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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Comment: Ex PM Howard rages against the dying of the light* .... like Burma's afflicted
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: 27 March 2006, Sydneysiders flock to the coast to witness dramatic Cyclone Wati ripples travelling 1000 km south west, to the shores of Sydney. 

We wrote last night of evidence of former Liberal Party parliamentary deputy leader, Peter Costello MP, engaged in real politik in an effective way again: A Laurie Oakes' column in the Sydney Tele, a Dennis Shanahan front pager in The Oz.

All in the federal budget season which Costello prepared every year since 1996. One feels Costello as former federal Treasurer would indeed be twitchy at such a time another has got his harness now.

So now ex PM John Howard is reported last night at a dinner for nostalgic 1,200 fans calling for his party to 'rage against being in opposition' and to 'not take cheek from the other side' or words to that effect. But this all sounds like raging against the dying of the light of literary fame.

But we are at a junture in Australian politics far more serious than these shallow concerns of self respect or image. If Al Gore is right about intensity if not occurrence of cyclonic impact in Burma, and other storms despite the predictable ridicule or red herrings (?) about mangrove removal, and Howard is indeed in generational and political economic denial, which we think he is, then dangerous climate change is stalking large population centres now.

Can't happen here? Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, even Sydney in 20 years with tropical and sub tropical weather patterns?

And apart from meteorological/science debate there is the political reality of perception, with not a hint of scaremongering involved. 

Then federal treasurer Peter Costello MP, with his electorate in Melbourne, took serious climate change to Cabinet apparently in 2003 and apparently was rebuffed:

 20.2.2007 - Winds of climate change stir cabinet consciences Katherine Murphy The Age.

Cabinet dumped a serious emissions trading proposal brought by the Treasury and Environment departments in 2003 because of opposition from coal and aluminium interests. But by early 2005, the issue was back on the move.

In February of that year, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, then environment minister Ian Campbell and parliamentary secretary Greg Hunt sat down for a meal to talk about how to bring China and India to the table on a post-Kyoto framework. Government insiders believe the Foreign Minister's influence has been critical in bringing Prime Minister John Howard around from his previous doubts about global warming.

Twelve months after the three ministers' discussion, the Government had engineered, with like-minded souls in Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the AP6 group. This small burst of momentum continued. Around the middle of 2006, Mr Howard was making his own inquiries about policy options. Sources say last year's nuclear energy inquiry was born of the PM's sense that some kind of public shift on energy and climate was in progress.

But while the shift was there in nascent form, the Government badly misjudged the politics, ridiculing former US vice-president Al Gore's environment warnings, and appearing to be dragged to the idea of emissions trading.

Divisions, coupled with a lack of decisions on all major policy issues, have made it hard for the Government to show that it has a clear sense of where to take the country.

More or less consistently on the side of carbon abatement has been Mr Downer — under pressure from Greg Hunt, to whom he is personally close, Ian Campbell (and his predecessors Robert Hill and David Kemp), new Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Peter Costello.

Mr Hunt did his university thesis on carbon pricing. He believes the firming of the scientific evidence has been critical in getting the Government to the table on the issue. "The science through the International Panel on Climate Change has moved from likely but still conjectural to pretty much lock-down. The cabinet has moved and the Prime Minister has led the move," he says, adding that there remains a legitimate debate over the timing of policy changes and the mechanisms required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Ian Campbell had been talking about global warming since 1990. Visitors to his office were always greeted with a chart showing the steps required to reduce greenhouse gases.

He took up the fight consistently in Government ranks, gaining a few enemies along the way. Ironically, he was dumped from his position just as the Government finally accepted his message.

Costello reportedly did not attend the dinner for Howard last night with video messages from both VIP's GW Bush (climate change denier) and Tony Blair (climate change campaigner).

Putting all of these factors together Costello has a political future of some kind. And that Howard endorsement of Brendan Nelson as leader is more a kiss of death. Time will tell, but according to the best science time is also against us, all of us.

* Do not go gentle into that good night,  by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by editor at 10:11 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 11:12 AM NZT

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