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Coalition buys time « Previous | |Next »
May 27, 2009

Malcolm Turnbull's response to the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme legislation is to endorse the Government's greenhouse targets - to unconditionally cut carbon output by 5 per cent by 2020, and by up to 25 per cent in the event that the world agrees to a comprehensive global deal. Turnbull then demanded that the Government defers any parliamentary vote until after the Copenhagen conference and until proposed US legislation now before Congress was clear. Turnbull has bought time-- it's a holding position.

That allows the Nationals and other climate change sceptics in the Liberal Party to continue to cry "we will all be ruined", to oppose the emissions trading scheme along with the Minerals Council, and to come up with more dodgy economic analyses that show the economy will be trashed beyond repair if the emssions trading scheme goes through.

Though the Rudd Government has rejected the Coalition's delay argument the legislation will be effectively delayed because it has little support in the Senate. The Greens refuse to support the legislation because it has been too watered down, whilst the crossbench Senators will not rush the legislation through. However, the Coalition almost certainly cannot get the cross bench's two extra votes for its long-term deferral proposal, as Xenophon says there does need to be some debate on the best scheme design for the Australian economy until September.

The politicians do need to thrash the issue of achieving good environmental outcomes and mitigating the impact of the economy out, rather than continue to duck the issue. Copenhagen and the US legislation is not about the detail of domestic scheme in Australia. Copenhagen is about what emission reductions we are prepared to make, not the detail of how we intend to make them. Australian politicians need to work on the domestic design rather than continue with the cartoon politics.

Delaying the legislation is a stalling tactic and it doesn't solve the problem the deeply fractured Liberals face --if the all brown Nationals have gone feral on the issue, then around a green third of the party room supports passing the legislation. Turnbull is in no position to pass the Australian scheme designed around his endorsement of the Government's greenhouse targets. So the Coalition becomes the political issue. They have placed themselves in the spotlight.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:04 AM | | Comments (20)
Comments

Comments

I see that Family First senator Steve Fielding is supporting the Coalition's push for a delay on the legislation until next year. That support was to be expected.

So the legislation is set to be defeated or deferred when first brought before the Senate next month. Or is it this month?

Funny Gary how the Rudd government can dish up this watered down solution. The Greens can totally oppose it but you can still find a way to blame the Coalition. Idiotic.

We still have no idea whether the Coalition would ever pass this ETS--- or any other. Nor do we know how it would propose to meet the targets it has now supported if it were elected to government. They are just ducking for cover.

Peter,
Unlike many in the Coalition it is pretty clear that Turnbull does not want to fight the Government on climate change because it's not his political battleground of choice.

Les,
there is no blaming the Coalition--that is the Rudd Government playing politics by wedging them on the issue.

The Coalition is the story because it is divided. The Greens position is clear as is Xenophon's--the legislation needs improving to deliver better environmental outcomes and that is part of the Senate process.

The Coalition isn't saying that----they cannot because they are deeply divided. So they just go for delay in order to keep their internal divisions together.

My own position is that the politicians need to come clean and start debating the legislation to sort out the design. That is their job and it is what is expected of them.

Les,
the political story is the Coalition. They have made themselves the story for the media. Will they stand and fight in the trenches to the last man to defeat the emissions trading scheme? That is what the climate sceptic Nationals are yelling loud and clear for all to hear.

Or will they avoid this issue and choose another issue to fight on --eg., the economy , debt and the deficit? That is Turnbull's strategic choice, but he hasn't persuaded the Coalition on this.

I am not sure Environment is a big issue at the moment. Certainly it was higher on the list of people’s concerns pre election. That is why it was part of Labors strategy. One can only speculate as to what the scheme would have become had the economic downturn not eventuated. My speculation is that it would have looked very similar to what they are putting forward now. Others may speculate differently.

Les,
the environment is still a big enough to cause the Liberal Party some headaches. Nan is spot on----global warming is not an issue that favours the conservative side of politics at all. They can only limit the damage.

Nor will this increase the Liberals primary vote, which is still way down compared to Labor's. And they do less well than Labor primary preferences from the minority parties.So the Liberals are very vulnerable on this issue --hence the political pressure on them from Labor.

Despite the pressure Turnbull is still on his feet, and is moving nimbly. But he has been backed into a corner. If there is a double dissolution of Parliament the big winners will be the minor parties, who generally fare better in a full Senate election than a half-Senate election.

Nan,
interesting that no one is listening to the Nationals as they rave on about the massive loss of regional jobs, the myth of new green jobs and deny the technological change that is taking place. Talk about Chicken Little!.

As for the Minerals Council---well, the job losses have been happening in mining long before (for the last decade) there was an emissions trading scheme on the policy table. For them only job losses from an emissions trading scheme matter! Any other kind of job loss is to be welcomed as it increases the profits of the mining companies.

As far as I can see the ETS is a dog, so it's only useful for political purposes anyway.

I agree Turnbull is managing the thing reasonably well, but suspect that Barnaby probably gets more public attention out of it, and it's not the kind of attention Turnbull wants.

Yes, we'll support the delay and after that we'll reject it anyway.

Have the Nats said whether they support Turnbull's support for the targets?

Owner operator farmers long ago ceased to believe that the National Party represented their interests. Farmers in south eastern Australia are acutely aware of climate change and have modified their farming practices in response to the 13 years of below average rainfall about 30% of annual average rainfall in Victoria.
So when the Great Barrier Reef crumbles I for one will be saying "I TOLD YOU SO!"

Must admit I find the logic of some (beyond) baffling.
The government offers a watered down proposal straight out of the neolib text book, the opposition blocks even this; dominated as it is by climate Luddites and opportunists looking for a Tampa style beat-up to claw back uninformed, populist opinion.
These folk are then mysteriously, miraculously by some feat of mental and ethical gymnastics, able to blame the Greens of all people, the only lot to offer anything like objective, science-based ananlyses; then Labor- anyone but the Opposition who are blocking even Labor's limited measures.
Astonishing!
The efforts of the opposition to beat up the budget deficit, then emissions legislation look more and more panicky every day.
To think, after eighteen months of government they still haven't been able to to find something real to attack or have anything constructive to suggest, really just demonstrates their utter unfitness for government in the near to medium future.
Couldn't run a chook raffle!

'The ETS' is a dog---true Lyn so true.

As Robyn Eckersley points out in The Age:

The tiny margin of bipartisan agreement between Labor and the Coalition for an unconditional target of minus 5 per cent (from a 2000 rather than 1990 baseline) is pitiful. While sceptics make much of the fact Australia's aggregate emissions are small compared with, say, China and the US, we are still in the league of top 20 aggregate emitters and among the world's highest per capita emitters.

They've lost the plot----that global aggregate emissions must peak by 2015 and thereafter rapidly decline to reduce the risk of dangerous warming above two degrees.

Paul
Robyn Eckersley points out in The Age that the planet will only be saved when renewable energy is cheaper than the price of coal in China.

This requires a huge government-sponsored effort so that renewable energy is readily available and affordable; it is not enough to simply raise the price of fossil fuel through an emissions trading scheme.
Australia is blessed with plenty of sun, wind, big tides and geothermal energy and so is well positioned to lead this revolution.

Yet in this month's budget, $2 billion of its $3.5 billion clean-energy infrastructure fund has been committed to so-called clean coal, and only $1.5 billion to the solar flagship program (the equivalent of one coal-fired plant).

It's pathetic.

Combet's chat with the miners yesterday says it all really.

If you don't support this you'll miss out on the money. Climate change wasn't supposed to be an opportunity to pork barrel the Minerals Council.

The Minerals Council, the NFF and the Nationals want to continue to lock Australia into its high carbon infrastructure, which would sentence us to high emissions for a long period of time. They in short want business-as-usual to protect themselves from any change and say that it is acceptable for us to simply ignore the future because their economic models say we can.

Lyn and Nan,
scientific and economic reason have done their job. Climate change will harm Australia and the Planet badly, and the costs of business-as-usual are greater than the costs of making the shift to a low carbon economy. What we are seeing now from the anti-reform lobby led by the Minerals Council is the play of power.

The transnational corporations, the people who do most of the actual emitting are the key players ---- not the scientists, economists or politicians. If big corporations can make more money out of reducing emissions than increasing them, then they will fix the system so that is what happens.

That's how capitalism works.

The Opposition's proposal to delay the emissions trading legislation until after the Copenhagen conference won't get Senate support, ensuring the Coalition will vote against the bills.

There is the prospect of a "no" Senate vote next month on the legislation, followed by another "no" three months later, qualifying it to be a "trigger".

The Coalition is on the backfoot on climate change.

Turnbull will probably improve his chances at the next election with this debt campaign-- if he doesn't have to face the people for another 18 months (ie a dissolution --- but he is unlikely to win. The financial crisis is global (not Rudd's fault) and voters aren't going to blame the PM for it.

We wont's know whether Rudd's economic measures to minimise the crisis prove to be a failure until after the next election. By then Turnbull will have gone. He won't stick around like Costello

The Liberal Party has too much power in the Senate for its own political benefit. It just acts to block legislation for the sake of confrontation, as distinct from legislation that is contrary to Liberal values