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

high drama in Canberra « Previous | |Next »
November 25, 2009

There is a huge gap between Rudd's rhetoric on the necessity for an ETS to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the rate of global warming ---- a "fundamental existential question for the future''----and his actions in delivering a revised GPRS. The context here is that it is now virtually impossible to limit global temperature rise to 2C and the decade long delay in acting meant the world would now do well to stabilise warming between 3C and 4C.

What we are witnessing is the politics of buying off the sqwaking opposition to an emissions trading scheme who threaten that the lights might go out. The Rudd/Turnbull ETS primarily supports the coal fired power stations, the emission intensive industry, and a host of other industries. It protects jobs and ensures that coal-fired electricity generators keep producing electricity, but it does little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the rate of global warming, and the worsening negative impacts on nation states.


Far from Turnbull staging his own destruction he delivered. He got McFarlane's deal through the shadow cabinet and then the partyroom, even if the latter took him all day to do it. As we learned from Twitter this party room meltdown has deepened and broadened the conservative/liberal divisions in the fractured Liberal Party.

Turnbull has to now get the deal through the Senate by ensuring that Liberal Senators vote in favour of the legislation this week. He needs just 7 votes. That's reason to be confident. Turnbull has crashed through.

Despite McFarlane gaining a host of concessions from Wong and Rudd, this was not enough for the dissenting conservatives who want boss Turnbull's head now. Even though a cap and trade emissions trading scheme is a market mechanism to drive change through price, this minority remains opposed to the Liberal Party becoming relevant to the 21st century. If there is a challenge this week, the backward looking conservatives will lose.

Turnbull has not lost the war - ie, retaining his leadership through to the next election--as Peter van Onselen claims in The Australian. Nor is Turnbull a political dead man walking as Dennis Shanahan claims, since Kevin Andrews as Liberal leader borders on a farce.

The purpose of an emissions trading scheme is to drive change, raising prices to give investors the incentive to replace dirty old plants with cleaner new ones and to replace coal-fired generation with renewable energy (gas and wind energy). If Rudd and Turnbull are driving change from business as usual, while protecting business as usual, then how is Australia going to make the transition to a low carbon economy?

I cannot see the offsets in investment in renewable energy by power generating companies happening. there are too many free permits and not enough auctions. What I see in the Rudd/Turnbull business-as-usual achieving is the increased investment in coal fired power stations. WA government recommissioning two old coal-fired power stations that had been decommissioned; the Victorian Government refurbishing its existing brown coal plants; and the Queensland and NSW Governments building new coal plants.

Secondly, the coal-fired power generators + the major polluters who depend on fossil fuels will make lots of money from selling their free carbon permits whilst households pay for more for their electricity. Cap and trade is a mechanism in delay for the major polluters by buying cheap pollution permits rather than driving change by switching to renewable energy.

Thirdly, carbon trading will only achieve a modest 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions whilst giving the major polluters a breathing space to continuing business as usual with it's depends on an over reliance on fossil fuels.

The best that can be said is that cap and trade system is there and it may work more effectively in the future with more auctioning. However, the structural change under this system is dependent on price.Will that reduce green house gas emissions caused by an over reliance on fossil fuels. No. The price mechanism is not enough to make the shift to a low carbon economy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:40 AM | | Comments (22)


The Copenhagan Diagnosis document is sobering especially with respect to sea level rises. It says:

Satellites show great global average sea-level rise (3.4 mm/yr over the past 15 years) to be 80% above past IPCC predictions. This acceleration in sea-level rise is consistent with a doubling in contribution from melting of glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice-sheets.
Sea-level prediction revised: By 2100, global sea-level is likely to rise at least twice as much as projected byWorking Group 1 of the IPCC AR4, for unmitigated emissions it may well exceed 1 meter. The upper limit has been estimated as – 2 meters sea-level rise by 2100.

These are big revisions. Isn't Australia's coastal adaptation strategy based on 1 metre sea level rise?

yes. The assumption was that the West-Antarctic ice-sheets would not melt from ocean warming. That has turned out to be wrong. Antarctica is now contributing significantly more to global sea level rise.

The Australian's coverage of the ETS events in Canberra ---eg., Dennis Shanahan and Peter van Onselen --is very anti-Turnbull. Shanahan pulls out all stops. He says that Turnbull's:

leadership has been mortally wounded in the killing fields of the last week of parliament before Christmas.No matter what happens, Turnbull has lost respect and any hope of unifying a deeply divided Liberal Party and Coalition...Turnbull has chosen simply to impose his judgment, despite a lack of authority, and effectively cast aside his Coalition partners...In the end it has all counted against Turnbull and his authority and judgment, rocked months ago, has sunk even lower.

It's the Nationals who walked away.They were opposed to negotiations and they had no intention of voting for an ETS in whatever form. What Turnbull has done is to show strong, tough leadership.

van Onselen is equally condemning in his op-ed in The Australian:

The Liberals are a rabble, and responsibility for that rests with Turnbull - his leadership style, his tactics (or lack thereof), and his disregard for his colleagues on the back bench. The ETS will get through the senate so long as Turnbull survives the week - but with Liberals galore crossing the floor, Turnbull won't get through the summer. He is now leader of the Liberal Party in name only - his leadership is terminal.

It's a very hostile piece. Turnbull is given no credit for anything. Surely strong leadership ist what the Liberals need to get them through the wedge put in place by Rudd.

van Onselen was on Lateline last night predicting that Abbot would be the short term leader followed by Hockey as long term. The Liberals are not following his script. Abbot says no way. Turnbull is leader.

Agreed. Turnbull chose to ignore the Nats altogether, and to hear out the sceptics in his own party with no intention of bending at all. Brave or stupid? Van Onselen and Shanahan are ignoring how voters will see this. It looks like a Turnbull victory to me.

Kevin Andrews? Pardon? I can't decide whether it would be amusing or sickening to watch the ALP crucify him.

Lyn says:
"Kevin Andrews? Pardon? I can't decide whether it would be amusing or sickening to watch the ALP crucify him."

That is where high drama becomes low farce.

Agree about the inadequacy of the proposed scheme, I disagree that Turnbull deserves praise for getting enough Senators to make the amended scheme possible. He had little choice as he was well aware that simply blocking the legislation was nonviable.
I believe the credit belongs to Rudd just because getting this through a hostile Senate is not a small feat and whatever the flaws - too generous and capped to low - it is a start that will make such a scheme part of the landscape and unexceptionable in the public's perception.
And yes, the government is driven by a fear from those 'who threaten that the lights might go out'. I just don't underestimate the political consequences if this threat becomes real.

I agree that Rudd is the winner. Not just for getting an ETs through the Senate (still to happen) but in wedging the Liberal Party so well that it splits asunder and will go to the 2010 election as disunited. Disunity is death in politics. So Rudd rules.

Enormous pressure has been piled on Turnbull by the ALP and he has both managed to roll with the punches unlike Brendon Nelson, bring the Liberal Party into the 21st century, and stare down Minchin's 'blinded by the light' conservatives.

That is no small feat given the Rudd wedge. Credit where credit is due,

The latest figure I have heard is that it will cost us all $1100 per year. YIPEE!

Chris Uhlmann, the ABC's 7.30 Canberra Press Gallery journo, interpreted the events as Oh Malcolm, how did it come to this?---is also negative. He says that Turnbull:

has an almost supernatural ability to annoy his own and make tactical errors at critical times. When he was elected leader some of his staunchest critics predicted the Turnbull experiment would be a short and unhappy exercise and, about now, they look to be right.

This is all focused on Turnbull's leadership style and his failure to listen to all views or take a more inclusive approach.

This kind of interpretation ignores Minchin's factional strategy of the conservatives to destablize the LIberal Party by creating merry hell over the ETS issue in order to wound Turnbull and to bring him down. Minchin's conservatives had no intention of voting for an ETS, no matter how many concessions MacFarlane would win. The concessions he won made no difference to them. This conservative faction is characterised self-loving tribalistic blindness laced with a pathological refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions.

Thankfully, with the flow of real time commentary on digital media, mobile iPhones and Twitter, we can see that this once authoritative voice is just another interpretation. I find that MacFarlane's judgments -- Turnbull is modernizing the Liberal Party + providing strong leadership in difficult circumstances --- to be a more persuasive interpretation of these events.

the price of electricity rises, due to carbon being priced under an ETS system.

The government is predicting that the increase in the cost of energy might be around $5 per week. It is low because domestic power remains a small component of the household budget. Where do you get your $20 + per week figure from?

The increase the price of energy from fossil fuels will have some impact on the level of demand for such energy from households. So households can become more energy efficient and so reduce their demand for electricity reduce their bills. Or they start shifting to solar cells on their rooftops and reduce their demand for electricity from coal-fired power stations.

Bernard Keane of Crikey supports Uhlmann's interpretion.

Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership is terminal after yesterday for two reasons: he now has a formidable array of conservative figures aligned against him, and he has confirmed yet again that he is unable to control his high-handed and aggressive style of leadership.

There is now a solid bloc of Nick Minchin, Robb and Tony Abbott, amongst the senior leadership, who opposed Turnbull.

On the leadership style Keane says that the:

same words were again used – high-handed. Arrogant. Bullying. Sentiments unlikely to have been curtailed by his repeated, Muhammad Ali-like claim at the ensuing press conference “I am the leader”.

He adds that For a party as deeply divided as the Liberals, Turnbull’s style simply can’t work.
Frankly it’s doubtful whether anyone’s style could work given how badly they are fractured. But Turnbull risks exacerbating their divisions with his approach

He acknowledges that Turnbull has achieved an astonishing feat in getting his party to back the Government’s CPRS, particularly given just how alien he is to many conservatives in his party and how relatively politically inexperienced he is.

Keane's analysis is spot on. His conclusion is not.

The Liberal Party will not--I repeat not--- spill the leadership. They are not that irrational. They need Turnbull, even if they don't really like him. The Conservatives have no realistic leadership contender.

"I can't decide whether it would be amusing or sickening to watch the ALP crucify him."

I can.
It would be justice of some sort [although post 48:35 its academic now].
I despise Andrews.
Haneef, workNOchoices, the Sudanese.

This is an unworthy human being.
An opinion not shared by about 35 Lib politicians, a telling comment on their ethics.

On the future of Malcolm.
I predicted after the Grech affair stage 1 [stage 2 may be precipitated by the AFP report being tabled today] had ended that Malcolm will lead the COALition to the next election, lose that [perhaps narrowly] and probably but not certainly stand down as Leader of Opp a few days later when Abbott and Hockey will surface openly.

I see no reason to change that prediction now.

With 3 parl secs gone today, Turnbull still has reshuffle opportunities to get through yet. Should be interesting.

Bernard Keane from Crikey and one of the ABC journos on the TV coverage both mentioned digital media/social media and the impact on collecting and disseminating info.

Interesting the way that's translating into solid fan bases for some of them. News organisations look like becoming celebrity stables.

The figure was based on the rises predicted in consumer goods as well as electricity.

Treasury modelling suggest that household costs would rise by just over 1 per cent over two years - as measured by the consumer price index. There would be specific price increases including household electricity rises of around 7 per cent ( $1.50 per week) in the first year of operation 2011/12. Gas prices will also rise by an estimated 4 per cent rising to 9 per cent in the second year and household food prices are also expected to rise due to increased costs of production and transport. That too is expected to add $1.50 per week to the average food weekly food bill.

Does your much higher figure include the compensation that is to be offered to low and middle income earners by the Government for increases in the cost of electricity from an ETS?

In that very last post, Gary raises the inevitable issue of "compensation".
Well I thoughtthat had been all taken care of.
Macklin's slimy, sneaked in reduction of the entire welfare population to the same level as that "enjoyed" by post Intervention aborigines, shows who is going to be skinned to pay for the all the handouts upwards.


The figure as stated is as stated by me as the last figures I heard on the radio news.
I am not saying they are true just saying that is what is being transmitted.

I will be very interested to see what compensation is offered and whether I will be paying it to myself.

"...whether I will be paying to myself"- Les.
Could be worse outcomes.

George Megalogenis says:

abor will be giving back more than it asks of all sole parents earning up to $160,000, as well as single-income couples, and dual-income couples earning as much as $120,000, depending on the number of children. All pensioners will be better off. As will be self-funded retirees earning up to $50,000 for singles and $90,000 for couples.
The only group that will get little or no compensation is singles.Only those earning up to $35,000 a year are better off under the CPRS. For singles on more than $80,000, there will be no handout at all.

The deal with Malcolm Turnbull will reduce the dollars to go to each individual household that had been in line for a handout under original legislation.

What single welfare recipient get $ 35,ooo pa, let alone $80,000?


Sorry, while its true that welfare recipients receive help for rental, health, etc- even with these I can't see my income as remotely within range of the figures mentioned above.
The issue is the repressive (tolerant?) legislation delivered shamefacedly by the minister in a empty parliamentary chamber yesterday, compounding the legal transgression that is at the heart of the Aboriginal Intervention, with its arbitrary de-humanising of indigenous Australians, following the refugee template.
Rather than returning Aborigines to the human fold by reintroducing the Race relations act, which guarantees Aborigines the same rights as the rest of us, this is about, true to neo lib ideology, colonisation of the rest of the welfare sphere with the same dehumanising policies that so infatuate the mortgage belt Hansonists in marginal seats re aborignes and migrants.
It's the loose welfare equivalent of section 70 of the crime act, as applied to whistelblower Alan Kessing, or the sort of legislation applied to Dr.Haneef.
Brought to us by the same bi partisan liars who bought us the so called global warming debate, neo lib phase, along with global buyouts for billionaires and the bloody and costly Iraq/Afghanistan nonsenses, to name a few issues that remain peripheral to mainstream Australian politicians and the dumbed- down Great Unwashed.
Remember, the now arbitrarily imposed and changeable disempowering lowest common denominator, established as precedent, will eventually be spread deliberately vague legal jargon, as already extant in security legislation, to other categories also.
Niemoller's words become more and more prescient, fo rone day "they" will come for you, too.