I may be some little time …

I’ve been planning for a while to write a post arguing that the one thing Julia Gillard can do to (at least, potentially) salvage her place in the history books is to secure passage of the carbon price package (and preferably the other outstanding items left over from the Rudd era, such as the mining tax legislation and health reform), then step aside, and let the Labor party choose a new leader. I was going to wait until the package was passed, but for various reasons, I’ve decided it’s time to speak up on this.

I’ve been very critical of Gillard, but I’m probably less hostile to her at this point than the majority of Australians. On the other hand, her success in holding a fragile government together, and in securing agreement on some complex pieces of policy, suggest she is much more appealing in person than her public persona would imply. My limited contacts with people who’ve worked directly with her support this view, as does the clear belief of her supporters that, if only we could see the “real Julia” we would all like her.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer a relevant possibility. After more than a year in office, there seems very little likelihood that the negative view of Gillard, based on her public record, is going to change, no matter how many rebranding exercises she undertakes. Her last chance, a big bounce when the release of the carbon price package showed the spurious nature of Abbott’s scare campaign hasn’t come off. Moreover, despite her contribution to getting the package together, she can never get past her promise that there would be no carbon price under her government. Only with a change of leader can Labor sell the carbon price.

As regards the choice of alternative, my natural inclination is for Rudd, but it seems clear that his colleagues won’t go that way, and he is doing a good job as Foreign Minister. Wayne Swan has been a good Treasurer, but he is too closely tied to the coup against Rudd and the dumping of the CPRS. Greg Combet would be my preferred choice, but Stephen Smith would also be good.

Given a change of leader, and if they aren’t forced to an election early, I think Labor still has a good chance. Abbott is incredibly unpopular, considering the circumstances, and the hostility towards Labor is very much focused on Gillard personally. If the government can survive long enough to see the carbon price in place, Abbott’s scare campaigns will collapse completely.

185 thoughts on “I may be some little time …

  1. Gillard’s personal presentation aside, I’ve been quite impressed with the government’s record of achievements (in this term). There’s been the NBN, pokies reform, cigarette plain packaging, a mining tax (not high enough but better than nothing), and -if all goes well- the carbon tax. It will be sad to see an actual progressive government go.

    I do hope that when Labor next has a shot at an election they learn the lessons of the last few years. As far as I can see, there are three.

    1) Don’t pretend to be Liberal light. The Liberals are better at it.
    2) Don’t make stupid-sounding promises, even to win an election. It locks you in to either stupid policy (see rule 1) or breaking a promise, which makes people hate you. Its better to lose one election promising to be a grownup, than to win and have to trash your brand forever.
    3) Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. The disillusionment may be a long time coming, but eventually it will rip the heart out of your base.

  2. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Gillard, but that circumstances under which she took power are always going to dog her. A lot people, regardless of what they thought of Rudd just felt uncomfortable with Rudd being dumped. I think only coalition supporters and labor hacks where really surportive of the Rudd coup despite the fact that Rudd had some pretty obvisous flaws (which successfull politician doesn’t). If Julia did handover the leadership smoothly she might be able to stage a comeback at a future date. I think she still has potential if she can get some distance on last years events. Who knows Abbotts brand of politics probably won’t work next time round.

  3. As far as Australian governments go this government has been more competent and successful at improving the lives of most Aussies and their environment than most of its predeccessors. To add to sam’s short list we can put attempting, and partly succeeding, to improve the Murray Darling Basin plus some other environmental improvements, considerable positive tax reforms for most Australians, better pensions [thats a biggy], and improvements in education and health, some progress in family matters eg child care and family law. Plus other stuff.
    Surprised at the length and depth of the list of positives?

    Between the achievements and the public perception there has been a vast unremitting noise.
    The noise of an overtly biased media.
    The government has literally been pushing shit uphill against a strong propaganda campaign that ‘keeps writing crap”.
    NBN, AGW, boat people. BER, insulation, to give extreme examples.
    Sure the government led by Rudd and now Gillard has achieved less than would be hoped, they have been diverted by the media onslaught and innate fear and conservatism and there are severe shortcomimgs eg refugees, population policy, NT intervention just to give a few issues.
    But hey, what is the alternative?
    Its not the Greens …yet [by a fair way] and surely we are dreading the coming nightmare of the COALition particularly if led by Abbott?
    Cos the odds are that is what we will have soon.
    And then the value of the present government both Mk.1 [Rudd] and Mk.2 [Gillard] will be stark in its contrast.

  4. Personally, I supported the Rudd coup. He broke my rule 3. He seemed to believe that the proper business of government was doing a lot of paperwork, rather than getting any results. How many imperfect but workable processes did he scrap in the service of the next perfect plan? How many times did he put off any serious policy discussion until the release of some brilliant gamechanging report/study/review/negotiation? How many such things came and went, without any effect? I think more leaders should be sacked by their colleagues for underperformance, not less.

  5. I agree with most of your analysis John, but have trouble with 2 issues.

    Firstly I don’t see any prospect of Gillard stepping aside. Political leaders just don’t do that. There will need to be a tap on the shoulder at least.

    Secondly, to displace Gillard with another leader smacks of the ‘NSW syndrome’ and is potentially disastrous and could just destroy another future leader.

    Back to a wiser and chastened Rudd may well be the most viable option. He remains the governments best salesman and if he has accepted the need to not micro-manage his colleagues he is the leader best equipped to sell their positive achievements to the electorate.

  6. the fee caps on pay day(loanshark?)lenders,the credit card rules to protect users,the rules for easily understood contracts, the proper taxing of hugely profitable 83% foreign owned mining companies, etc,etc.

    then there is the inquiry into just how Australia came to pay in lives and money into the con that was Iraq,and maybe,just maybe ,as an aside ,find out the politics of the splintering of Australias’ single desk on the highly competitve world market for wheat and how it came about that the ownership of that market slipped(was snatched?) from local hands.

    all is on the line.

    there is a lovely long article by an oldish bloke starting on the lower back page of todays fin.
    beautifully describing the idealism of the conservative mind set.

    all the muck and malarkey currently shoved in our face is designed to bring into power a government that is 1000% behind these plucky conservative triers.

  7. @sam

    Sam I certainly agree with point 1 and while I think points 2-3 are how a political party should behave, I am not sure that failing these has as serious consequences as you suggest. Studies of voter behavior show that they are notoriously myopic. For example economic voter preference functions show that people really only care about economic performance in the 12 months prior to an election and even then, most of the impact is in the last quarter.

    Or currently in the U.S. the Republican Party is in ascendance despite widespread acceptance across political lines that the Bush administration was an unmitigated disaster.

    I think that over-promising and under-delivering may be an unfortunate but necessary strategy given current levels of voter apathy.

  8. Somewhere in the list above this comment is one that is being moderated.
    Dunno why.
    Anyway it basically says that this government, whilst not as good as many progressives would wish, has achieved far more than it has been given credit for.
    And a large part of public perception is based on deliberate misinformation from our not revered mass media.
    I just finished listening to a 2-3 minute ABC Radio National newscast which cast aspersions, by allowing Abbott to be talk extensively, against Gillard re Thompson, but then showed, too late I suspect, that the matter was a complete beat up.
    Meanwhile policy achievements are ignored.

  9. I too have been quite critical of Julia Gillard, especially the circumstances leading up to the Rudderless office claims of “a government that has lost its way,” but the passage of both time and numerous big ticket bills suggests that she has what it takes to get the job of governing done—in extremely difficult circumstances. My belief is that if the current government survives and gets the carbon tax bedded down, along with their plans for health, aged care, and other welfare reform, then she may be a successful second term leader of a Labor government. It sounds unlikely, I know, but the public do appreciate governments that have vision and a good portfolio of accomplishments. If Julia Gillard and the ALP/Greens/Indeps alliance can hold on for just a bit longer, they will be in a position to paint a very positive picture going into the next election.

    As a secondary concern, but nonetheless an important one, the Gillard-led government needs to get hard to work on the weak links of the opposition, and to be as merciless as the Abbott missionaries; the opposition started down the path of attacking people’s past secrets prior to parliamentary life, so as tacky as it is I think the ALP needs to punish like with like. If the ALP had a solid majority the situation would be different; Abbott and Pyne have led the way, however. The only alternative at this point is to be somehow above all that fray, but with parliamentarians like Craig Thommson—careless, confused, or complicit: who knows—exposing the government through no particular fault of Julia Gillard, I suspect the time for polite aloofness with respect to the opposition’s favoured grubby tactics is past and the government must take the bull by the horns while they still have the numbers.

    There is still enough time between now and the next election—assuming no extraordinary circumstances a’la Thommo—for a Gillard-led government to prepare a successful election campaign based on positives. They just need the guts to stand firm; if they chuck another leader overboard before the campaign, I think it will be the ALP that takes the biggest bath on polling day.

  10. If Gillard can tough it out she may be vindicated. One climate scientist has suggested the ocean currents and so forth may conspire to make 2013 the hottest year humans have ever known. If it pans out that way the deniers will look even more silly than they already are.

    I was talking to some LNP supporters this morning and even they agree Abbott is not foreman material. It would be sad if Gillard has to fall on her sword. Otherwise she could have been held in the same regard as Menzies.

  11. @NickR
    I don’t know if Australians really have been myopic in the past few years. Voters seem to be still angry about the carbon tax promise made in 2010. At the time he was dumped, Rudd’s support levels were dropping because people were comparing promises made in 2007 with performance by 2010. Even if they don’t have any particular episodic memory of things going wrong, there was a general *feeling* of incompetent government. In my view that feeling was well placed, and actually a long time coming.

    Rudd and Conroy’s negotiation with Telstra provides an interesting early case study. By the end of the Howard era it was clear that Trujillo’s Telstra was a bullying monopoly using a capital strike to play chicken with the regulator. Relations between them and the government had broken down, and Coonan had essentially been forced to set up an entirely new process (OPEL) to serve broadband to the bush. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have worked and would have bloodied Telstra’s nose a bit in the process.

    When the Labor party came to power, they declared they were going to build some grand new FTTN network with Telstra, and scrapped OPEL just as it was about to start building. They then spent years trying to ask Trujillo nicely if he would please stop an evil corporate thug, and Trujillo spent years just saying no. Why did they think their negotiations would go any better than the coalition’s? After a very long time, they gave up and bypassed Telstra again, this time setting up a new, incredibly expensive program called the NBN.

    The whole thing is just symptomatic of Rudd’s incompetence and hubris; The immediate abolition of predecessor’s work, grand promises, a too-clever-by-half quasi-market strategy, years of negotiations, lots of meetings, zero outcome. That sort of thing leaves a bitter after-taste in the voter’s mouth, and hurts politically.

  12. Why does everyone think Abbott has poor poll numbers? Who cares about his personal satisfaction? Under his leadership the coalition is polling in the stratosphere. Relentless negativity and populist fearmongering works, and Abbott is very good at it.

  13. “…she can never get past her promise that there would be no carbon price under her government”

    My understanding was that the promise was “there would no carbon TAX under her government” – it was always understood that carbon pricing (via ETS) was a cornerstone of Gillard’s election campaign – definitely a promise not to be broken! The rage of conservatives is semantics, synthetic and hypocritical.

  14. @FelixHolt

    The rage of conservatives is semantics, synthetic and hypocritical.

    Hear! Hear! to that.

    On the main point … putting aside that I find her politically disagreeable for reasons that most here won’t have to guess about, I disagree that she should step aside. This would simply aggravate the very serious mistake the ALP made when they dumped Rudd. Once again, the successor would have to spit on the very things the predecessor saw through and so once again, the game would be between two opposition leaders in 2013. Once again, it would concede that provided the opposition is willing to lie and slander, it can create enough ill-will to unseat a PM.

    The ALP simply must force the LNP to admit publicly that their trolling has failed. Yesterday, it was pointed out that in the last year the government has passed 188 pieces of legislation, and in the last two weeks, during the so-called Thomson affair, 22 new laws have passed. If the government is to begin to be taken seriously, it can’t look like a revolving door is outside the PMs office or that every bunch of whiny reactionaries can make it nervous. Gillard was the product of the mining thugs campaign, so before she can resign, she has to contest and win at least one election where she has run on her record. That’s 2013.

    That’s not to say that she doesn’t need to reinvent herself — it’s just that election campaigns are a poor place to do that. She needs to keep getting stuff done. I’d say she could profit by abandoning her opposition to gay marriage, allowing herself to be “persuaded” that “it is the right thing to do”. She really ought to back away from off-shore processing of asylum seekers. This is the thing that most connects her with the LNP. She gets carbon pricing through, LITO adjustments occur, she reforms the ABC, and takes on Murdoch’s empire. The disability legislation goes forward. She acts on mental health. She delivers on the pokie issue. The NBN is accelerated. When 2013 comes along, she says she wants to continue to see these things through, and invites people to wonder who is more likely to deliver on these things.

    I think she’d probably win if she adopted this approach, but if she runs away, no ALP figure will look secure within a month of the transition. Speculation will be permanent.

    The ALP made their bed in June last year. Now, for good or ill, they simply have to make it work and they have a senate that will back them. They need to make it count.

  15. I think Labor’s biggest problem is it’s inability to sell itself. They should be gaining plenty of milage out of keeping Oz out of recession after the GFC; we’re in much better shape than elsewhere. Certainly if unemployment had gone to 10% they would be getting flogged; it didn’t, but they are still getting beaten.
    Hopefully Abbott’s carping starts to wear thin. In 10 or 20 years all of the carry-on about a carbon tax will be just embarrassing.
    This refusal to grant a pair (Margaret Olley’s memorial etc) really is desperado stuff isn’t it.
    God help us….

  16. Here’s a clue why there has been no “bounce” from thr Carbon price/tax/phedinkus…

    I earn $500 a week and my compensation is $6.20 a week! The compensation is one off and yet the carpbon price or whatever has three rises already locked in before it ois handballed over to those community minded foilk in the derivatives markets. I’m already sleeping in my car ion Canberra three nights a week (try that in Winter!) so I can afford fuel to and from work.

    And I am supposed to think this is good why exactly?

    ALl I see from the carbon fugazi is working poor like myself being forced into yet a lower standard of living (this has been going on for a decade now) so that corporate Australia canb shift risk onton the household sector, yet again. That, and middle class numpties with fridges with food in them hectoring me about what is right and just.

    As part of the generation that will be working until I die can I say that the policy slide in this once comfortable country is breaking our proverbials out here in the realk world. I know people who haven’t had a holiday (unless you call unemployment a holiday) for over five years. That’s what casualised retail work does! And people wonder why we’re cranky! We need a break down here, and a carbon prices going up proposition ain’t helping. The compensation package is crap.

  17. Here’s a clue why there has been no “bounce” from the Carbon price/tax/phedinkus…

    I earn $500 a week and my compensation is $6.20 a week! The compensation is one off and yet the carbon price or whatever has three rises already locked in before it ois handballed over to those community minded folk in the derivatives markets. I’m already sleeping in my car in Canberra three nights a week (try that in Winter!) so I can afford fuel to and from work.

    And I am supposed to think this is good why exactly?

    All I see from the carbon fugazi is working poor like myself being forced into yet a lower standard of living (this has been going on for a decade now) so that corporate Australia can shift risk onto the household sector, yet again. That, and middle class numpties with fridges with food in them hectoring me about what is right and just.

    As part of the generation that will be working until I die can I say that the policy slide in this once comfortable country is breaking our proverbials out here in the real world. I know people who haven’t had a holiday (unless you call unemployment a holiday) for over five years. That’s what casualised retail work does! And people wonder why we’re cranky! We need a break down here, and a carbon prices going up proposition ain’t helping. The compensation package is crap.

  18. Double post above for some reason?

    Anyway, I replied to Frank Bongiorno’s ‘why are people not happy’ piece over at Inside Story, and it’s relevant to the above post because it explains both the decline of Rudd and the nonrise of Gillard:

    “Breathtaking that this writer can write a recent history that posits itself so much around the 2007 election and mentions Work Choices (sic) in only the last par.

    “WorkChoices and its doppleganger, the Your Rights At Work campaign, was the only game in town in November 2007. That campaign and that campaign alone was what shifted the votes that the ALP needed in marginal seats to win government. The ACTU targeted 26 marginal seats and won 21 of them. Forget climate change, forget asylum seekers, it was the Your Rights At Work campaign that swung votes. Even the Liberals campaign director Garry Loughnane (sp?) recognised this in his post-election report.

    “What is it with this rewriting of history? Is it because journalists/writers/academics and the commentariat don’t work in casualised “service” sector jobs? Half of Australian income earners earn less than 36K a year according to the ABS – that’s a little over $500 a week take home. That’s the mean, not the average (averages are useless when measuring earnings as they are so heavily skewed to high income earners, who may as well live in another country).

    “And the Rudd/Gillard response to this fortune? It was ominous from election night when Rudd didn’t even mention the Your Rights At Work campaign. Those of us on $500 a week and less thought “uh oh, here we go”. We weren’t disappointed – Gillard as minister maintained all the key ingredients of WorkChoices – the impediments to organising and bargaining – in the Orwellian named Fair Work Act.

    “The end result is that working stiffs like me have seen our real wages go back, while the corporate sector has ended up with its greatest share of national income since data began to be measured in the early sixties. And people still talk about boom. Boom for whom?

    “And then there’s the carbon tax. My compensation on $500 a week is $6.80. It is one off, while the carbon price will rise, and rise, before being handed over to those community minded folk at the derivatives markets. The carbon tax is merely shifting the risk for paying for climate change from the government and corporate sector to the household sector. And people wonder why we are pissed off!

    “Managing debt on $500 a week is a skill, yet millions of Australians do it. They have to, without a credit card you can’t run a car, pay bond on a rental house (what? Buy a house? In this market? On $500 a week?) or meet any expense that arises over $100.

    “When Australian business had its productivity boom in the nineties all the wealth generated went to the big end of town, who sold the benefits back to working people as easy credit. Now we are up to our proverbials in hock and looking down the barrel of working ’til we’re dead.

    “And we’re supposed to celebrate this? Why?”

  19. Well may we say god save Australia, because nothing will save the Labor Government at the next election – no matter what.
    No one is bothering to think about it, it’s all over. Labor is not being listened to, will not be listened to and only negatives are being reinforced. If an auditor general report on the BER can show 97% satisfaction and it keeps getting used as an example of incompetence without quibble, then there is no hope – NONE.

  20. @Phil Doyle
    I’m very sorry to hear you’re sleeping in your car. That’s certainly not just in a rich country. On the other hand, I disagree with your compensation claim of $6.20 per week compensation. The government website (“clean energy future” google it, I don’t want to set off the moderators) says you should get $523 compensation, and have to pay only $207 more per year, so you should be better off. When the tax rate goes up, I agree you should get more.

  21. # Sam

    No, according to the clean energy website calculator my compensation is $325 a year. I don’t know how you got the $523 figure? Even if we accept the $207 figure – something I think is ‘interesting’ and I certainly would prefer to shop in their supermarkets – $523 minus $207 equals $316. $316 devided by 52 (weeks) equals $6.07.

    $6.07 Sam. Whoop de doo. I can see that going a long way for those of us that live hand to mouth week to week, which is most people. A recent survey in the states showed that two thirds of US households couldn’t raise $1000 in an emergency. I believe the figure would be similar in Australia.

    The big problem as far as I can see is that whgen they raised the tax threshold (yay!) they lifted the rate by almost 25 percent! (boo!) Why someone on $25K a year is paying tax anyway is ridiculous. We just aren’t part of society! All we do is survive from week to week.

  22. Now if the compensation was $50 to $70 a week you might see some smiling faces out there, but as it stands, the compo is crap and, ergo, the carbon phedinkus is also crap. If I have to spend the next thirty to fourty years living like this then rising temperatures will be the least of my problems.

  23. Dude. That is why it is called compensation. It is not supposed to make things hugely better. It is meant to *compensate* for the costs of the ETS, which it does.

  24. “I think Labor’s biggest problem is it’s inability to sell itself.”

    This is what Labor thinks, too. It has led to a pathological obsession with focus groups, marketing, and marginal seats. Labor’s biggest problem is its disconnection from its social base, manifested in the purposeless bureaucracy that created Rudd and the factional blocs that created Gillard.

  25. Half of Australian income earners earn less than 36K a year according to the ABS – that’s a little over $500 a week take home. That’s the mean, not the average

    You mean the median. The mean is the same thing as the average.

    Sorry to hear you’re doing it tough, but I don’t really understand why you’re blaming it on the carbon tax. As others have pointed out, it won’t make you worse off. The fact that some people are doing it tough isn’t a reason to ignore big picture, long term problems.

  26. @Phil Doyle
    Yeah, now I see what you’re saying, I have much less sympathy for your position. It’s not that the compensation will be less than the extra expenses (in fact it will be more), just that the net increase in your effective income will be *only* $6 a week. Well OK, fine, but you’ll still be slightly better off. I mean, do you want the $6 a week or don’t you? You should only oppose the tax on equity grounds if it actually makes you worse off.

    If you want to talk about redistributing income so there are less working poor in Australia, I’d be with you. I know most people on this blog would be too. We should certainly have a policy for that, but that’s not the purpose of this policy. This is a carbon tax, not a poverty reduction proposal. It’s only goal on the poverty front is to ensure no poor people are actually worse off. In this it succeeds.

    RE. “Even if we accept the $207 figure – something I think is ‘interesting’ and I certainly would prefer to shop in their supermarkets ”

    Well what alternative CO2 calculations have you done? I’d like to see your objections in detail to the government’s figures.

  27. @Newy Stats

    uhh, and my cost of living is only going to go up $6 a week? I don’t think this package is compensating anything given what we see at the checkout from week to week – confirmed by the ABS splitting its cost-of-living index off from measuring the CPI. This compensation will last about as long as a fly on a lizard’s tongue. And the compo is one off, don’t forget. How do we get ‘compensated’ for future price rises in carbon, which have been factored in. And how are we protected by volatility in the planned ETS?

    Dude, I run my fridge on LPG gas, I eat food which has carbon inputs. I realise petrol is ‘exempted’, but given the intense competition in Australia’s retail petroleum sector I suspect – as do millions of other Australians – that somehow the price of fuel may be affected, due to unrelated factors of course!

    Six. Bucks. A. Week? And I live half homeless as it is. You really think this package is compensating anything?

  28. I don’t think the government figures take into account the profiteering that is par for the course, especially from big retail who can cost shift and deny that it is related to the carbon tax. Given our shared experience of the ACCC I doubt anything more than token gestures against low hanging fruit will be done to stop a rather larger increase in real prices than Treasury has modelled. No, I don’t have any carbon modelling, just thirty five years experience of shopping.

    Of course I will be worse off. The working poor always are. Why should this experience be any different? Especially as the “compensation” is such a miserable amount.

    I am also not so daft as to realise that there are a whole raft of other factors that will see things like CTP slips, electricity (which is already unaffordable for me), petrol;, bveer and other necessities of life rise.

    And to top oit all off, I don’t see the carbon phedinkus achieving its stated policy objective. All I see is the middle class carrying on business as usual while we get ground down in the margins. If this far reachiung problem is so bad, why don’t we invest in large scale (dare I say baseload) publicly owned renewable energy in a nation-building exercise? IOt worked a treat for the post-war boom.

    Sure, I am conflating two issues here – the carbon phedinkus and working poverty – but both are related to John’s poriginal post in that a) the Rudd/Gillard machine has done nothing to help us; and b) introducing the carbon phedinkus will, in the real world, make our living standards worse, regardless of the Treasury wishful thinking our experience of big retail points to an alternative outcome.

    Of course the Greens and Abbot aren’t alternatives. Nothing that liberal democracy has on offer is. And that should be pause for thought for those who are worried about the future and what problems that should bring. In that context gross social disruprion in nthe future is just another hurdle that can be added to an already bleak outlook. Climate change isn’t as pressing a problem as staying warm and holding down a job in the here and now.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m on your side, I’m just not sure you are on mine.

  29. Gillard’s strategy seems to be to try and win voters over on the basis of runs on the board over the longer term. The obvious problem is that the positive news cant penetrate the negative Abbot static. It would be good to see more of the offensive style of direct attack on the opposition evident in the last few days to puncture the vacuous Abbot bubble. The Thompson affair might provide the catalyst for this.

  30. I agree with John. The long slide in the Labor Party seemed to be terminal, but Julia Gillard is doing some very interesting things. With the likes of Craig Thomson (and let me just add Mark Arbib and Bill Shorten for good measure) the whole shebang seemed doomed to leaking insincerity liking a fracking coal seam blow job, and with about the same toxicity.

    But Ms Gillard has shown some mettle, and I think has earned some serious respect. A national insurance scheme. How long have we waited for that? A serious attempt to get the carbon ball rolling. Like a GST, but targeted for the environment!

    She’s not going to tilt at neo-liberalism, because those who hold sway in Australia would not allow it. Such are the limits of politics.

    Btw, I’m willing to back a losing Obama election next year, not because the other side win, but because ‘his side’ won’t vote for him.

  31. @Phil Doyle

    Well if you haven’t done any alternative carbon intensity analysis, I don’t see on what basis you can cast aspersions on Treasury’s figures. The ABS splitting its cost-of-living index off from measuring the CPI has nothing to do with anything. This is the government’s best attempt at measuring cost of living increases, not CPI. If you can find a genuine methodological flaw, fine. Until then, quit carping at nothing.

    “And the compo is one off, don’t forget.”

    Who, apart from Tony Abbot even says that? Has Gillard said it? Has anyone from the government said it?

    “uhh, and my cost of living is only going to go up $6 a week? ”

    For the last time, on your own calculations $6 a week is the amount extra you’ll have after you take into account increases in your cost of living. Given you run your fridge on tax-exempted fuel and you spend 3 nights a week not using mains electricity, the tax should have if anything less impact on you than on the average person at your income level.

    Honestly, your whole argument seems to be “I’m poor, this proposal to deal with climate change will only help me financially a bit, so let’s not deal with climate change.”

  32. My apologies for the double entendre. I meant leaking when inserted under pressure with a likelihood to pollute the groundwater. Using anti-freeze. The Labor Party as an organisation is a walking zombie. The pre-selection process failure is evidence enough (unless you actually want a inexperienced union official to speak for you in the national parliament). Is this what we happens when democracies run aground (oops, mixed metaphor, I meant underground, as in inserted, cracked, pumped and exhumed).

    The fact that all this, and a hung parliament, may yet develop some of the most courageous legislation in recent times…

  33. @sam
    No Sam, my point is, what’s the point of pretending dealing with climate change when the truth is that this carbon phedinkus will do squat, and in the meantime increasing numbers of working Australians are dropping off into what promises to be a life of cold hard poverty until we are put in a grave. If the nect forty years of my life are just here to service the comfortable middle class I can’t really see the point of it.

    And the bigger picture is answering why the ALP is so on the nose. The ALP is not helping, things just get worse. I don’t doubt that Abbott would be any different. Or Bobby Brown for that matter. What hope liberal democracy?

    I think your biggest problem in the future may be less from the climate and more from a violent and unstable society. Exhibit A, Claymore. Exhibit B, Merrylands.

    As W.B. Yeats said, this shall be no country for old men.

  34. @sam
    And people on my income aren’t average, we are extraordinarily talented!

    Any fool can be wealthy, it takes guile, intelligence and a quick wit to be poor.

  35. I never said people on your income were average. I only said that your emissions are probably lower than that of an average emitter on your income.

  36. skip :
    “I think Labor’s biggest problem is it’s inability to sell itself.”
    This is what Labor thinks, too. It has led to a pathological obsession with focus groups, marketing, and marginal seats. Labor’s biggest problem is its disconnection from its social base, manifested in the purposeless bureaucracy that created Rudd and the factional blocs that created Gillard.

    This is the nub of the matter. Gillard isn’t the problem. Arbib, Bitar and Shorten, they are the problem. We are seeing the last rites of the NSW Right, who have lost all touch with their base, and with reality. Thomson is only the most prominent symptom of the disease, it is so systemic that only a clean-out of the parliamentary wing will allow renewal.

    The policies aren’t the problem, they are the correct policies. Labor has lost the ability to communicate with the public – not just communicating its own message, but hearing the public’s messages in response.

    Mind you, the LNP needed renewal after Howard and they haven’t exactly got it, so they will run into their own problems if they win government re-enacting the Howard era. And it’s still an if. There are still two years to the next election.

  37. @Phil Doyle
    ” the Rudd/Gillard machine has done nothing to help us.” This is understatement. Rudd/Gillard&Greens/Howard have actively worked to harm you by undermining your market power by increasing the supply of labour.

  38. On poll numbers Labor is heading for a truly historic hiding at the next election. Dumping Gillard without dumping the policies that have harmed Labor would be absolutely daft. If they change leader they have to change direction otherwise what is the point?

  39. I think you miss the point. The question of Gillard or Abbot is peripheral to the question of Liberal or Labor. While we, and the media continue to debate the cult of the “individuals”, we will have diffculty in seeing, concentrating on, and debating the real issues. Carbon Tax, Mining resources, NBN, Medical funding, Education funding.

    The debate around the individuals are a diversion from the core actvities and the Liberals will do anything in their power to either distort, or divert attention away from, these issues. At the end of the day, I choose to concentrate on those issues, not the individuals driving them. I realise, as should we all, that each one of these will have a dramatic and profoundly positive impact on this Nation. While that remains the case, I will continue to vote Labor. If Labor loses AFTER these matters have been emplaced, then sobeit. To lose before this country has had the opportunity to realise the benefits, would be a travesty.

  40. @Fran Barlow
    Fran sadly I do not think the electorate at large give a continental how many bills have been or will be passed. The dye is cast I regret for Julia. She may be a lovely warm person behind the scenes, her problem is, the majority don’t see her that way and the Govt is where they are because of her. I am a supporter of the Party, always have been, however to turn this horror polling around, I really believe Julia must go. And Rudd is not the person to replace her. Smith, Combet, both popular and experieced, no dead wood to haul around…time the caucus looked at the long term.
    At the moment Abbott is banking on Gillard hanging on, he wants it that way, she now becomes his open road to The Lodge. She goes, new PM, popular…he goes.
    Hated writing that but its time to face reality.

  41. @Paul
    Yes Paul.
    And whoever is the leader of the ALP will face the same negativity from the media.
    Its so much easier for the media to attack a person than the policies, to trivialise politics, so that oh so conveniently, the issues get overshadowed.
    In reality, by the standards of governments in Oz, this present government has done a good, albeit imperfect, job.
    Its unpopularity is not related to its performance but to the success of media and reactionary propaganda.
    And that is not going to go away.

  42. I see on other forums that Gillard is labelled ‘Australia’s worst prime minister’. Geez they don’t want much given that I think on objective criteria this is a better place to live than almost every other country. Perhaps they want the streets paved with gold and rainbows constantly in the sky.

    Gillard had the cojones to introduce carbon pricing, Rudd didn’t. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. If Abbott ascends to the top job I’d find it somewhat embarrassing to live in a country that elected a science denier. For some reason many people are choosing to amplify the negatives. What’s wrong with them?

  43. Isn’t the point that we really are not going to like what happens if we fail to haul back emissions globally – and global efforts are the sum of the individual national efforts? The science is clear that failure in this leads to permanent losses of irreplaceable capital upon which agriculture and remaining natural ecosystems are dependent – ie it will be very expensive in ways that we get no ‘bounce back’ from – and that part of the message, which should be accepted all the way across mainstream politics, has been deliberately countered by fierce campaigning that has had the full approval and endorsement of the Coalition, (excepting Malcolm).

    It’s a problem that only seems far off and overstated because the impacts of rising emissions build slowly over many decades to centuries – turn that thermostat up and nothing much appears to happen at first, which spins into ‘evidence’ of ‘extremists’ overstating the problem. Most of the turning up has occurred over the last couple of decades, and impacts are being strongly masked by aerosol pollution – to be spun, by the simple expedient of not mentioning it, into more ‘evidence’, to become in turn more ‘reason’ for delay over action. And, crucially, the unfortunate fact that this type of thermostat cannot be turned back down , that our contributions to the problem are irreversible is another for the ‘don’t mention’ category – or more correctly into the bamboozle category which deals with this with claims stopping emissions now won’t reduce global temperatures (true) or even halt temperature rise (true) to become in turn ‘proof’ that preventing further emissions is pointless (false).

    The foundation of current opposition to carbon pricing in Australia is doubt and denial about the seriousness and urgency of the problem, insistence from too many leading voices that we must not act if actions impose any additional costs. And most importantly, it relies on dismissing and ignoring the real long term costs – the externalised ones built into the current cheap energy model – that continue to accumulate and are building up with compounding interest and with payments just starting to become due.

    Understand what’s really at stake and $6 a week looks inconsequential – yet, despite that it may be enough to win government for Abbott. But without that understanding underpinning Coalition policy it will be stronger on delivering ‘good’ excuses for delay and failure on emissions and climate but will be unable to deliver good policy.

    Not that I’m convinced that Labor really gets it either; very disappointingly, the only party which truly matches policy to actual climate science isn’t mainstream.

  44. My personal contact with Julia leaves me impressed with her as the real deal, although she has ducked and weaved on a number of issues, including her time as shadow spokes person on immigration matters. One options is that the problem is not salvageable and she must go, which leaves the impression that the party is in total disarray ( not matter the reasons given for her demise) on the other hand, if she continues to hack away at the agenda the government has set itself and can employ some resources who can actually get their message across, then her stocks may again rise. The real issue is “Who would you put in place to replace her – given the sour note in the community about Labor generally and the combative, but effective head kicking style of an Abbott in opposition!

  45. @Fran Barlow
    Could not agree more Fran. But she needs more good performances like last Thursday too, to fight hard every day against Abbott and a reshuffle. People like Jason Claire who have performed well in parliament on a poltical leevel and can cut through with a message need to be promoted and a portfolio of Special Minister of State with a wide ranging special projects brief would help. He performs well and Labor needs more people who can cut through. Voters just are not listening!

  46. Changing leaders will not make things better.

    It is important for a government to be concerned about the next election, but that should not be their main game.

    The main game any elected government has is to government for the term that it is elected for.

    The government needs to do what the PM is doing. That is to get as much legalisation through that is necessary for the good of the country.

    The government needs to continue as it is doing, in addressing matters that affect the country.

    It is nice to get re-elected but surely we do not judge governments on how long they stay in power and how many times they are elected. Surely we judge them on the job they have done.

    The PM might be in charge of a one time government, but may still be able to be proud of what she will achieve.

    It is time this country ceased to be government by polls. The only poll that the public should place any faith in, is the general election that is held every three years.

    Being unpopular does not necessary meant that they are doing a bad job. Popularity contests are just that and nothing more.

    Mr. Whitlam became very unpopular in his less than three years and two elections. His defeat was massive. Much of what he introduced still stands. He changed this country more than any other PM. His record has stood the test of time.

    What great reforms did Mr. Howard achieved after his first term or so. Not many that I can recall.

    Mr. Menzies did very little considering he holds the record for length of tenure.

    No, Labor has to keep focus on good governance and let the future look after itself. They have no other choice.

    It might be very good for the country if we did change parties more often. It would force them to address the issues that matter, not be concern about winner take all, as today’s situation seems to be.

    Both parties have something to offer. Neither party has all the answers.

  47. @Hermit
    Hermie old son, I’m sleepoing in my car in Canberra three nights a week and pulling down $5090 a week. Damn straight I want more./ I want to be warm at night and not get hassled by hoons and cops. Half of Australians of working age earn $35K or less a year, a little over $500 a week takje home. You nthink these people are living the life of nriley? Just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean the rest of youyr countryfolk are. We’re also looking down the barel of working until we’re dead. Many of us live without nholidays and the sorty of basic comforts you take for granted. And Gillard, and nthe ALP, govern nfor the ASX top 500 and the wealthy elite. We have no representatives anywhere in the plitical system. We have no democracy. We are doisorganised and we are unhappy. Suck it up, we have to.

  48. Notice the inconsistent use of the argument ‘too small to make a difference’. If Australia (world’s biggest coal exporter, OECD’s highest per capita emitter) is too small to make a difference to global emissions then we should apply that argument to voting. No point in another election as individual votes are too small to make a difference.

  49. @Hermit
    Hermie old son, I’m sleeping in my car in Canberra three nights a week and pulling down $500 a week. Damn straight I want more./ I want to be warm at night and not get hassled by hoons and cops. Half of Australians of working age earn $35K or less a year, a little over $500 a week takje home. You think these people are living the life of Riley? Just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean the rest of youyr countryfolk are. We’re also looking down the barrel of working until we’re dead. Many of us live without holidays and the sort of basic comforts you take for granted. And Gillard, and the ALP, govern for the ASX top 500 and the wealthy elite. We have no representatives anywhere in the political system. We have no democracy. We are disorganised and we are unhappy. Big capital knows it and takes advantage of us with impunity. We arte treated as charity cases and with scorn. We have little dignity and such as what we do have is undermined by hand-wringing do-gooders. Suck it up, we have to.

  50. Voting is a waste of time for the working poor. Petty crime would probably be more useful in alleviating our situation.

  51. It is a long time until the next election particularly since George Brandis has given his Sinclair Davidson impression.

    When that eventuates people will realise the ETS has had little affect on them. Assuming the World doesn’t embrace classical economics then the budget will be well into the black. the NBN will be up and running in many areas.

    this is not to say the ALP will win however a shellacking at this stage appears unlikely particularly when people realise thy have been wood-ducked over the implications of the ETS.

    however this government possesses no political smarts at all. the dumping of rudd is a classic example of this.

    A better one is the economy. Swan has done a very good job. We were little affected by the GFC because of active fiscal policy that worked well. fiscal consolidation has been extraordinarily quick given treasury has yet to benefit from the commodity boom.

    During the election anyone with economic nous knew the Opposition were using dodgy numbers and could not be trusted yet despite all this the Opposition is more trusted on the economy than the government. Swan is responsible for this.

    Overall the Opposition is desperate for an election BEFORE the introduction of the ETS however as the linked article above shows the Thomson issue is unlikely to generate a by-election.

    I am interested to see what happens after next July. It will be interesting.

  52. Phil,your figures are incorrect or at best highly misleading. Average weekly earnings for all employees $50K per year, and while the median would be lower, it’s pulled down by lots of people who aren’t primary income earners. Median household income is over $60K

    That’s not a reason for dismissing concerns about low-income earners, but it leads me to take the rest of your claims with a large grain of salt. My own work (reproduced here I think) shows that the great majority of low income earners will be better off. And, as others have pointed out, your claim about “once-off” is wrong. The increase in the income tax threshold, which is the main mode of compensation, will be very hard to reverse once it’s in place.

  53. No worries guvna,

    *doffs cap*

    I’ll let you wonderful chaps get on with being better than us worthless poor and go back to our squalor. Enjoy yer fridges and teevees and stuff. We can amuse ourselves with the two minute noodles. Knowing there are people who recognise justyhow desperate things are for the working poor in this country helps keep my station wagon warm at Fyshwick at night.

    Meanwhile we can vote for Tony Abbott, who might just give a provberbial about our situation, since it’s clearly obvious the left doesn’t.

  54. Pr Q said:

    Given a change of leader, and if they aren’t forced to an election early, I think Labor still has a good chance. Abbott is incredibly unpopular, considering the circumstances, and the hostility towards Labor is very much focused on Gillard personally. If the government can survive long enough to see the carbon price in place, Abbott’s scare campaigns will collapse completely.

    The last par finally gets to the point. Talk about burying the lede!

    Leadership changes are overrated as roads to party political success. Party poll numbers tend to be a dependent variable, related to the general fortunes of the government and economy. Keating was less popular than Hewson but more popular than Howard. Yet he beat Hewson and lost to Howard.

    I dont know if the ALP can get up off the canvas by changing leaders yet again. Changing leaders before an election is the sign of a party in desperate straits and is not in any case a proven electoral winner (as the Gillard experiment proves). The example of McMahon is not auspicious. OTOH Keating got away with it.

    The ALP’s polls started to head south in early 2010, probably the standard mid-office slump, exacerbated by the Rudd-ALP’s inability to get things done (CPRS, MRRT). ALP machine operators panicked and put Gillard in charge in order to clear the decks and execute policy. She has made a certain amount of headway in her policy goals, especially considering adverse political circumstances. Peter Hartcher points out that

    The federal budget passed more quickly this year than any under the majority Labor governments in the preceding three years. The government has won votes to pass 185 bills in the House of Representatives and lost none. The Howard government passed 108 in the comparable 12 months.

    Unfortunately the politics of her premiership have let Gillard down, she suffers from a legitimacy deficit. Apologies for self-referential quote 24 JUL 2011

    No doubt Gillard-ALP has a legitimacy problem – stabbed her boss in the back to get the top job, relied on Green preferences for ALP seats and the votes independent members in conservative electorates to scrape together a bare majority in the HoR. I strongly suspect that is a quirk in political culture that is queering the ALP’s carbon pitch.

    No doubt Gillard’s “no carbon tax” lie has not helped her legitimacy. Although it seems likely that a carbon tax bill will pass in the next year, which will itself be a momentous achievement for Gillard. I predicted that the ALP were “a good bet” in 2013, given that the carbon tax’s bark will be worse than its bite:

    I would tend to favour a shortening of odds on Gillard if and when the electorate see the carbon tax does not cause the sky to fall in.

    So I would not push the eject button on Gillard until the electorate has had a chance to suck the carbon tax and see that its not so bitter. But I guess a leadership spill is worth a shot if the ALP’s numbers don’t bounce back six months after the carbon tax is bedded down – say late 2012? Being a conservative I would back Rudd, he has a proven track record.

  55. Phil Doyle, I think you should also consider the cost of electing an Abbott government. You are whinging that this government will only put $6 compensation in your pocket and are whining about a threefold increase in the tax free threshold. Do the maths on that one-you’ll still be better off.

    Here’s the scoop on an Abbott government. Forget an $18,000 tax free threshold, it’ll be back to $6,000 and prices for utilities and food etc will still rise. And then there’s the extra tax he intends to levy on us to give to his mates in the pollution industry. You won’t be spending 3 nights a week in your car, you’ll be living under a bridge.

    But I suppose there is an upside to that, you won’t have to worry about increased utilities and food prices. Compensation of a sort.

    And a thought for you. My daughter earns under $40,000/annum, pays rent, utilities, petrol, credit card and car and personal loans, tax and still manages to eat well, have the occasional night out, buy clothes and save a few dollars.

    Maybe it’s time to ask your boss for a raise.

    The Gillard government is never going to get credit for anything while every news report begins with either “Tony Abbott says….” or “The Opposition says…” followed by the opposition lie of the day, which is swallowed wholesale, despite the msm knowing it’s all opposition spin. And the BER and insulation programs still tagged with “debacle” or “fiasco” or “pink batts” despite all evidence to the contrary.

    The cynical fiasco of confected outrage in the Craig Thomson affair is a case in point. Holier than thou spin from the opposition, while playing down the fact that one of their members has been charged with shoplifting and assault. And why, because of the opposition’s born to rule obsession.

    There must be an enquiry into media ownership in this country and Murdoch’s teeth must be pulled.

  56. Phil, voting is not a waste of time for the working poor, if they make the effort to look beyond the media and not be taken in by the powerful who claim they are acting on their behalf.

  57. Phil Doyle doesn’t understand his own complaint. In the past there have always been organisations for the unemployed in Canberra – Jobless Action, Unemployed Workers Union Committees for Low Cost Accommodation etc.

    Jobless Action was destroyed first by the Liberals and then by the Maoists. The modern Left is so gentrified that all it can do is hold politically correct meetings on tertiary campuses.

    If you do not organise – there is not much point wingeing from the back seat of some lonely car in the empty streets of Fyshwick.

    The facts that minimum wage rates are so low AND that many people only get part-time hours (with casual loading) are despicable and, in the UK, no doubt led to the swathe of riots that swept Britain.

    If you can organise a riot – why not a new party or voting block?

  58. Phil Doyle :@Hermit Hermie old son, I’m sleeping in my car in Canberra three nights a week and pulling down $500 a week. Damn straight I want more./ I want to be warm at night and not get hassled by hoons and cops. Half of Australians of working age earn $35K or less a year, a little over $500 a week takje home. You think these people are living the life of Riley? Just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean the rest of youyr countryfolk are. We’re also looking down the barrel of working until we’re dead. Many of us live without holidays and the sort of basic comforts you take for granted. And Gillard, and the ALP, govern for the ASX top 500 and the wealthy elite. We have no representatives anywhere in the political system. We have no democracy. We are disorganised and we are unhappy. Big capital knows it and takes advantage of us with impunity. We arte treated as charity cases and with scorn. We have little dignity and such as what we do have is undermined by hand-wringing do-gooders. Suck it up, we have to.

    you have a car?

    you don’t like do-gooders?

    you would rather like do badders?

    you are treated with scorn?join the club.

    he current govenment governs for the ASX top 500 and the wealthy elite?

    if you really believe that,check where you information is coming from.
    phrases like “suck it up”,”big capital”,”wealthy elite”,”looking down the barrel”,”extraordinarily talented”are thin on the ground outside the USA and being up yourself is generally speaking,not a social asset(outside sinny).

    Canberra is pretty good place to be poor(from personal experience)though being on the wallaby is a skill.

    if you really want something to complain about you could always swap places with one of the 97 people out of 100 in the world who are worse off that you.

    the worst off in Australia are still in the top 3% as far as availability of food,education and health care are concerned.

    the worst in Australia can be very bad, the worst in places even like America makes Australia look like a place people would risk their lives and the lives of their families in unsafe,really expensive boats with no life jackets to reach.

    maybe you could go west young man apparently the lowest paid FIFO is on around 100,000 PY.(probly before tax)

    Canberra might be a good place to be poor but the public transport (from memory) was not the best and it was boring as.

    (it was amazingly good roads for bikes)

    jeez if i had 500 a week i’d be in clover.

  59. @ CXhris:

    We’ve met, about fifteen years ago when I was living in Govt housing. The plight of those organisations you’ve mentioned is a lead on the futility of organising. And besides, I’m not unemployed! If the middle class left don’t kick you in the teeth then the government stooges do through Therese Rein’s Job Network, Centrelink, the cops, tax dept, and then there’s the bikers, teenage thugs, junkies etc, that have to be negotiated in Canberra’s underclass. I’ve been banging my head against this brick wall for twenty years and at some stage you have to give up.

    I’d love to organise mate, but that costs dough, and of that I have none. If you float the idea that paying more for stuff is good for you in the circles I move in someone is likely to do you an injury. Everyone looks out for themselves in this day and age, so no point in expecting support from any other body.

    I make these points because it may help people understand why Abbot is so popular. In reality there is no difference between the two major parties for the working poor, But at least by voting Liberal you are not rewarding people who portray themselves as supportive of the battler when the opposite is true.

    If the middle class left were honest they would protect their class interest and vote Liberal. By pretending to want to help the poor they live a hypocrisy. If they wanted to help the poor they’d use their material wealth to organising resistance amongst the working poor. Anything less is just so much flapping jaw that is of no consequence to anything or anyone except some inflated intellectual egos.

    The only mob that I think have a hope of organising are mortgagees. If the household sector gets organised independent of the ALP and the conservatives that might just rattle corporate Australia. This group may just have the demographic and dough to be able to have an impact. No one is interested in the poor except a few godbotherers who like to use the poor and refos and such to make themselves feel better about themselves. Liberal Democracy died in the late nineties and we’ve been living under corporate feudalism – disciplined through credit – ever since. The ballot box is irrelevant. We don’t elect Treasury and we don’t elect the ASX top 500, and they run the show.

    @ Jane

    I work for a large and ubiquitous corporation. We are employed under a union negotiated EBA. There is no flexibility for ‘raises’. It is crapola maximo, but what do you do? If Abbot gets up we go back to the status quo, which is crap, but the Gillard government is only making things worse. Prices for everything going up all the time. Looking after its big business mates. Telling us whgat we can and can’t do. At least with Abbott we might get cheaper smokes and some pork barrel.

    As for the climate? A two degree rise in temperatures would go down quite nicely at the moment. I can’t say I’ll cry to much if the eastern seaboard gets flattened. Why should we care about society’s future when it doesn’t care about our present?

  60. Your post is very depressing John. I read it after reading Peter Van Onselen’s article in the Australian today suggesting Gillard stand aside for Stephen Smith, and yesterday I read Graham Richardson’s article saying there was no hope for Gillard. (Much as I dislike Richardson’s power at all costs approach, he does have very good political attennae). So three very diverse people saying Gillard should stand down. (Richardson did not say that, but it was implied). Are they all wrong?
    I’ve decided that I don’t care whether they (and you) are correct. I will not support any change to the leadership, because it would be the wrong thing to do. Damn the consequences of not changing the leader. Labor was wrong to do it to Kevin Rudd and consequences ensued because it was wrong, and it would be wrong to do it to Julia. If there is any justice in the world, then the people of Australia will eventually see that the Gillard government is better than the alternative. And if we do not get a just result at the next election because of the campaigns by News Ltd and superficial journalists of all camps, and because the Australian electorate is sexist, and because Abbott is very good at misleading the public, then that’s the way it is, and we just have to live with it.
    We’ve got to draw the line somewhere, otherwise every decision we make about the policies we pursue or the leader we have, will be determined only by the political advantage we expect to accrue.
    I understand there is a role for pragmatic calculation in politics. But in this instance I consider it best to take the idealistic stance.
    And 2 years is a long time in politics.

  61. Chris Warren

    Where can I find some of these organizations for the unemployed?

    I’ve been considering starting one of my own.

  62. John Quiggin! What nonsense! And from you! Haven’t you forgotten that this government owes its existence to Julia Gillard’s consultative and negotiation skills? The independents have made that very clear. Their loyalty is conditional upon her leadership. As well, how naive of you to imagine that whoever succeeds her within this term of government could possibly achieve what she has to date and will somehow be magically exempt from the News Ltd. treatment which has destroyed her credibility simply by preventing her strong leadership from shining through.

    Salvaging her place in history is not the priority for her, I am sure. But who says it has been trashed? Tony Abbott and News Ltd? The polls? I see plenty of sane comment already in our MSM even today at http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/editorial/the-substance-hidden-in-the-shadow-20110826-1jea4.html#ixzz1WCMWGmLh acknowleding her Labor government as “now the only political player of substance in the game.”

    Her reputation and credibility has been undermined it is true. But to step aside will not restore it, rather it will lend further strength to Tony Abbott’s smear campaign. It will also concede government to the most destructive and dishonest Opposition in our history.

    If salvaging of her place in history is a concern of Julia Gillard’s right now I would think her best approach is to stay the course, continue with her already impressive reform program, even if ultimately she goes down fighting. Labor has more to gain than lose from her continuing as Prime Minister. As does Australia.

  63. The increase in the income tax threshold, which is the main mode of compensation, will be very hard to reverse once it’s in place.

    I doubt anybody would try to reverse it even if the carbon tax got dumped. Offering a higher tax free threshold instead of the low income tax offset (LITO) is a good initiative but it has little impact on revenue or tax paid. To be fair they did lift it by a little more than what they took away in terms of LITO but bracket creep will hand the money back to the government soon enough. Rather than being a significant reform it is a modest, cheap, obvious and overdue reform that need not depend on carbon tax revenue.

  64. PS to my comment above I have been commenting for a long time about News Ltd. and its belittling of the achievements of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, albeit in a lighter tone.

    http://polliepomes.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/why-such-limited-news-of-our-prime-minister/

    Who else finds it odd, mysterious,
    There’s only limited news, no serious
    Comment, on achievements of this woman
    In a man they’d say were superhuman.
    Abroad, she was acknowledged everywhere
    As statesman-like. Here, no one seems to care.
    Journos meanwhile with camera and mike
    Trail a fitness freak on a racing bike.
    Budget Day our Prime Minister is seen,
    As PMs should be, on the TV screen.
    For two days featured on front page,
    The nation’s leader was centre stage,
    Praised by bankers and economists,
    Businessmen, even some agronomists.
    Then a ‘story’ breaks. Will she, or won’t she, wed?
    Consensus is, politically, she’s dead.
    Meanwhile focus turns, with great fanfare,
    To a Budget Reply that wasn’t there.
    Last year’s election speech some say was smart.
    I’d say, “Rubbish! Re-cycled by a media tart
    Who seems to have press so beguiled
    That ‘news limited’ to him is all that’s being filed.”

  65. @Chris Warren

    Ok, my memory is failing me.

    However the achievements of organising in the past were substantial and several large quantities of low cost accommodation still survive (Ainslie village, Havelock, Narellan).

    Jobless Action was reviewed and was found to be efficient, but was forcibly closed down.

    Organising costs nothing, but the Left is too rich and superannuated to bother much.

    Jobless Action was a private initiative by Bob Whan, kicked off at a public meeting at Workers Club.

    Unemployed Workers Union was a initiative of 4-6 people, supported by other community groups, but prompted by atttacks by rightwing Liberals such as Fraser, Viner, and Guilfoyle. It used the ballot box pretty well.

    Committee for Low Cost Accommodation was an initiative of the Left but grew strength from broader community.

    Maybe it will kick off again should Abbott slide his way into government.

  66. As for the climate? A two degree rise in temperatures would go down quite nicely at the moment. I can’t say I’ll cry to much if the eastern seaboard gets flattened. Why should we care about society’s future when it doesn’t care about our present?

    The whole ‘f*ck you all’, attitude is making it difficult to maintain any sympathy, Phil. I’m starting to wonder to what extent your situation is self inflicted – assuming you’re not just a concern troll pushing a ‘carbon tax hurts the poor’ meme on behalf of some corporate lobby or other.

  67. Tim, your suggestion is so effing offensive I don ‘t know where to start.

    My point is incredible valid. Why should we give a rats when no one cares about our situation? Not the government – who want us to set our alarm clocks earlier; not the unions – who sign off on crapo EBAs and present them for a “vote” as a take-it-or-leave-it fait accompli; not the Liberals – who think of us as sub-human; not the welfare industry – who think of us as helpless automatons who should give up drinking, smoking and rooting (the things that make life worth living). A pox on all of them.

    And now we face yet another cost impost coming at us. I think those that think that the price increases would be covered by $6 a week compensation for someone on $500 are, at best, naive. At worst they display a startling ignorance of both the predicament of how their fellow Australians live and how supermarkets work in late 2011.

    I’ll give you a challenge Brother Macknay – how about you come and share a week with me in Canberra? July is over, so you shouldn’t have to deal with minus five or minus six, but lets see how you go sleeping in your car and see how you come out of that with anything but contempt for the nation that rudely pressganged you into this neo-liberal nightmare.

    Given the left have embraced neo-liberal mechanisms like markets as a tool (and I use the word deliberately in its widest sense) then what is the use of supporting such a bunch of callow pretenders? Indeed neoliberalism was brought into this fair land by the ALP, courtesy of that verminous parasite, one P.J. Keating.

    I’m not looking for your sympathy. Indeed, if you met me in real life you would find it difficult to maintain same, especially as I loathe and despise the gormless inefficacy of acadamia and the middle classes. No, I don’t want your sympathy – I want your house, your car and your electrical goods, along with a substantial proportion of your cash. I am reminded of the words of Hunter S. Thompson: “Sometimes you have to give them a punch in the kidneys to remind them that it’s our world too.”

    There is no political voice for those of us at the bottom of the pile, something I think may manifest as a rude shock to the comfortable classes in the not too distant future. As a poster above noted, our numbers are increasing and are simultaneously diluted by increasing immigration, use of ABNs as a form of employment, criminality, unstable housing, the usual violence, etc.

    On top of all that there shall be no retirement for us Gen Xers and younger caught in this millwheel of work-sleep-death. So why should we care? Why wouldn’t we celebrate if your cloistered world was threatened and you faced becoming one of us? Why should we care about animals and trees? Our more pressing concerns are material, and they are immediate.

    In that context labour, small l with an o and a u labour, would be much better under a conservative government, which presents itself as a more obvious physical target than the smarmy marketing of the Hawker Britton ruling class.

    @ Chris:

    Your examples of organising predate ubiquitous credit, which was sold back to the working class after the productivity phedinkus in the nineties (JQ blogged on that recently). So you’re not just up against the usual suspects – you have to consider that many, many of the working poor have a client relationship with credit providers. That is, they are serfs. They place themselves outside the law if they do not service their debt and it threatens what meagre material wealth they do have. Given the choice most sane people will keep their credit card provider happy ratyher than ferment discord. Selah.

    And in such a material existence cash is definitely what is needed to organise. Cash, and lots of it. No one listens to losers who are broke.

    Oh, and Ainslie Village is a jungle. To live there is to sign yourself out of society and enter some Hobbesean psychological nightmare. As for the other places, I don’t know. But low income housing tends to look like Claymore before too long. And I’d rather be in gaol than live there. Same people, but better diet and health care.

    But anyway, I’ve had enough of this. I can see it’s not getting through to you people. Go and have another cup of tea and sign a petition or move a motion or something. I don’t know. We’re all damned on this earth, only some of us will be cleaning the toilets in this fresh hell.

  68. I’m not looking for your sympathy. Indeed, if you met me in real life you would find it difficult to maintain same, especially as I loathe and despise the gormless inefficacy of acadamia and the middle classes. No, I don’t want your sympathy – I want your house, your car and your electrical goods, along with a substantial proportion of your cash. I am reminded of the words of Hunter S. Thompson: “Sometimes you have to give them a punch in the kidneys to remind them that it’s our world too.”

    Charming. ‘Bye now.

  69. @Phil Doyle

    Yes – the examples pre-date a lot of stuff.

    The current crop of activists are not capable of much. But the same decay or subversion (whatever) has hit many social structures, institutional and contesting, movements and bodies.

    In the UK they could not get rid of Thatcher. In the US they could not get rid of Reagan or Bush. So they gave up, and like Abbie Hoffman, took up stock-brokering.

    But the medicine stays the same.

  70. I find it absolutely infuriating that a centre-left government and the entire progressive agenda has been sacrificed over this dodgy climate change issue.

    I was going to vote informal at the last election. The only reason I switched back to Labor was because the government decided to dump the ETS.

    Unfortunately, the policy that was kicked out through the front door jumped back in through the window to dominate the agenda again! How about that for a massive disappointment!

    The Labor Party discipline prevents MPs and the unions from speaking out against this Carbon Cult Tax, but the floodgates will open once Labor is voted out of the office.

    I just cannot wait for the next election so I can vote informal with a note scribbled on the ballot paper for my local member, Anthony Albanese, telling him what an ass he he is for calling me a ‘denier’.

    No, sir, I am not a denier. I think AGW exists and I welcome it. I just vehemently disagree with the doomsday cultists that the AGW will prove to be a catastrophe.

    And I am damn angry and feel utterly helpless that people more powerful than me think I am good enough to examine the evidence and form an opinion in a murder trial but I am not good enough to do the same for climate change.

    Forget about how much compensation we are supposed to get, when Tony Abbot wins the government, thanks to this Carbon Cult Tax, the pensioners, the low-paid workers, the students, the ill and the down-trodden and everyone else who would normally benefit from a progressive government will be thoroughly screwed.

  71. And I am damn angry and feel utterly helpless that people more powerful than me think I am good enough to examine the evidence and form an opinion in a murder trial but I am not good enough to do the same for climate change.

    Damn right. You shouldn’t be anywhere near a mruder trial. 😉

  72. Tim Macknay :

    And I am damn angry and feel utterly helpless that people more powerful than me think I am good enough to examine the evidence and form an opinion in a murder trial but I am not good enough to do the same for climate change.

    Damn right. You shouldn’t be anywhere near a mruder trial.

    Heh he! Too late. We let him go, and now he is coming to get you. You don’t have to worry about the future of the humanity any more.

  73. she can never get past her promise that there would be no carbon price under her government

    Was it or was it not “no carbon tax”, rather than “no carbon price”? The Labor Party always had a policy to introduce an ETS at some time.

    But it probably doesn’t make much difference anyway. If Gillard really said “there will be no carbon tax” and then proceded to introduce an ETS, it would have taken Abbott a millisecond to accuse Gillard of misleading and deceiving the electorate.

  74. Pr Q said:

    Unfortunately, that’s no longer a relevant possibility. After more than a year in office, there seems very little likelihood that the negative view of Gillard, based on her public record, is going to change, no matter how many rebranding exercises she undertakes…she can never get past her promise that there would be no carbon price under her government. Only with a change of leader can Labor sell the carbon price.

    Gillard has a legitimacy problem, in part based on her broken promise about the carbon tax, but mostly because she has brokered an ALP coalition deal with the GRNs in order to rustle up the numbers to form a government. Plus she pinched conservative independents and stabbed her leader in the back.

    An ALP-GRN coalition was not something that traditional ALP supporters vote for, indeed they tend to loathe the GRNs. It represents a bigger ideological betrayal than the carbon tax, which was always on the cards.

    Gillard realises this and tried to contrive some ideological distance between the ALP and the GRNs a while back. But it fell flat, like all of her market re-branding strategies.

    So long as the ALP-GRNs are in a coalition deal the ALP will struggle at the polls. I don’t think that a change in leader can change that adverse perception.

    More generally, a Centre-Left government will always improve its chances by making its first order of political business the trashing of the Far-Left – the “Sister Souljah moment”. This allays the fears of moderate voters and takes much of the steam out of the Right. Instead Gillard’s first parliamentary act was to sit down with Brown and write a new coalition agreement with the GRNs.

    IMHO the ALP-GRN coalition, far from being “the miracle of democracy” was a death warrant for the Gillard-ALP government.

  75. The GRN-ALP coalition legitimacy problem also explains Gillard’s somewhat puzzling Right-wing stance on gay marriage and assylum-seekers. If she was to give way to Left-liberals on these issues she would (rightly) be seen as nothing more than a pawn of the Far-Left GRNs.

    So she must make a point of being conservative on these issues.

    I would suggest that Malcolm Turnbull represents a better long-term hope for “progress” on these cultural issues. He could start his term in office with his own “Sister Souljah” moment, poking his finger in the eye of the Right by liberalising assylum seeker regulations, supporting gay marriage and of course passing a carbon cost (price or tax) legislation.

    This would allay fears of moderates and make the GRNs pretty much irrelevant.

    More generally, democratic competition in median-voter unipolar electorates inevitably turns successful leaders into Machiavellian triangulators or “cross-wirers”. We saw this with Hawke and Clinton, Howard and, of course, Obama. They have to betray their political base early in their first term in order to stay in office.

  76. sHx @ #21 said:

    No, sir, I am not a denier. I think AGW exists and I welcome it. I just vehemently disagree with the doomsday cultists that the AGW will prove to be a catastrophe.

    And I am damn angry and feel utterly helpless that people more powerful than me think I am good enough to examine the evidence and form an opinion in a murder trial but I am not good enough to do the same for climate change.

    Did those “more powerful than” you recently withdraw your right to vote? No, I didn’t think so.

    So your right to form (and voice) an opinion on a murder trial has exactly the same legal footing as your right to “do the same for climate change”.

    You will also find that most who post on this site are not “doomsday cultists” who believe that “AGW will prove to be a catastrophe”. Most believe that a combination of mitigation and adaptation will avert catastrophe, provided the US comes to its senses in time.

  77. Tim Macknay :

    I’m not looking for your sympathy. Indeed, if you met me in real life you would find it difficult to maintain same, especially as I loathe and despise the gormless inefficacy of acadamia and the middle classes. No, I don’t want your sympathy – I want your house, your car and your electrical goods, along with a substantial proportion of your cash. I am reminded of the words of Hunter S. Thompson: “Sometimes you have to give them a punch in the kidneys to remind them that it’s our world too.”

    Charming. ‘Bye now.

    @Tim Mc, just a little dismissive don’t you think ? You may not like how something is presented but surely you can not ignore the passion and conviction implicit in the message.

    I can personally associate with a lot of what Phill Doyle has written, I have been forced to live in very similar situations, all be it on the other side of the country; in many ways I experience exactly what he is on about.
    For me the one huge issue is cost of housing and accommodation, what the hell is it so expensive for? Is it because the raft of second/investment homes owned by many must of course service a mortgage debt? Good thing there is an absolutely fair tax system to dispense compensation, NOT.
    Either way it is all out of reach for me and as my teenage children tell me, so far out of reach for them as to not even be something they consider. Their focus seems to be on getting out of Australia, to “find someplace that cares about us, the environment and our futures”.
    On employment and EBA’s, sorry to tell you but in my personal experience PD is absolutely in the right of it. In point of fact I earn less now than I did 15 years ago, but hey I have access to better work life balance, training, improved OH&S and of course if it all gets too hard, well I can just start my own business with an ABN and sub-contract for the same position.
    Sorry to sound like a whinger, when the the topic is really the future of PM Gillard and the labour party. I am the quintessential swinging voter, always basing my vote on the policies and initiatives of each party and representative. The problem now for me at least, is in actually seeing what those policies are. Mr Abbott impresses me only in so far as he is persistent, I have no trust in him what so ever. Certainly Mr Turnbull would be much better. Labour policy at least is a bit easier to follow, but still pretty confusing, I do feel very let down by the main stream media. One reason I come here to this blog and others is to get a clearer, more diverse and seemingly better informed view.
    Thanks for the opportunity to have a say.

  78. Tim, you have proven Mr. Turnbull wrong. He makes the proposition that the poor have no access to the internet.

    You obviously have internet connection, or at the very least to someone else’s.
    Maybe the boss.

    You also have unlimited time to write what you wish.

  79. @Jack Strocchi
    Sorry, Jack but I am someone who thinks climate change will be a serious catastrophe that will be built on a succession of lesser catastrophes for Australia, especially if we see a realignment of our nation as opposer of domestic policy, underminer of global agreements and unwavering supporters of a fossil fueled future unconstrained by any sense of responsibiltiy for the externalised costs and consequences. Each little catastrophe will – based on rhetoric to date – be spun into excuses for further delay. Phil Doyle’s views reinforce my conclusion that pushing for even a minimal policy response is a Sisyphian exercise. Meanwhile the minimum needed isn’t even on anyone’s agenda, Greens excepted. Unfortunately.

    Keeping up current living standards when it’s paid for by eating away at irreplaceable environmental capital and insisting Australians having to pay anything is an absolute line that cannot be crossed only has traction because of the success of campaigning to convince Australians the problem is overstated and/or hijacked by extremist agendas. The Right deliberately chose to frame the issue in those terms for no more than political expediency – which leaves them in the awkward position now of having to alienate a substantial block of voters who bought the line they sold to them in order to bring their policy back to doing the long term best for Australia.

    Under Abbott the Coalition has chosen to stick with this dangerously irresponsible position of blaming the loudest voices for emissions being a problem at all and has thoroughly entrenched the ‘overstated and/or too difficult and expensive’ view of the problem and it’s solutions – Turnbull won’t be able to turn that around and is no doubt viewed within the Coalition as disloyal for even attempting to.

    I’m not a doomsday cultist and believe that we have the necessary tools – policy and technology – to limit the harm to endurable – but I see well organised, funded and politically supported efforts successfully undermining any public will to put them into practice. Given an Abbott led government here along with a likely new US President with even more ‘sincere’ (delusion based) opposition to limiting emissions than Abbott’s and global efforts can and will falter during the period mainstream climate science clearly indicates will be absolutely crucial.

  80. @Jack Strocchi

    Gillard has a legitimacy problem, in part based on her broken promise about the carbon tax,

    This is a rightwing provocation spread by simpletons.

    If a government minister promised to visit a town, but in the event could not because a flood cut off transport, would you claim this as a broken promise?

    Gillard said there would be no carbon tax (clearly if the ALP won the election). But a flood of independent votes cut off this possibility – contrary to her continuing desires. Gillard did not break a promise – a flood of votes for independents did.

    If the ALP had the freedom to avoid a Carbon Tax, as promised, then this would have eventuated.

  81. @sHx

    Heh he! Too late. We let him go, and now he is coming to get you. You don’t have to worry about the future of the humanity any more.

    *sigh* it’s always the same. Poke a denialist, and out pops a death threat. Oh, well, not to worry. 😉

  82. @Chris Warren

    Well I think it is indeed a broken promise, and one that makes her look very silly indeed. I hope when future Labor strategists look back on this whole saga, they resolve not to take such a stupid, populist, liberal-lite stance again.

  83. @Xevram

    @Tim Mc, just a little dismissive don’t you think ? You may not like how something is presented but surely you can not ignore the passion and conviction implicit in the message.

    Xevram, it depends on what you think the message is. I am in full agreement with the point that current conditions are making things extremely difficult for many people who are working on very low incomes (particularly housing costs, as you point out), and the political parties don’t seem to be interested in addressing this. But Phil Doyle went further than that. He made it clear that he has nothing but contempt for everyone and everything other than himself. It doesn’t matter how tough things are – nothing justifies that attitude.

  84. @Ken Fabos

    I’m not a doomsday cultist and believe that we have the necessary tools – policy and technology – to limit the harm to endurable – but I see well organised, funded and politically supported efforts successfully undermining any public will to put them into practice.

    Indeed. It’s hard not to be pessimistic in the face of the sheer size of the effort devoted to trying to prevent this problem from being solved.

  85. @Catching up

    Tim, you have proven Mr. Turnbull wrong. He makes the proposition that the poor have no access to the internet.

    You obviously have internet connection, or at the very least to someone else’s.
    Maybe the boss.

    You also have unlimited time to write what you wish.

    I think you mean Phil Doyle.

  86. I find the soul-searching over the fate of the repulsive Gillard regime mirth-inducing. After we got rid of the worst regime, morally and intellectually, in our history (so far) in 2007, instead of the healing catharsis necessary to recover from such a prolonged descent into the spiritual sewer, we simply got more of the same. Akin to Blair in the UK, and Obama in the USA, Rudd proved to be exactly the same, ideologically, as his predecessor. Add more hair, an unctuous pretense of moral rectitude, and a personal inauthenticity, that, when the public finally realised that they had been dudded, helped undermine his PMship, and Rudd was a cataclysmic disaster. He was a dab hand at the cynical PR stunt (like saying ‘Sorry’ or signing Kyoto) but policy was unchanged.Yet, when his explusion of a Mossad agent over the stolen passports scandal mobilised the pro-Israel Right in the ALP to get rid of him, he was replaced by an even greater horror, with the unspeakable debacle of an Abbott PMship now a dead cert. The ‘Lucky Country’!!!
    We have attained the state of the ideal ‘capitalist democracy’. The ‘democracy’ part is total humbug. The public have NO day-to-day say in governance. The electable parties are ideologically identical, even down to hideous travesties like the vile Northern Territory intervention. Real power is entirely in the hands of business, whose political ‘contributions’ buy politics. The MSM is a sewer of imbecility, lies, and the hardest of hard Right propaganda. The voting public is 50%, at least, clinically pathological, paranoid, ignorant, stupid, arrogant in the Dunning-Kruger fashion and increasingly aggressive and belligerent, egged on by the Rightwing hate and fearmongering industries. We are, on a generous estimate, twenty years from irreversible climate change and ecological collapse, exacerbated by resource depletion, economic collapse and the burgeoning violence and aggression of the moribund West, which has only one strong suit left-murder and violence. A less generous but entirely rational estimate would be that it is too late, already.
    Yet action to ameliorate these disasters, ie to avert auto-genocide, is nowhere in sight. Indeed the very opposite is the case, with the denialist Right on the rampage everywhere, led by some of the most amazing examples of the innate irony of the self-appellation ‘sapiens’, imaginable. And we are to go on a search for a better alternative to Gillard, inside the ALP. Oh the horror! I say, conscript Paul Howes, or Joe de Bruyn, and get it over with, quickly. Or perhaps Michael Danby to bring some of that famous Zionist ‘moral clarity’.

  87. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 28th, 2011 at 15:44 | #39
    Reply | Quote

    I find the soul-searching over the fate of the repulsive Gillard regime mirth-inducing. After we got rid of the worst regime, morally and intellectually, in our ,history (so far) in 2007

    So who the hell are we supposed to to vote for?

    I’m tending towards the greens. I’ve been a lifelong labor voter and have known my local federal member for 25 years. It’s a big decision for me but I’m not happy where we are going.

    One thing that would help is to put Alan Jones, John Laws et al in the Parrot’s chaff sack and do what he suggested.

  88. *sigh* it’s always the same. Poke a denialist, and out pops a death threat. Oh, well, not to worry. 😉

    Oh, well! You can blame that too on your morbid worldview.

    That ‘death threat’ -if you prefer to see it that way- is a million times smaller than your doomsday cult’s “millions of lives under threat” mantra.

    And stop winking at me. You are making me feel nervous.

  89. Marisan, if you must waste your time on meaningless gestures and acquiescence to a totally fraudulent ‘democratic’ system, then I’d vote Green, or some sensibly extreme Marxist crew. I, having seen through the charade at an early age, voted but once, and bear no responsibility for the horrors of the last few decades. We must face facts-the global system is dying of its own innate corruption and wickedness and we ought to welcome its demise. To replace it with a system that affirms life, keeps the psychopaths away from power and lives within our earthly means, will be incredibly difficult, but the alternative is self-destruction. To achieve the happy end through ‘democracy’ when the money power rules and the MSM is a toxic sewer of lies and hatred, is pretty much a long-odds shot, I would say.

  90. @Jack Strocchi

    I never said I felt powerless because my right to vote has been taken away. I feel powerless because I’ve been duped and I can’t do anything about it.

    Let me repeat it with more detail:

    I was going to vote INFORMAL at the last election, since I just cannot bring myself to vote for a right wing party. Actually, I voted for the Greens in every election since 2001 until I decided to look at the evidence for climate doomsday for myself and felt thoroughly underwhelmed by it all.

    The reason I switched back to Labor -from voting INFORMAL, not from voting the Greens again, BTW- was because it dumped the ETS, and it promised a community consultation of sorts, which would have allowed climate apocalypse skeptic leftists and unionists, like yours truly, to finally come out into the open and have a say.

    That didn’t happen.

    Instead, we are getting the Carbon Cult Tax anyway and the ETS, the opportunity for the rich to get richer by buying and selling indulgences. Meanwhile, electricity prices are going up and up. The compensation I am supposed to get has already been eaten up by the last two power price rises alone. And there are more price rises to come.

    What was a ‘core promise’ by Julia Gillard and the Labor became a ‘non-core promise’ after the election. And there is jack-shit I can do about it. It is not like I can swing back to the Greens or go vote for the far-right Tony Abbott, though he is a climate skeptic like myself.

    Do you now realise why I feel so utterly powerless and helpless?

  91. Mulga Mumblebrain

    You seem long on sarcasm and short on practicalities.

    What do you suggest we do?

  92. @Sam

    Of course anyone can “think” whatever suits their purpose.

    Clearly the promise could not be kept if the ALP lost the election, and it was obviously made in that context.

    So it was a legitimate, policy-driven, promise made in the context of having the power to do so.

    There is nothing stupid about this – it is perfectly normal and expected. If it supposedly made her look ‘very silly’, then this would have been apparent before the election. Where is there any evidence of this?

  93. @Chris Warren
    I have no purpose, except to clearly see the political situation for what it is. I disagree with your premise, and everything you’ve said in this thread about the politics of the carbon tax. It just sounds like you’re trying to let Labor weasel out of a tight spot.

    To me, “No carbon tax under a government I lead” includes minority governments that she leads. She didn’t lose the election. She won it under entirely forseeable circumstances. She’s broken a promise that she never should have made, and that makes her look silly; it’s as simple as that.

  94. Marisan, if you saw ‘sarcasm’ in my comments, believe me, it was purely mistaken. I mean everything I say, literally, there. Our system of governance, our social arrangements and our political processes are anti-life, hence poisonous. They have brought humanity to the brink of self-destruction. To get rid of them seems, to me, impossible, as the beneficiaries, the capitalist psychopaths have no qualms in killing. I favour alien intervention as our last hope. And I’m not being sarcastic, or even flippant.

  95. Chris Warren @ #32 said:

    This [claim that Gillard-ALP has a legitimacy crisis] is a rightwing provocation spread by simpletons.

    The proposition that Gillard-ALP government has a legitimacy problem may be “right-wing provocation” but that does not make it false. There must be some reason why Gillard-ALP’s poll numbers are at record-breaking lows. The economy is doing alright, no ministerial scandals, so the problem must be with the government itself.

    I base it on the fact that Gillard-ALP’s problems seem to stem from political process rather than policy progress.

    Gillard-ALP have made substantial policy process. It has passed alot of generally popular legislation and the greenhouse mitigation policy is, in principle, supported by the majority of the population.

    Unfortunately its political process has been dodgy from the get-go. Starting with stabbing the popularly elected leader in the back, a questionable deal with conservative rural independents and an un-mandated formal coalition with Far-Left GRNs. The broken promise on carbon tax has not helped.

    The electorate obviously wants the government to play by the transparent rules of the game. If or when Gillard-ALP government fails or falls it will be a serious blow to the fans of Machiavellian interpretation of political process ie me. Or possibly Gillard is simply an inept Machiavellian, compared to the Dark Lord of the Black Arts that she succeeded.

  96. Phil Doyle Meanwhile we can vote for Tony Abbott, who might just give a provberbial about our situation, since it’s clearly obvious the left doesn’t.

    On the contrary, it’s clearly obvious that Tony Abbott gives even less of a proverbial about your situation than the ALP and/or ‘the left’.

  97. Phil Doyle :I make these points because it may help people understand why Abbot is so popular. In reality there is no difference between the two major parties for the working poor, But at least by voting Liberal you are not rewarding people who portray themselves as supportive of the battler when the opposite is true.

    Again, on the contrary. Both major parties portray themselves as supportive of the battler, the Liberals as much as Labor, even though they have no more idea about what the battlers’ lives are like and probably less.

  98. @sHx

    “Do you now realise why I feel so utterly powerless and helpless?”

    I think you’re trying to take too much on your shoulders sHx. Anyone would feel helpless who acted as though it were down to them alone to be right across the length and breadth of the 21stC. Tough enough that you’ve done the hard yards in order to better understand climate science than do all the climate scientists themselves and every national academy of sciences on Earth – kudos there! When one considers that you presumably also better understand medicine than do doctors, economics than the economists and businesspeople, automotive and aeronautical engineering better than your local auto mechanics and Qantas engineers, and to top it all can probably even get to grips with your Smartphone, well … it’s remarkable. I can understand why you’d be watching on in helpless frustration as those lying politicians screw around, understanding relatively nothing. But you might consider chilling a little more, leave some things to be grappled with by others.

  99. Further evidence of the theory that the ALP-GRN coalition is undermining Gillard-ALP’s legitimacy comes in the form of a Galaxy poll of the QLD electorate:

    There is also a growing fear in Queensland electorates about the role of the Greens in the Parliament. Almost two-thirds of voters – and 41 per cent of Labor voters – say the Greens have too much influence on the Government.

    QLD was the key to the ALP’s federal election victory in 2007. Likewise the ALP’s slumping fortunes in 2010 started in QLD, where Rudd’s excessively high resource tax scared alot of voters out in regional and rural electorates.

    Rather than, or as well as, changing leaders the ALP need to ditch the GRN alliance. It is toxic to the ALP’s traditional brand.

  100. The ALP is doing badly but it stands to reason that the more tribal ALP supporters would be of the view that it is actually some other parties fault. Blame the Liberals, blame the Greens but don’t blame the ALP. The Green coalition could be made to work if not for the fact that sections of the ALP leadership have more sympathy for the views of the Greens than for the views of their own constitutents. It isn’t the coalition with the socialist Greens that is the problem so much as the socialist greens within the ranks of the ALP leadership. For instance there was no need for Gillard to renege on her promises regarding the carbon price. She could have put it to the vote in 2013 like she said she was going to. The Greens would have bowed to this rather than support the Liberals. Gillard gave into the views of the Greens not because she needed them more than she needed to keep faith with the voters, but because she thought they represented a handy excuse.

  101. The iconic photo of Gillard and Brown signing the ALP-GRN coalition agreement has now become an albatross around the neck of the government. On a par with the photo of Suharto’s cringing before the IMF boss Camdessus during the Asian economic crisis.

    These images seep into the unconscious public mind and corrode credibility of leadership. What happened to Suharto is a warning to what may happen to Gillard.

    Perhaps the carbon tax implementation can turn things around. Its a long shot.

  102. The iconic photo of Gillard and Brown signing the ALP-GRN coalition agreement has now become an albatross around the neck of the government. On a par with the photo of Suharto’s cringing before the IMF boss Camdessus during the Asian economic crisis.

    These images seep into the unconscious public mind and corrode credibility of leadership. What happened to Suharto is a warning to what may happen to Gillard.

    Perhaps the carbon tax implementation can turn things around. Its a long shot.

  103. it isn’t a carbon tax a a fixed price for a limited period until it converts to a floating price.

    Why Gillard was advised to say it was a carbon tax one can only wonder. They really are strategic geniuses in the ALP!

    Once July has come and the sky hasn’t fallen in people will change somewhat.

    I think it also important to note things are nowhere as bad as people believe.
    At some stage people will come back to reality.

    however whilst the government is a reasonably good Government they have shown themselves to be at appalling at selling anything.

  104. KB Keynes :
    it isn’t a carbon tax a a fixed price for a limited period until it converts to a floating price.
    Why Gillard was advised to say it was a carbon tax one can only wonder. They really are strategic geniuses in the ALP!
    Once July has come and the sky hasn’t fallen in people will change somewhat.
    I think it also important to note things are nowhere as bad as people believe.
    At some stage people will come back to reality.
    however whilst the government is a reasonably good Government they have shown themselves to be at appalling at selling anything.

    ^^^ absolutely agree^^^
    Appalling at selling anything, yep and the mainstream media has seemingly taken every opportunity to distort and misrepresent.
    On a pet issue, housing costs and how to deal with that. I have had a reasonable read through the Agenda and notes for the upcoming national tax forum (1) (used to be a summit). I can not see anything that deals with addressing hosing costs through tax measures, WTF with that especially given that the Henry Tax review suggested some specific measures to deal with this. (2)
    In regards to the seemingly endless moaning about PM Gillards broken promise on the carbon tax, well get over it, like how is it a surprise, nothing stays the same, climate change is a moving, growing and evolving deal. Surely it is naive and dumb to expect our political leaders to say ‘nope sorry cant do anything about that cos I promised I wouldnt’. In fact my expectation is that political leaders will be proactive and responsive, essentially all they need to do is own up, give us the reasons for the change of mind, explain the imperatives, apologise if necessary. Come on we are all adults with at least half a brain, treat us like we deserve to be treated, at least try and assume that we can and will understand.

    (1)http://taxwatch.org.au/policy.asp?id=7
    (2)http://taxwatch.org.au/ssl/CMS/files_cms/Land%20and%20Housing.pdf

  105. p.s. The sky did not fall following the introduction of Work Choices but it was still a major political problem.

  106. TerjeP :
    p.s. The sky did not fall following the introduction of Work Choices but it was still a major political problem.

    I don’t think you know what the sky is. Because the Government changed, given the power of the ACTU campaigning.

    If Abbott gets in – the floor will collapse. Minimum wages will be pushed down to global standards and the sky will heat up.

  107. Terje,

    workchoices was sen as a blatant attempt to reduce Trade Union power, as little of it it actually has and enhance employer power.
    There were plenty of examples of employers over-reaching their power.
    If they had introduced an IR act that almost copied the 96 pages of the NZ act then no-one would have noticed.

    On the other hand the the fear of an ETS is overblown. When I was in hospital i had a nurse telling me of the dreadful employment consequences of it.

    When I asked her what the employment consequences of the GST were she said it was negligible.

    I then asked if the ETS was going to raise less than a fifth of the revenue of a GST how was the ETS going to have a much greater impact than the GST.

    She had no answer.

  108. TerjeP :
    The GST raised no revenue because it replaced an array of other taxes.

    This was the hype – plus compensation. So what is the evidence for how it actually worked-out in practice? given that lower taxes on business just seems to have led to record profits for the likes of BHP etc.

    Revenue raised by GST is probably in the Budget papers on Treasury website.

  109. @frankis

    …leave some things to be grappled with by others.

    Yeah! Let others do your thinking for you. You just keep paying through the nose.

    That condescending tone has won legions for the Carbon Tax.

  110. @KB Keynes

    Motel bed tax. Wholesale tax on electrical goods. Stamp duty on mortgages. Financial Institutions Duty. And there just the ones I can recall off the top of my head. It did shift tax revenue from the states to the Feds but it was revenue neutral at the time of introduction. Revenue growth over time was supposed to see a decline in payroll tax which has only happened partially. However my main point is that your comparison between the GST and the carbon tax doesn’t have legs. The Gillard carbon tax is not revenue neutral. If it was then it could actually be a worthy reform irrespective of AGW. But it’s not. It’s an awful policy worthy of derision by the public at large.

  111. @TerjeP
    You say a revenue neutral carbon tax would be a good micro-economic reform, and that the only thing making Gillard’s tax bad is that it collects more revenue overall. To make your case, you’d have to show that the extra things bought by the government with the new revenue are a waste of money.

    I have an open mind about that actually. Could you take a stab at convincing me?

  112. Sam – they are a waste of money on the whole but over and above that there are dead weight costs of between 20 and 40%.

  113. How can that be? That sounds highly doubtful, do you have a source? Most deadweight loss from taxation doesn’t exceed 15%. You say this is actually a more efficient tax (dead-weight loss per dollar collected) than the average existing taxes. In any case, you really have to comment on the quality of spending that this tax allows, if you’re going to say the net effect of taxing and spending is negative.

  114. The “carbon tax” isn’t revenue neutral in that it actually costs the government about a billion dollars a year. The reason for this is the extra compensation for industry (specifically the money for the coal generators who have squeezed roughly a billion dollar a year out of the govt for the next five years.)

    You can check this in the fiscal tables at the back of the Clean energy future policy document. So Terje your implication that this is a money making scheme for the government is not correct.

  115. @Mike C

    It is tax and spend with the associated distortions and inefficiencies. I didn’t mean to suggest the government was going to hoard the money. It is I believe a budget neutral policy but that is not the same as being revenue neutral.

  116. @sam

    Sam – the following paper concludes with a suggestion that in Australia the dead weight cost is 24%. There are a variety of views in the literature regarding deadweight losses in the Australian context but I don’t recall seeing any as low as 15%.

    http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/004/02/4-2-NT-3.pdf

    However even if it is as low as 15% I still find it dubious to suggest that the intended public expenditure is 15% superior than the private expenditure that would have occurred otherwise. And the government has not even made a half hearted attempt to argue the case in these terms. They have just gone on about it being the right thing to do.

  117. It me assure you it wasn’t revenue neutral.

    It raised a lot more revenue. That was its aim as it was all going to the States.

    If it was only revenue neutral the States would have never agreed even if a number but not all of their inquitous state taxes were to be eliminated.

  118. “Agenda” is a biased source. It runs a eco-rationalist ‘agenda’ deliberately presents cherry-picked data. It does not use the standard definition of DW loss, and adopts the biased ploy of comparing tax revenue to some project rate of return to cover capitalist returns.

    Taxes are used for unemployment, quarantine, public law, health, and education, which are not part of this calculation.

    If you tax some capitalism to fund other capitalism, then by definition, this will have extra costs – so what – this is NOT what the GST is about. Even if this argument was logical, presumably there would be a DW gain if we reduced the impost of capitalist hyped-up profits. A supply schedule would shift to the right, prices would fall, and jobs would rise.

    It is nicotine science in economics.

    I would expect the ‘News Weekly’ to cite “Agenda”, not more balanced commentators.

  119. I’m a bit out of my depth here TerjeP, but 20-40% doesn’t sound right. I realise that’s not an argument of course. Are there any real economists here who can contradict TerjeP?

  120. Chris – care to provide a source that argues it is 15% or whatever number you think we ought to be working with.

  121. Sam – if it helps I can russle up some “real economists” to support my view. However I’m not convinced that would settle the matter.

  122. @TerjeP

    The number is 0%. Whatever loss occurs in a newly taxed region/industry/market reappears and creates greater utility for others.

    As all capitalist markets possess a degree of monopoly, no nett deadweight loss is possible.

    Only particular capitalist profits will fall, but less than how they calculate true theoretical DW loss.

    At a guess ….

    1 less business lunch for Murdoch equals ten teeth fixed for the unemployed.

    1 less night at a casino for Packer equals 6 new units of affordable housing for the homeless.

    But more accurately …

    1% extra tax on BHP funds a hospital. Only BHP economists will see the DW loss, not the thousands of patients streaming through a hospital. I assume you can run a hospital on $200 a year. For BHP, the actual tax is a greater threat than the consequential DW loss.

  123. @TerjeP
    That’s right, one “real” economist you could find probably wouldn’t convince me. I’d like to know what the consensus mainstream economic opinion is on the dead weight loss from income tax in Australia.

  124. @sam

    Sam – there is no single figure that has consensus. You will find a range of views amongst those that have done research in the area. I think 20-40% encompasses that range of views. I could be wrong but given I’m the only one here willing to provide sources for claims I don’t feel like there is any serious challenge on offer.

  125. Terje,

    the GST replaced the wholesale sales tax plus a few, too few, inefficient state taxes.

    if you examine Taxation Revenue from the ABS you will see the GST gained a lot more revenue that the revenue lost by the forgone taxes.

  126. @TerjeP
    It depends on what we are estimating. Terje’s figures look reasonable to me for distortions at the margin but perhaps not on average. However I have seen a wide variety of estimates for this type of figure and am never really sure quite how they were estimated, if I am interpreting them correctly and which ones are the most accurate. So I am happy to be corrected.

    However as always in economics the deadweight loss needs to be balanced against the positive effects of government programs in redistribution. My feeling is that moderately heavy taxation with solid governmental support for low income households is well worth the cost, even though I don’t like paying it much personally.

  127. @TerjeP

    TerjeP :
    @Chris Warren
    Chris – 0% is an interesting claim. Can you provide a source that supports that claim.

    Easy – just look at any standard diagram for a monopoly market, or;

    any situation where there are positive externalities, or;

    situations where supply is relatively elastic and demand relatively inelastic.

    I suppose the real question is, where there are positive profits, whether an extra tax will shift a monopolists marginal revenue and marginal cost curve. If not then average total cost curve will not change so tax comes out of profits.

    But the problem for our DW loss scaremongers, is that they do not even know what the units are for this supposed loss.

  128. @NickR
    I’m specifically thinking of the dead weight loss from income tax. I suppose it would be different for different marginal rates. I can well imagine that part-timers and those on low incomes could be enticed into taking up the dole or something in response to a high marginal rate. On the other hand, would a heart surgeon really work more if the top marginal rate was lower? It seems to me most high income earners work about as much as they could already.

  129. @sam
    Sam, yeah I am also a little unsure about this stuff, but I suspect Terje’s figures are for an incremental dollar. As a result the average deadweight loss should be considerably lower, as you’d expect the distortion to rise with the tax. However when there is generous welfare low income earners can have very high effective marginal tax rates, and hence high distortions there too.

    You are also correct about high income earners having (potentially) low elasticities of labor supply. There is a not too controversial theory that suggests that rich people may have negative elasticities, as in if you tax them more they will work harder to be able to afford the yacht that the Jones’ have (backward bending labor supply curve). I think the empirical evidence on this is mixed (probably at best) but there is a super highly respected labor market economist David Card who seems to think it holds with some regularity.

  130. @NickR
    Deadweight loss only refers to the effect on the immediate economic actors and then only wrt the goods being taxed, and not for any indirect benefits they might receive. From a strict libertarian point of view there may be no other frame of reference worthy of consideration, but from the the point of view of a community or commonwealth there are corresponding benefits, “deadweight profits” perhaps, when taxes are used to generate other new economic activity and/or enhance the commons. (The same would of course be true when monopoly overpricing creates a deadweight loss – the profits would be reinvested and have other economic effects.)

    The idea of an unavoidable loss generated by taxation over and above the redistribution itself has a compelling attraction for some ideologies but it’s a carelessly incomplete reckoning.

  131. TerjeP :

    Chris – 0% is an interesting claim. Can you provide a source that supports that claim.

    Easy – just look at any standard diagram for a monopoly market, or;

    any situation where there are positive externalities, or;

    situations where supply is relatively elastic and demand relatively inelastic.

    I suppose the real question is, where there are positive profits, whether an extra tax will shift a monopolists marginal revenue and marginal cost curve. If not then average total cost curve will not change so tax comes out of profits.

    But the problem for our DW loss scaremongers, is that they do not even know what the units are for this supposed loss.

    Jim Birch’s “deadweight profits” is novel and interesting, but is it all money (ie actual $)?

  132. @sam

    Sam – work effort is one factor effected by taxation but as per your assumption I would also say it probably isn’t that significant for heart surgeons and the like. There is in fact some evidence that increased burdens lead some people to actually work harder. Perhaps we should tax heart sugeons at a higher rate than other people on similar incomes. Of far more importance in such considerations is how tax rates effect the structure of work. This is in my view more important in consideration of dead weight losses than any effect on work effort.

  133. @Chris Warren

    Chris – if deadweight costs are zero then we ought to be content to abolish all taxes and raise all revenue via a high uniform import tariff. Of course I don’t agree with your contention that deadweight costs are zero, especially given you cite no references for the claim.

  134. @TerjeP

    Abolishing all taxes and relying on import tariffs works under market socialism, but not under capitalism. Domestic capitalist profits need to be taxed even if there is no trade.

    However in general, it is felt that a public revenue base needs to be as broad as possible, so there will always be taxes on domestic activity and tariffs etc on foreign transactions.

    If you are finding it hard to see zero DW losses, then visit a library or try a Google search. It arises by definition if demand is perfectly inelastic and is covered in all first year undergraduate courses. It is a standard tute question.

  135. Thanks for that TerjeP. I’m suspicious about the high deadweight loss from company tax. It’s probably true for Australia alone because capital is highly mobile, but it’s not looking at the bigger picture. If the whole world set the same fixed company tax, the deadweight loss would be much smaller.

    It’s an argument for globally harmonized company tax rates, not for joining in on a race to the bottom.

  136. Sam – I don’t see global harmonization making a lot of difference.

    Chris – Treasury doesn’t believe you.

  137. Well the paper you linked to gave “high capital mobility” as the reason for high dead-weight loss. This would matter only if some parts of the world had lower tax rates than others. There would be no advantage in moving from one high taxing region to another.

    Looked at another way, how much less economic activity takes place *globally* when a local company tax rate is increased? What’s the global dead weight loss from company taxation? I mean, I’m sure it would be more than zero, but much less than the locally stated rate.

    I think you do see harmonization making a difference, in fact I think you count on it. You would like to see global tax competition drive average rates down much lower, and closer to what you think is the social optimum.

    Am I way off?

  138. If the deadweight cost of taxation could be lowered through tax harmonization then that would be a positive outcome. However I think that tax competition tends to reduce taxes and in turn that reduces deadweight losses. So both lines of argument have some merit.

    I happen to think tax competition is far more likely to be effective given geopolitical considerations, the nature of politics in general and the fact tax cuts have more efficacy. So on balance I’m generally against tax harmonisation initiatives and prefer tax competition. However we could cut taxes and harmonise by reducing our payroll tax which would align us more with the rest of the world. This would also have some obvious important social benefits (reduced unemployment).

  139. @sHx

    That condescending tone has won legions for the Carbon Tax {carbon price} (my correction).

    LOL ‘Tone’ troll (pun intended)

  140. @TerjeP
    I’m not quite saying tax harmonization would lower the dead weight loss. I’m saying the true global deadweight loss is lower than the headline figure suggests, since capital that flies one region to escape tax is still put to work in another.

  141. @Fran Barlow
    I wish you’d stop pushing this as though it were a settled semantic matter, Fran. Not many people agree with you on it, and it’s not an important point anyway. sHx is wrong about much more substantial things than this.

  142. @sam

    Now I’m concerned that you’re confusing deadweight costs with a transfer. Deadweight costs are not benefits that leak to some other third party. They are benefits that would have been created in the absence of the tax which never get created if the tax is present.

  143. TerjeP :

    Chris – Treasury doesn’t believe you.

    Treasury is running a Keynesian Capitalist Titanic – and one still based on their theory that debt can be balanced with growth and population growth and underpinned by a subjective theory of value (ie whatever comes out of the market).

    Treasury is not an objective, independent, or useful party.

    In 1973 Treasury was aghast at the “extreme” idea that was prevalent at the time that “heat and carbon dioxide – have pollutive effects which could wreak death and destruction on a global scale”. Treasury winged:

    Scientific speculation of this kind about possible distant catastophes do however appear to reinforce viewpoints already opposed to continued growth on other grounds relating to its alleged pollutive effects

    Treasury promised an escape from a life ‘nasty, brutish and short’ and held out the progandist carrot of ‘the possibility of a high civilisation participated in by all’. Treasury asserted “there is no logical inevitability about the connection between continued economic growth and the effects (see above)”.

    Treasury Economic Paper 2, AGPS, 1973, p11-13.

    It also kow-towed to mining capitalists saying:

    “It may be … technically feasible to recycle a very large proportion of a given metal, but it would be pointless to do so if the metal can be produced more cheaply from new ore [p38]… concern about the rate of depletion of the earth’s capital stock of minerals sometimes appears to result in a loss of perspective [p39]”.

    Although Treasury did admit recycling may have a point if it removed ‘unsightly wastes’ or if it gave fundraising opportunities for boy scouts.

    So, maybe it is Treasury that ought not be believed. Have a look at its looney predictions for economic growth in the Budget papers. Treasury sings the song of masters.

  144. I’m not confusing it. KPMG is. I’m saying that some of what looks like a deadweight loss from taxing capital is in fact just transferred value to another, lower taxing country. KPMG says that for every dollar of company tax collected, 40c is destroyed from the economy as a result of capital going “somewhere else.” Do you agree with me so far?

    I’m saying that since the capital goes to another country and is put to work there, some extra value is created in that other country ( Not as much as 40c of course, because otherwise it would already have gone there even without the tax). The effect of taxing a dollar here might be 40c less for the local economy, and 30c more for Othercountrystan, leading to a true deadweight loss of only 10c.

  145. @sam

    Those with expertise in this area have acknowledged the point. The use of the term “tax” in this context is what happens when cultural objection intersects ill-considered defensive politics by the ALP fringe.

    And FTR, given that the counter claim is entirely cultural, rather than based on matters of technical or economic feasibility, it is the key point. If this usage can be struck down and exposed for the trolling that it is, the way will be clear to an argument on merit for the actual proposal.

    For as long as the ALP fails to see this, it will do this debate the hard way. I don’t really care about the ALP, but I do care about the policy’s survival and improvement.

  146. @Fran Barlow
    “Those with expertise in this area have acknowledged the point.”
    No they haven’t. Economists regularly use the term “pigovian tax.” Even the government uses the word “tax,” interchangeably with “price.” Some people agree with you, most don’t. There is no basis on which you can claim to have won the argument outright.

    There are no political problems that come from freely using commonly acknowledged terms. It makes the tax advocate look strong for biting a silly rhetorical bullet (fired I might add, by the likes of Alan Jones). On the other hand, people who try to force vocabulary look petty, and afraid of words. What we should really be saying is “Yes this is a carbon tax, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    I might not bring this up every time you “correct” someone on this point, but know that I continue to disagree with you, both on semantics, and on the politics.

  147. @Sam

    Economists regularly use the term “pigovian tax.”

    They do — and excises on alcohol are case in point. However, very few if any are using “carbon tax” for what was proposed a few weeks back here.

    Even the government uses the word “tax,” interchangeably with “price.”

    That’s what happens when cowardice hooks up with ignorance and stupidity. They wanted to avoid falling into the “trap” you refer to above — doing spin, and instead bought the term “Juliar” which could be mapped to the trolling claim that this was an illegitimate government operating at the whim of The Greens. Now they are locked into carrying around their own political sandbags on exactly the same grounds. They ought from the first have shot this troll down and then publicly spat on it every time it raised its head. That’s what the UK Energy Secretary did when he spoke to the vacuous LNP fangirl Fran Kelly a few months back and she immediately backed off, chastened.

    Allowing your opponents to define the terms of debate is bad enough, but when these are clearly wrong, it adds insult to injury for those of us who support the policy. They are sandbagging us as well.

    Yes I am aware that you think that this is a matter of little import. This is your way of “defending” the ALP regime, but it’s stupid with knobs on, as current ALP polling shows. On almost every occasion in the world out there I find myself defending the current policy, the very first thing people say is that they can’t trust a liar followed shortly thereafter by “how can a tax change the climate?”

    Only after I point out that if they can’t trust liars, then Abbott, who is lying about the introduction of a carbon tax, ought to be disbeleived, can we talk about substantive matters.

  148. Fran, I can’t believe you’re still arguing this. The fact is, the Clean Energy Future leglisation has been designed on the assumption that the fixed price component is a tax, and the Commonwealth Government’s view (based on legal advice) is that the fixed price component is an excise.

    Your argument from political timidity is also inconsistent with the known facts. Remember the CPRS? Nobody in the government was calling that a tax. What did the Opposition call it? A “Great Big Tax on Everything”. The “debate” would be the same no matter what the government called it. Time to move on from this one, I would have thought.

  149. Oops. That should be legislation, not “leglisation”. I never seem to get by without at least one typo.

  150. I’m not trying to defend the ALP. Like you, I’d be pretty indifferent to its fate, if only the alternative wasn’t so horrible. I’m trying to defend clear exposition against wrong-headed, counterproductive pedantry.

  151. Fran is correct.

    It isn’t a carbon tax.

    It is an ETS which starts with a fixed price but then after a period changes to a floating rate.

    When the opposition negotiated a THREE year fixed price no-one was calling that a carbon tax

  152. Mainly I just don’t like the word police. Anyway, now I’ll stop complaining that this issue isn’t worth talking about, and actually stop talking about it.

  153. KB Keynes: if you haven’t read the legislation, you don’t know how the scheme works. If you don’t know how the scheme works, you can’t apply economics (or anything else) to it. Your comment about the Opposition negotiating a three year fixed price period makes it pretty clear you’re not across the facts.

  154. I said that is was they previously negotiated.
    It is a fixed price for a certain period and then it is a floating price.

    This is the norm for an ETS. business has a known price before the market rips it.

    It aint a carbon tax.

  155. @Sam

    Sam – okay I’m happy to concede some of what they call deadweight cost may in fact be a displacement effect. However it does not change my conclusion from a national interest perspective nor my general view regarding tax harmonization initiatives. Nor do I think the actual deadweight cost would be as low as 10%. It is however a reasonable point of inquiry.

  156. I said that is was they previously negotiated.
    It is a fixed price for a certain period and then it is a floating price.

    This is the norm for an ETS. business has a known price before the market rips it.

    Yes, I’m aware of how it works. However, the fixed price period is clearly capable of being described as a tax (whether you as an individual choose to call it that or not), which is why the legislation is drafted in a manner that ensures its constitutional validity in the event that the High Court decides it’s a tax or excise.

    The characteristics of the fixed price phase of the scheme have apparently led the Commonwealth’s legal advisers to take the view that it is likely to be an excise. I surmise that the characteristic that has led to this view is the fact that during the fixed price phase, the units issued (and for which the price is paid) are immediately and automatically surrendered, meaning that the eligible entity only ‘owns’ the units instantaneously, if at all, and cannot trade them. The net result of this is that the eligible entity has paid a fixed unit price, based on its emissions volume, without receiving anything in return. That looks a lot like a tax.

    I’m not insisting that it has to be called a tax, mind you, only that it’s obviously reasonable to call it one (the fixed price phase, anyway). Clearly it’s also an ETS scheme, and to the extent that it’s a tax, it’s a tax that transitions into an ETS scheme after three years. I know Fran has her own reasons for insisting that it’s not a tax. I’m not sure what yours are. I don’t think the legal notion of a tax is sufficiently divorced from the economic one that the two ways of thinking generally lead to radically different conclusions on whether or not something is a tax.

  157. @Tim Macknay

    Without reduxing too much of what I’ve argued at some length before, I’ll simply note that functionally, if the fixed price phase is merely an enablisng measure for what is to become an ETS, then calling this phase of the ETS “a tax” seems daft if not actually political cherrypicking.

    Once upon a time, I used to drive a government bus. Before I’d begin actually driving the bus, there were forms to fill out (called “journals”) and indeed, at the end of each trip I’d have to update my journal before commencing a new journey. When I was unfortunate enough to get the old 417 route in Sydney (from Circular Quay to Central) I’d sometimes spend as much as 25% of my trip time filling out my journals. It never occurred to any one to call me a journalist or even a clerk, even though I spent quite a bit of time doing clerical work. I also took money from passengers, but I wasn’t a salesperson. I handed money to the revenue clerk back at Randwick or Waverley Depots but wasn’t a cash courier. For some reason everyone thought I was a bus driver and saw these other activities as merely part and parcel of bus driving.

    The FPP of the ETS is called a tax only by those who want to strike it down, or else are too cowardly or intellectually ill-equipped to defend their public policy from the rightwing populist hyenas attacking it. This is not a one-off, but a persistent pattern with this regime in many areas of public policy.

    The debate prior to July of 2009 was whether a carbon tax would be a preferable instrument to a cap and trade system. This was the subject of discussion by experts on both sides. McKibben favoured this view but it was ulitmately passed over. Abbott for a time said “why not introduce a simple carbon tax”? (see his book Battlelines, p219). He knew the difference, or spoke as if he did.

    Nothing has changed except the context. Today, it’s foundational to the opposition strategy to cast this government has having won the election on a lie. For some reason the regime is on this issue and in a number of others, willing to allow itself to be adjudged by the opposition’s standards. Even if I cared not a jot about ethics, were I one of the ALP’s spivs, that would seem to be mind-numbingly stupid.

  158. I call the carbon tax a carbon tax, because I like the carbon tax. I think the carbon tax is the best piece of Australian public policy since Harvester. I really hope the carbon tax get’s passed, because the carbon tax is great.

    Carbon tax carbon tax carbon tax.

    See, it’s not so scary.

  159. I’ll simply note that functionally, if the fixed price phase is merely an enablisng measure for what is to become an ETS, then calling this phase of the ETS “a tax” seems daft if not actually political cherrypicking.

    Given the simply bizarre arguments you have put forward in the past to argue that the carbon price is a ‘service charge’, I don’t think you’re in a position to accuse me of being daft. As for political cherrypicking, what rot. I am strongly in favour of the policy and you know it.

    The FPP of the ETS is called a tax only by those who want to strike it down, or else are too cowardly or intellectually ill-equipped to defend their public policy from the rightwing populist hyenas attacking it.

    Yes, the opposition calls it a tax because they call the whole thing a tax, just like they called the CPRS a tax. But you know full well that many other people call it a tax as well, including many of those who are in favour of the policy. Some people call it a tax as shorthand. Others call it a tax because it resembles one. Your implication that the choice of terminology is some kind of moral issue is risible.

    Driving a bus must have been quite an interesting job. I’ve driven courier vans, myself, but it’s not really the same thing, obviously. In the present context, I’ll take the fact that you’re resorting to such odd analogies as evidence that you’ve run out of substantive arguments.

    I am familiar with the policy history aware that there was a ‘carbon tax vs ETS’ debate in the years prior to the introduction of the CPRS, however I am sure you can recognise that carbon pricing policy, and the terminology at issue, is more than a simplistic dichotomy.

    I realise Abbott has been calling it a tax since it was the CPRS, but I don’t really care, frankly. I don’t accept your analysis of the policy communication issue (other than your assessment that the Gillard Government has handled it badly). I think the debate over terminology is a distraction, and the Government’s choice of terminology would have no effect on Abbott’s calling it a tax.

    see his book Battlelines, p219

    No thanks, I’d rather hit myself in the head with ahammer.

    Also, what sam said.

  160. @Tim Macknay

    Let me first clarify that I don’t reagrd you or Sam for that matter as ‘daft’, or lacking in sincerity. Neither of you gives me the impression that you can’t make sense of the world and speak your mind. My comments referred to the major players in this conflict.

    . In the present context, I’ll take the fact that you’re resorting to such odd analogies as evidence that you’ve run out of substantive arguments.

    Put less polemically, I’m simply building on arguments that are yet to be refuted. My analogy simply illustrates the unreasonability of defining something by one of its minor enabling measures. It’s understandable that the LNP would adopt this ipopulistic cultural cherrypicking practice, but the ALP ought not to go along with it.

  161. Tim,

    what Fran is saying is what every decent economist has been saying.

    There is a large difference beteen a carbon tax and an ETS. I actually prefer a carbon tax.

  162. @KB Keynes

    I’ve made the point here too that a well designed carbon tax is preferable to a poorly designed ETS, and further that

    a) it’s probably easier to design a robust carbon tax than an ETS
    b) if Australia were largely isolated on pricing emissions, then a carbon tax might make more sense

    In practice though, the current political climate makes it improbable that a well designed carbon tax or ETS could see the light of day, and a carbon tax would in practice be easier to white ant and eventually destroy than an ETS, which creates securities. As we also see, the word “tax” is politically toxic — a rallying point for all sorts of unsavoury types with dissembling slogans.

    Accordingly, I prefer an ETS, largely on political grounds — it wedges business- but also because if we succeed in creating cross-jurisdictional instruments to abate emissions, this structure will be better suited to the task. With NZ now in the mix, this is an obvious albeit modest first step.

  163. KB Keynes and Fran:

    To the extent that you both appear be saying that, in the context of the categories broad carbon pricing strategies typically discussed by economists, which contrast ‘carbon tax’ polices from ’emissions trading’, the Government’s Clean Energy Future package (and the CPRS that preceded it), clearly falls into the latter category. In that broad sense, I agree with you both that the government’s policy is not a “carbon tax policy”. In a narrower, technical sense, I maintain the view that it’s prefectly reasonable to refer to the fixed price phase as a type of tax, nor do I think it was necessarily unreasonable to refer to the policy that way before the details of the Clean Energy Future package were announced.

    As to which sort of policy is better, I don’t have a particular preference – I’ll take either a carbon tax or ETS if it can do the job of starting to drive down emissions and promote technology substitution.

  164. @Tim Macknay

    Nor for that matter do I have a preference that is separate from the efficacy of the policy in contributing to global mitigation. If the 20 most serious per capita emitters all introduced carbon taxes or indeed any other strategy that resulted in adequately lower emissions trajectories without prejudicing equity or producing other seriously undesirable consequences and these models became part and parcel of the policies of the bulk of other jurisdictions I’d be just fine with that.

  165. KB Keynes – I have thought about that, and contrary to what I said earlier, it seems clear to me now that our disagreement arose as a result of a difference between the legal and economic terminology. I don’t think there is any substantive disagreement between us.

  166. Basically a price is set per tonne of emitted carbon (as gases, whatever they may be), and it is fixed for one or two years; then, the price is effectively floated by allowing a market mechanism to determine the cost of a tonne of emitted carbon.

    Fran resents the fact that the ALP and others promote the fixed price period as being a “carbon tax”, tax being the word in dispute. I don’t know whether calling it a tax is technically correct or not; while it looks like a tax it has several distinguishing features:
    i) it is a temporary measure until the floating occurs;
    ii) the floated version is treated like any other commodity traded in a market;
    iii) compensation is offered to consumers to offset any price hikes, even allowing them to determine how they spend the compensation (eg on something other than fossil fuels or products largely dependent upon fossil fuels);
    iv) other tax reforms, such as lifting the tax-free threshold, are involved.

    Maybe it’s a tax, maybe not—certainly, an argument may be mounted that it isn’t a tax; however, the main thing is understanding how it works, for that is what will quell the anxiety felt by the consumers, who are fed a diet of what passes for news-reporting in this country.

  167. the main thing is understanding how it works, for that is what will quell the anxiety felt by the consumers, who are fed a diet of what passes for news-reporting in this country.

    Yes.

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