who were the two who voted in favour of Arndt keeping her award, you ask? They were none other than One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson and her sidekick Malcolm Roberts. I can only presume this means that voting for One Nation is a vote for domestic violence. Only someone as depraved as Hanson would actively seek out the wife-beater vote, but there you have it, Queensland — these are the values your senators are representing.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also announced one of Labor’s climate change policies — the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050. This was met by the usual knee-jerk responses by coalition MPs and their Murdoch, Stokes and Nine media myrmidons.

First off, the net-zero by 2050 target is not unique. It is the target set in the Paris Agreement on climate change and signatories the world over, including Australia, have signed on to this already. Also, every state and territory in Australia has already adopted the target as well (except the A.C.T. which has set their net-zero target for 2045, five years earlier). This is important as it means the Coalition Government has already agreed to this target and even if they argue that they haven’t, each state is already putting measures in place anyway.

So, when the Government and its media hangers-on criticise Labor’s policy, they are effectively criticising their own government. As usual, the criticism has been centred on the question of “how much will it cost?” Of course, no one can put a number on that. It’s the dumb equivalent of saying the Government should not take measures to address the pending coronavirus pandemic because we don’t know how much it will cost either. The reality is the cost of not taking action has been conservatively estimated by economists as about 20 times the cost of action to mitigate climate change.

Former Resources Minister Matt Canavan, now off the leash as a backbencher, has been all over the media criticising Labor’s net-zero policy, even though it’s the policy his own government holds through it being a Paris Agreement signatory.

His criticisms are laughable and demonstrate why he was such an inept minister. I give you three examples below:

Poor Matt’s mathematical ability is being sorely tested here. It does explain, though, why he got the numbers so badly wrong on Barnaby Joyce’s recent leadership challenge. In short, the square of 45% is actually 20.25%. ‘Doubled down to 100% reduction’ simply makes no sense whatsoever. Regardless, a 100% reduction would mean Albo has no target at all. With maths skills this poor, Canavan should be sitting in Treasury next to the equally innumerate Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

This tweet relates to Norwegian oil giant Equinor choosing to not drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. This is a huge win for the environment and Equinor have done the right thing. However, getting to Canavan’s comment about fuel security, as Resources Minister he oversaw the rundown of Australia’s fuel reserves from the 90 day supply we have international agreements to maintain down to 15-20 days’ supply we currently have on hand.

Canavan himself is responsible in part for our fuel insecurity. Other points to note from the unsourced graph he published are that we were self-sufficient under Labor governments, the decline started under John Howard, levelled off again under the Rudd/Gillard Labor Government and then recommenced its decline under the current regime. Something of an own-goal from Canavan here.

But more to the point, if we truly want fuel self-sufficiency, we should be moving to electric and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, something Canavan also argues against. The reality is we can never be self-sufficient in petrol and diesel, the oil reserves Australia does have are not suited to vehicle fuels such as petrol and diesel due to their very high sulphur content.

In this tweet, Canavan stupidly cherry-picks New Zealand’s costing of its net-zero policy as an example of the costing that Labor (and his own government, of course) should do to achieve the Paris goal. I presume this means Canavan also wants a similar power source mix in Australia to that of NZ (if so, kudos to Matt). NZ currently sources 84% of its energy from renewables (mainly hydroelectric and geothermal), with only 4% coming from coal and the balance gas. The coal and gas plants only get switched on in times of peak demand. NZ is also streaks ahead of Australia in electric vehicle uptake and infrastructure. NZ’s biggest coal-fired power plant at Huntly now really only burns gas.

And finally, we also saw Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spout anti-Hindu rhetoric on the floor of Parliament. It was childish, racist and unbecoming of a senior government minister. However, what is more disturbing about this is Frydenberg, the Son of Jewish holocaust survivors, is always the first to call out anti-Semitism (or accuse others of it when they question his alleged Hungarian dual citizenship — still being considered by the High Court). Only last week, he leapt to the defence of Senator Matthias Cormann who took over-the-top umbrage at an innocuous comment posted by journalist Paul Bongiorno. Imagine Frydenberg’s outrage had his faith been mocked as he had mocked Hindus. It would be a complete double standard.

The real test for Frydenberg (and the other Jewish Liberal Party MPs: Julian Leeser, Trent Zimmerman and Jason Falinski) will be whether they support Morrison’s proposed Religious Freedom Bill. The last country to introduce legislation to legally discriminate against other faiths was Nazi Germany. In its current guise, the bill would make it legal for shopkeepers, if they wanted, to put signs in their windows just as shopkeepers in Nazi Germany did, that read ‘no Jews’ or ‘no Catholics’ or seemingly in Frydenberg’s case, ‘no Hindus’. For them to vote for such legislation would be supreme hypocrisy, but then the Liberal Party are, of course, masters of hypocrisy. It’s what they do.

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

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