A Poll of Principle

Some positive news today for the Coalition. The polls are ticking up and whilst we are still some way behind the Government, we are registering our highest two party preferred vote since the election in 2007.

There are most likely several reasons for the growing support for the Coalition, not least of all being the gloss is wearing off the Mr Sheen of Australian politics.

But there might be something more significant behind the growing credibility of the alternative government. Our stocks started to rise, ever so slightly, when we actually took a strong stand against bad policy.

This began with our opposition to the Government’s excessive $42 billion stimulus package. That’s the one where overseas residents and the deceased received cash handouts but some low-income earners missed out completely.

At the time, most Coalition MPs expected to take a slide in the polls but I saw it differently. I have argued (and continue to do so) that the public were desperate for us to actually draw a line in the sand about what it is we believe in.

At a policy level, fiscal responsibility and border security are at the very core of our electoral strengths. To undermine these by supporting trendy or populist policies would mean long-term political death.

Similarly, only a couple of weeks ago, the Coalition made the common sense decision to oppose the introduction of Labor’s job-destroying Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Some of us are openly sceptical of the science and mania surrounding the climate change debate but this decision was much more than sceptic versus believer. It goes to the very heart of the role of government.

In my book, government is there to act in the best interests of the nation. This includes providing the right environment for economic growth so that jobs are abundant.

Australia going it alone on an ETS would clearly not be in our national interest. Industry and jobs would be exported. Electricity costs would rise dramatically and virtually every single product (manufactured and grown) would cost more.

And what would be the benefit?

Well, if you accept the scientific opinion and that of such advocates as Ross Garnaut, there would not be a jot of difference in the climate. That’s because Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions are a tiny fraction of global CO2.

The decision to oppose the ETS was a principled one, based on acting in our national interest. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that the credibility and popularity of the Coalition has risen to its post-election high since it was made.

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