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

climate change: the politics « Previous | |Next »
March 1, 2011

I watched Question Time in the House of Representatives yesterday. I wanted to see how the ALP and the LNP were approaching the issue of reform and climate change as distinct from the free market think tanks such as the IPA.

In the heated atmospherics the Coalition had reduced the policy and the proposed architecture and timetable for placing a price on carbon---to the issue whether Gillard had lied about a carbon tax and they argued that she could not be trusted. We need an election now they all demanded. There was lots of mock outrage, faux anger and huff-and-puff that would play well with the conservative base's intense dislike of the "irrational" Greens (who represent the path to tyranny), and their assumption that the Coalition is just a hair's breath away from forming government this term. The ALP response was an assault on Abbott's character.


I guess the tactic behind the theatre of the various censure motions aims to put pressure on the "backstabbing" Independents (Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott ) to dump Gillard and force an early election. If so, then the tactic is misfiring badly, because the Gillard Labor government will last until the next election in 2013 and Gillard will lead Labor to the election.

Gillard has nailed her colours to the post: getting a carbon tax through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Abbott's stance is to prevent this action being taken on climate-change-by throwing mud, and if he fails, then to roll it back in 2013 once he's elected. In saying he will turn back the clock he is pretending that nothing needs to be done about climate change and that there is no need to build competitive, low-carbon industries in Australia.

Everything indicates that Gillard will take the fight to Abbott---and that it will be a tough fight. The view of the commentators in The Australian's view is that Gillard is already losing the fight. It is the Coalition's scare campaign that has the momentum.

It didn't look that way in parliament.

The policy issues are not being discussed. It is still a blank slate, as discussion on a comprehensive program has not even begun. Presumably, the policy goal is to achieve an agreed target reduction in emissions per capita (or some other benchmark) by 2020 and beyond. If so, then what is the target; what are the options for solving the stated problem; and what is the quantum of funding is required to facilitate the transitions?

What would the Australia of 2020 look like after the programs of the selected options have been implemented?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:35 AM | | Comments (15)


Even Gerard Henderson has given up the fantasy of the Coalition forming government with the help of the Independents this term. He's been mugged by reality.

"the issue of reform and climate change"

Alan Kohler points out that:

Some industries, such as aluminium smelting, cement production and steel making, will pay hundreds of millions in tax, which they will need to pass in their prices. These businesses will need to be more or less fully compensated through free permits, otherwise lower-priced imports will put them out of business, especially with Australian dollar at parity..Coal-based electricity generators will be demanding compensation for their loss of equity, as they were when the Rudd government announced its CPRS.

However, the whole point of pricing carbon nation's biggest emitting industry, coal-fired electricity generation, is to put out of business. The main purpose of a carbon tax to raise the price of coal-fired electricity to the point where it can be replaced by natural gas.

Kohler says that there won't be enough cash to go around, so there will be losers.

The Greens Leader Bob Brown is on the record as saying that the coal industry does not deserve compensation under any carbon trading system.

The Greens will act to prevent coal-fired electricity generation from being compensated and ensure that it is low incomes households that are compensated.

The ALP has always favoured compensation for the coal industry--its old CPRS was based around this.

Glenn Milne paints the following scenario if the carbon pricing reform does fall at the Greens hurdle: a double dissolution election remains Gillard’s best option.

a double dissolution election remains Gillard’s best option... Her opportunity would be manifest; to break the power of the Greens in the Senate and sweep away the House of Representatives independents. The gamble though would be immense. Gillard would be defending a broken election promise and inevitable increases in the cost of living.

Milne assumes that the Green's ideological purity will ultimately ensure there is no carbon tax; a repeat of the dénouement of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) under Kevin Rudd.

I still think Labor has, on the evidence so far, no will or interest to introduce an effective carbon pricing scheme--one that actually reduces carbon emissions

There are two seperate issues, the carbon scheme and the politics. No one expects one that does a lot, but what's at stake is at least a admission of global warming as potential if not actual problem, which is a psychological breakout from denialism. This must happen n ow, before things can "move forward" preparatory to the times of real action, when the science is confirmed even more than it is now.
Abbott tries to confine ecology as a rogue issue pursued by rogues, but his delinquency, as with race relations and boat people, sends fear up the spine of a rational person.
What's called for is an admnission that a problem might- not necessarily does- exist and that a look at the facts might be warranted. To play games with these things for very likely shallow reasons, deserves condemnation.

it does look as if the carbon price issue is being used by the conservatives to unseat the Gillard Government. There is an orchestrated campaign underway in the media--eg., the shock jocks and regional media.

They are trying to create a tea party movement--thus we have the talk about "a people's revolt."

the political opposition to pricing carbon has become on the non-Labor side of politics is becoming ever more entrenched.

Labor is wasting its time using the old Rudd/Wong of trying to split the Coalition-- the conservatives are less interested in climate change per se and much more interested in using it as a battering ram against Gillard Labor.

Hence all the shock jock talk about how people hate it, there will be a riot and its all a dreadful, dreadful mistake. The Liberals think that they are on winner by reducing carbon pricing to increased cost of living.

on the policy issue--not the politics. Is a carbon price the mechanism for driving change?

In Flying blind on climate policy in Climate Spectator Andrew Dyer argues that:

We run the risk of introducing a carbon price that increases costs of living, does not motivate new generation investment and does not raise funds for clean economy transition programs because the taxes raised are redistributed for compensation.

He says that a carbon price cannot drive change unless the carbon price quantum is extraordinary and too large for the broader economy to swallow:
Without complementary measures or direct action, a price of $100/tonne or higher would be required to stimulate investment in deploying new capacity using renewable technologies to produce power.

A nominal carbon price of say $20/tonne will simply increase the cost of power to all users – and open up Pandora’s box for everyone that feels the need to be compensated for their claimed losses as a result of the new tax.

Although it is within a different USA context I would suggest that the various essays available at Alternet provide the necessary information to understand the behind the scenes agenda(s) of the so called conservative parties here in Oz-land.

Just reading the titles of the various essays on Alternet is a sufficient education.

thanks. What the articles AlterNet articles show is that the Republicans are deeply opposed to environmental regulation. Their aim is to roll it back on behalf of their corporate donor base.

We can infer from this that the Big Coal-bankrolled sycophants in the Liberal-National party are working for the interests of the dirty coal lobby seeking to be exempt from any overreaching regulatory power and their own version of a sagebush rebellion.

Question Time this week has been disrupted and dominated by opposition censure motions, giving Abbott and Joe Hockey a stage to yell across the dispatch box about Gillard's breach of faith---she lied about a carbon tax. The motions are designed to get the Opposition on the TV news and prevent the public from seeing Gillard's response being shown on ABC television.

Can Abbott sustain the confected outrage and fury and all out assault on Gillard until the next election?

That direct attack is all he's got . The Coalition’s climate policy is threadbare and it it achieves emissions reductions by paying taxpayers’ money to farmers and other industries. It's big government approach.

Why spend lots of government money on an issue that they say isn't real?

Watching the senate has not been edifying either. Lots of petty interruptions, but for my part the extremism of the opposition just made Wong look so more the victim and so much more statesmanlike competent, a complete backfire for Abetz and his silly collection of senate ragamuffins.

I think Turnbull is the winner in this latest episode of Hillbilly House (the reality tv show). Gillard will soon be drawn by the cartoonists as a Bob Browns hand puppet.
If you think its bad now. Imagine what it will be like when the Coalition is in power and The Greens control the Senate.
Houses are cheap in New Zealand.