Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr is hardly the first to point this out, but on the day the carbon tax is repealed in the Australian parliament, it is worth repeating this sentiment:

The answer to this anomaly probably lies in this Nicholas Gruen piece on The Interpreter from last May, which was a response to Martin Wolf's argument that action against climate change tends to be opposed by the right because it is anti-market:

As Wolf says, 'To admit that a free economy generates a vast global external cost is to admit that the large-scale government regulation so often proposed by hated environmentalists is justified. For many libertarians or classical liberals, the very idea is unsupportable. It is far easier to deny the relevance of the science.'

Well, this rolls off the tongue easily enough, but most right-leaning types (OK, not necessarily extreme libertarians) support defence spending, which involves far more expense than we need here to deal with a market imperfection (the fact that marauders can help themselves to resources of yours if you can't punish them sufficiently for trying to steal them).

So there's something more going on. I'd suggest it isn't quite what Wolf says. Rather, climate change has become a symbolic left-of-centre issue, even if right-leaning Margaret Thatcher was one of the first world leaders to highlight it. And if there's one thing someone on the right knows, including very often even if they're a libertarian, it's that they are against the left. Being a pin-up issue of the left, climate change carries with it all sorts of political baggage that really pisses the right off. Quite a bit of it pisses me off too, but there you go. So it's not that the right really thinks that there's no role for regulation, it's just that they're pissed off with the left. They instinctively fight the left.

For Australia to take a responsible position on climate change (and as Fergus Green points out, the now defunct carbon pricing scheme was hardly that), a future Liberal leader will have to find a political and policy formula that brings their own party along by convincing the party that such action is consistent with its principles rather than a concession to the left. I have argued in the past that Malcolm Turnbull, when he was Liberal leader, never found such a formula. But then again, Turnbull's legacy would be vastly different if he'd had more help from Kevin Rudd.