Written by Ben Hindmarsh, Principal Consultant
Amidst the rising rates of COVID vaccinations and talk of pathways out of lockdown that dominate our everyday political debate at home, the launch of the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States has catapulted our nation onto the centre of the world stage.
Australia now finds itself in the middle of a dramatically changing global landscape firmly focused on the Indo-Pacific.
Driven by Scott Morrison, AUKUS is a giant step in advancing the nation’s national interest and security, with the central feature being the provision of UK & US technology to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. It also marks a landmark change in global geopolitics and United States’ positioning that has stunned their European NATO allies.
Off the back of AUKUS, the Prime Minister embarked on one of the most impressive diplomatic missions on the international stage in memory, which included a meeting with ‘the Quad’, featuring the leaders of the US, India, Japan and Australia and a private audience with US President Biden.
As momentous as AUKUS has been, it is a different global issue that will be occupying the Prime Minister’s mind as he undertakes his two-week quarantine - climate change. It is the perennially contentious policy issue in Australian politics. And now faced with the Glasgow COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in a month Australia is under increasing global pressure to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
Signing up to net zero is a flash point between the Coalition parties. The Nationals have long called to see the detail of the measures required to get to net zero by 2050 and warned of the potential impact on primary industries, energy reliability and affordability and regional jobs and communities. Under the leadership of Barnaby Joyce this has intensified.
Developing a climate position for the Government to take to Glasgow that provides sufficient detail and protections to assuage The Nationals concerns, while still meeting the expectations of agitated metropolitan Liberal members coming into an election year will be challenging to say the least. Nevertheless, Morrison and Joyce are genuine pragmatists so a deal can be done.
In addition to finalising a position, the PM is yet to confirm his attendance at the Conference in November. The prospect of another week travelling overseas, combined with the obligatory two-week quarantine just a matter of months out from a potential election could see the PM politely decline.
Given that dealing with COVID and our domestic economic recovery at this time are the absolute priority for everyday Australians, it is not an easy decision.