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Coalition leader kicks own goal on climate

ANALYSIS

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Abbott slammed on 'invisible substance'

Tony Abbott has attracted criticism for saying the ETS is a "so-called market" for an "invisible substance".

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's depiction of carbon trading as a whole bunch of nothing has revealed a whole bunch of something he has mostly kept hidden.

Laid bare in his comments was what many voters had suspected: that the Coalition's conversion to remedial policy was half-hearted. 

''Just ask yourself,'' Abbott said, his frustration bubbling to the surface, ''what an emission trading scheme is all about, it's a market, a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance, to no one.''

It was a reductio ad absurdum, which runs counter to the message Liberals have been pushing for years, particularly to younger voters - that climate change is real, that it is human induced, and that the conservatives are genuine about addressing it.

Why else spend billions on ''direct action''?

This was also Abbott's first big mistake since the advent of Kevin Rudd and the balance of power shift that his return to Prime Minister has brought.

Laid bare in his comments was what many voters had suspected: that the Coalition's conversion to remedial policy was half-hearted and driven mainly by the search for votes.

This is what is called in sport ''scoreboard pressure'' - the unforced errors that creep into a side when the other side starts kicking goals.

Just four weeks ago, Abbott's universe was known. He was staring at a fixed election date of September 14, facing a deeply unpopular prime minister and riding a huge advantage in the polls - a lead of 57-43 according to the June Fairfax-Nielsen poll.

Crippled by her method of promotion, Julia Gillard was hemmed in by the politically toxic policies she had championed, including a wildly over-promised but undelivered budget surplus, her ''no carbon tax under the government I lead'' backflip, and the continuing failure of her government's ineffectual asylum seeker response.

Stop the boats, end the waste, repay the debt - these natty slogans had said all that many voters needed to hear as an alternative.

Abbott was happy to oblige, as he coasted towards the highest office in the land.

Now, all that has changed and the pressure has swung suddenly, dramatically the other way.

Labor's late manouevres have exposed Abbott's policy cupboard as lightly stocked.

As Rudd (mark II) moves to re-tell Labor's hamfisted economic story and neutralise its main policy failures regarding asylum seekers and the carbon ''tax'', the frustration within Team Abbott may be showing through.

Most galling to Abbott is the possibility that Rudd could effect a half-passable escape from Labor's carbon tax nightmare.

And who knows, with the aid of an opposition leader making his own gaffes, he just might.

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619 comments

  • I wish TA was invisible just like his invisible policies.

    Commenter
    Sam
    Date and time
    July 16, 2013, 6:46AM
    • Problem with calling this a mistake Mark Kenny is that now days the majority of Australians probably agree with TA.

      Commenter
      mh
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:19AM
    • I was deleted last week for saying Abbott is a moron. But I wasn't wrong.

      Commenter
      Douglas
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:22AM
    • No, no, no.... the man has a point.

      I've booked in with my bank to go and see my savings - in a pile of actual, physical notes and coin - because if I can't see it, how can I be sure it's there? Think about it.

      And earlier this morning, I dropped a hammer on my foot. Just making sure gravity is still there and operating.

      I'm taking it on faith that this message will get through because I'm going to send it over my wireless network and won't be able to actually see it. Fingers crossed!

      Commenter
      Tony, man for our times!
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:27AM
    • If the majority of Australians agreed with TA, then why is his popularity so low?

      I mean, the Green Army sounds all good and well, but paying them 300 a week?

      How many Australians will be lining up for that?

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:28AM
    • And TA wants us to drink storm water.

      Well, I say, never.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:29AM
    • mh
      And you're making the same mistake Abbott's been making for three years. You're assuming.

      Commenter
      rext
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:30AM
    • So he is comparing carbon dioxide to catholicism which allegedly delivers invisible benefits and you get to live in an invisible place only if you believe in an invisible person. Tony, you crack me up.

      Commenter
      Greg100
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:34AM
    • Where's your evidence mh? From all the polling/surveys I've read it seems the majority of people support some form of carbon pricing. I also believe that an even larger number accept the concept of human-induced climate change. Yes, acceptance has waxed and waned over the years but my reading of Australian mood and that of other countries suggests that concern about the issue has increased. That's why Abbott's statement was so stunning; he's looking increasingly out of touch with the modern word. The NBN-lite also strikes me as some half-hearted, half-baked attempt to negate Labor's NBN.

      Commenter
      Passionfruit
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:43AM
    • The majority of Australians should agree with Tony Abbott.
      The idea that Carbon Dioxide emissions are the driving force behind climate change IS crap!

      Commenter
      SG
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 8:47AM

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