Green Takes Center Stage in Australian Election

Green Takes Center Stage in Australian Election

Green is making its presence known as a major political issue in Australia- you knew it had to happen sometime. As the world tries to define what the failure at Copenhagen means and how to deal with the climate change challenge in their own individual countries, it can only become a more and more powerful battle within political elections.

In the U.S., green issues continue to be a bit of a fringe topic. I can’t think of anyone who is elected or rejected simply because of their views on green issues- except maybe a Green Party candidate, but in that case the candidate and the party itself make it an issue at the forefront of their campaign, essentially making it the framework of their platform, rather than a part of their platform.
For most politicians, it continues to be something that comes up but plays a sideline role or a background noise music to the real issues, especially in this time of the financial and housing crises. Bush was no good on the environment and Obama is better, but neither is seeing their numbers change much based solely on that issue, nor is there much chance that climate change will be a central and core issue to the 2012 campaign.

But in Australia, where there have been major battles lately around the cap & trade legislation that did not pass, the green issue and how politicians deal with it, what their plans are, and where they stand is taking on an outsize role.

The conservative opposition party in Australia has started its campaign for the 2010 elections and is focusing on environmental issues as a critical battle in their race to assume control- in essence, they are attacking current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as he runs for a second term in the leadership role of the Australian government.

Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott announced green initiatives but did not assert a suggested climate change policy. Last year he was a key leader in crushing Prime Minister Rudd’s cap and trade scheme, and many voters seem to believe that he is a climate change skeptic, so it makes sense that they would be skeptical of his own release of climate change initiatives, or as one environment group said, that he is practicing "cheap political opportunism.” Perhaps.

He said:
"Australia should be a good international citizen and play our part in any effective international campaign to reduce the risk of man-made climate change.”

Play our part and man-made climate change? Sounds like a grab for votes to me, opportunist indeed.

"I think a lot of middle-of-the-road people and green voters will be attracted to the sorts of initiatives that I'm flagging," he said.

Abbot’s initiatives include a national referendum vote on government takeover of state-governed rivers and $699 million/ year to go toward recruiting 15,000 environmental workers.
Will he do it if the power takeover is a success? That remains to be seen. As does whether the Australian Green Party will have anything to do with him and back his initiatives. We’ll see.

Photo Credit: Downing Street (via Flickr under CCL)