Tony Abbott’s first press conference as leader of the Federal Opposition was actually pretty impressive.
His direct and jargon-free way of speaking went down well, he admitted to making mistakes in the past and, in a little win for business, he even lashed out at the Rudd Government’s industrial relations reforms saying they’re taking Australia back to the 1970s.
But none of this matters, because Malcolm Turnbull was absolutely right – the Liberal’s refusal to act on climate change will condemn the party to obscurity.
While members of the Liberal party don’t want an emissions trading scheme, the party is wrong if they believe the vast majority of Australian voters want to delay action on climate change.
Look it at from the entrepreneurs’ view – whether or not you believe in climate change, many entrepreneurs realise that some risk mitigation strategies are needed.
Abbott’s decision to effectively vote down the Government’s emission trading scheme – a scheme his party agreed to less than a week ago – will lead to his party being crushed at the next election, which could happen sooner rather than later if Kevin Rudd calls a double dissolution election.
Abbott says he is not afraid of an election, but he should be.
While his plain-talking ways will be welcomed by some, many voters will remember that Abbott is a true conservative and his strident views on issues such as abortion are out of step with society (particularly if the female voters in this office are anything to go by). His climate change policy will only underline any view that Abbott is behind the times.
The Coalition will be creamed, and that’s bad news for business.
A strong Opposition is needed to hold the Government accountable and the Rudd Government definitely needs to be held to account on business issues.
The Rudd Government’s IR reforms remain extremely controversial, and as our IR lawyer Peter Vitale points out today, several aspects of the laws may need to be reviewed in the coming months. The Government’s innovation policy has been painfully slow in coming and it remains to be seen how the new R&D measures will actually work. Small Business Minister Craig Emerson has been accused of dragging his heels on reform of the franchise sector. The Government’s “root and branch” review of the tax system is bound to be extremely controversial.
There’s also the matter of economic management. The Government has done a good job negotiating the GFC, but we now enter a period with rates rising and skills shortages looming.
All of these issues need to be scrutinised by a strong Opposition. But following Tony Abbott’s election, it t looks like it will be a long time before we will have one.