Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Peril Of Intergenerational Theft

In his speech to the Press Club on 2nd February, Tony Abbott once again called up the spectre of intergenerational theft:

And reducing the deficit is the fair thing to do – because it ends the intergenerational theft against our children and grandchildren.
We’ve never been a country that’s ripped off future generations to pay for today.
And under my government, we never will.

"Intergenerational theft" has been a catchcry of the Prime Minister and other ministers such as Joe Hockey and Eric Abetz.  It has invariably been used in defence of the Government's budget and its cost-cutting measures.  According to them we should suffer some pain now in order to leave the nation in a sound state for our children and grandchildren.

On one level this seems eminently commendable.  But it completely misses the point of another area of government policy where today's Government is severely ripping off future generations. Our children and grandchildren and their descendants are being ripped off because of the Government's tepid and ineffective policy on climate change.  There is no Government understanding of a need for urgent action and of the impact ineffective action now will have on the economy of the future and the health and lifestyle of our descendants as well as the health of the natural world.

And the truly amazing thing is that no-one in the Government seems to recognise the inconsistency of their position on inter-generational theft.  A cynical person could claim that at least some Government MPs do see this inconsistency – and just choose to ignore it. After all it would be decidedly awkward to concede that climate change is a really important and urgent issue and therefore know that not taking effective action will severely penalise future generations.  It's much easier to pay lip-service to the climate problem with a shonky "direct action" plan and to claim that the government will do more when other major emitters take more action.  Interestingly, the fact that many other major emitters are starting to take more action appears to have escaped the attention of the Abbott Government.

Obviously the Government's tepid climate policy suits those dinosaur Liberals and Nationals – and there appear to be quite a few of them - who are climate change deniers.

I suspect that the inconsistency about intergenerational equity/theft probably is seen by very few, if any, government MPs. After all, many of them still don't seem to understand that a great number of people oppose their budget because it is inherently unfair – that it places all of the pain on the less well-off in our society. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and many others just don't get it.  Many Coalition MPs still seem to believe that the policies can be delivered if they improve their communication strategy. In their self-centred view those benighted electors just don't understand.  In reality very large numbers of electors understand only too well.

The core of their problem is that they are out of touch with ordinary Australians.  They are purblind inhabitants of a series of ivory towers.

Until the Government starts to take effective action on climate change, it should stop using the argument of intergenerational theft to justify other aspects of policy.  That would eliminate one of the areas in which it renders itself ridiculous.

Northern Rivers

 Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email ncvguestpeak at gmail dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

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