Election 2013 media panel

I hope the Australians love their children too

Earth Day Network Climate Rally, Washington DC

Faced with the existential threat of a nuclear war between the USA and USSR in the mid 1980s Sting sang “I hope the Russians love their children too.”

Today as a father and child advocate I am just as troubled and worried by the fact that most Australians don’t seem to understand the scale and urgency of the threat that climate change poses to the health and wellbeing of our children and future generations.

Climate change is widely acknowledged within the health professions as the biggest global threat to human health this century. Yet here in Australia you could be forgiven for not knowing this.

Our major political parties are utterly failing our children and future generations and the mainstream media are complicit in this failure.

Looking at the dismal media coverage and policy analysis regarding this most critical issue it is very hard not to fall into despair about our kids’ futures.

Yesterday was a prime example.

Most Australian’s wouldn’t know it but yet another analysis was released that highlighted the major inadequacies in the opposition’s climate change policies. The Climate Institute’s report, which is based on detailed modelling by SKM–MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies, found that the Coalition policies would require minimum additional taxpayer expenditure of between 4 and 15 billion dollars between now and 2020 to reach emission reduction targets of 5% and 25% respectively. Others argue that the actual cost blow-out would be much larger.

The Climate Institute’s report also found that, as it stands, the Coalition’s Direct Action policy would result in 40% less domestic emission reductions by 2020 than the Government’s current policies which are also not enough for Australia to do its fair share.

These damning findings barely cracked a mention in the mainstream media yesterday. When they did ask questions most journalists let Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott get away with personal attacks on the report’s authors without pinpointing where they think the analysis is wrong.

Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt also seem to be sticking to their pledge that funding for the Direct Action policy won’t be increased because it is capped and non-negotiable. Thus, it seems fairly clear that the Coalition have no real intention of meeting the emission reduction targets they have promised.

Why wasn’t this the headline mainstream news story of the day involving a thorough analysis and critique of the policy?

In what other policy area of such enormous significance would a major political party get away with having a policy that has been found to be flawed in analysis after analysis and now has been found to have a 4 to 15 billion dollar hole in it?

Given how important it is right now that wealthy nations like ours continue to build on previous emission reductions commitments rather than undermining them (as analyses demonstrate the Coalition’s Direct Action policy would), this election is shaping up to be the most important one in our children’s futures.

Unfortunately I see little to indicate that the mainstream media coverage of climate change policy is going to miraculously improve during this election campaign. Therefore I can only hope that the Australian people love their children enough to do the work themselves to cut through the spin and join me in making a pledge to vote for the party or candidate that has the best policies to help protect our kids and grandkids from dangerous climate change.

Comprehensive comparisons of the climate change policies of the political parties can be found here, here and here