Dear John Pesutto: Climate Change, the Liberal Party and the Victorian State Election

Dear John (Pesutto),
I went to a ‘Climate change: why should I care?’ meeting this week. You and the other candidates for the State electoral seat of Hawthorn were there to present your policies for this month’s election, along with experts talking about the current state of our reactions to climate change. Given the global importance and urgency of this issue, yours – and the Liberal – response was so disappointing. No wonder you were booed.
John, you came to my choir once and stayed for the whole night. I’ve contacted you on several matters and received quick, honest and generally useful feedback. And now you’re the Shadow Attorney General, aspiring to one of the top ministries, so I expected you to have something useful to say.
You started well. I believe in climate change and we know that renewables are part of the solution, you said. But then you had nothing positive to say. You said ‘timing differences’ are the main difference between the parties. But that’s not the case. Labor and the Greens have clear targeted carbon emissions reduction and renewables targets. Liberals – you – don’t. Worse Liberals seem to propose to reverse any forward momentum on carbon emissions, turning the clock backwards.
Liberal Party Policies 

Then I got your campaign letter the next day. It has 5 policies highlighted. None of them relate to the environment. Worse, these policies are hardly even relevant for Hawthorn. Let’s look at them.
1. ‘Lower cost of living and energy prices’. We’re mostly rich in this area and your focus on ‘energy’ prices’ is because your party has no energy policies, especially regarding renewables or carbon emissions.
2. ‘Lock up gangs’. But Hawthorn streets are already safe and do you really want to lock up ‘gangs’, or is it ‘criminals’ you seek?
3. ‘End Labor’s wasteful spending’. Undoubtedly some of it is…but the state budget is in surplus and has been throughout.
4. ‘Make housing and rental costs more affordable’. But, like energy prices, you don’t control either of these and have no proposals here for how to do this anyway.
5. ‘Shorten your daily commute’. Hardly an issue for Hawthorn, which is blessed with plenty of public transport.
John, I don’t blame you for the chaos in your Party at the Federal level. But hopefully you have some input into State policies as potential Attorney General. This Liberal set of policies is abysmal for Hawthorn (though they might be relevant for some electorates somewhere…). And the total lack of any positive climate change policy, any positive emissions reductions or renewables goals, is reprehensible.
What About The Other Parties?  Who Should I Vote For?  
The quality of the presentations of your two opposing candidates was also poor, but at least their Parties had some useful policies on climate change. I – a person who sees that aggressive climate change policies are critical for international survival and a global leadership opportunity for Australia, as the experts noted last night – came away feeling there was no one I felt worthy of voting for, though some of the Labor and Greens’ policies certainly attract me.
Take a Leadership Position

John, you are supposed to be a leader of your Party. I implore you to stand up for some principles and actions on climate change, now. This is the biggest issue of our time. Victoria can still be a global leader, with some decent leadership (look at South Australia).
Coal is gone. Everybody except the Liberal Coalition says this. Renewables are cheaper already. Lead your Party to some radical change on this issue. Or be remembered as just another Party hack, who toed the line, took the money. If there was a visible Independent candidate, like Kerryn Phelps, I think they would have a good chance of unseating you, because of the lack of sensible climate change policies of your Party.

John, you seem like a nice guy. I want to vote for you. It’s time to stand up and be counted.


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