The National Party’s Disconnect

In undertaking a little bit of research into the position each sitting member of our federal parliament has on climate change, I quickly came to the conclusion that the National Party (Nats) couldn’t care less or completely reject the science. For example, here is a graph of the sitting coalition members showing how many accept the science of climate change and how many don’t.

Position on the science of climate change by Coalition Members of the House of Representatives by political party affiliation n=59

Position on the science of climate change by Coalition Members of the House of Representatives by political party affiliation n=59

As you can see, most of the National Party members don’t accept the science. I have recently taken to highlighting some of the individuals from the coalition who reject the science. These have included the National Party members Mark Coulton and John Forrest.  I also highlighted individual statements like this one from National Party member, Darren Chester.

“We are after all only talking about models and forecasts. Just as an aside, when the weather bureau cannot reliably tell me what the weather is going to be like tomorrow and then tells me that in 100 years there are going to be sea level rises of a metre as a result of climate change, I think I am entitled to exercise a level of caution in deciding whether to accept everything that is put to me about weather, climate and long-term trends.” Darren Chester

Here is where the disconnect comes in. With 8 out of the 12 lower house members (Senate info coming soon) outrightly rejecting the science, 3 accepting and 1 unknown (Paul Neville is listed as retiring in my election 2013 post but appears to accept climate change science), it makes me wonder if any of them have actually read up on what the Nats allegedly stand for? It might be fairer to ask if the people who preselected them actually know what the Nat’s allegedly stand for? I decided to go to the party’s website and see exactly what they are about. Here are some key statements about climate change from their policy platform document and more generally from their website.

urgent priority effective programs Nats stand for nats priorities nats mission

If they are so concerned about the environment, sustainability, food security, land and water management, and recognise climate change as an “urgent environmental priority” why is the party full of deniers? What’s going on? They might be all about respecting differences of opinion and lauding our proud democratic traditions, but these are policy statements and core party values aren’t they? Perhaps whoever writes their stuff is engaging in some feel good greenwashing? Perhaps the party has been hijacked by extremists? Anything is possible, but I suspect, they use words and terms without a complete understanding of what those words, and more importantly the implications of those words, truly mean. What is a “sustainable environment” to a National Party member? The World Commission on Environment and Development defines environmental sustainability thus…

Sustainability is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

If ever you were going to talk about something happening now that will compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, it is climate change. All the best science available points to a fairly difficult future should nothing be done to combat it. The National Party’s website and policy words do not match its actions or the words and actions of most of its parliamentarians. The saddest part is that the farmers, whom the Nats claim to represent, are those who will be amongst the first to suffer. They are at the frontline. It’s about time they woke up and realised that the people they keep electing are not, either through ignorance or ideology, representing their best interests or the interests of future generations.

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