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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Friday cartoon « Previous | |Next »
July 25, 2008

A lighthearted moment for those political junkies who get a buzz from watching the indecisiveness of the Coalition, now reduced to an amateur political outfit, on climate change:

nelsonClimatechange.jpg Moir

The Minchin/Abbott/Truss wing of the Coaltion want to exploit the costs of an emissions trading scheme for short term political gain whilst the Turnbull/Hunt wing want to embrace an emissions trading scheme and construct the political debate around timing and price of carbon. Nelson, has a foot in both camps, but he is actually in the Minchin/Abbott camp.

The more sensible strategy of holding the backsliding Rudd Government accountable according to its own standards is not even a consideration. Why not? Cos the indecisiveness is a proxy for the leadership battle.

The Coalition doesn't seem to realize that their position on global warming and an emissions trading scheme hardly matters. They are not in government, and it is the Rudd Government's position that is of significance. The economic and political debate is about their scheme, not the Coalition's.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:45 AM | | Comments (10)


Another amusing twist today as The Australian opinion columnists form a chorus line. The appearance of indecision is the result of the ALP insisting Nelson is being indecisive. In fact, the Liberal Party knows exactly what it's doing, as will become evident any moment now.

They are forming their position on emissions trading--not to do anything in Australia until China and India sign up is the most likely. It is just being done in public with The Australian leading the charge.

the Liberals are currently moving to the right on climate change by adopting a policy of doing nothing domestically until the world's big polluters act.

The Liberal Party is basically aligning itself with the big polluters---called The Australian Industry Greenhouse Network. The latter want sweeping changes to the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme, eg:

a phased start up date based international agreement;

increasing the proportion of free permits allocated to emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries;

a low price cap.

Despite this rollback the polluters quickly add that they still support an emissions trading scheme. Of course, they add, it just has to be the right kind of design. They say they are serious about addressing climate change but they do not want to do anything. So they want the Liberals not to do anything with the wait-for-others approach.

The conservative wing of the Liberal Party have pushed the party moderates to one side on the linking of emissions trading in Australia to international action. Over the weekend Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull adjusted their language to accommodate a rightward shift.

This indicates that the do nothing option is a fait accompli. Do they have any policy credibility on emission trading?

The Rudd Government has left little room to its political right.

They have provided the business lobby with most of what it wanted and have taken care of the populist space by offsetting transport fuel effects and offering assistance to low and middle income households.

There is political space to the Government’s left----John Hewson argued for this--- but the Coalition doesn’t want to go there. So the Coalition has few options. They appear to be trying to picture the Government as radicals who will destroy the economy, trash jobs and send industry offshore.

Hardly persuasive, despite the alarmist rhetoric of The Australian's publicists.

I suspect that the Liberals are hoping to generate a scare campaign---economic suicide, threatens to force industry offshore, sacrifice our competitiveness(cheap energy) for no worthwhile gain as the rest of the world continues to pollute etc etc.

However, the groundswell of public opinion is a concern about global warming and the environmental consequences. Moreover they want their government to act on this issue.

I don't see much political traction for the Coalition on this.

The Libs could have easily tracked to the left on climate change and stuck to the right on everything else. It would have been easy to push for solar panel rebates for over 65s or returned servicemen or something. They had a real opportunity to push their nuclear barrow too. But they've lost the opportunity.

Well, they are still figuring their position out. At the shadow cabinet meeting,Nelson, his advisers and the right of the Liberal Party were unable to defeat Malcolm Turnbull, environment spokesman Greg Hunt and deputy leader Julie Bishop.

So the Coalition's policy is now to support Australia acting unilaterally on emissions trading, rather than Dr Nelson's preferred position of waiting for the rest of the world to commit to action.

We can now see that it was The Australian's spin about victory for Nelson.It's online edition quoted climate sceptic sources within the Coalition that Nelson had triumphed.

He did not. He was rolled. Hunt and Turnbull prevailed and Coalition policy remained exactly the same.

The Australian advocates a position that would ensure that Australia did nothing serious about carbon abatement for years, and minimised our capacity to contribute to any international agreement.