It is the kiss of death for Australia’s political class — contributing to the demise of three prime ministers over the last 10 years. Now a fresh row is heating up over climate and energy policy, testing the leadership of the country’s two main political parties.
The federal government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is pushing a “gas-led recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic. But it is also under increasing domestic and international pressure to adopt a net-zero emissions target following such moves across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the environment-minded Joe Biden’s U.S. election victory.
At the same time, the issue is causing a headache for opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who heads the Australian Labor Party. The ALP has seen its shadow resources minister resign over the party’s stronger climate stance. He argued the center-left party is losing touch with its working-class base over green policy — a view shared privately by many Labor parliamentarians.
“The fundamental problem with the gas-led recovery is that it simply not going to happen for one simple reason, the gas companies themselves are in trouble and are not investing,” said Bruce Robertson, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank.