Australia’s vote should worry Canada’s Liberals

Kelly McParlandKelly McParland

As it was noted, when climate change is a moral issue, it does well with voters, but when it becomes an economic matter, opinions change

If you want an inkling of just how badly wrong pollsters got Australia’s weekend election, consider this: victory for the left-wing Labor party over the right-wing Liberal party was considered so certain that an online betting firm paid out more than $1 million two days before the vote on the assumption Labor’s victory was a done deal.

A spokesman for Sportsbet joked that “the quality of toilet paper and stationery will need to be significantly decreased” at company offices to cover the bungle. But the firm could hardly be blamed. The election result went against received wisdom, intelligent opinion and punditary forecasts. Everyone who knew anything knew that the Labor Party, under former labour organizer Bill Shorten, was supposed to win.

The smart money and the experts weren’t paying attention to actual voters

Instead the prize went to Scott Morrison, who only got to be his party’s leader after two predecessors — both prime ministers — were ousted by their own colleagues. Shorten campaigned on a pledge to wage war on the growing collection of environmental calamities blamed on climate change; Morrison’s biggest promise was to ensure a giant new coal mine project goes ahead after years of delay. Morrison was so surprised by his own success he equated it to a miracle. It more likely resulted from the fact the smart money and the experts weren’t paying attention to actual voters.

Australia is one of the world’s favourite examples of climate-change horror. Summers have become a time of brutal heatwaves, with temperatures topping 40 C for days at a time. Not only do savage highs set records, but daily lows set new highs as well. Bats fall from trees, dead fish float up on shore, fruit cooks in the fields. Combined with record drought and critical damage to the Great Barrier Reef, it’s hard to find a Western country with more first-hand experience of the impact of rising temperatures.


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