McLeod on The Drum discusses cattle imports, Greece and clean energy | 21 July 2015


Mcleod - The Drum 19-7-2015 - ImageTravers McLeod, CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, recently appeared on The Drum, discussing Indonesia’s reduction in the importation of Australian cattle, the Greek government’s response to the country’s economic turmoil, and the solar industry and climate change.

Indonesia’s cattle imports

Speaking on Indonesia’s 80 per cent reduction in cattle imports, McLeod suggested Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s call for a predictable relationship with Indonesia may not be materialising.

Volatility is the new normal in this trading relationship, particularly around live cattle,’ McLeod noted.

McLeod suggested that the 80 per cent drop, when viewed in the context of equivalent quarterly trends over the last few years, is significant – a ‘third of the quarterly average over the last three years’.

‘The fact that we didn’t see it coming points to a blind spot in that relationship,’ McLeod noted.

Greek Economy

When discussion turned to Greece, McLeod, in conversation with Professor Nikos Papastergiadis of the University of Melbourne, pondered whether Greece’s recent ‘step change’ in favour of a reform package suggested the government was playing to the near-term benefit of staying in the EU as part of a ‘two-card play’, whereby Greece may push for a renegotiation of terms once the ‘fiscal cliff is averted’.

Clean energy and climate change

Finally, McLeod observed that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is ‘delivering double the government bond-rate back to the budget because of the quality of its investments’.

‘I think it should be left to get on with its job.’

McLeod took the opportunity to discuss the broader need for non-partisan tackling of climate change.

‘It’s not just the campaign against renewals though. Let’s look at the Pentagon, the Ministry of Defence in the UK, NATO, and now the Vatican. You’ve got a whole bunch of institutions that are not dabbling in climate change.’

‘They are setting strong targets, taking concerted action on national security, on systemic risk in the financial system.’

While in Australia it is seen as a ‘toxic issue’ for political gain. ‘I think that has to stop.’

McLeod, citing CPD’s recent launch of The Longest Conflict: Australia’s Climate Security Challenge and the involvement of Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, former UK Government Climate & Energy Security Envoy (whose last boss was Foreign Secretary William Hague), observed that climate change is not a ‘left-right issue in the UK, and they’ve gotten on with it. So should we.’

‘The prime minister said before Copenhagen, we should wait for the rest of the world. The rest of the world has outleaped us, and gone well beyond us a long time ago,’ McLeod noted.

‘The August meeting of the party room will be a defining moment for whether the government is serious about addressing climate change.’

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