ROOTY HILL, Australia – “Oh, look,” said the minister, “There’s that Lord Monckton.”
I was in the Returned Servicemen’s League Club at Rooty Hill, a solidly working-class district of Western Sydney, where 2 million voters live. Amid the ranks of flickering slot machines, known locally as “pokies,” makeshift TV studios were set up in every corner.
The far-out left government of Julia “under the government I lead there will be no carbon tax” Gillard is likely to be ejected by the working classes the left no longer represent.
She was on a “meet-the-voters” visit. That morning I had tried to say hello to her as she came out of her hotel, but her security staff had manhandled me out of the way. The carbon tax, at a savage $23 a ton for carbon dioxide and $500 a ton for methane, is closing mines, farms and industries right across Australia.
Temporary TV studios were set up among the pokies. Tony Albanese, the minister of transport (his department is known locally as the Ministry of Silly Walks), was tucking into a hearty chicken schnitzel burger with fries. That day he had promised to build a new freeway from Sydney to Rooty Hill. But in the previous election the left had promised a new rail link that has not been built.
When the minister had finished eating, I went up to him and asked how it was going. “The carbon tax is in,” he said, “and the sky hasn’t fallen.” This is the official propaganda line one hears from ministers throughout Australia.
The truth, given to me by a mining engineer in the Hunter Valley, is very different. His mine has to find $1 million a year it hasn’t got so as to meet the carbon tax.
The mine will cling on until the election, but if Ms. Gillard wins it, the pit will close, along with hundreds of others across Australia.
I told the minister this story. He snorted and said: “We need a carbon tax. Australia has just had its hottest summer on record. More than 150 hot-weather records were broken this summer.”
Yes, I said, but a couple of weeks previously 652 cold-weather records had been broken in the United States alone. A hot summer in Australia was not a symptom of global warming. Even the U.N.’s climate panel had at last admitted there has been no global warming for 17 years.
The minister merely repeated: “Australia has just had its hottest summer on record.”
Here as elsewhere in the world, the left no longer represents the working class and no longer cares whether its policies will harm the workers. Any measure to tax, trade, regulate, replace, reduce or sequester CO2 will hit the working class first and worst, because workers spend a higher proportion of their income on fuel and power than anyone else.
However, Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition here in Australia, is making the same mistake Mitt Romney – catastrophically – made in the U.S. election. He is not speaking out on behalf of the working class that is now being taxed by the so-called parties of the workers.
One of the mineworkers who came to my talk on global warming in the Hunter Valley asked me whether I thought it strange that a British aristocrat was the only person willing to stand up and speak out on behalf of working people in Australia.
He’s right. It is not just odd: it is scandalous.
The same point was made by a farmer in South Australia. He was so delighted that someone – anyone – is speaking up for the farmers menaced not only by the carbon tax but also by daft environmental over-regulation that he is naming this year’s prize bull “Lord Monckton.”
Parties of the center-right worldwide, from the Conservatives in Britain via the Republicans in the United States to the Liberals and Nationals here in Australia, cannot hope to compete with the far left who now dominate Western politics unless they learn once again to do what Margaret Thatcher did – to speak up for ordinary working people everywhere against the growing menace of overpaid, over-mighty bureaucracy.
One can get an excellent – and rather unexpected – cream tea at the Rooty Hill Returned Servicemen’s League Club. But one cannot get a center-right politician to speak out on behalf of the workers playing the pokies. Who will now stand up for the workers the left have abandoned?