Host’s warning to PM after interview
Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared on Sky News this morning to talk up his $2 million funding injection to meet Australia's carbon reduction commitments.
The announcement extends the Abbott Government's "direction action" policy by focusing on practical solutions to reduce emissions by 103 million tonnes by 2030.
This is a policy that attempts to offer a political solution. Not an environmental one.
You can hardly blame Scott Morrison for sitting on the fence, after the succession of leaders who've slid off the fence only to die a bloody death on one of its pailings.
The Prime Minister is being squeezed from all sides - the moderates and the conservatives - and he needs to win an election. That means winning seats from Labor and independents running strong campaigns on climate change action.
The problem is, this is a policy when you don't have a policy.
This is a policy when you don't have control of the parliament.
This is a policy when you can't bring the warring factions of your party together.
Tony Abbott has long been dumped as PM but his legacy of "direct action" has just been given a new lease of life. Yep, three Prime Minister's later, the National Energy Guarantee has been gutted, and we're back here at direct action.
It just shows that this stalemate is almost insurmountable for the Liberal Party. Nothing has changed in six years - except for a savvy PM with a marketing background rebranding it the "Climate Solutions Fund".
It will fund community projects to help small business adopt new technology, communities prevent bushfires and farmers droughtproof their farms. All noble pursuits - reducing emissions isn't cost free - but is this really how you want another $3.5 billion dollars of tax payer funds spent?
(Side note: The government says the 10-year fund is paid for because it's in the budget. A little trick all politicians use. How can anything be fully paid for if we're still about $300 billion dollars in debt?)
For Coalition MPs staring down the barrel of an election, there's not much to sell. If you're on the Left, it doesn't go nearly far enough to convince an already sceptical public that the government is serious. If you're on the Right, it spends too much, because those voters already think that it's all a hoax and not one dollar should be wasted until China is smog-free.
So, I can understand why the PM is walking down the middle of the road. But, if you do that for too long you're going to get hit by a truck.
That truck is coming in May.
Laura Jayes co-hosts First Edition and AM Agenda with Kieran Gilbert weekdays from 5am on Sky News | @ljayes