Defensive, embarrassing, insular, cringeworthy – this is just a sampler of media comment on Abbott’s performance at the G20. But look deeper and a different picture emerges.
Even as he continues to win plaudits from visiting Chinese and Indian leaders, the high priests and priestesses of the fourth estate are in full-throated rebellion against Tony Abbott. Defensive, embarrassing, timid, insular, clumsy, flawed, weird, cringeworthy – this is just a sampler of media comment on Abbott’s performance at the G20 in Brisbane.
But it is perhaps better to see Abbott as someone who refuses to agree at all times with outspoken, self-appointed pressure groups that breed around controversial questions. He makes an inviting rhetorical target precisely because he embodies that down-to-earth quality in our national spirit that has been all but obliterated by the modern obsession with courting fashionable opinion. His bluntness – such as his defence of Big Coal or his threat to “shirtfront” Putin – takes him where mealy-mouthed politicians fear to tread. […]
We are told that on climate change, the G20 leaders spectacularly wrong-footed Abbott. Yet he has merely defended the national interest and kept faith with the Australian people who gave him an electoral mandate to abolish Julia Gillard’s widely unpopular carbon tax. We are also told that Paris is the moment when the world will come together to save us from an excess of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a fair bet Abbott’s position will be vindicated at the United Nations climate talks next year.
Any “deal” at Paris will merely give China and India a free rein until the 2030s without any binding obligation to be monitored and scrutinised by the west on their actual behaviour. That is why Abbott is wise to make any Australian climate policies conditional on a legally binding, verifiable, enforceable and genuinely global agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. Even the Germans have essentially done that.
What is shaping up now, as Benny Peiser of the London-based Global Warming Policy Forum predicts, is a huge blame game over the likely failure to agree to a post-Kyoto treaty. China and India will blame the west for its failure to deliver $100 bn per annum – yes, $100bn – that was promised at Copenhagen. Obama and the left will blame the Republicans. The EU will blame the Americans. Climate enthusiasts and developing nations will blame all and sundry.
And Abbott will look like a genius for keeping Australia on the margins of yet another climate summit fiasco.