Saturday 30 May 2020 | 06:31 | SYDNEY
Saturday 30 May 2020 | 06:31 | SYDNEY

Andrew Robb redux


Sam Roggeveen


1 December 2009 09:46

There's an intriguing interpretation of the Liberal Party's climate change woes at the group blog Club Troppo, where James Farrell argues that the split is less about climate scepticism than a distrust of multilateralism:

...what really send mots of them into fits of indignation, even the non-deniers, is multilateralism. They think that the United Nations, along with all the treatises set up under its auspices, is a device for corrupt and backward countries to gang up on honest and prosperous countries like ours, with the connivance of hypocritical European governments harbouring ulterior motives, cheered on by naive left-wing Western intellectuals. The Kyoto Protocol was just another strand in this plot, along with opposition to the Iraq War, condemnation of Israel, and criticism of Australia’s refugee and indigenous policies...

...The Liberals, if not the whole Coalition, will eventually sign on to the ETS bill in some form, though many of them will do it reluctantly. What Howard’s Disciples won’t countenance is the sight of Kevin Rudd at Copenhagen proudly making Australia a dupe of those Machiavellian multilateralists who connive to enmesh us in their web of treaties.

I think this is a slight caricature of the Liberal foreign policy tradition and the Howard legacy, but there's actually some reinforcement for Farrell's argument in the archives of The Interpreter.

Back in August last year I critiqued then-Shadow Foreign Minister Andrew Robb's speech to the AIIA, in which Robb drew a sharp distinction between hs party's preference for bilateralism and Labor's 'blind faith' in multilateralism. Robb responded to my post, and given his dramatic intervention in the Liberal infighting last week over the emissions trading bill, the closing words of his blog post now take on a very different character:

A successful, prosperous and forward looking Australia should not and would not have to be dependent on multilateral institutions. The blind faith in the multilateral and the collective that Mr Rudd and his team follow will be an interesting case study as we head towards Copenhagen and any global emissions agreement.