Who is Paul Fletcher?
Paul Fletcher is the Liberal Candidate for the Bradfield Federal By-Election that will fall on the 5 Dec, 2009 - two days before the start of COP15, making it the last national election anywhere in the world before Copenhagen.
Paul Fletcher formally worked as a senior executive with Optus and has been a Liberal party member since he was a law student at USYD in the 80’s.
Why is he worth blogging about?
Maybe he isn’t. However, Bradfield is one of the safest Liberal seats in the country. The former member was Dr. Nelson who became Opposition Leader after Howard’s defeat in 2007. When Fletcher wins, which is almost inevitable, he is likely to get a on the front bench. He is also likely to be an important part of the Liberals in the next decade.
Marguerite and I organised with Paul to meet at the AYCC offices in the city. At 9:30, we got a call asking if we could come to Lindfield, the main campaign office. We caught the train there and arrived at 10:30. Promptly, Paul invited us around to a cafe next door, Bella Roma’s.
Paul did not want to be filmed or even have his voice recorded, so Marguerite and I kept notes frantically. He asked us about the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and about ourselves. He seemed genuinely interested in the issue and he said that he was reminded of what he was like as a law student in the 80’s, which was when he first became politically active.
Where does Paul Fletcher stand on climate issues?
Well, he is in the Liberal Party and he assured us he stands firmly with them.
With Party Leader Turnball and Senate Leader Minchin arguing openly about climate issues, where do the Libs stand?
Let’s get more specific.
- On emissions, Paul is aligned with the Government stance of 5% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. If there is a strong response at COP15, then maybe 15%. If the response is very robust, then 25%. We need 25-40% on 1990 levels.
- On parts per million, Paul is aiming for 450pm. Chief Scientist at U.N. is says we need 350ppm.
- On renewables, he said that the current target of 20% by 2020 is appropriately ambitious but it should not be any higher. Fossil fuel industries get more the 25 times the financial support that renewables get. Surely paying billions in government subsidies for businesses that make billions in profit is not a politically sensible decision. WTF?
By this stage, I was starting to feel physically ill. Margeurite and I had talked about what we expected him to say and he was matching it word for word. Looking at him, it seemed to me that he was saying what he thought he needed to in order to win the by-election. Whether or not he believed it, i don’t know.
While I took a sip of flat white, Marguerite continued asking questions.
- On international financing, he said “wait and see” till after COP15 and after commitments are made by the world’s biggest nations. He said that some of the bigger developing nations should be pay also. This is the biggest stalling issue at COP15. He is saying we won’t commit any money until others commit. Effectively, this is the situation all around the world and that is why there is no movement.
- On fossil fuel subsidies, he said he does not support the removal of subsidies. The subsidies given to fossil fuels in Australia is between $10-11b annually. WTF.
- On public transport, Paul said that Bradfield has fine public transport and that it does not need to be improved. It is fine because no-one uses it. Most people drive. If emissions were costed appropriately, driving would not be a reasonable option. When the price goes up, there are going to be significant issues, especially in the new developments in St Ives.
Interviewing Paul reminded me of his Liberal colleague who is supporting my trip to COP15. When I sat with Brendan Nelson MP, he said that he remembered speaking in a town hall where he had to pushing the party line on an issue he wasn’t sure about. A guy in the crowd stood up and said made strong arguments against the party position. Brendan said he remembered thinking “that is exactly right”.
When I looked at Paul Fletcher, I thought it may well be the same deal. Here is a guy who wants to make a difference in Australia and sees climate change as a major issue of the next decades. He is aware that many conservatives are conservative about climate change (he commented on Lord Monckton a few times), and is playing up to them. In my short life one thing i’ve learnt though is the more you say something, the more you believe it.
Bottom line for Paul is that he said “a great challenge of climate change is about the complexity of the issue. The ETS has been poorly explained.” A bottom line for me is that he said, “the climate science is very robust.”
I won’t vote for him, but I appreciate that he sat with us.