In June 2016 as part of the last election campaign Darren Chester MP officially opened the new Tesla electric vehicle charging station at the Gippsland Solar rooms in Traralgon. Whilst it was a coup for Gippsland Solar in terms of publicity, Darren Chester MP has been at best a feeble advocate for the electric vehicle revolution. And now one full government term and a new prime minister later the Liberal National Coalition have decided to attack the modest electric vehicle proposals of the ALP in the most ridiculous and absurd fashion. See here and here. Some parts of the media insist that there is little difference between the policies of the major parties on electric vehicles. But there is one big difference. In a government with an ex-PM who liked photo ops with electric vehicles, and our local member praising the innovations of Gippsland Solar, they have done precisely nothing.
I cannot recall what Darren said at the Gippsland Solar opening and probably, like most political speeches, was eminently forgettable. His parliamentary record gives a better indication of what he stands for rather than his media appearance at Traralgon. Over the years he has voted strongly against the carbon price, the carbon pollution reduction scheme, the carbon farming initiative and strongly for unconventional gas mining (also known as coal seam gas). As far as I am aware he has never commented on climate change or accepted that our current warming is caused by human activities. I had a go at him in a post to this blog just before the 2016 election calling him ‘climate change denier’ and a ‘climate dinosaur’ who was firmly entrenched in the coal lobby and in particular the brown coal lobby. However, besides some of his colleagues, he seems to be reason and good manners personified and is considered by the main stream media to be a moderate in the National Party.
But the recent outrageous statements on electric vehicles are made laughable by the progress in other countries around the world, Europe and China in particular. And with sensible incentives as have been introduced in countries like Norway the transition to electric vehicle adoption can be very rapid indeed. As usual New Zealand is well ahead of us. There are also many other advantages to a rapid adoption besides acting on climate change and the Paris Agreement including solving balance of payment problems and reducing city pollution.
Whilst we are pushing this as a ‘climate election’ it is unlikely that opposition candidates will make inroads into Darren Chester’s parliamentary majority. This in spite of the fact that the current drought we are experiencing in Gippsland is almost certainly heavily influenced by the human caused global warming that he refuses to accept or acknowledge.* For many farmers feeding out in the region the cost of loyalty to the National Party and their sitting member is becoming very expensive indeed. And for those who accept the science it has been six wasted years.
*to the question I have been sending to all candidates “Do you accept the scientific consensus on human caused global warming?” he has yet to answer.