The failure of the Senate to pass the CPRS today means that the Rudd-Turnbull deal is dead, and that Rudd now has little choice but to go for a double dissolution, early in 2010. Assuming he does, and that Labor wins, the worst outcome we can get is the original bill. But, given that Labor will have no choice but to deal with the Greens for the foreseeable future, it would make much more sense to go for something better. Whereas a couple of days ago it looked like we would get a shabby deal, politically profitable for Labor, mildly embarrassing for the Coalition and barely passable for the environment, we now have the prospect of getting it all – a decent emissions trading policy, an open debate in which the delusionist conspiracy theorists are exposed for the loony fruit loops they are, and a split in the Liberal party that will keep it out of office until it dumps its current base and moves a long way to the left (see UK Tory party)
Some observations over the page
If the Libs are going to stand or fall on climate delusionism, it makes no sense for them to put up Joe Hockey as a compromise leader. Sooner he later, he will be forced to support or repudiate delusionism, and either way he’s a loser. Better to go for Abbott and get it over with, one way or the other.
What happens at Copenhagen makes a difference, but not a big difference now, since it’s clear the Libs will never support any kind of ETS once Turnbull is gone. Assuming, as seems likely, that Copenhagen produces general agreement on the need for action, though not a final agreement, Rudd will have enough to run on. DD triggers last forever, so he can call one anytime he wants.
The attempt to buy the support of the electricity, mining and coal lobbies with utterly unjustifed “compensation” packages has clearly failed. Labor should go back to the principles laid down by Garnaut in this respect. It may be that the current owners of these assets are overgeared and will go bankrupt. Tough luck to them – the prospect of action to control emissions was flagged decades ago, and they’ve taken a losing bet. As long as the assets are still viable taking account of the cost of permits, new owners will be found to operate them.
fn1. This is the crucial phrase in the constitution, as regards double dissolutions. IANAL, but I’m confident that (a) Rudd will be able to convince the GG that referring the bill to a committee constitutes a failure to pass, and that (b) no High Court, and certainly not the current one, would be suicidal enough to block an election at short notice or to overturn the result of an election once held. So, barring an amazing reversal on Monday, it’s game on.