Sincerity is the absence of pretence, deceit, or hypocrisy. And when it comes to Australian political announcements of late, it’s the missing piece.
“The sincerity of his beliefs is unquestionable” provides the Oxford Dictionary, by way of helpful context.
Polling shows that the top electoral issues in the country right now, four to six months out from an election, are climate, integrity, economic management and equality.
The government has made recent announcements across several of these policy areas in recent weeks.
But as we close in on the end of a three-year parliamentary term in which substantive progress could have been made on climate action, an integrity commission and women’s rights, among other things, flooding the market with a whole lot of strategy lacking substance just before an election is hollow.
Against the backdrop of overt shady economic management and pork barrelling in the form of car parks and sports rorts, it smells like little more than pretence, in the form of a blatant vote-buying exercise.
The net zero by 2050 target, set after much internal jockeying, is a case in point.
With no mandates and no change to federal targets set in 2015, the plan is no more than optics at a time when urgent action is required.
The Prime Minister “really doesn’t understand the urgency of what we have to do” said the UK government’s top climate advisor, while the annual worldwide Climate Change Performance Index placed Australia at the bottom of the list on climate policy.
“The CCPI national experts regard the TIR (Technology Investment Roadmap) as insufficient for decarbonising the economy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy, and setting out how national GHG emissions will be reduced (with a rating of ‘very low’ for Climate Policy),” the report says.
“The government does not have any policies on phasing out coal or gas, but CCUS and hydrogen are being promoted as low-emissions technologies. Even though the renewables electricity is growing, the experts believe that Australia has failed to take advantage of its potential, and other countries have outpaced it.”
On that, having expertly hoodwinked Australians in 2019 by seeding the idea that the ALP’s electric vehicle policy would “end the weekend”, the government has backflipped, announcing plans for charging stations across the country.
No new incentives will be provided to accelerate the growth of the market, however, and taxes on EVs will be unchanged in a Plan that is directly at odds with the government’s “technology not taxes” approach.
The master of gaslighting
In an epic example of gaslighting, the Prime Minister also now says he didn’t mean that EVs would end the weekend.
Meanwhile, while we muck around in regard to things other countries actioned ages ago, warming predictions of 2.4 degrees by 2100 are still being tossed about, even factoring in current global efforts.
And our opportunity to grasp the economic opportunities in renewables erodes, as others jump in ahead of us.
Climate is not the only sincerity gap.
The government announced that it would establish a federal integrity commission in December 2018. Only now, just before the election with integrity front of mind among voters, comes flawed, narrow legislation that experts agree may well foster corruption rather than stamp it out.
And the timing is such that it’s highly unlikely to even hit the parliamentary floor before election day.
On equality, it was only a groundswell of female anger that finally led to the implementation of the recommendations of the Respect@Work report, which identified and named endemic sexism in Australian workplaces.
However, rather than seizing the opportunity, the government (which had already sat on the report for more than a year) decided not to implement all its recommendations.
In doing so, it baulked at imposing a positive duty on employers to move to deal with workplace harassment, rather than waiting for a complaint to act.
This totally misses the point, known by most of the 85 per cent of women who have experienced harassment, that not everyone has the power or agency to make a complaint.
I could go on.
The credibility of the policymaking is dubious, simply because it’s politically motivated and reactive rather than proactive and positive.
And from that perspective, the insincerity is breathtaking.