Home > Environment, Oz Politics > A long time coming …

A long time coming …

October 13th, 2011

… but the legislation for a carbon tax/fixed price emissions scheme has finally passed the House of Representatives, and is assured of passage through the Senate. Assuming the government can survive that long, it will come into force at the beginning of 2012-13.

Before any analysis, some (qualified) congratulations are in order. The Greens (with my support at the time, for what that was worth) took a big gamble in rejecting the badly-compromised Rudd-Turnbull deal, and have contributed to the passage of a much better bill now. Still, it turned out to be a long-shot. If the Gillard government had either won an absolute majority or lost to Tony Abbott, there would be no carbom tax. Kevin Rudd laid a lot of the groundwork, but failed to call a double dissolution, which he would surely have won, when the first version of the emissions trading scheme was blocked. Malcolm Turnbull has been a voice of sanity throughout, but still voted the party line. Last but not least, Julia Gillard, having almost succeeded in killing the whole idea in 2010 demonstrated her skills in getting an exceptionally contentious piece of legislation through, despite disastrous polls and the most fragile conceivable majority.

Now, a bit of a look towards the future

Now that the legislation has been passed, the doomsayers who predicted economic ruin will be put to the test. Will the businesses who have claimed catastrophic effects cease investment or een shut up shop altogether? Will the economy go into a tailspin? Unless the global economy collapses at the same time, these predictions are going to look sillier and sillier as the date for the tax approaches, and even sillier once it comes into effect. On the other hand, benefits like the increase in the tax-free threshold will be obvious to all.

So, if the government can run its full term, they have a much better chance of re-election than it might seem at present. Abbott will be shown up for the fraud he has always been, as will the entire right-wing commentariat.

But getting there is a big problem. Getting this legislation passed was a big achievement, but a great many voters will never forgive Gillard for the promises she made before the election (and semantic disputes about whether it’s a price or a tax won’t convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced). I remain of the view that she could do most to salvage her place in history by gracefully stepping aside once the bill passes the Senate.

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  1. Freelander
    October 13th, 2011 at 06:23 | #1

    Toxic Tony is looking increasingly desperate. If the government goes full term rope a dope, intended strategy or not, will be complete. The hair shirted one will have beaten himself to a standstill or have bored his demographic stiff. After all, his demographic must be somewhat attention deficient. His sustained outrage and hectoring is already nothing but risible.

  2. Freelander
    October 13th, 2011 at 06:36 | #2

    Gillard could step aside, if they found a good candidate to replace her in the Labor party. Combet is a possibility, but his profile needs to be built up first. Of course, the greatest mistake now that they could make is to recycle Rudd. Rudd doesn’t seem to have learnt anything at all. The first step in his rehabilitation would be to apologise to his colleagues for forcing them to give him the bullet; clearly it wasn’t an easy thing for them to do, given how long they left it. Rudd is good at apologies. A simple public televised one, should be enough.

  3. TerjeP
    October 13th, 2011 at 06:45 | #3

    but a great many voters will never forgive Gillard for the promises she made before the election (and semantic disputes about whether it’s a price or a tax won’t convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced).

    A lot may never forgive the ALP either.

  4. rog
    October 13th, 2011 at 07:44 | #4

    Lifting the tax free threshold is getting the thumbs up from all over the place, like Tim Worstall at Forbes

  5. kymbos
    October 13th, 2011 at 07:49 | #5

    I only disagree with you on the politics of Gillard stepping aside. One more change of leader, and the ALP will be wiped out regardless of who replaces her. Rudd should never have been deposed, but another swing on the leadership merry-go-round will prove to the electorate that the role of PM of Australia is a toy of the party machine.

    If they hold their nerve from here, they may yet claw back enough when the electorate sees the sky remains in place.

  6. KB Keynes
    October 13th, 2011 at 08:31 | #6

    Yes it was a stunning political strategy to call an ETS with a fixed price a carbon tax. you do not buy permits under a carbon tax nor can you buy and sell said permits.

    Those ALP strategists are absolute geniuses.

    Before this fiasco people were not particularly fazed by the ETS. Now they do not like a tax!

    After implementation it will , like the GST worries, fade away. Unlike with the GST there is no BAS to cause great angst which is why the Liberals are increasing hysterical in demanding an early election.

    Still given this lot couldn’t sell a beer on a hot day you have to wonder what they will say after it is operation and people realise they have been wood-ducked as it has less that 1/5th of the impact of the GST.

  7. Tom
    October 13th, 2011 at 08:56 | #7

    The problem here is that Tony is getting his way with fear campaign and the media sides with the liberals (I give my respect to Fairfax for being what I consider as the most neutral media in Australia at the moment).

    Not a great deal of Australians knows how exactly the economy works which I understand because making a living is not easy and they don’t have much thing to do researches and studies. Tony’s proposed policy so far will not work, abolish mining tax which generates government revenue, direct action policy which no reputable economist supports, Pacific solution which had been proven that it’s not working, and WorkChoice which is a step towards the traces of America. And he is saying that he is going to give tax cuts, run budget surpluses while abolishing mining tax which generates government revenue? Abolishing mining tax would attract more foreign investment, puts pressure on the AUD and future damages the service and manufacturing industry. I really hope the hypocrite Tony won’t come in to power in the next election to stuff up the economy.

  8. Dan
    October 13th, 2011 at 08:56 | #8

    a) The sky will not fall in and those who claimed it would will look silly and marginalised. Hopefully they will leave the policy discourse altogether (wishful thinking, I know…)

    b) Labor will lose the next election, espeically if Tony Abbott is replaced with someone half-sane, not because of the carbon tax per se, but because they’ve managed to make even their bravest, most principled policies look sneaky and lacking in credibility (to say nothing of their sneaky, lacking-in-credibility policies).

  9. October 13th, 2011 at 08:56 | #9

    Gee, it’s been said for a long time that Labor likes to put in a female leader when they know they are going to lose the next election anyway. Now Prof Quiggin thinks you don’t even have to wait for the election: install female, get legislation which is unpopular through, then she should gracefully resign and make way for a male again.

    Well, that’s the way it’s going to look, isn’t it?

    If the tax is going to be unpopular in 18 months time, I don’t see that it is going to be any less unpopular under an alternative to Gillard. All of the replacements strongly support it, there is no way they can distance themselves from it.

    I just find it a remarkable thing that the PM who is actually finally achieving long delayed major reforms is being told by Prof Q that she should really go before any possibility of reaping political benefits of finally achieving things.

  10. Ken Fabos
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:00 | #10

    If Gillard should choose to stand down, it might send some kind of right message to the electorate – if the tinting in the media lens doesn’t invert it into the wrong message. Which the Murdoch press for a start will assuredly do, with the rest are so bereft that they’ll try to jump on the wagon and try to do the smearing of Gillard and successor even ‘better’ in an act of journalistic one upmanship.

    I don’t know that there is any winning strategy for Labor with a significant proportion of the electorate encouraged to disbelieve climate and emissions are a problem and believe that Labor efforts to fix said problems are pointless. Or can be persuaded to believe that a mining industry riding so high on exceptional profits would slow their activities and stop employing people over the piddling amounts in a resource rent tax or in a carbon tax that doesn’t even cover the emissions of the coal and gas mined for export, just the process of mining it).

    What won’t work is a leadership spill. Or backing down on the policies it’s been implementing. Should Abbott self-destruct or his party members who do trust our scientists on climate (surely there are more than one) cease keeping heads down and mouths shut and act like it’s actually a serious threat to the Australia they profess to care about, the situation might change. And that’s probably the only course open for Gillard and Labor – keep working, avoid making regrettable utterances and hope the Libs shoot selves in foot.

  11. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:46 | #11

    PrQ spoke of a “carbom tax”. Wow! A new weapon in the war on terror!

  12. Chris Warren
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:47 | #12

    Personally – for those that accept the 5% reduction by 2020, this is a sour outcome. The 5% target was based on 2000 levels (496.1 MgT). The current annual rate is 542 MgT. The target is therefore around 470 MgT.

    We can assume, with the tax, the rate of reduction will stay at the present -0.6%, even if the population increases. The quarterly figures are a bit concerning.

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/en/climate-change/emissions.aspx

    But for those who think less than 5% per decade is tokenistic, and while the two elephants in the room are ignored (1. Third World rights to modern living standards, 2. population increase) all this fuss is merely the initial learning curve society has to go through.

    To reach 470 over 9 years requires an average cut of 1.5% per year (after growth damage).

    Does the Carbon Tax have this force?

    If not we need bigger community campaigns and new techniques to control our fossil fuel capitalists.

  13. Ikonoclast
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:50 | #13

    If Julia Gillard does anything worthwhile it is because it is expedient for her at the time. Gillard has no public interest values and believes in nothing (carbon tax included) other than her own advancement. She is an opportunist through and through. She will change her tune, turn her coat and lie through her teeth constantly. In all that, she is no different from 95% of all Labor and Liberal politicians. Tony Abbott btw, is worse.

    We ought not to forget that Gillard conspired with union bosses who betrayed the workers and the mining bosses to replace Rudd and axe a tax at the behest of the capitalist mining bosses. Gillard and the professional union bosses are the enemies of working people. The entire Labor party has also (long since) shown it is not the party of the workers in any shape or form. If the Australian people develop any sense, they will destroy Labor and Liberal at the ballot box. Both govern only for the corporate capitalist boses. The continued shift of income from workers to capital is unsustainable and will cause serious problems in our society if not reversed. The continued poor response to environmental and sustainability issues also needs to be addressed uregently. Otherwise we are heading for total disaster.

  14. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:51 | #14

    While nobody honest and informed would confuse me with an ALP sympathiser I think it would be churlish and mistaken not to note that today’s vote was won by a government with the barest of majorities 12 months ago, and in the face of the most systematic, ubiquitous and sustained campaign of lying in Australia’s history, backed actively by the Murdochracy and their yappy puppies from Fairfax and #theirABC. Much of the boss class trolled the regime too, or remained at best silent, and even within the government camp, we know that there were dissenters.

    Yes, the regime’s ineptitude ensured they would do this the hard way, and they’d not have dared but for The Greens but in the end, they got it done, just. For this they get a pass, along with points for resisting everything the MBCM and their boss class gang threw at them.

  15. Ikonoclast
    October 13th, 2011 at 09:54 | #15

    Poor sentence construction has scambled some of my meaning. The relevant sentence is better rendered as;

    We ought not to forget that Gillard conspired with union bosses (who betrayed the workers) and the mining bosses to replace Rudd and axe a tax at the behest of the capitalist mining bosses.

    or even simply as;

    We ought not to forget that Gillard conspired with union bosses and mining bosses to replace Rudd and axe a tax at the behest of mining capital.

  16. Dan
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:01 | #16

    @Chris Warren,

    Re: the third world’s “right” to modern living standards – while I am the first to deplore inequity and the iniquities caused by uneven development, the developing world do not have a *right* to live in an environmentally unsustainable way, any more than the first world has a *right* to live unsustainably (we don’t – we’ve lived beyond our means for far too long); any more than I have a right to take out a loan that I and everyone else knows I can’t pay back, just because other people have in the past taken out loans they can’t pay back.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:01 | #17

    We saw a glimpse of the future with the rabble of bloated senile delinquents screeching their disrespect from the public galleries. That the Speaker did not eject them was, in my opinion, contemptible. When they emerged, bellowing and gesticulating, their bloated visages contorted in rictuses of rage, it emerged, unsurprisingly, that the average age was 70, and the average IQ somewhat less. In other words the offspring of the union of John Howard and Alan Jones, the Dunning-Krugerites who see Barnaby Joyce as an intellectual and Abbott as the Mad Messiah. They will now run amok, and if you think that this carbon pollution bill will survive an Abbott landslide, which News Corpse and the other denizens of the Rightwing MSM sewer will do all in their power to achieve, then you are dreaming.

  18. Dan
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:05 | #18

    Not to put too fine a point on it, it s***s me to tears that the demographic most vocally opposed to climate change mitigation are, having derived astonishing economic benefit from unsustainable development, going to die soon, leaving the legacy of climate change to their grandkids.

  19. Chris Warren
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:33 | #19

    @Dan

    I suppose there is always the right to equality (whatever it is).

    If this destroys the climate – then this is what will happen. China, South America, Indonesia and India (and later Africa) all want modern lifestyles for their population.

    As I see it, the real agenda for greenhouse gasses is ‘per capita’ emissions.

    The only solution is the impossible one – large reductions in Western lifestyle – this will only be politically possible when it is far, far, too late.

    Whoever is around in 2080, will inherit a violent, untreatable, climate wasteland all because we have allowed capitalists to exploit cheap fossil fuels for competitive advantage without costing in costs for future generations.

  20. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:37 | #20

    PrQ said:

    and semantic disputes about whether it’s a price or a tax won’t convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced

    Certainly they won’t while the ALP continues to run dead on the matter. They have to put the question — how many people voted ALP based on the idea that there would be

    a) no carbon price under Gillard — this astonishing view with her famous quote reworked with “price” for “tax” was put by the trolling Adam Spencer to Albanese yesterday on 702AM

    b) who voted for them thinking there would be no carbon “tax” but who were OK with an ETS, but think this isn’t an ETS but a tax so she broke her promise or don’t like the fixed price permit phase so much as to see this as a breach but didn’t mind the one in the CPRS of 2009.

  21. Doug
    October 13th, 2011 at 10:52 | #21

    To Mulga Mumblebrain – the realities of the current and likely future composition of the Senate, under plausible estimates of likely outcomes and the time frame required to get a double dissolution suggest that getting the legislative package abolished will take some substantial time and as they say a week is along time in politics

  22. J-D
    October 13th, 2011 at 11:27 | #22

    Ikonoclast :
    If the Australian people develop any sense, they will destroy Labor and Liberal at the ballot box.

    At every election for a hundred years Labor and the Liberals between them have received the votes of a majority of Australian voters. Like everything else, this can’t last forever, but I see no signs in current circumstances of its coming to an end.

    Personally I don’t attribute the pattern to the Australian people’s having no sense, but if that’s your opinion, Ikonoclast, then I suggest you’ve got no real choice but to get used to living among people with no sense.

  23. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2011 at 11:59 | #23

    @J-D

    Given that the modern Liberal Party (an oxymoron if ever there was one) dates from the 1940s …

    OK I’m cheating, as it had antecedents in the UAP, Nationalists, Free Traders etc …

    The more substantive point though is that politics, at least at the level of party identification, owes more to notions of personal identity, one’s fears and angst and tribal hatred and hopes and dreams and desire for belonging rather than any properly worked out “sense”.

    There is a degree of reasoning involved, but which part one supports is much more about who you think you are. Generally sensible people often compartmentalise parts ofg their lives and one can’t read back apparently absurd choices in these parts of their lives to infer radical lack of sense.

    Ikonoclast is venting frustration — one we all feel when we see evident wrong being repaid with political support — but if (as most of us here do) one wants the system to be more pluralistic, one must find new models of identity-within-community with which one can identify. If these become accepted and can be mapped to new political parties with programs that seem at worst plausible, “reason” will justify these programs. That of course, is much easier said than done. And if it were done, we would need a political system which would not force these people back into the old Column A or Column B choice.

    I suspect that both major parties are increasingly seen as lacking legitimacy. The polls notwithstanding, the new support for the LNP is likely to be soft, based as it is on FUD.

  24. Donald Oats
    October 13th, 2011 at 12:51 | #24

    This carbon emission reduction scheme, passed through the HoR, may still come unstuck if the government itself falls before the senate has a chance to pass the relevant bills. If the legislation becomes law but the government is wiped out at the next election, the Liberals may claim it gives them the mandate to repeal/reverse the laws. The Liberals and their National counterparts have behaved atrociously up to now, so I don’t believe I’m paranoid in thinking they are still hunting for any weak links in the current government, for any dirt/mud they can throw to screw up the government. I doubt the Liberal opposition will give up easily.

    Personally, I think that Julia Gillard must be kept as the PM when heading into the next election; removing her, especially after successfully passing the carbon “tax” legislation, would just signal to voters that Labor is internally uncertain of itself and by extension, is wishy-washy instead of being strong on leadership. Removing her after as good a demonstration of leadership as a modern PM could hope for would just play straight into the hands of the opposition; it would abnegate all the good work of the Labor/Greens/Indep coalition government, and for what? Nope, it is far better to stick it out and to build upon the leadership mettle shown thus far. Chants of “JuLiar” or “Julia the witch” already sound febrile and juvenile, and lacks legitimacy; all this reflects poorly upon those who continue such rubbish.

  25. October 13th, 2011 at 13:14 | #25

    http://candobetter.net/NoMoreCoalExportsI have sympathy with very few of those who are so stridently denouncing Julia Gillard’s Carbon Tax.

    True, the way she went about introducing is questionable from the standpoint of democratic principles, but those who are against the Carbon Tax seem to want us to believe that Earth is not facing an environmental crisis which could well threaten threaten the life support system that sustains human life.

    Without getting into the scientific argument, when the conditions which support life are so rare in the Universe and those which support the sort of complex life forms which exist on Earth are rarer still, it defies common sense to think we can materially change our plane a much as we have done in the last three centuries and continue to do so at an an even faster rate without putting at risk the very conditions which sustain life.

    We have substantially altered the concentration of the Earth’s atmosphere by having dug up and burnt much humankind’s nonrenewable endowment of fossil fuels that took at least tens of millions of years of sunlight and terrestrial biological and geological to produce.

    How anyone can know for a fact that these changes to Earth’s protective atmospheric blanket won’t cause runaway global warming is beyond me. Given that our very future and the future of our children and descendants is at stake, it is surely most imprudent to assume that we can continue to quarry and export coal iron and other non-renewable natural resources at the accelerating rate that the likes of Qld Premier Anna Bligh and our leading ‘free market’ economic ideologues would have us do.

    My own problem with the Carbon Tax is that it is, at best, a small fraction of what needs to be done to make human civilization truly sustainable.

    If the Carbon Tax were to be adopted, even if comprehensively at the international level, does anyone seriously imagine that it will somehow induce the market to reduce, to any worthwhile extent, activities that are now consuming non-reneawble resources?

    Just go to the rubbish tip and ask for how many more decades they believe we can continue to extract the resources necessary to manufacture all the artifacts — thrown out hi-fis, computers, TVs, fridges, cars, furniture, toys, etc. — and packaging that has ended up there?

    How is this going to stop manufacturers continuing to manufacture and sell at an enormous cost to our natural capital, so many artifacts that are designed to fail after only a few years and which become inoperable when parts and batteries are lost because they refuse to make these compatible with similar artifacts?

    Does anyone imagine that we could go on the way we are for more than a hundred more years?

    David Montgomery’s “Dirt – the Erosion of Civilisations” of 2007 shows past civilisations — Mesopotamia, ancient Greek civilisations, Rome, the Chaco Anasazi of North America. etc., which did not dig up dug up coal, oil and metals still only lasted hundreds of years, so could not be considered sustainable.

    If they had dug up and wasted coal, oil and metals and deforested at the same rate as 21st century human civilisation does they not have even lasted that long.

    Any Government which does not attempt to make human civilisation at least as sustainable as those past failed rural civilisations once were is not serious about sustainabilty.

    Gillard’s Carbon Tax is only a token pretence of an attempt to achieve sustainability and nothing more.

    Any serious sustainability policy would comprise at least:

    1. Reuse of food and drink containers rather than the phony recycling schemes that our council rates are wasted to pay for.

    2. Inducements, possibly including laws, to force manufactures to cease planned obsolescence and the deliberate manufacture of artifacts with incompatible parts, particularly cables and batteries. If cars and motorcycled built at the start of the 20th century can still be run today, why, with the improvements in science and technology can’t cars be built to last centuries? Why can’t cars and motorcycles be handed down to our children and grandchildren instead of being consigned to the tip or scrap metal?

    3. Real town planning so that it is not necessary for so many to spend as much of their days and waste so much petroleum traveling to and from work, educational institutions and amenities.

    4. Proper planned public transport so that we don’t have to won our own car to commute. End the Taxi license plate speculation scam so that taxis can be affordable to ordinary people and taxi drivers can earn a livable income in a 40 hour week and not a 72 hour week.

    5. Outlawing the destruction of native forests to to manufacture paper.

    6. Preservation of bio-diversity. Stop destroying forests and other natural habitats, which other species need for their survival.

    7. End the population growth/mass immigration Ponzi scheme. It is a lie that Australia’s prosperity needs more people. Any honest measure of people’s wellbeing would show that our prosperity, on average, as well as our sustainability, decrease as we add more people. Only a minority including property speculators and landlords gain and gain at everyone else’s expense through population growth.

  26. Hermit
    October 13th, 2011 at 13:17 | #26

    The world won’t end with carbon tax but neither will emissions. Barring recession I doubt by 2020 we’ll get to 5% below 2000 levels (~500 Mt X 0.95) but we won’t feel as bad. There doesn’t appear either the will or the way for some major emissions cuts, for example replacing cheap Victorian brown coal with dwindling local gas. I think by 2015 when we are supposed to move to an ETS (and start buying questionable foreign offsets) there will have to be a major review of what works and what doesn’t.

    In my opinion Gillard should tough it out. If she can survive she may be eventually be held in the same regard as Menzies. In G20 style love-ins she will earn kudos for her toughness.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 13th, 2011 at 15:08 | #27

    Doug, there are a hundred ways to cook a fish, or render the carbon tax inoperative, without recourse to abolishing it. In any case the 5% reduction, risible as it is, will simply not be met. And Abbott will have the whole-hearted support of Victoria, NSW and Queensland, the reactionary leaders of which are making no secret of their anti-environmental, ‘business-as-usual’ priorities. Moreover John Howard got a majority in both Houses, so why shouldn’t Abbott?

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 13th, 2011 at 15:11 | #28

    Doug, I forgot the very real prospect of Labor rats, a species that proliferates when the going gets tough. Another Colson or two should be easy to find, judging by the personnel the ALP has marshaled as its Senate team.

  29. Donald Oats
    October 13th, 2011 at 15:15 | #29

    Years ago we had small houses with plenty of room – fewer possessions – and backyards to play in. Power consumption was for cooking and lighting, with heating and cooling being reserved for the extremes of the seasons. Hot? Go run through the sprinkler, or swim in the river. Cold? Go ride a bike, or put on an extra jumper (ie “sweater”) or two, or even a coat.

    Nowadays we are used to micro-managed temperature and humidity in our immediate environments. While that is nice, it is something that can be cut back on, without undue deleterious effect—note I’m not saying to eliminate it, just to cut at the margins. Households pick up that signal—to through increased power prices, and once the tax reforms are added in with the handouts, people will be able to make the choice of how to spend that windfall money: on power; or, on clothing and other nice-to-have things? Up to the people now…

  30. Doug
    October 13th, 2011 at 15:45 | #30

    Mulga

    Howard got his Senate majority on the back of two good votes in a row in the Senate but with some help from some geniuses in the ALP playing preference deals (Fielding) – while it is possible that Abbot could get a majority in the Senate he almost certainly will need two half Senate elections in a row with huge Coalition votes to get there. A double dissolution would certainly be a more likely option to achieve what he wants but he probably can’t get that till 2015.

  31. Tim Macknay
    October 13th, 2011 at 16:15 | #31

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Doug, there are a hundred ways to cook a fish, or render the carbon tax inoperative, without recourse to abolishing it.

    I call bullsh*t. Name them.

    In any case the 5% reduction, risible as it is, will simply not be met.

    Why not?

    And Abbott will have the whole-hearted support of Victoria, NSW and Queensland, the reactionary leaders of which are making no secret of their anti-environmental, ‘business-as-usual’ priorities.

    As none of these state leaders are able to amend federal legislation, so what?

    Moreover John Howard got a majority in both Houses, so why shouldn’t Abbott?

    Because of the way the numbers are lined up in the Senate, and the fact that it’s only a half-senate election. Abbott would need a much bigger swing that Howard had in 2004 to get a majority in the Senate next time around. It’s possible, but extremely unlikely. Also, what Doug said.

    I don’t get it. I can understand why the right want to believe that the carbon price will still be a burning, bitter issue for voters in two or three years’ time, and that Abbott really is serious about repealing it, rather than just posturing, because once the carbon price is in they don’t have much else. But what’s with all the leftie hand-wringing?

    Obviously avoiding dangerous climate change will require much more than this legislation, which is only a modest first step. But from some of the comments on this thread, you’d think the passage of this legislation was a failure, rather than a success.

  32. Tim Macknay
    October 13th, 2011 at 16:16 | #32

    Oops. Missed a slashtag in one of my blockquotes.

  33. Tim Macknay
    October 13th, 2011 at 16:20 | #33

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Trying again (sorry about the repeat post).

    Doug, there are a hundred ways to cook a fish, or render the carbon tax inoperative, without recourse to abolishing it.

    I call bullsh*t. Name them.

    In any case the 5% reduction, risible as it is, will simply not be met.

    Why not?

    And Abbott will have the whole-hearted support of Victoria, NSW and Queensland, the reactionary leaders of which are making no secret of their anti-environmental, ‘business-as-usual’ priorities.

    As none of these state leaders are able to amend federal legislation, so what?

    Moreover John Howard got a majority in both Houses, so why shouldn’t Abbott?

    Because of the way the numbers are lined up in the Senate, and the fact that it’s only a half-senate election. Abbott would need a much bigger swing that Howard had in 2004 to get a majority in the Senate next time around. It’s possible, but extremely unlikely. Also, what Doug said.

    I don’t get it. I can understand why the right want to believe that the carbon price will still be a burning, bitter issue for voters in two or three years’ time, and that Abbott really is serious about repealing it, rather than just posturing, because once the carbon price is in they don’t have much else. But what’s with all the leftie hand-wringing?

    Obviously avoiding dangerous climate change will require much more than this legislation, which is only a modest first step. But from some of the comments on this thread, you’d think the passage of this legislation was a failure, rather than a success.

  34. Salient Green
    October 13th, 2011 at 18:04 | #34

    “Obviously avoiding dangerous climate change will require much more than this legislation, which is only a modest first step”
    Too bloody right. This is a baby step. If the numpties who made war on the carbon tax had any inkling of their personal loss in what will be required to avoid dangerous climate change they would be frozen in horror.
    “But from some of the comments on this thread, you’d think the passage of this legislation was a failure, rather than a success.”
    Those who opposed this legislation have lost. There are still pockets of resistance to mop up and they can still inflict some damage but they have lost. Any pessimism upthread understandably comes from the awareness of the tremendous effort expended for this tiny but historical victory as well as the effort still required.

  35. Donald Oats
    October 13th, 2011 at 18:16 | #35

    And of course, there is no reason the Liberal party has to stick with Abbott—he might be political roadkill before the next election, for all we know now. A different opposition leader might have a distinctly different greenhous gas emissions policy, one that is compatible with the Labor/Green/Indep coalition’s policy.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 13th, 2011 at 18:34 | #36

    Tim, sorry to have so annoyed you, but I’m a realist, in other words a pessimist. For various obvious reasons (protecting trillions in fossil fuel value, dominating society, opposing anything to do with the Left)and other more obscure ones, the Right is determined to oppose climate change action. This tendency is most marked in the Anglosphere, the USA, Canada and here in particular. These people, aided and abetted by the Rightwing MSM, the News Corpse pathocracy in particular, will not let this rest. They have a ready audience of Dunning-Krugerites, a type proliferating as News Corpse feeds their laughable self-regard, senile delinquents at various stages of dementia and, obviously, unconcerned about the fate of their grandchildren, and the usual Rightwing suspects, the greedy ‘aspirationals’ in particular. All these groups are susceptible to mass hysteria, particularly when stoked by practised demagogues.
    In the next two years there will be a gigantic global economic collapse, caused by debt and elite greed. If this country is effected, through our hugely leveraged banks, and gigantic household debt, the Right will blame Gillard and the carbon tax, bet on it. It will make Whitlam’s ill-fortune in suffering the effects of the oil shock and the abrogation of Bretton Woods look like winning the lottery. I suspect a record landslide is on the cards. And Abbott is amply capable of breaking any and every rule in the books to get his way. As I said the cultivation of Colsons is on the cards, as is State Government complicity is undermining the law. Moreover the worst elements of the business caste will be right there, ‘pushing the envelope’. In any case I always err on the side of ‘worst cases’-I’m not often surprised, and the escape of humanity from the looming disaster would be the most pleasant surprise of all.

  37. October 13th, 2011 at 18:47 | #37

    Pr Q said:

    Before any analysis, some (qualified) congratulations are in order. The Greens (with my support at the time, for what that was worth) took a big gamble in rejecting the badly-compromised Rudd-Turnbull deal, and have contributed to the passage of a much better bill now.

    Its that time of year again when I say something nice about the GREENs.

    I give the GREENs a lot of stick because pretty much everything they say and do about political culture is anti-scientific and results in bad public policy. But by pushing for and getting a carbon tax they achieved good public policy based on sound science.

    So two cheers for the GREENs. In this matter, at least, they have been sound conservatives.

    BTW, IIRC Pr Q originally supported a cap-and-trade scheme of the kind more or less presented by Rudd-Turnbull, until he was brought around to the side of reason and common sense by the carbon taxers. Still he deserves credit for pushing for some kind of economic costing of carbon, with his usual grim determination.

    Carbon trading is economic “rationalism in politics”, based on a pure theory, immaculate in conception but bound to be compromised in execution. Cap-and-trade is bound to be rorted by the the financial sector and subject to endless concessions and excessive compensations.

    Hopefully the GREENs will ensure that carbon trading stays as a pipe dream for so long as they hold minority government status.

  38. Tim Macknay
    October 13th, 2011 at 19:04 | #38

    No need to apologise Mulga. The thing is, your pessimistic scenario still doesn’t make the things you said up at @26 make much sense. I’ll assume you were just kind of venting abuut how things could go wrong.

  39. October 13th, 2011 at 19:06 | #39

    Pr Q said:

    Getting this legislation passed was a big achievement, but a great many voters will never forgive Gillard for the promises she made before the election (and semantic disputes about whether it’s a price or a tax won’t convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced). I remain of the view that she could do most to salvage her place in history by gracefully stepping aside once the bill passes the Senate.

    Well I beg to differ. And I think even Machiavelli would flinch at plunging the dagger into the back of a leader on the morrow of her greatest triumph.

    Gillard-Brown get things done, at least on the environmental front. Rather than Kevin “all process-no progress” Rudd whose signature governmental achievement was the 2020 gab-fest.

    BTW, Rudd dumped the carbon trading scheme, breaking his promisie to implement it. And he, as a senior cabinet minister, signed onto Gillard’s about face on carbon taxing. So lets have no glass-housed people chucking stones here, please.

    I am betting that Gillard lasts at least until this time next year, by which time the economy will have had a quarter to absorb the carbon tax imposts and the punters will be able to observe that the sky does not fall in. My prediction is that her poll numbers will recover somewhat.

    Whether that bounce is enough to stay the hand of the party machine operators to give her leave to fight the 2013 election is another story. The ALP might still switch to Rudd at the last minute to ensure that the government falls over the line.

    I certainly hope not. I can’t stand Rudd’s personality and his pet policies – Big Australia and soft on border protection – were hated by the voters and causes a series of escalating messes.

    Voters were dark on Howard’s GST in 1998, but by 2001 all was forgiven. A week is a long time in politics.

  40. Tim Macknay
    October 13th, 2011 at 19:11 | #40

    @Jack Strocchi

    Carbon trading is economic “rationalism in politics”, based on a pure theory, immaculate in conception but bound to be compromised in execution. Cap-and-trade is bound to be rorted by the the financial sector and subject to endless concessions and excessive compensations.

    Hopefully the GREENs will ensure that carbon trading stays as a pipe dream for so long as they hold minority government status.

    Er, Jack, perhaps you should take a look at the actual policy and legislation that just went through the House of Reps. The Clean Energy Future package is is a cap-and-trade scheme that differs from Rudd’s CPRS only in a few details.

  41. TerjeP
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:17 | #41

    semantic disputes about whether it’s a price or a tax

    The irony is that the many are determined to argue that this price mechanism is not a tax when in fact a tax is the most efficient means to impose a carbon price. This policy sucks in a large part because it strays so far from being a pure tax.

  42. Brad
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:18 | #42

    John, what are the key differences between this scheme and Rudd’s that make it better? Do you have a previous post on that?

  43. Brad
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:21 | #43

    Never mind, found your article on CT (http://crookedtimber.org/2011/10/12/carbon-tax-in-australia/)

  44. Fran Barlow
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:34 | #44

    @TerjeP

    So in one place (LP) on the day when the LNP’s trolling redux of the video is released you are inviting everyone to recall that Gillard said “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” and on this one you complain that what’s wrong with it is that it’s not enough like a tax.

    Nothing like consistency eh Terje?

  45. TerjeP
    October 13th, 2011 at 22:50 | #45

    Fran – it isn’t me trying to claim it isn’t really a tax. I’m just claiming it is a tax with other garbage attached.

  46. Alan
    October 14th, 2011 at 00:58 | #46

    How is it possible that the government managed to turn yesterday’s legislative success into today’s fiasco with an asylum bill that was both a disgrace to those who moved it and never going to pass?

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 14th, 2011 at 04:13 | #47

    Tim, my motto has long been ‘If something can go wrong, it will go wrong’. I also believe that given the inherent psychopathic tendencies of much of humanity, and that group’s current dominance of the planet achieved through the use of murderous violence and economic power, over millennia, that humanity has very little chance of coming through the looming ‘bottle-neck’. Moreover, if we are to do so, phenomena exemplified, for me, by News Corpse and its bestiary of hatemongers, must disappear. This is not a question of ‘freedom of opinion’, it is a question of whether any culture, civilization or species can go on being dragged to destruction by the worst amongst them.

  48. TerjeP
    October 14th, 2011 at 06:18 | #48

    Alan – I think they call it “incompetence”.

  49. Ken Fabos
    October 14th, 2011 at 07:35 | #49

    Abbott may be genuinely expecting the climate/emissions problem to diminish in line with the rhetoric of concerted campaigning (which the Coalition is firmly tied to) to convince enough people it’s an exaggertated non-problem that can’t be fixed anyway. That campaigning won’t stop – trillions of dollars of coal and gas becoming eventually unsellable is an outcome the coal and gas industry will be willing to spend hundreds of millions to prevent – a bargain if successful, especially when that’s money that would otherwise have gone as taxes but for the strength of big miner convictions on the evils of taxation. And Abbott – if he has any grasp of the issues – will be hoping we don’t see another strong el Nino before the next election or, if successful, during his term; plummeting rainfall, more record heat waves driving catastrophic fires and wiping agricultural production could see a fickle public renew it’s concerns over climate change, even despite the constant barrage of tankthink, advertising and the paid and/or ideological support of influential opinionators.

  50. Tom
    October 14th, 2011 at 08:22 | #50

    Ken Fabos :Abbott may be genuinely expecting the climate/emissions problem to diminish in line with the rhetoric of concerted campaigning (which the Coalition is firmly tied to) to convince enough people it’s an exaggertated non-problem that can’t be fixed anyway. That campaigning won’t stop – trillions of dollars of coal and gas becoming eventually unsellable is an outcome the coal and gas industry will be willing to spend hundreds of millions to prevent – a bargain if successful, especially when that’s money that would otherwise have gone as taxes but for the strength of big miner convictions on the evils of taxation. And Abbott – if he has any grasp of the issues – will be hoping we don’t see another strong el Nino before the next election or, if successful, during his term; plummeting rainfall, more record heat waves driving catastrophic fires and wiping agricultural production could see a fickle public renew it’s concerns over climate change, even despite the constant barrage of tankthink, advertising and the paid and/or ideological support of influential opinionators.

    As much as I hate Toxic Tony, I don’t think 4 years of environmental ignorance will cause much catastrophic events happening (not saying that it won’t cause damage to the environment) and what’s worse is that even if something serious do happen, Murdoch and his co will make sure the public knows as little about it as possible. Take the case of “occupy wall street”, even thou there weren’t thousands in the beginning week; there is absolutely no media coverage until the 10th day of the protest.

  51. J-D
    October 14th, 2011 at 11:17 | #51

    @Fran Barlow
    Major realignments of party systems and voting patterns do happen, from the US in the 1850s to Italy in the 1990s. They don’t happen solely because people come up with some new ideas (about ‘models of identity-within-community’ or anything else), and I see no signs in Australia now of conditions that might foster such a realignment. I dream about different worlds but I live my life in this one.

  52. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 14th, 2011 at 20:32 | #52

    As was reported today, the next election will be dominated by various groups of business psychopaths attempting to buy victory for the Abbot-ion by sheer weight of propaganda, based on the narrowest, crudest and most debased self-interest. Our ‘democracy’ has been a sham for some time, but the recent decisions by business pathocrats to simply buy the result is surely the coup de grace.

  53. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 15th, 2011 at 05:47 | #53

    ‘The Fundament’ has a story this morning that Abbott has made a call for business to sabotage the carbon pollution tax, by not buying permits, on the understanding that he will repeal it, come what may, when PM. And one of the resident homunculi sings the praises of the mob of senile delinquents who bellowed their abuse, hatred and pig ignorance from the Public Gallery, as proof that ‘democracy’ is alive and well in this country.

  54. Freelander
    October 15th, 2011 at 16:04 | #54

    Toxic Tony can call for business to avoid buying permits all he wants. If they don’t buy permits they will have some problems if they emit greenhouse gases. His call to business is simply another example of his desperate silliness. I am waiting for him to have a really big and public Latham moment. He has a couple more years of enduring the strain of keeping up the facade of not being a complete looney. The strain has to eventually take its toll on one so flawed. Indeed, his increasingly desperate behaviour may be signs that it is already.

  55. Catching up
    October 15th, 2011 at 16:16 | #55

    Mr.Abbott has not got to the next election. He has only got as long as the polls stay in his flavour.

    Polls are fickle and can change over night. Remember how the treated Mr. Rudd.

  56. Ken Fabos
    October 16th, 2011 at 08:55 | #56

    Tom, sad that the ups and downs of ENSO can change public perceptions about climate change whilst the combined efforts of CSIRO, BoM, Chief Scientist, Australian Academy of Sciences, all in agreement with all equivalents all around the world can’t. Well, not quite true I suppose but their efforts appear to have passed the point of diminishing returns. Dams are full, rivers are flowing through the parts of Australia most heavily populated and more la Nina makes above average rain likely for a while yet. But el Nino can and will herald the return of drought and with the dry will come extreme fires and with them a return of concern that climate change actually will impact our lives directly.

  57. October 16th, 2011 at 23:09 | #57

    Its getting late but I can’t resist jumping in again.

    Prof Q writes: “So, if the government can run its full term, they have a much better chance of re-election than it might seem at present. Abbott will be shown up for the fraud he has always been, as will the entire right-wing commentariat.’

    The only chance this government has of re-election now is for it to run full term with no more messes. What chance is there of that after the Asylum seeker debacle with the pokies battle looming. They might limp on for a while with the support of the Independents and Cross Benchers who hate Abbott and may be looking for new jobs after the next election. Perhaps they will go full term although it’s difficult to imagine.

    The idea that Gillard is trying some version of rope-a-dope with Abbott over asylum seekers is abroad but is only wishful thinking as demonstrated I think by today’s Cabinet leaks. Gillard faced down her Caucus opponents, got what she wanted and it blew up in her face destroying any benefit that might have accrued from Thursday’s passage of the Clean Energy bills through parliament. She is desperate for off-shore processing irrespective of the damage done to Labor’s inner urban support.

    People outside of Melbourne may not have noted that Adam Bandt is now rated a good chance of re-election irrespective of preference swaps. He seems to be on about 54% 2pp. These people would in a former life (like me) have voted Labor. This government’s stance on asylum seekers and gay marriage together with the perception that the most useful bits of the Clean Energy package have been inserted by the Greens is driving this shift. The effect is spreading in Melbourne with Martin Ferguson likely to come under serious pressure from the Greens next time also. I gather this is also a factor in Sydney.

    I guess Gillard is fixated on off-shore processing because it is felt to play well in the suburban marginals but she is certainly also driven by the desire to land a blow of any sort on Abbott. She has failed. Again.

    It would be nice if the rest of Prof Q’s quote above came to pass. Unfortunately I don’t believe that is likely any longer either. The electorate already knows that Abbott is a policy free fraud and that the rest of his mob are rubbish. I don’t think they care. I think that, having elected Labor on a huge wave of good will, four years of what seems in retrospect (to most) to be a litany of disasters means that they would elect Attila the Hun in preference to Labor.

    I tend to agree with those who say that another change of leaders before the next election would on balance damage rather than enhance the government’s standing but will this stop the desperate morons in the back room from doing it again? I wouldn’t bet on it. When desperate enough they will swap leaders again if anyone can be found willing to take the job. And they will get a belting at the next election. Hope I’m wrong but I can’t see them rehabilitating themselves from here.

  58. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 17th, 2011 at 05:26 | #58

    Abbott’s sabotage will only grow from now on. His frantic opposition to everything has worked a treat, with him still tracking for a landslide. To imagine that the Dunning-Krugerites will abandon Abbott is wishful thinking. His sort of bullying obnoxiousness is very popular on the Right, and it increases his popularity. To imagine that there is some rational heartland who will wake up to Abbott is madness. The Australian population has always been short-sighted and greedy, and these attributes were only exacerbated by the Howard regime, and not opposed at all, only further appeased, by Rudd and Gillard. The dead corpse of Labor, thrashing about like a zombie simulacrum of the Liberals, deserves to be finally buried, once and for all.

  59. Chris O’Neill
    October 17th, 2011 at 13:24 | #59

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    ‘The Fundament’ has a story this morning that Abbott has made a call for business to sabotage the carbon pollution tax, by not buying permits, on the understanding that he will repeal it, come what may, when PM.

    Shouldn’t that be “not paying the (carbon) tax”. In that case it becomes a matter of tax evasion. Even though Abbott may not be able to repeal the carbon tax anytime soon, it is up to the tax office to launch prosecutions for tax evasion and the tax has to be assessed in the first place. Once he is in government, Abbott will control the resources that are needed for prosecutions and assessments. Perhaps all he will need to do is say “We won’t be prosecuting for evasions of and we won’t be making assessments of carbon tax”.

  60. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 18th, 2011 at 06:16 | #60

    Chris, Abbott need only pervert the public service by inserting place-men, in the Howard fashion, to get whatever result he desires. As we can see from the MSM campaign launched since the carbon pollution tax was passed, growing daily more hysterical (which is Standard Operating Procedure for the inmates of the News Corpse Bedlam)the Bosses are determined not to pay this impost. They are all denialists, which truth specimens like Warburton blurt out from time to time, or they are something even worse. To comprehend just what fate awaits those alive in future decades yet work frantically to obstruct even the most tentative first steps taken to avert it must be seen, I would say, as truly wicked.

  61. Freelander
    October 18th, 2011 at 08:31 | #61

    Sadly, Labor didn’t seem to make much effort to clean the public service and ABC or Howard flunkies.

  62. Mulga Mumblebrain
    October 19th, 2011 at 06:28 | #62

    The ABC would have been a good place to start. It is a real embarrassment these days, its total obeisance to Rightwing groupthink leading to its becoming a branch of News Corpse and Rightwing propaganda outfits like the Centre for Independent Studies, whose risible propaganda ‘debates’ are broadcast incessantly. The requirement to employ only reliably Rightwing propagandists leads to repeated cringe-inducing episodes, one of which one could ‘enjoy’ last Saturday, on Geraldine Doogue’s ‘Saturday Extra’.
    Doogue, whose chief claim to the job seems to be an unbounded adoration of businessmen and ‘entrepreneurs’, referred to Sun Yat-sen (in a typically anti-Chinese segment)four times as ‘Yat-sen’. I remember she committed the same inanity a few years ago, greeting Professor Wang Gung-wu as ‘Professor Gung-wu’. Apparently either nobody at the ABC notices, or cares any more, or Doogue is unteachable. Or perhaps she’s simply being over-familiar.

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