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biffo « Previous | |Next »
September 28, 2010

Parliament as the blood sport for political junkies returns after the pomp and ceremony today. The expectation is that things will get ugly. For many of them the biffo mode is the natural order of things. It is how they understand accountability.


What then of parliamentary reform? Will steps be taken to reducing the power of the executive by increasing the power of Parliament vis-a-vis the executive? Will the committee system be strengthened?

Instead of a hung parliament we need to think in terms of a power sharing parliament. This is what the Climate Change Committee --a cross-party committee to look for a way forward on a climate price--is. It is a parliamentary structure that provides a space to make serious attempt to find something workable around the pricing of carbon to begin moving to a low-carbon economy.

The assumption is that effectively reducing carbon pollution by 2020 will require a carbon price. Which mechanism to achieve this is what will be sorted through. Sophie Mirabella on Q+A in a biffo mode used the example of the committee to attack the Gillard government as undemocratic or “Marxist”!

The political reality is that firstly, this attack is another example of the Liberals choosing to deal themselves out of climate change policy. They are now on the outside looking in as the Greens influence climate policy and are now talking about "'the Greens' hand in the Gillard glove''.

Secondly, Australian politicians continue to take the slowly-slowly approach to tackling climate change and to the lack of coordinated national policies to scale the clean energy industry to secure jobs, manufacturing capacity, and research and development. The point of carbon pricing is to make the changes that will have the smallest impact on the economy, but the biggest impact on carbon pollution.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:00 AM | | Comments (14)


The government has a formal target range of a cut in emissions of between 5 and 25 per cent by 2020, it has said it would aim for only 5 per cent unless there was an increase in international action.

The Greens want bigger targets than that

Will the oil, gas and coal and power industries continue to lobby against climate change and clean energy policies? Or will they fracture and split?

Moving to a low-carbon economy will involve reducing jobs in industries that produce fossil fuels, but it will also create jobs in renewable energy industries.

Sophie Mirabella's performance on Q+A indicates that Abbott wants to bring down Labor and return to the polls sooner rather than latter. The Coalition will be uncompromising in this session of Parliament. They smell blood in the water. How long before "all pairings are off'" in a upping the effort to destabilising the House of Representatives?

The strategy of hostility, negativity and obstruction re the Gillard Government has a used sales by date after the election.

Simon Crean today said he was going to have to cancel a speech he was due to give because the opposition refused a pair for the occasion. The opposition had to back off and agree to the the pair. If Labor are smart (and there's not been much evidence that they are) they'll be booking speeches and other events all over the place. Every cancellation is another crowd that misses out and another opportunity for Labor to say 'Look, they're bullying us out of doing our jobs'


Bob Katter has a very poor record for attending votes as was pointed out in the local rag. Many others will be absent from both sides for the lesser important things.

Canberra needs to adjust to the new reality of minority government and where every vote is a negotiation. Negotiation skills are what is now required. The Senate has worked with close numbers for a longtime now.

Abbott has been pretty ordinary in this area so far. He's better at old fashioned take-no-prisoners biffo.

I guess nobody including them expected the opposition to do as well as it has since Abbott took over, so they'd be crazy to change course. The even greater success of the Republicans in the USA suggests that rank opportunistic negativism is going down a treat with voters in 2010.

I’m grateful to Gary Sauer-Thompson for the link to PM Gillard’s press release. Having read it, I have even less faith in the value of this Climate Change Committee than I had before. Its terms of reference limit it to consideration of price mechanisms – nothing else is on the table. The Committee is to report to the Govt., not the Parliament, so its report can be kept secret as long as the Govt. likes. And not only does the egregious Prof. Garnaut appear front and centre as the leading named “expert advisor”, but the terms of reference actually require the Committee to commission an update by Garnaut of his old Climate Change Review and to seek his advice on pricing carbon! If that isn’t a formula for limiting the Committee to just reissuing Garnaut’s report I don’t know what is. The chances that the Committee will find a way (or even try to find a way) of wriggling out of this straitjacket seem slim.

One of the great problems we face in finding ways of limiting APG carbon in the atmosphere is the wave of privatisations that began in the 1980s. Power generation and transport are now privatised; building and agriculture always were. Govt. action by way of regulation and/or constructing low-emission infrastructure will be vigorously opposed by the owners unless and until they are offered massive “compensation” for their own “investments”. Yet there is no real reason why Govts. shouldn’t build solar, wind, geothermal, tidal etc. power stations, low-emission petrol refineries, low-emission transport systems and so on. Nor is there any real reason why Govts. can’t regulate efficiency of new buildings and limit land clearing. No such options are allowed to be even discussed by this Committee, however.

yeah the terms of reference for the Climate Change Committee are disappointing. They are an indication of Gillard Labor's lack of courage in this area of reform.

Tony Windsor was on the 7.30 last night and he was trying to open the door up a bit.

Well I think it goes without saying that the most efficient way to deliver the outcome is through some sort of pricing mechanism. I think Malcolm Turnbull and others in the Opposition would agree with that. I think most economists would agree to it. That doesn't necessarily mean that this committee will come up with a recommendation that a firm price be put on carbon. That is where I'm coming from. I think it's very important- and I've been a great advocate for renewable energy and the opportunities that regional Australia could have in terms of some of the more renewable energies and an improved environmental policy in relation to renewable energy. But the way I'm looking at it is that we assess the information, we take on board all the expert information globally and domestically and then work through a process. I don't want to start with an answer before we ask the question...

Something sure needs to be done in regional Australia. I heard on Radio National this morning that the Rann Government had refused to support a big solar farm in the Riverland SA. It has gone to Mildura in Victoria.

Support was rejected in SA even though the Rann Government realizes and says that the Riverland economy needs to be diversified away from irrigated agriculture. Green technologies sell themselves may sell themselves, but they need the help of government "pump priming" for industries that can undercut fossil fuels

If we are going to be serious about Parliamentary reform, maybe somebody might start thinking about whether the Parliament could alter the terms of reference, and whether Gillard or Abbott would regard a move like that as tantamount to a vote of No Confidence.

another committee.....

The Greens will be looking for a high price.
Labor will be thinking in terms what price can we manipulate that won't get us thrown out of office after every food increase is blamed on it.
The Coalition will be saying No price.
So the best outcome if there is an outcome and that outcome comes before the next election would be around $10.
Would that be enough to save the world? Dunno....we may need another commitee to decide that.

Question Time has changed. There are signs that a tougher, stricter and more independent Speaker, Harry Jenkins, in showing that he was willing to to hand out warnings subdued the urge to clown, grandstand, or being thrown out.

Thank goodness for the timing provisions - 90 seconds for a question and four minutes for an answer. Pity about the dorothy dixers though. They need to go as part of Parliamentary reform.


Agree with you on the Dorothy Dixers, but without them the ALP would have a much harder time communicating anything other than the News Ltd message of the day.

If they've been lousy at selling their achievements and policies for the past 3 years, it will be even harder for them now.