Angus Taylor was the previous Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, and he is arguably one of the best educated people in our parliament, with degrees in Economics, and Law, and a Master of Philosophy (Economics) from Oxford. Each of these degrees is necessarily reliant on the use of facts, and figures, real evidence, and mature reasoning.
There is nothing as disappointing as the failure of clever people, because it signals one of two possible reasons for the failure: An inability to handle really difficult tasks because they are ‘clever’ in a bookish way, but when the going gets hard, they squib it, and come up short.
The other reason is when they are captured by ideology, and/or ambition, and they tailor their contribution so that they fail in their allotted task. This is a form of intellectual self-sabotage, for personal gain.
Morrison’s cabinet was grossly under-resourced, staffed by drones valued for their loyalty to Morrison, rather than for their ability. However, individuals like Greg Hunt, and Angus Taylor stood out, at first glance, as genuinely talented, and yet they both failed in their allotted tasks. Sadly they failed our climate, which later generations will not forgive.
Greg Hunt co-wrote a thesis at Yale titled “A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay“. It was apparently brilliant, and it made a very strong case for a ‘carbon tax’. I could not get past the first page, but it had a catchy message: “it (a carbon tax) better ensures that the polluter bears full responsibility for the cost of his or her conduct”. It seems that as soon as cabinet preferment beckoned, he threw his thesis out with the bathwater.
Similarly, Angus Taylor’s abject failure on reducing emissions came after a stellar education, “the best part of two decades in management consulting”, and yet on reaching parliament he devoted three years to undermining and (pardon the pun) gaslighting Australians on our progress to carbon neutrality.
He even stated, at a rally against wind power in 2013, “I am not a climate sceptic. For 25 years, I have been concerned about how rising carbon dioxide emissions might have an impact on our climate. It remains a concern of mine today. I do not have a vendetta against renewables.”
His failure is so mysterious. Ben Potter from the Financial Review believes his opposition to wind power dates from when a wind farm was built next door to his family’s property in Cooma.
I can understand that may have annoyed the family, but this is a past Minister of the Crown with such an illogical and unreasoning hatred for a form of power generation that perhaps, instead of continuing to vandalise Australia’s response to climate heating, he should have engaged the services of a competent psychiatrist, or even a life coach.
The least he should have done was to step aside from his portfolio, and allow a competent person to step up and actually ‘do the job’. I know, we are talking about the former Coalition government, and there was not one competent person to put up.
Which brings us to his new job. He is now the Treasury spokesman. Considering his demonstrated difficulties with numbers, one wonders how competent he can be in such a position. The botched stitch-up on Clover Moore sends a message that he struggles with the basics, and he looks to be a poor match for Jim Chalmers.
On the matter of trust, in March 2022 Roy Morgan published the results on polling undertaken that placed Angus Taylor as the 7th least trusted politician in Australia, placing behind Dominic Perrottet (6th), Craig Kelly (5th), Pauline Hanson (4th), Barnaby Joyce (3rd), Peter Dutton (2nd) and Scott Morrison (1st).
He has struggled with public perceptions that he has put his own, and his family’s, interests before the public interest. We all know that Morrison has damaged the Liberal brand, possibly irrevocably. We know that Peter Dutton had a limited field from which to choose when allocating shadow portfolios.
That does not make Angus Taylor a hopeless choice, but it illustrates the lack of front bench talent, and the question to ask is, is Angus Taylor up to the task? Did he lack the ability to do his last job properly, or was he running dead, to sabotage the transition to renewables? That is the question we must ask ourselves.
As to the Coalition attempting to put together an alternative government, I would question whether Peter Dutton as alternative prime minister, and Angus Taylor as the alternative treasurer, really cuts it. I wouldn’t vote for them in a fit.