A long time coming …

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

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

Now, a bit of a look towards the future

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

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

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

62 thoughts on “A long time coming …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. @Mulga Mumblebrain

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

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

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

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

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

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