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Federal

Jul 23, 2010

Gillard abandons leadership on climate change

It's hard to describe just how truly wretched Labor's new climate change policy is. It makes the CPRS, its dog of an emissions trading scheme, look like a model of best practice.

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It’s hard to describe just how truly wretched Labor’s new climate change policy is. It makes the CPRS, its dog of an emissions trading scheme, look like a model of best practice. It is a spectacular failure of leadership.

Julia Gillard’s “citizens’ assembly” has effectively outsourced responsibility for climate policy to “ordinary Australians”, on whose “skills, capacity, decency and plain common sense” Gillard will rely to tell her about the community consensus on climate change. In effect it institutionalises what is already apparent — this is a Government controlled by focus group reactions.

Labor has been playing politics with climate change for three years and it hasn’t stopped. But whereas for most of that time it used climate change to damage the Coalition, now it is having to defend itself against the issue. It will only be with the political cover afforded by this nonsensical Assembly that the Government will take any action on a carbon price.

Rarely has so much goodwill and political capital been wasted on such an important issue.

The consensus the Government insists it needs the protection of before acting already exists. It’s not just in the opinion polls, which show time and time again that the majority of voters want action on climate change and supported the Government’s CPRS.  In 2007, let’s not forget, both sides of politics told Australians they were going to introduce an ETS. The 2007 election endorsed a community consensus on the need for action.

Instead, in 2010, neither party will commit to any sort of carbon price mechanism for at least three years. Instead, they’re offering excuses as to why they don’t want to take action. We’ve done anything but move forward on climate action.

Gillard’s interim actions are little better. The new emissions standard she proposes won’t even apply to four coal-fired power stations being built or brought back on line currently. They may not apply to two more, the massive Mt Piper and Bayswater projects in NSW, which will together add 4% to national CO2-equivalent emissions when they come on line. Holding the baseline for the CPRS at 2008 levels won’t give electricity generators any more investment certainty when it remains unclear whether there will ever be an emissions trading scheme in Australia. Nor does it change the simple fact that State Governments continue to drive Australia into a coal-fired future.

Labor’s craven pandering to key outer-suburban electorates in its population and asylum seeker policies was bad enough. But abdicating executive responsibility for action on climate change is a new low in cynical politics, beyond the depths even reached by NSW Labor. Politicians are elected to lead. Deferring every controversial issue back to the electorate is a clumsy variant of leadership by polling and focus groups.

So blatant is Labor’s refusal to lead that it raises serious questions about its fitness for government. The only problem is that the alternative is an economically-illiterate party whose leader doesn’t believe in climate change at all, but who insists on wasting $3b on the most expensive possible means of addressing it.

What a choice, two major parties incapable of leadership and unfit to govern.

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255 comments

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255 thoughts on “Gillard abandons leadership on climate change

  1. gerard

    @ Mark,@ Fran and @Venise.
    The only way out for higher literacy standards here in Australia is either getting kids to learn English as a foreign language in Europe,or failing that, getting European qualified teachers to teach the language locally.
    After arrival many decades ago at 15 years of age my English was considered to be of ‘leaving standard.’ Most high schools in The Netherlands teach three other languages apart from Dutch.
    I am buggered if I can understand what the problem is with teaching just the one language.

  2. Mark Duffett

    @Fran and @Gerard,

    I believe the source for @Venise’s ‘40% illiterate’ statement is this ABS survey from 2006.

    Amongst other things, its results were that 46% of working-age Australians failed to meet a literacy standard defined as the “minimum required for individuals to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work in the emerging knowledge-based economy”. The proportion failing to meet the equivalent numeracy standard was 53%.

    Make of that what you will.

  3. gerard

    I agree, our literacy rates are higher than just 60 %. In fact we are almost as high as most of the former USSR countries. Of course with the Ukraine at 99.9% and Kazakhstan at 99.4% we have some catching up to do, but we are neck on neck with Romania.
    Geez, did you hear M.Turnbull wax about China with miles of subways and hundreds of rail stations being built in Changhai while we were raking our autumnal leaves and peering at the race guide?
    Still, there is nothing like going to bed early, switch on the electric blanket. zzzzzzzzzzzz

  4. Michael R James

    @MARK DUFFETT at 4:44 pm

    Well, since Gillard has excluded from her stern “no more dirty coal plants will be built” “policy”, the 12 to 14 coal-fired generators which already have their approvals, then no there will be BAU and a slight reprieve. Though the unsolved issue for the BAU lobby is that no finance is available which raises the issue of whether the government will be “forced” into providing some sort of guarantee, not dissimilar to Obama’s loan guarantees on nuclear power (which his Office of Management and Budget has said exposes the government to very high risk–ie. the loan guarantees are likely to turn into grants).

    One thing is sure, our carbon emissions per cap will continue to climb.

    But if the potential wind turbines were actually installed (whatever cost blah, blah) then that could also provide some further room to manoeuvre (by which I mean avoid the issue).

    However maybe those blackouts are not such a bad thing, a wakeup call to the public and politicians? It seems that we Anglos need to be on the edge of meltdown before we do anything. (Once were Victorians…). Witness today’s train network meltdown in Melbourne and the continuing farce of Myki and the Sydney ticket system.
    Of course not, that is why those new coal plants will be constructed. And since the future test merely requires new coal plants to be “CCS ready” there is in effect a charter for exactly BAU.

  5. Fran Barlow

    Thanks for the bouquet Venise but I wouldn’t agree with this:

    [A recent poll found that forty percent of our workforce to be illiterate and/or innumerate. Would you trust these morons with the construction of a nuclear power plant? Shiver, shiver.]

    Speaking as a teacher I can say that functional literacy and numeracy is much higher than that. In any event, highly skilled workers would be employed in construction and operation of the plants.

  6. Mark Duffett

    @MRJ 11:26pm

    …there will be absolutely no change to the factors that give rise to those tortuous approval processes…

    If that’s the case, and if we proceed with the plans to entirely replace our coal-fired generation capacity with renewables, then blackouts and curfews is exactly what we will get.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    Oh for God’s sake Fran.

    This is Australia, and Australia only does what other countries did fifty years in the past.

    Your writing is eloquent, well researched and you use logic. Even worse, you appear to have reason on your side.

    The only politician I can think of who would understand what you say, and be able to do something about it, is Malcolm Turnbull. He of the ‘being turfed out of the Liberal Party leadership because he believes in Climate Change as having been caused by Homo Sapiens’ (his arrogance didn’t help either).

    It has taken Australia until 2010 AD to come up to par with the 1970s of other nations.

    Whether this is because of the inherent stupidity of the Australian people, or the fact that the mining industries have billions of dollars of vested interest in making sure our technology lags so far behind China, as to be laughable.

    Fran, how would the Australian workforce cope with the advanced technologies of which you speak.

    A recent poll found that forty percent of our workforce to be illiterate and/or innumerate. Would you trust these morons with the construction of a nuclear power plant? Shiver, shiver.

    Cheers

    Venise

  8. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James

    I don’t discount the political problems but in this as in many things, every journey must beging with a first step. That first step is lifting the ban on discussion of nuclear power as a policy option. If you are right, and the cost or other issues are indeed the obstacle you say they are, then we will stand no worse than we are now. We will still be asking ourselves how best to deal with the specific challenges of climate change and industrial pollution.

    Yet surely we must at least have an open and rigorous examination of these issues? That has never been done in this country. Instead, nuclear power has welded together Nimbies and the merchants of moral panic, in a way that is very similar to arguments about asylum seekers and Mosques in our neighbourhood or gay adoption. Issues that can cross the political divide like this are always the hardest to deal with.

    The history of this discussion in this country is briefly that initially, the ALP favoured nuclear power, and dealt with the issue on basic resource sovereignty considerations, but when it was ejected from office in 1975 it began to be identiified much more strongly with the coalition, who, unlike Rex Connor, naturally wanted to hand over the resource to private industry. The issue then became part of a partisan bunfight and the ALP activists dragged in concerns about safety, and land rights and suddenly it was existential.

    At no point though was a careful scientific and economic exmaination of the merits of the technology undertaken, and post-Argonne, this seems particularly absurd. The Russians will have a GenIV plant by 2014. We could certainly have a brace of them by 2020, if we got going with it.

    I do agree with a price on carbon though — ideally an ETS, possibly a carbon tax with a price starting at about that nominated by the Greens and rising to about $AUS(2010) 100 by about 2015 across the board.

    I quite like, as in interim measure if neither of these can be sold, the idea of removing both subsidies (e.g. diesel fuel rebate, LPG conversion) and the tax deductibility of “dirty energy”. A benchmark for dirty energy would be established (stationary: industry average CO2-intensity for anthracite plants; Transport: BTU/CO2 of petrodiesel) and deductibility wouild be relative to dirty energy. The money clawed back would be used to fully rebate those on or below AWE and partially rebate those up to 120% of AWE and to fund soft loans for cleaner energy projects, reafforestation, quality sustainable housing and transport etc.

  9. Michael R James

    Fran, after your very first sentence in your point 1, I lost interest in reading the rest. I tried but I just ended up skimming.

    Because you are hand waving away one of the biggest problems, certainly in Anglo democracies. In my written arguments I deliberately avoid the most contentious issues–politics and safety being the big ones–because they are irresolvable by argument. You cannot address them by scientific rational persuasion. It simply doesn’t matter what you or I or Barry Brook, or Ziggy Zwitkowski say. In places like the UK, USA and even Germany and Sweden (as is now happening) where there remains huge resistance but nevertheless they have lived with nuclear for 40-50 years, they may be able to build some new ones, keep the old ones going for another 20 years.

    But Australia would have to start this tortuous political debate from year zero, actually in a far worse situation than any of those countries were in the late 70s which is when they stopped building new plants. There is no conceivable way in which to short circuit that argument and once it starts for real (do you see any sign for even the next parliament, or the one after that?) it will immediately bog down. We cannot even decide to store some relatively innocuous waste in the vast empty interior of our country, let alone build reactors on our eastern coastline.

    If nuclear was as cheap as some advocates claim, or even say about within twofold of FF, then I would say just possibly it might be worth the long and tortuous road. If, by the time we got enough built to make a difference—by most realistic estimates not before 2040–and on the same time scale there was unlikely to be any other alternative that was approx. cost competitive, then maybe. BUT none of those are true statements. I don’t think you quite understand what the real costs of nuclear are. That $9B effective subsidy from Obama is just the tip; Grunwald still estimates new reactors at almost double that (from industry own estimates); you don’t understand that nuclear has subsidy and hidden assistance all the way, from before it is conceived to hundreds of years after a plants life. In the US some electrical utilities have obtained permission to surcharge existing customers now to pay for future nuclear plants. The economics is crazy except if a government decides there really is no alternative (France, China, Korea etc) and at least in those cases it is run and financed by the state, instead of the sham that occurs in the US. (Incidentally the claim that France produces the cheapest electricity is absurd, and now the whole country including winter heating and summer air-con is locked into electrical everything hence their system fragility and dependence at peak times on imports from elsewhere. Luckily they also have the world’s largest percentage of power from hydro without which their countrywide system could not function; we have no such buffer and in case you didn’t notice we don’t have any near neighbours to run the extension lead over to when a 75% nuclear system cannot deliver.)

    You evidently cannot believe that for that kind of money and the time involved (another 25 years) that renewables and geothermal etc will not have reached the point of viability. Of course the Greens with their much improved political realism these days, support CCGT, as I do. But you are exactly what Richo claimed (falsely) of Christine Milne on QandA last night: you are implacably opposed to anything but your single fixed vision which is a house of cards which collapses on any of a number of hard questions (top of his list would be politics). Nuclear for Australia is a dead parrot, Fran. Wake up.

    Finally, given the inevitable timetable of nuclear, I say, well let us wait for the 4th gen/next gen which will be mass produced cheaply like cars, be actually fail-safe and proliferation resistant etc. If they really will be like that and can be installed from bare ground to 1.4 GW in three years then there is no reason to rush in today with cruddy expensive current-gen tech. Meanwhile let us put all our limited resources, especially political and citizen activist energy, into a small number of good bets for which we have existing pilots underway and a track record. And which could quite feasibly produce a world export industry for us. Oh, and of course, yes, a carbon tax is one of the few things we can bring in today! (Except that neither major party—do you see any other rulers in 20 days time?–nor a great swathe of the unwashed public, want a bar of it.)

  10. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James

    Your approach seems to be to bundle up things that are complex behind slogans and then to “fire scatter-gun style responses (the “Gish Gallop“).

    Let’s simplify some of the issues.

    1. There is no particular reason why the approval processes for nuclear plants ought to require more regulatory complexity and delay than any large industrial facility handling hazardous materials. Large petrochemical plants, coal and gas plants, aluminium smelters etc certainly have more scope in practice to cause nuisance and worse to surrounding populations than do contemporary nuclear plants. You surely know as well as I that nuclear plants are treated differently from these others because of the emotional resonances of events like Chernobyl and, to some extent, unreasoning connection between the plants and weapons proliferation, with Hiroshima etc …

    [So Fran, you do not seem the type to want to see governments sweep aside all the democratic and community processes involved in the approval of a nuclear power plant.]

    Of course not.

    It has long seemed to me that a first step in the process of taking the hysteria out of the way in which we look at these things here would be to establish some sort of standing commission to examine and distinguish the nuclear facilities we have to day from past iterations, to accept publish submissions from those with expertise and those without on matters of concern and to publish robust reports on them. Perhaps this is where something like a “citizen assembly” might have a valid role to play. We could perhaps allow 12-18 months in which to examine the generality of matters in absolute and comparative terms and if the process went well, we could begin to select some designs which could be mass manufactured reliably and swiftly, and to specify, with reference to other comparable facilities, the kinds of regulatory burden and process that should underpin approval of construction at any specific place.

    Let’s keep in mind that between now and 202 that there are plans in train to substantially augment energy capacity on the Eastern seaboard, and despite the fact that all these plants will pose substantially greater hazard than the nuclear plants we might otherwise build, these will not in practice be subject to the serious delays and queries over “safety” that nuclear plants get. The Greens will (not unreasonably) favour CCGT and OCGT over coal, because on balance, this is a good risk trade (despite the fact that gas plants are rather more likely to kill people in critical incidents than coal plants). Yet like large swathes of the population, the concept “nuclear power” simply provokes unresolved generic anxiety and animus. It seems to me that if we could get clarity on what is reasonable and tightly specify what procedures have to be done to allay reasonable concerns, we could coterminously approve 8-10 plant proposals. This should be especially easy if the plants were being built on sites currently housing coal or other similar industrial facilities, since the particular environmental issues attending them would already have been sorted through and the people living near them would actually benefit from cleaner air and water. One can easily imagine placing such a facility adjacent to a water treatment works or in replacement of a gas or coal plant.

    Once we had a regime in place, and were able to mass manufacture the components at suitable local facilities I see no reason why any specific proposal ought to take longer than five years to go from initial design to operational plant, and in the case of replacement of coal facilities, perhaps a couple of years quicker than that. We just need to make sure that matters are not burdened by interlocutory delay or vexatious challenge. Instead, we define what “approval in principle” requires, then “specific approval of a development proposal” and then “oversight of installation”. Once requirements are satisfied, challenges would be denied or narrowed to questions of compliance — a task to be determined purely by those with pertinent engineering expertise. Since the components themselves would be examined at their source of manufacture and be highly standardised these phases ought not to be extensive and if we were building 8-10 in the same time envelope, we could, at the other end roll them out in quick succession. This in turn would allow us to put the retirement of our target facilities on a definite time-line and to recruit/train the required local engineering expertise. Once we had secured the approval for such facilities, the way would be open to establish local engineering training centres focused on developing our longterm skills base.

    I would favour a sharp carbon price at the beginning of the process (long before we got anywhere near resolving the matters of principle on nuclear — essentially now — which, by 2015 would have reached about $AUS(2010)100 per tonne. That in itself should both raise much of the capital to purchase these facilities (since most of them would be close to the end of their useful life of 40 years (and Hazelwood, — a mid 1960s plant — a good deal older than that). With the facilities in state control, they could be progressively taken off line as nuclear facilities became ready to shoulder the burden. By 2030, the whole phased conversion could be complete.

    You say that:

    [For Australia nuclear power is a huge, huge, monstrous distraction from better alternatives that, on the same (actually better) timescale, will solve the problem — just not today or one decade.]

    Yet there is simply no warrant for such a claim, here, or in any advanced economy. There are no “better” or even adequate alternatives that can do what coal and gas can do, leave aside what nuclear could add to our local capacity in terms of desal, fuel synthesis, surplus industrial heat etc … The cost of connecting facilities to the grid alone and providing the redundant storage/capacity utterly dwarfs the costs of nuclear. Had these thing been remotely feasible, we would already have seen them rolled out at scale somewhere, but as yet they haven’t. In the US, CST has stalled and in some places being abandoned. Wind everywhere is being paired with gas and hydro — and indeed, it is these people who, unsurprisingly, are keen on it, because it locks them in.

    It is the RE side of this debate that is the huge, monstrous distraction, and worse a cover for the very fossil fuel forces they claim to oppose.

  11. Michael R James

    But Mark, you know perfectly well that there will be absolutely no change to the factors that give rise to those tortuous approval processes. That’s the result of our kind of democracy. I do not support Clive H if he actually intended what you say (I recall he defended his position once against what he called exaggerations.) but I share his total frustration with our politicians and in turn the dumb Australian public –well the apparently 10% of certain western sydney electorates that hold us hostage to idiot policy or non-policy. We do not want the kind of untrammeled power like in China or UAE that allows them to run large infrastructure projects so much more efficiently (but you know there is always a hidden cost behind that, so we’ll see…though it might take decades to be expressed). After living in France and then back in Blighty and now back in hopeless paralyzed Oz, and seen the laissez faire american system (run by those big companies we all love to hate) I have arrived back at thinking the dirigiste french system is not so bad. At least they are a competent lot and tend to use evidence-based rational decision making and absolutely a national interest focus, something all of our politicians could learn.

  12. Mark Duffett

    …you do not seem the type to want to see governments sweep aside all the democratic and community processes involved in the approval of a nuclear power plant…

    Without wanting to speak for Fran (who is more than capable of doing that herself), I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Certainly people like Clive Hamilton have advocated exactly that (albeit for climate action generally, not nuclear power plants in his case).

    …how exactly do you and BNC see this nuclear scenario playing out?

    Many, and not just on BNC, have equated the scale of the climate challenge with that faced by the western democracies in the Second World War. They did not hesitate to limit freedoms, suspend aspects of normal civilian life and generally pursue every possible avenue (including nuclear technology!) to victory. Now we might not be at the stage of needing blackouts, curfews and war cabinets quite yet, but by golly I’m sure we can do a damn sight better than the ridiculous overengineering of14-year approval processes if we have to. And we do have to.

  13. Michael R James

    Oh boy, still at it. I agree with MWH that this is going in circles. When FranB demands “…show me how renewables today can be used to…….” she ignores a whole raft of killer issues with nuclear power because it too could not solve the problem “today”, or in fact, in terms of replacing all coal generators in Australia, ever. That is part of my gloom, because in reality there is no solution and I agree that BZC is hopelessly naive, almost as bad as the BNC boys. Energy seems one of those issues that attracts extremists from both end of the spectrum.

    Naturally I reject the accusation of parochialism which is a silly name to apply to what I described/intended. It is silly to give examples such as France (though in my article which it seems you still have not bothered reading, I did point out that it is much more valid comparing us with UK and USA–respectively 14 and 19 years since the last nuke was brought into service). Or to use as a model various non-democratic places like China, UAE etc.

    One of the big points about nuclear, after economics, would be inability to deliver on time (unless you live in the BNC fantasyland). I lived in France when they were in the middle of their 40 year program to free themselves from FF (imported oil) for electricity (of course they are still not free, they have had to import lots from UK and other neighbours, for which they pay premium peak prices, while when they sell power back to those same neighbours it is at rock bottom baseload nighttime rates). I retain immense scepticism that the UK can fulfill their proposed nuclear program–although it will mostly be contracted to EDI/Areva which at least solves the technical side–but at least they and some of the other countries undergoing the so-called nuclear renaissance, have an established industry with many established nuclear power sites. They can build new ones on old sites prior to decommissioning (actually just stopping since there is not a single properly decommissioned reactor in the world) the old ones. Those first two new nukes for which Obama provided loan guarantees, are also to built on an existing site.

    So Fran, you do not seem the type to want to see governments sweep aside all the democratic and community processes involved in the approval of a nuclear power plant. Like the previous UK government (and probably the current one excepting the LibDems, we’ll see). I mean how exactly do you and BNC see this nuclear scenario playing out? Only the Coalition would want to force through nuclear power and they also have avoided commiting to it and in this they are at least being rational. The last enquiry in the UK to approve Sizewell B (their last one built) took 14 years. Fourteen years. (As it happens I was living there when it started, went for a decade to France who meanwhile probably built 20, then returned to Oxford before the thing was approved.) If we could swap our politicians and technocrats (yes please) and our voters, there could be a chance but it still could not be done overnight or even in a decade. No wonder all governments have avoided it since! So to turn your question back to you: what would you do to get nuclear (or anything) to replace coal power TODAY?
    For Australia nuclear power is a huge, huge, monstrous distraction from better alternatives that, on the same (actually better) timescale, will solve the problem–just not today or one decade. If renewables research had been properly funded the last two decades, and if the nuclear fan club (almost as culpable as the coal fan club) could discard their fantasies, we could achieve that nirvana a whole lot quicker.

  14. Fran Barlow

    John Bennetts said:

    [Has war-weariness made wimps of so many nations? Where is the emotional passion? I suspect that, after the middle eastern oil wars or religious wars or wars against terrorism or whatever they were for the past decade, George W Bush’s real legacy is becoming evident.]

    I disagree. The world is run by and for privileged elites — the owners of productive assets. Good policy’s first requirement — one may call it the fundamental constraint — is that policy should, at worst, not leave the privileged elites less empowered relative to the mass of working people. Accordingly, even if policy is scandalously bad, if no other policy serves these elites so well, that is the policy we shall have. Governments simply iterate these policies.

    Every now and again, the elites have a falling out and then it gets interesting because they have to choose between the interests of their own fraction and the risk that the working people will strip away some of their privileges and control. Wars are a good example of that. Luckily for them, the poor always pay a heavy price for these fissures in the firmament.

    The current imbroglio over mitigation highlights this problem very well. Clearly, some elite interests are threatened by rising sea levels, damage to coastal property values, human displacement and so forth. On the other hand, doing anything to harm the asset values of coal and oil is obviously something large swathes of them are loathe to do. Look at the squabbling over the Gulf of Mexico for example. The worst environmental disaster in US history and yet, nothing happens in policy terms. Ditto the hideously expensive, brutal assaults on Iraq. Afghanistan too is occupied at huge cost. When their asset values are threatened, no cost is too great for governments to pay. It has ever been thus.

    Until the mass of the working people can seize control of public policy, this is what we shall get. Of course, as a leftist, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    I recall a short piece of verse that applies here:

    the poor complain
    they always do
    but that’s just idle chatter
    The system brings
    to all who need —
    at least to those who matter

  15. John Bennetts

    Fran, I tend to agree with MW-H on one thing.

    It is this: We three are bashing our collective heads against different sides of the same rock.

    When people choose not to be convinced about climate science, GHG, nuclear power pro’s and con’s, renewable energy, demand management, demand reduction, etc, this is a personal decision. What I find most disappointing is not that universal agreement regarding energy options and climate science has not been reached.

    I am dismayed that Australian and many other governments in this world have shied away from their moral and democratic duty to address these issues unambiguously. Australia’s governments are only a subset of those world-wide who have been elected to do the best for their people, yet are prepared to stand idly by whilst this is happening.

    Has war-weariness made wimps of so many nations? Where is the emotional passion? I suspect that, after the middle eastern oil wars or religious wars or wars against terrorism or whatever they were for the past decade, George W Bush’s real legacy is becoming evident.

    So many have been stuffed around for so long by those with agendas to run that they simply don’t want to get involved. Whole governments are metaphorically hiding under their beds, cuddling a teddy bear with a thumb in their mouths, wimpering while waiting for mummy to come and make everything OK.

    After 200+ posts here, I look forward to your contributions on related topics. I’m calling it a day for this thread.

    JB

  16. John Bennetts

    If I owned Hazelwood I would hang out for the government, any government to demand that it be shut down, then I would maximise my claims for costs involved, lost profits, etc.

    Regarding European reduction of GHG output, I have heard somewhere that they are counting discredited credits for GHG abatement elsewhere on the planet. If/when I find the report I will be able to satisfy my curiosity on this point.

    I simply do not believe that they have done enough to reduce their emissions significantly below pre-1990 levels, as is their stated aim, entirely by just thinking about it and installing a few wind turbines.

    OK, then… they have a small amount of solar PV and solar thermal, but nowhere near the gigawatt quantities needed to produce an effect. Sure they haven’t simply loaded their dirty indudtries onto China and India? There’s more than meets the eye going on here.

    Back to Australia, where I happen to live and to vote, I am still convinced that the effective 30% per capita reduction in power consumption upon which the ZCA report is based is achievable in Australia by 2010, if ever, especially when our federal government is in stasis on this issue and the Opposition is in denial. What are the drivers? Where is the action?

    I am despondent and fearful of the future. One big methane burp from Siberia and our world may never ever be the same again. Australia should be setting an example by allocating resources to this threat as if for a war, and by this I do not mean a political-religious follow the leader excursion in the Middle East, I mean a no holds barred, all in together real stoush.

  17. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [When I was Green’s candidate for Higgins I spent one month in the streets (ie about 30*24 hours) with climate change one of my main issues. So I’ve put in lots of effort to try to prevent climate change.]

    That’s admirable. The problem lies not with your subjectivity. You are keen on the issue, obviously.

    The problem is that you are, for one reason or another, unreasonably hostile to the only industrial-scale means of addressing the problem, and naive about the way politics works in this country.

    I’m not sure why that is. In about 1980, I had much the same view on nuclear power. I found it a frightening and difficult to grasp technology, noted that reactionaries seemed to like it and had little inkling about just how dreadful fossil fuels were and how much reactionaries also liked these. And beyond that, renewables just sound so much more intuitively appealing. Who doesn’t like the idea of getting power “locally” and “for free” and from things as nagtural as the sun and the wind. Every pre-literate human society has had gods of the sun, the wind and even the moon (tidal power). Renewables hacve all sorts of built in cultural advantage that makes them far more marketable than nuclear power. Perhaps that is what I am hearing here.

    The point is that these arbitrary prejudices — and that is what they are — are an obstacle to society avoiding a calamity.Bear in mind that the course you suggest will, in practice, underpin the continued use on a very large scale of fossil fuels regardless of your personal preference. I would urge you to reflect upon that.

  18. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    When I was Green’s candidate for Higgins I spent one month in the streets (ie about 30*24 hours) with climate change one of my main issues. So I’ve put in lots of effort to try to prevent climate change.

    This discussion is going nowhere, so I think I’ll just shut up now and we will have to agree to disagree.

  19. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [A plan for shutting Hazelwood was put up recently by I think Environmental Victoria. ]

    And again, this plan was deeply flawed. Also it essentially comes down to mainly replacing Hazelwood with gas (plus a bit of wind), the former of which is evidently not a renewable resource.

    As Lang notes in a detailed reponse:

    [Replacing Hazelwood with wind and gas generators (Scenario 1) is only 3% better than the gas only option for the amount of emissions avoided. However, the wind and gas option (Scenario 1) is much more costly than the gas only option – see Table 3. The wind and gas option is 3.7 times the capital cost, 3 times the emissions avoidance cost, and, importantly for most people and industry, the cost of electricity is nearly double that of the gas only option. Thus, their stated criterion of “minimising any increase in electricity bills” is not satisfied.

    On this basis it is clear that the wind and gas option should not be considered further. For currently available replacement technology in Australia, the gas only option is by far the cheaper option, and has only slightly (3%) higher emissions.]

    [But, as this thread has shown, nuclear is a very effective way of diverting discussion away from what should be done in the short term. ]

    Actually what it shows is the persistent refusal of renewables advocates to grasp the scale and time envelope of the challenge, and to try diverting discussion into marginal issues while dodging the principla issue — how to retire existing fossil thermal capacity.

    [Fran, by suggesting that Green supporters should vote informally, and supporting nuclear and dismissing renewables (even for something as trivial as replacing Hazelwood) could not be doing a better job for the anti-Green cause if she really was a liberal party undercover political activist.]

    Retiring Hazelwood is not trivial. It accounts for about 9% of stationary emissions (5% overall), and contrary to your suggestion, has just been renewed until 2031.

    I am uninterested in what serves either major party over the next three years. I am much more interested in what will serve humanity over the next 250 years. Unlike you, the idea of continuing to push the biosphere towards catastrophe merely so the ALP can chalk up another win over the equally repulsive Liberals strikes me as a very poor trade.

  20. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    A plan for shutting Hazelwood was put up recently by I think Environmental Victoria. So at least one plan exists.

    What is more, it is very likely that Hazelwood will be shut down sometime in the next ten years. As it is so symbolic of dirty coal even the Victorian Labor party are now looking like they will shut it down.

    Even when Australia is finally forced by international pressure to take real action on climate change I feel pretty confident that this will be done without going nuclear.

    Just thinking through the political implications of nuclear, especially the need for political consensus before any such large scale long term projects can be started, show that nuclear in Australia is very unlikely.

    But, as this thread has shown, nuclear is a very effective way of diverting discussion away from what should be done in the short term. It even allows those promoting nuclear to appear concerned about climate change.

    Fran, by suggesting that Green supporters should vote informally, and supporting nuclear and dismissing renewables (even for something as trivial as replacing Hazelwood) could not be doing a better job for the anti-Green cause if she really was a liberal party undercover political activist.

  21. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    John Bennetts,

    I think that it is very unlikely that most of the EEC’s cuts are slight of hand.

    This is because if this was the case I’m sure we both would have heard about it.

    Environmentalists would be pointing this out because they want the cuts to be real. And anti-action on climate change people in the USA and Australia would be busy proving that the EEC was not making real cuts as a justification for not doing things in their country.

    Australia (under Rudd and Gillard) is trying to set the international rules so that credit can be claimed for things like planting trees and not cutting them down, but wants to exclude bushfires and logging from counting as emissions.

  22. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [It is your third point that I disagree with. See the beyond zero emissions dot org site for their zero carbon australia by 2020 report.]

    BNC has responded to this at some length. ZCA is wildly optimistic.

    I put to you the proposal I put to Mr James:

    [show me how renewables today can be used to retire Hazelwood, or Muja or Playford B. Specify costs, grid integration, storage match to load curves etc …]

  23. John Bennetts

    MW-H: Are you sure that the Europeans are not using slight of hand, otherwise known as CO2 trading permits to produce their “reductions”?

    Australia, thus far, has not been corrupted by this particular virus, which counts fictitious and/or temporary trees in a jungle somewhere instead of real long term action.

    I have yet to hear of a new round of closing down of dirty industries, so where else did their “reductions” come from?

  24. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    (As my 10:10 am post is still being held up for moderation, here is the same post but without a link)

    It is your third point that I disagree with. See the beyond zero emissions dot org site for their zero carbon australia by 2020 report.

    And note that the EEC has REDUCED its emissions as per its Kyoto commitment. Though some countries in the EEC have nuclear, I don’t think there have been any new nuclear plants involved in this reduction. It has all been the non-nuclear things like greater efficiencies, renewable energy, etc

  25. Fran Barlow

    You are a dreamer Mr James, but your dreaming is unproductive and reckless. Indeed, it’s better described as cognitive dissonance. Somewhere amidst all the handwaving and pleas for renewables the idea that the world and Australia with it will see dreadful times gnaws at you. You can still this disquiet only be investing ever more lavish hopes in your preferred and utterly untried at scale technologies. This is the triumph of Pollyanna and her friend Mr Micawber or perhaps Candide’s Dr Pangloss over the brutal reality of the timeline humanity is upon.

    You speak of the time constraint and of feasibility and yet you ignore the most pertinent feasibility question: schedule feasibility. If the resources required to forerclose the disaster are either not at hand or cannot be contrived by the time required, then they are of no value at all. It matters not a jot that one day renewables might do a reasonable job, if that one day comes to late to avert disaster.

    [My focus is always going to be Australia because it is a ridiculous conceit to start discussing how to save the world when we refuse to address our own relatively minor problems.]

    Parochial to the end. This is not a problem that can be addressed purely by any given jursidiction and it is unworthy of you to oppose the local to the global. One can always maintain that if nobody else acts adequuately then we might not bother either. That gets us nowhere. We must model what we would have others do and support others in taking that course.

    You don’t like dealing with the planet. OK … much simpler: show me how renewables today can be used to retire Hazelwood, or Muja or Playford B. Specify costs, grid integration, storage match to load curves etc …

    If you can’t propose that, then all your advocacy is exposed as mere posturing to salve your own angst — a position you plainly carry over into your voting choices.

  26. Michael R James

    FranB.

    No, I cannot play those games because that is what they are: “untrammelled control of public policy”, even Kevin Rudd did not have that. This is what can be infuriating about some of the Green element, or say Barry Brook with his completely infeasible fantasies (infeasible on half a dozen grounds including scientific, economic and most of all political).
    I am both a pragmatist and a dreamer. But a pragmatic dreamer—no strictly dreaming because the solar and other technologies I mentioned in my previous post (while watching the final stage of TdF and half dreaming I wished I was back in France) are entirely feasible and will prevail. As I said, the main issue is time.
    So yes, somehow time has to be bought. A couple of decades maybe 3.
    I cannot spend any more time here and to be straight up I don’t think I’ll be revisiting. But as it happens I am writing an article (probably for ABC Drum) on this energy issue which is sharpening up in Australia. My focus is always going to be Australia because it is a ridiculous conceit to start discussing how to save the world when we refuse to address our own relatively minor problems. As it happens the looming energy crisis in Australia is a great opportunity–which it looks like Gillard is going to flush away–because so much of our power infrastructure is reaching its natural lifespan. Unfortunately the best renewable tech is still not ready for primetime but there are things we can do that are entirely feasible, technically, economically and politically (though as with most things, it would require leadership, hence my recurring gloom(–I cannot even persuade one single blogger not to ruin her ballot paper!). That will be my focus.
    Regards.

  27. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    It is your third point that I disagree with. Some say that we can go 100% renewable.

    For example see:
    http://beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-australia-2020

    And note that the EEC has REDUCED its emissions as per its Kyoto commitment. Though some countries in the EEC have nuclear, I don’t think there have been any new nuclear plants involved in this reduction. It has all been the non-nuclear things like greater efficiencies, renewable energy, etc

  28. Fran Barlow

    Perhaps we can approach this from another perspective.

    Do you agree with the following:

    1. Given that the looming disaster has been authored not by what we might use in the future to generate power, but what we have used in the past and are using now, any solution that does not entail retirement of existing fossil thermal capacity on a timeline mostly prior to the decomposition of the Arctic permafrost is not adequate?

    2. Stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 inventories at 400ppmv is required as a starting point to avoid loss of the permafrost (above)?

    3. Renewables can, at best, foreclose some new fossil thermal demand in Australia and selected jurisdictions, but will not be able to play a significant role in achieving (1) on a world scale prior to 2030?

    If you do not accept these assumptions (i.e. you have high confidence that renewables can retire fossil thermal capacity on an adequate timeline to foreclose 400PPMV OR you think higher than 400PPMV is acceptable, OR you think we can live with the loss of the permafrost, and possibly a rise of 3.5-6degC by 2100 for large parts of Africa, the subcontinent and South America please explain why)

    Imagine this hypothetical:

    You, Michael R James acquire untrammelled control of public policy, based on your promise as a scientist to foreclose catastrophic warming. Please outline your plans to foreclose the problem (targets, timelines, technologies, infrastructure changes, costs) for heading off catastrophe. What will you do and what do you accept as unavoidable?

  29. Michael R James

    @FranB at 7:54pm:
    “Overall, you seem to be betting the house on renewables beoming viable at some indewterminate time in the future with no Plan B. That sounds reckless to me and I’m not surprised you are “pretty gloomy about solving this”. For some reason, you want this bet rather than the much more plausible one on nuclear power. Hmmm
    You do realise that for all practical purposes, the perturbation caused by our desequestration of fossil-based chemicals is there forever?”

    Betting on renewables is not a single bet but contains plan B thru Z. Just like over the past 40 years Moore’s Law has been remorseless with cost/efficiency of microchips, you can bet on solar-PV becoming cheap as chips and log orders cheaper; the main question is just how quickly? (Many would claim they are already cheap enough to pull the finger out and just put em everywhere–I am not one of those people. Silicone and other inputs are too limiting for such scale up, for one thing.) Maybe a decade, possibly less. The payoff is so great there are many versions under intensive research because there are many technologies involved–maybe it will be organic plastic chips that can be created cheaply by inkjet type technology. But there is simply no doubt about ultimate success. And unlike, say nuclear fusion which is uncertain (ie. may not ever be practical) and no earlier than about 2050 [some people believe because of this and its fantastical cost it should be abandoned because it is pulling research dollars from more promising tech], there will be big breakthroughs or in fact just steady Moore’s Law type improvements. The reason it is of such interest is because it will involve no moving parts and will produce energy for decades.
    But solar-thermal (CSP) is certainly close to true economic parity with properly priced FF, but it also needs energy storage and that is another area where one doesn’t have to worry about IF it will happen rather WHEN. Just think about the amazing improvements in battery technology–well we have only seen the beginning. Using rare-earth metal lithium etc) has been a focus because of portable devices but large-scale applications where weight and other issues are less important do not rule out truly massive electrical storage. Then there are Fuel Cells–in some ways can be used as storage and ditto development is assured, again probably within the decade. But for Australia, geothermal is the big one. Here I will agree there are more uncertainties, not so much whether it will work but whether the various issues may reduce its financial viability (can it be made to run at GW level continuously for years or decades, etc? but it looks like it could well be a very robust baseload extremely cheap, and safe technology that ultimately could be applicable all over the planet (at first selective hotspots will be preferred but as the experience grows it certainly will be applicable in lots more geologies).

    In the other corner we have nuclear with 50 years history of overpromising and underdelivering, and honestly without any bias on my part, no sign it is going to change. This is without considering the contentious issues (safety, siting, storage of waste, proliferation none of which have been definitively solved and many of these are not scientific issues so go figure who is wearing rose coloured glasses here). CCS cannot ever be economic because of fundamental laws of thermodynamics; but ok if it was possible to apply it retrospectively (you cannot; the current government and UK, with their claims of no new coal plants will be built unless they can be retrofitted is an irresponsible scam) or it could be developed in the next ten years on GW plants (no sign, so far two demo plants of 50MW one of which is re-releasing the captured co2 into the atmosphere due to German NUMBYism, I wrote about it in Crikey last year). Even if all the nuclear plants promised actually get built (they never have in its history) in the west they would barely replace the old ones about to retire; and in the world they will only ever account for at most 20% of electrical gen. No amount of wishful thinking by Brook and the advocates can or will change it much. Now, that is not a solution and it costs an absolute bomb. I repeat, it is the most fantastic distraction for a small country like Australia.

    Likewise we are barely at the beginning of biofuels (to replace aviation and other specialist applications where the other renewables do not work). I am a biochemist/geneticist and again there is simply no question that this will be done (unless something else makes it unnecessary) and I certainly do not mean ethanol from corn. I have written in Crikey about geoengineering (just a few weeks back) –again as a biologist I believe we should investigate ocean seeding because it could well be a Plan B (to use biology to capture carbon into solid calcium carbonate plankton skeletons that form limestone on ocean floors; it could potentially be scaled to enormous size in the Pacific etc; this is actually the earth’s mechanism for removing all that excess co2 from a few hundred million years ago but we need to speed it up and of course be sure we don’t damage anything else).

    Even ocean and tidal power might have a role. I was once pretty sceptical but the fact is that there is huge energy available and it is as regular as clockwork.

    The disappointment in Australia is that we could play a really serious role in several of these technologies (we actually are still the leader in geothermal which is pretty incredible given how poorly Howard and still this government supports it; I suspect it is just too much beyond politicians and the ken of people like you. Oops there I go.) My “gloominess” only relates to this feature: political timidity, venality of certain media, the role of entrenched big business (FF, nuclear), ignorance and intellectual laziness of the great unwashed public. And finally, that if the worst case scenario of IPCC is correct then nothing (especially nuclear and CCS) can stop us at those thresholds 350 or 450 or even 550 ppm. And finally, that people like you who is obviously passionate about this, cannot sort the chaff from the real, the forest for the trees.

  30. Venise Alstergren

    Ah well, ladies and gentlemen, I trust you saw something elevating in the so-called ‘Great Debate’.

    Because I’m buggered if I did.

  31. Michael

    @MODERATOR

    Well that got some action.

    All posts posted the minute you are shown to be utterly devoid of objectivity.

    Everyone here is of the Left and they all agree with each other.

    That’s no fun. It doesn’t exercise the brain, it just sends it into a mellow sense of boring agreement.

    As a true blue conservative, I bring a point of view shared by the other 55%.

    That should be enough to get the Coalition back in power – shouldn’t it?

  32. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James said:

    [You wrote a lot of words in response to my post but I couldn’t make much sense of it. This might be Sunday afternoon-itis]

    Well then read them tomorrow and respond.

    Overall, you seem to be betting the house on renewables beoming viable at some indewterminate time in the future with no Plan B. That sounds reckless to me and I’m not surprised you are “pretty gloomy about solving this”. For some reason, you want this bet rather than the much more plausible one on nuclear power. Hmmm

    You do realise that for all practical purposes, the perturbation caused by our desequestration of fossil-based chemicals is there forever?

    [On your informal voting strategy, you made up your mind and nothing will change it.]

    It has been the same since 1977, and I see no reason to change now.

  33. Michael

    @MODERATOR

    I find it humorous that you retain a comment under moderation for hours when it does not suit your key audience’s tempo.

    It says a lot more about Crikey than the comment.

    Little wonder your news model restrains you from being a provider of mainstream news and ideas.

    You have become a glass house that captures nothing but self gratifying & toxic water vapor.

  34. Michael R James

    FranB, my last words too. You wrote a lot of words in response to my post but I couldn’t make much sense of it. This might be Sunday afternoon-itis. On nuclear power costs, we do not need any enquiries because it is all out there clearly for anyone to see. The Obama A$9 billion load guarantee shows it abundantly–and a suggested extra $57B in the future; because private capital will not touch nuclear in the western world (or actually anywhere) because it doesn’t add up. For Australia to go down this route would be the most fantastic distraction and waste of money and political effort. And these figures show that to comprehensively replace coal would cost hundreds of billions–are you seriously suggesting this would ever be done in Australia, putting aside all the other issues?
    It seems again with your statement “In my opinion, we need to be aiming to get world emissions down by closer to 90% below 1990 by about 2030.” you are allowing emotions rather than evidence drive your agenda. I am pretty gloomy about solving this but on the other hand I do not wish to support expensive false solutions.
    I will venture that I absolutely believe renewables and geothermal will make progress towards viability. I don’t think you need to be a research scientist like me to understand the power of research: everyone can see what electronics has done in the past 30 years. Why do you and Brook seem in denial about what solar and geothermal (and energy storage technologies) can do in the next 30 years if much more serious money is put into them? If we had invested in these (and others had, rather than get caught up in non-solutions like nuclear and CCS-clean coal) we would be a lot further along. This is what I mean by “distraction”. Barry Brook’s site actually makes the case that all other forms of investment (renewables etc) should stop so that all effort go into nuclear! All on the back of pipe dreams of the “if only” variety.
    So in my opinion the nuclear advocates are getting in the way of the energy future as much as the clean-coal lobby.

    On your informal voting strategy, you made up your mind and nothing will change it.

  35. Fran Barlow

    John

    As someone who has regularly over 30 years stood shoulder to shoulder with workers facing down police on horses and scabs in several countries, the threat from some petty bureaucrat or a $1000 fine is not something that I take seriously.

    No serious leftist would.

  36. John Bennetts

    Fran,

    From memory, the polling booth worker could have followed you, called upon the assistance of any police officer, State or Federal, recorded your details and arranged for process whereby a penalty of $1000 for the ballot paper and potential incarceration for interference with a polling booth official in the performance of his/her duty.

    Re photos, the long and short of it seems to me to be the principle that the officer in charge of a polling place has control and authority to exercise that control over all activities within and adjacent to the polling place. Thus, no interviews or photographs, etc, may happen within or close to the entrance of a polling place without his/her permission. Penalty, from memory, $500.

    Select your polling place carefully, if you wish to do anything not in the script.

    I, for one, will not waste my vote. Never, ever. Right now, I have not made up my mind as to just what order I will place the candidates in, but I will not waste my vote.

  37. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    One, hopefully last, comment on informal voting.

    It is easy to imagine some people who have voted Liberal all their lives not wanting to vote for Abbott, but not being able to vote for the “big tax” Labor party or the “loonie” Greens. So they vote informal.

    So if an informal vote is going to have a message, it could be a message against the Liberals just as much as it can be one against Labor.

    If you go to the Poll Bludger blog you will find that many of the hard-core Labor supporters think that the Greens climate change policies are madness. They think that moving to close to zero emissions by 2050 would take us back to the stone age. So whilst they defend the CPRS as a good step towards taking action, they remain totally against any action which would actually make a difference.

    Time to watch a movie – reality is stuffed, so I might as well escape for a while into fantasy 🙂

  38. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [I still can’t see any justification for the major parties thinking anything other than no-shows and informal votes mean “can’t be bothered”, “either is ok”, or “I don’t care about politics”. ]

    That’s because your job is not getting the ALP elected. These people are pragmatic and they don’t respect us because, quite reasonably, they have concluded most of us lack the courage of our convictions. Most of us will find an excuse to ourselves to see them as the lesser evil. And if we, their severest critics think supporting their policy is the lesser evil, why should they doubt it, when accepting tjhat judgemnent allows them to harvest far more lucrative voting fodder?

    [Some on the left think workers rights are most important and are thus against action on climate change as they think change will cost jobs (the reality is that though jobs will be lost, more will be gained by building new systems). (Gillard was a worker’s rights lefty of this style). ]

    Very few on the left think that way, and I am certainly not one of them. I am for the early closure of coal fired power plants. I’d like to see coal harvest restricted to that required to produce steel. I would be happy to see Australia’s aluminium sector closed down if it could be done more cleanly some place else (Iceland for example). Lester Brown’s target (80% by 2020) sounds very appealing to me and I would be willing to do whatever it took to get it. MNoreover, my interest is not confined to these shores. My interest is with the working people of the planet.

    And Gillard was never this kind of “lefty”. She came into politics in the “Socialist Forum” faction — a purely parliamentary focused group in opposition to the Hartley left of the ALP. Even Tanner was one of her enemies. She was never a unionist but did pass law school and get a job as an industrial lawyer.

  39. Fran Barlow

    John Bennetts said:

    [FranB, I would recommend checking the law before you start taking photos of ballot papers as some kind of evidence of action taken within a polling booth.]

    Thanks for the tip, but the same privacy rtules facilitate what I am proposing in practice. In the past I have left the polling centre with ballot in hand. On one occasion, I was approached by a polling official, who tried to coerce me to hand it over and I simply and firmly instructed him to stand aside! daring him to call the police. He caved. I was actually disappointed. While didn’tI want to be arrested, I was rather amused at the prospect.

    Realistically, how are they going to know?

  40. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James said:

    And of course it is because — what I have been trying to tell FranB — that the operatives don’t care. As long as they win they will simply be reinforced in their strategy no matter how ridiculous or odious to commentators. {FB emphasis}

    Precisely my point. We have to make them fear losing. We have to attach a painful price to their rightwing strategy. As long as we hand our support to them with no strings attached, they will continue to ignore us like some using male uses an overly needy woman who hopes her earnest love will provoke the errant male to change. We need to be less needy. We need to be able to sing like that old song I will survive!

    [Look at the gang of four who broke away from the Labour party in the UK in early 80s …]

    Yes … and that too proves my point. In the UK, they have first past the post. Those who vote Lib-Dem vote against the British Labour Party. Had they had our system the BLP would have been returned on preferences. Now of course a minority government rules with the support of people who hate them sop much that they have abandoned them in droves.

    Earlier (25 July 2010 at 1:56 pm), Michael R James spoke of cost estimates for nuclear proposed by me as too low. This objection fails on a number of counts

    1. I don’t propose that nuclear power be rolled out here tomorrow. I proposed above a clear and open examination of all the feasibility issues here first. Specifically I proposed that we examine how a facility such as Hazelwood could in practice be retired and wanted each of the advocates to come up with a plan. Right now, nuclear power cannot even be considered. That is wrong. If nuclear power cannot persuasively demonstrate the capacity to cost-effectively retire Hazelwood or cannot do so at comparable cost to some other suite of technologies, then we need not have this argument. But let there be an argument, because of renewables, as I suspect, can’t do it, we need to know this before we invest and waste bundles more cash feeling as if we are doing something when we simply aren’t. Time, not money, is our fundamental constraint here.

    2. As things stand, there is no realistic short to medium term prospect of any combination of technologies Australia could assemble retiring a single existing fossil thermal plant. None. So absent nuclear what we are really saying is that we can, at best, fiddle at the margins of the problem for the short to medium term. At best, we can roll out CCGT and maybe cut emissions by 40% in Australia and while the gas lasts at acceptable price. After that, the world has no plan and Australia has to hope geothermal will suffice, but that won’t change the global problem one little bit.

    That is what you stand for. You accuse me of doing things to feel good, but in practice, this is your policy as well. You stand for a slightly more green and entirely parochial version of business as usual — i.e. Greenwash.

    In my opinion, we need to be aiming to get world emissions down by closer to 90% below 1990 by about 2030. That Arctic permafrost is not going to stay as stable as it is now indefinitely. At some point the Arctic, which is warming a lot faster than the rest of the planet will surrender its accumulated stock of CH4 and when that happens, all our farnarkling about with energy efficiency and renewables will make not a skerrick of difference. The biosphere will get a perturbation to which we will be forced, to foreclose catastrophe, to respond with some wort of geoengineering, opening the door to who knows what. I for one don’t want that day to come.

    If we can develop modular nuclear plants and get away from first-of-a-kind development, the costs of safety compliance will decline sharply and the delays and associated costs will shrink. We will be able to get nuclear power for not much more than coal and we will be able to make rapid progress at a cost that will be viable.

    If instead we simply push up the cost of emissions but don’t provide within that budget the technolgies needed to approach zero emissions rapidly, we absolutely will fail. Coal will continue to be rolled out and the sunk cost of these and the gas plants will present an absolute obstacle to further cuts. Cognitive dissonance will rule to the very end and the poorest of the planet will suffer egregiously. That is where your thinking leads.

  41. John Bennetts

    FranB, I would recommend checking the law before you start taking photos of ballot papers as some kind of evidence of action taken within a polling booth.

    As a past electoral office employee I have only limited knowledge of the Electoral Act, however one basic premise of Australian elections is that what happens in the booth stays in the booth. That’s why so much money and effort goes into providing those thousands of cardboard booths nationally. I would not be surprised if it turns out that anything which could be construed as coercion, for example, taking photos of completed papers and then sharing them after voting, is absolutely illegal.

    One reason for making removal of ballot papers from the polling place is to ensure that they are not collected outside the booth by coercion or payment and filled in systematically, for subsequent return to the booth and placement in the ballot box.

    You and the members of your extended family hear the results of the poll from within a cell sans mobile phones on 21st August while awaiting a bail hearing on the 23rd.

  42. Michael

    @SOCIALISTS

    I note that most of you are avid Labor/Green (same thing really) advocates.
    I also note a strange sense of trepidation in your comments – somewhat like a mix of guilt, confusion & fear all rolled into one.
    You all understand the absolute chaos that has befallen Labor at this time and yet you don’t want to encourage a proxi vote for the Greens, much as you want to admire them, because that will dilute Labor and deep down you all appreciate the chaos that the Greens will cause if they gain any meaningful power.
    It must be excruciating for you.
    On the one hand you have your rusted on beliefs and on the other hand you have what is surely the most incompetent Government that has ever led this nation carrying your colors into the election.

    What to do??

  43. Michael R James

    @MICHAEL WILBUR-HAM (MWH) at 2:01 pm wrote: “The main reason we are doomed is that so many who want real action are locked-in to this being done by Labor.”

    I think you are on to something. But Rudd’s prevarication this year, and then the final straw these past weeks with Gillard still trying so hard to get out of this self-made wedge, and still not even leaving a tiny crack in the door to negotiate with the Green post-election (why would you do this? most voters do not pay this level of attention to detail, it seems they want to lock in failure and continued conflict with the Greens). And of course it is because–what I have been trying to tell FranB–that the operatives don’t care. As long as they win they will simply be reinforced in their strategy no matter how ridiculous or odious to commentators. Look at NSW, they are still in power afterall!

    So Fran is an old time australian Leftie by her own admission. The two party partisanship and divide IS the problem in Australian politics and not enough can liberate themselves from it. It is like an old lover that Fran cannot let go, and of course no matter what one does, we know the Hollywood ending hardly ever happens in real life–it is more likely to end up with a court restraining order. Fran is stalking her old lover the Labor party. But the old soul has gone, and actually this is more like a zombie movie than a rom-com.

    But Fran, change is possible. Look at the gang of four who broke away from the Labour party in the UK in early 80s, leading eventually to LibDems sharing government with Cons, and electoral reform on the table. But you don’t get there by voting informal!

  44. John Bennetts

    Areva did purchase Ausra.

    See: areva.com/EN/news-8199/areva-to-acquire-the-u-s-solar-company-ausra.html

  45. John Bennetts

    Did Areva purchase Ausra? Last I heard it went to a couple of American private investment houses. It is some time since it fled Australia, however they have some business here still.

  46. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran, I will blame you.

    Though you did not vote Liberal or Labor, you also did not vote for change by formally voting Green.

    I still can’t see any justification for the major parties thinking anything other than no-shows and informal votes mean “can’t be bothered”, “either is ok”, or “I don’t care about politics”.

    Perhaps a clue is your comment that: [I have spent virtually my entire life (since the age of 14, thus nearly 40 years) as a leftist. My concern was, is and will ever remain, those of the working people of the planet.]

    Some on the left think workers rights are most important and are thus against action on climate change as they think change will cost jobs (the reality is that though jobs will be lost, more will be gained by building new systems). (Gillard was a worker’s rights lefty of this style).

    And many of the left (such as the editors of The Age) want policies that are in effect those of the Greens, but think that it must be Labor that does this. So perhaps you are unable to bring yourself to formally vote Green as you feel this would be disloyal to Labor.

    The main reason we are doomed is that so many who want real action are locked-in to this being done by Labor.

    Thus The Age editorials are often critical of Labor, but rarely mentions that their editorial supports the Greens view, and environmental groups all criticize Labor but never go as far as urging voters to only vote for those who want real action.

    In a democracy we get what the majority vote for. So the only way real change will happen is if many more people formally vote Green.

    But with old lefties on forums and in the media being unable to bring themselves to urge people to vote Green, and ALL the major environmental groups preferring to remain friends with Labor rather than trying to use the ballot box to create change, and with groups like Get-Up also being pro-Labor (but please implement lots of Green’s policies), both major parties don’t feel under threat from the Greens, and progressive change is unlikely.

  47. Michael R James

    Third attempt.
    MICHAEL R JAMES
    Posted Sunday, 25 July 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    @FranB 11.00am

    Sorry but you are making all the same (false) arguments about nuclear as the BNC site (which incidentally often has trouble making one coherent case; they often adjust numbers by factors of 2 halfway down their endless blogs; all a case of not seeing forest for the trees). The ACTUAL REAL WORLD cost of building nukes in transparent western countries (ok quasi-transparent since France hides their state-owned enterprises costs behind all kinds of false accounting; both Areva and EDI have had to be rescued over the years). Please read my first article that deals with this clearly: costs in Finland, UK, France and USA. And all the other bidders do not accept Korea’s low-ball bid for those UAE nukes — which, please stick to the facts: they haven’t even broken ground yet so we will have to wait years to see if they can even approach those promised costs (and of course there is not a nuclear power plant in the open world that has come in on budget, these will probably be little different and the real issue is whether any of the parties — the company or the country — will be honest. The UAE will risk being sued by Areva et al if this happens. THEN even if Korea and UAE successfully build these plants within reasonable reach of the bid and on reasonable timetable (I would not say impossible given the slave labour they employ and the lack of oversight these things normally get in the west), it is still not model for how these things get built in modern political democracies.

    In short you must come clean to yourself, and stop quoting fictitious costs or estimates or bids (Areva won the Finnish contract with a bid that is now approaching one third of the actual cost and still 3 to 4 years from being finished). You must be able to make a rational case by not resorting to “if only”, “in China”, “next gen reactors”, “single design”, “remove burdensome regulatory regimes”. Otherwise you are in the same group as those who lament that we could easily achieve world peace, if……

    Finally, what do you think it means when Areva (Fr state-owned nuclear agency) buys up a little concentrated solar power company (that happens to have Australian technology) Ausra?

  48. Michael R James

    @FranB at 1:13pm wrote: “I will put a sticker on my car saying: Don’t blame me, I voted for neither of the above.”

    Sorry to say but that seems to be a driving motivation for you. Like you, I have almost given up on Australian politics but the Greens are the only possible saviour at the moment, and I want to give them as much legitimacy as possible. Obviously in the Senate they have a real chance; and that raises the question of whether you are going to vote informal there too, just so you can proudly wear that bumper sticker?

    When you say “cannot get any worse” I wonder what you mean? The Green vote has risen to the highest ever and they have a real shot at lower house seats like Melbourne. People are starting to look at their actual policies versus the relexive “loony Greens” response. At this time you choose to throw away your vote in what will assuredly be a useless gesture (that the Libs will actually encourage). If you want to change things you have to do something, not do nothing. And incidentally, yes I will blame you…..if the Green vote is disappointing while the informal vote is especially high. And I will be angry beyond description if the Greens do not gain Senate control.

    BTS, my last post on nuclear power has repeatedly gone to moderation for reasons I cannot see so I will just have to wait.

  49. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James said:

    [I think the futility or even counter-productivity of a deliberate informal vote can be seen by how the conservative parties rejoice in limiting minority voting.]

    Things simply cannot be any worse than they are now for left-of-centre policy ideas, so it simply cannot be counterproductive. At worst, the current arrangements continue, but we take comfort in the fact that we tried something new and aren’t responsible for authoring it. I will put a sticker on my car saying: Don’t blame me, I voted for neither of the above.

    I’d like to se 10-15% informal discussed in the post-election washup.

  50. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [Even though I think you have good intentions I also think you are doing much more harm than good. ]

    That’s an inference some will make. I have spent virtually my entire life (since the age of 14, thus nearly 40 years) as a leftist. My concern was, is and will ever remain, those of the working people of the planet.

    [Nuclear is a distraction as it is the short and medium term actions that need our urgent attention.]

    Actually, the reverse is almost certainly the case. You are trying to distract us from the central question by asserting that we cannot do more urgent things while considering nuclear power’s role.

    [You seem locked into [seriously committed to] your ideas, so I’ll have to agree to disagree with your views, and leave it at that]

    I am.

    Thanks for conducting this in a respectful tone, Michael.

  51. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    Even though I think you have good intentions I also think you are doing much more harm than good.

    Nuclear is a distraction as it is the short and medium term actions that need our urgent attention.

    And it is very likely that neither Labor nor Liberal will even notice a few people writing something on the ballot paper. And if they notice a Green vote is informal, then they will be pleased.

    You seem locked into your ideas, so I’ll have to agree to disagree with your views, and leave it at that.

  52. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [You only need to look at what countries with nuclear are doing in renewables to see that nuclear, though it may be a part of the answer, is not a replacement for all the other things that need to be done to reduce emissions.]

    True, but in this context, misdirected. Nuclear power is foundational. All other measures and responses depend upon the existence of a low carbon and low emissions power source that does not demand excessive quantities of human labour power to establish or sustain.

    [And if nuclear does become a part of Australia’s solution, this is a very long term solution. Before thinking about the long term we need to be starting all the short and medium term actions.]

    This is wrong. Whatever we do in the short to medium term, we need to be thinking now about the medium to long term because if the window for averting catastrophe is not already closed we cannot be sure that it won’t close before we act adequately. If we take steps now that preclude effective action later, or make it harder to undertake, we are doing orusleves a disservice. There is no conflict between achieving energy efficiency and energy usage avoidance/parsimony and having a serious examination of which of the fossil thermal preplacement technologies are most feasible on the timelines we need and at the scale and quality required.

    [I would feel safe living near a, for example, Swedish nuclear power plant. But look at the culture of Australia at the moment]

    This is just cultural cringe posturing as argument. In so far as this is an assertion about the decline in the quality of engineering and administration in this country this is precisely why we need to start retooling now rather than at some non-specific time in the future. We have wasted 30 years in this country avoidiung this discussion. Let us waste no more.

    [And on Fran’s proposal to vote 1 Green and leave the rest of the ballet empty….]

    A nice Freudian slip … it is a dance I don’t want to repeat … 😉 I’m not sure why you are saying I propose leaving the remainder of the ballot empty. I am going to number every square. I’m just going to number ALP and Liberal equally.

    [I don’t see why either Liberal or Labor would be worried about a higher informal vote. This can be read just as much as “I’m happy with either” or “who cares” as anything else. ]

    That is what they will say publically, but if the ALP loses after people who would have got them over the line decided to spoil their ballots rather than vote for them, the conclusion will be forced that if they want to win they will have to choose between addressing the concerns of Green and left voters, and right-wing voters, rather than simply trying to add the votes of the right to their perpetual political prisoners on the left. Right-wing voters have leverage because they can defect and be satisfied. Those pitching at them face a political monopsony — allowing rightwingers to push up the price and extract policy concessions. Left-of-centre voters face a political cartel, making leftists price-takers and thus unable to extract any concessions at all for their product.

    The only thing we can do is to withhold our product and induce one cartel member to break ranks or suffer the consequences.
    [So the idea of voting 1 Green, rest blank, would be a great meme for Liberal or Labor to try to spread. They would love it if lots of Greens votes could be made informal!]

    Actually, the Coalition would be a lot happier about that than the ALP since about 80% of Green preferences go to the ALP, and those that flow to the Liberals would probably not be rendered informal — since these are not disaffected leftists but socially liberal rightists. The ALP would be devastated if this occurred.

    [And if you live in a swinging seat, and think both major parties are equally bad, find someone else who shares your view. Then you vote one way and they vote the other.]

    I’m never persuading anyone to vote Liberal. Actually, our extended family and friends (26) have decided to have a collective policy on August 21 of doing just as I’ve outlined. We will all vote 1 Green, then whatever others we like and put the ALP and Liberals equal with the crazies last. We are going to write carbon price now! on our ballots and use our mobile phones to photograph them so that we can all attest to what we have done.

  53. John Bennetts

    Abbott is a left-hander.

    His trigger finger WAS on the button.

  54. Michael R James

    For some obscure reason this earlier post got caught up in moderation; second try:

    MICHAEL R JAMES
    Posted Sunday, 25 July 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    @FranB 11.00am

    Sorry but you are making all the same (false) arguments about nuclear as the BNC site (which incidentally often has trouble making one coherent case; they often adjust numbers by factors of 2 halfway down their endless blogs; all a case of not seeing forest for the trees). The ACTUAL REAL WORLD cost of building nukes in transparent western countries (ok quasi-transparent since France hides their state-owned enterprises costs behind all kinds of false accounting; both Areva and EDI have had to be rescued over the years). Please read my first article that deals with this clearly: costs in Finland, UK, France and USA. And all the other bidders do not accept Korea’s low-ball bid for those UAE nukes — which, please stick to the facts: they haven’t even broken ground yet so we will have to wait years to see if they can even approach those promised costs (and of course there is not a nuclear power plant in the open world that has come in on budget, these will probably be little different and the real issue is whether any of the parties — the company or the country — will be honest. The UAE will risk being sued by Areva et al if this happens. THEN even if Korea and UAE successfully build these plants within reasonable reach of the bid and on reasonable timetable (I would not say impossible given the slave labour they employ and the lack of oversight these things normally get in the west), it is still not model for how these things get built in modern political democracies.

    In short you must come clean to yourself, and stop quoting fictitious costs or estimates or bids (Areva won the Finnish contract with a bid that is now approaching one third of the actual cost and still 3 to 4 years from being finished). You must be able to make a rational case by not resorting to “if only”, “in China”, “next gen reactors”, “single design”, “remove burdensome regulatory regimes”. Otherwise you are in the same group as those who lament that we could easily achieve world peace, if….. (Or we could solve the Palestinian/Israel problem if only….).

    Finally, what do you think it means when Areva (Fr state-owned nuclear agency) buys up a little concentrated solar power company (that happens to have Australian technology) Ausra?

  55. Michael R James

    @MWH at 11.18am.

    We can agree. The bottom line of my article(s) on nuclear power is that it is/would be an immense distraction in Australia (I am not going to be even more distracted by talking about other places).

    I also agree about the futility of voting informal. But FranB seems to have talked herself into stamping her foot and saying, nah not voting for anyone, so there…. I think the futility or even counter-productivity of a deliberate informal vote can be seen by how the conservative parties rejoice in limiting minority voting. The Republicans like it that African-Americans often are very apathetic about voting and cause the democrats all kinds of headaches (and huge logistic campaigns and money) in trying to mobilize their voters. As we saw in all kinds of key states, notably Florida, Ohio, Indiana, they employ all kinds of dirty sometimes quasi-legal strategies to remove these voters from the rolls.

    Here, the most blatant strategy (now being legally challenged by GetUp) was Howard’s amendment to allow only one working day for unregistered voters to register. There are about one million young first-time voters this election who are in this category and no one yet knows how many have managed to get themselves on the rolls. FranB is aiding and abetting this conservative strategy of removing troublesome voters from actually exercising their rights!

    I agree that only an actual high first pref vote for the Greens will (1) threaten the duopoly (2) impress other voters (as the figures come up on TV screens on that Saturday night, long before the two-party preferred is calculated in many seats) so they may rethink their own action next time.

  56. Michael R James

    FranB @11.00am

    Sorry but you are making all the same (false) arguments about nuclear as the BNC site (which incidentally often has trouble making one coherent case; they often adjust numbers by factors of 2 halfway down their endless blogs; all a case of not seeing forest for the trees). The ACTUAL REAL WORLD cost of building nukes in transparent western countries (ok quasi-transparent since France hides their state-owned enterprises costs behind all kinds of false accounting; both Areva and EDI have had to be rescued over the years). Please read my first article that deals with this clearly: costs in Finland, UK, France and USA. And all the other bidders do not accept Korea’s low-ball bid for those UAE nukes–which, please stick to the facts: they haven’t even broken ground yet so we will have to wait years to see if they can even approach those promised costs (and of course there is not a nuclear power plant in the open world that has come in on budget, these will probably be little different and the real issue is whether any of the parties –the company or the country–will be honest. The UAE will risk being sued by Areva et al if this happens. THEN even if Korea and UAE successfully build these plants within reasonable reach of the bid and on reasonable timetable (I would not say impossible given the slave labour they employ and the lack of oversight these things normally get in the west), it is still not model for how these things get built in modern political democracies.

    In short you must come clean to yourself, and stop quoting fictitious costs or estimates or bids (Areva won the Finnish contract with a bid that is now approaching one third of the actual cost and still 3 to 4 years from being finished). You must be able to make a rational case by not resorting to “if only”, “in China”, “next gen reactors”, “single design”, “remove burdensome regulatory regimes”. Otherwise you are in the same group as those who lament that we could easily achieve world peace, if….. (Or we could solve the Palestinian/Israel problem if only….).

    Finally, what do you think it means when Areva (Fr state-owned nuclear agency) buys up a little concentrated solar power company (that happens to have Australian technology) Ausra?

  57. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Nuclear is a distraction in this debate.

    You only need to look at what countries with nuclear are doing in renewables to see that nuclear, though it may be a part of the answer, is not a replacement for all the other things that need to be done to reduce emissions.

    And if nuclear does become a part of Australia’s solution, this is a very long term solution. Before thinking about the long term we need to be starting all the short and medium term actions.

    And one other thing about nuclear. There are countries that can do things and countries that cannot. I would feel safe living near a, for example, Swedish nuclear power plant.

    But look at the culture of Australia at the moment. Technical expertise is often ignored and it is all about politics. Anyone who reads Crikey could write a long list of Federal and State project mismanagement. For example, in Victoria neither Liberal nor Labor can cost effectively implement a public transport ticketing system. Federally I think that our huge oil leak (if you remember it) is another example of regulatory incompetence.

    As a technical person I have no trust whatsoever that Australian politicians and businessmen could safely build and run a nuclear power plant.

    And on Fran’s proposal to vote 1 Green and leave the rest of the ballet empty….

    I don’t see why either Liberal or Labor would be worried about a higher informal vote. This can be read just as much as “I’m happy with either” or “who cares” as anything else. But I believe that a much higher formal Greens vote will worry them, and perhaps even lead to changes.

    So the idea of voting 1 Green, rest blank, would be a great meme for Liberal or Labor to try to spread. They would love it if lots of Greens votes could be made informal!

    And of course there is no need to vote informally. Firstly, if you think one major party is slightly less worse than the other, then you can have your say.

    But as in practice most of us live in safe seats, if you think both major parties are exactly equally bad, then give your preference to the party which will not win. That way the winner has a reduced vote which sends a real message.

    And if you live in a swinging seat, and think both major parties are equally bad, find someone else who shares your view. Then you vote one way and they vote the other.

    I’m pretty sure that Fran has good intentions and is not an agent of a major party. But I’m sure that both major parties would love it if her idea took hold and that Greens voted informally.

  58. Fran Barlow

    Michael R James said:

    [{Nuclear power} … costs what it costs: an awful lot. You’ve been reading/believing too much Brook. His site is all screwy on costings of renewables and also assumes no change in their cost base which may be true for wind but obviously is not true for the others.]

    That’s a point you should take up over there. Submit your cost models and learning curves for renewables showing where they are wrong. They love that stuff. Really they do. I don’t see how the cost base for solar can at this stage be fundamentally reduced. The main impediments are the rate at which it can harvest insolation, which is in turn a function of the fundamental technology and actual insolation, both of which are known and close to fixed.

    Nuclear power, is currently being rolled out in the UAE for about $4AUSbillion per GWe installed. In China, it’s much less — less than half of that. Even at the UAE price we could install 25GWe here for about $100billion and go to near zero emissions in about 8-10 years. We could also get some brilliant process heat as a bonus for that and flash desal too. We could put overnight charging of cars without extra marginal cost. We could restore Lake Pedder as this extra storage would be redundant. We could replenish the Murray Darling with water and supply those inland towns with ample water. Very attractive. And if we picked only 1 or 2 basic designs and mass produced them, had coterminous approval processes, we could roll them out very quickly.

    In the immediate sense I favour an open debate and discussion in which proper cost-benefit studies are undertaken. Let the renewabilists and the nuclear proponents compete to complete a specific project that we all agree would be great — retiring Hazelwood. The new technology must be able to completely duplicate the output of that plant in real time (availability, unserved demand etc) as that plant has achieved over the last five years. We choose the best match for zero carbon within acceptable cost. What’s wrong with that?

    [ That is no way to build an alternative political force, which IMO is what we need. (or one could argue, to force the duopoly to take the Greens/us seriously — they seem utterly immune to this, so we must simply build an actual alternative; if the Brits can do it with the LibDems there is no reason why we cannot too. Voting informal is counterproductive and I would have to say perversely fatalistic — if you are “comfortable” with it you simply haven’t thought it through.)]

    We do need one, but we must be willing to change the rules of the game. There is an old saying — if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting what you are getting. The Green strategy (pursued over nearly 30 years) of preferencing the ALP regardless has merely allowed them to ignore their left (allowing a pressure release valve) and to pitch instead at the most right-wing voters. The LibDems for the record (part of what is now called the “Con-Dem” coalition) have crashed in the polls lately to 13% support, in part because they are now associated with budget cuts of 25% across the board — cuts that make the Germans look like wimps and which are larger than for Greece.

    I am sick of this constant back and forth. The old low-risk low-return approach has failed. We need to break up the game and write new rules. I believe we need an entirely new system for composing governance, but in the short term, we cannot allow the ALP to get away with this. They are actually blaming us, of all groups, for the failure of the browned-down CPRS polluter-gets-paid scheme. Now they want to put it off again and then reintroduce their polluter porkbarrell.

    To paraphrase Shakespeare:

    Enough! No more! ‘Tis quite as brown as ’twas before!

    I’m ready to vote informal and see what happens.

  59. Birdie

    @MWH Hear Hear! It was evident that Labour was not going to take an holistic approach to phasing out our dependency on carbon almost from their first days in government. Even before the Garnaut Report was released, both Wong and Rudd downplayed it, saying it was only one input to be considered in the decision making process. In the end, they cherry picked the report (as they did with the taxation review) and abandonned the rest.

  60. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    One of the difficulties of discussing action on climate change is that people have hidden assumptions.

    What is clear from reading the Poll-Bludger blog is that Rudd (and now Gillard) have not even attempted to sell the feasibility or need for real action – ie the eventual move to a zero carbon economy.

    So for the “loyal” laborites, action on climate change means doing something (such as the CPRS). And for them the cuts that the science says are needed are the end of civilization (ie the economy would stop and we would all have to live in caves).

    BIS (8:38 Saturday night) has this assumption when he says that because the third world will want to improve their living standards climate change is locked in.

    But it is feasible for our economy to continue, and much of our quality of life to be maintained, as we move towards zero emissions. Since Stern we have known that it is in fact economically cheaper to do this than to ignore climate change and later have to deal with its consequences. The non-first world can improve their standard of living by skipping over the polluting stage and going straight to highly efficient usage powered by renewables.

    So the hidden assumption of many in this discussion is that moving towards zero emissions is a fantasy, and that all that is needed is to make some token cuts.

    My view is that Rudd and Gillard never ever intended to take real action on climate change. Real action is a long process which is much more than a price on carbon. If Rudd and Gillard had any real concern about climate change their very first budget (and the following) would have started the changes. Fuel and company car subsidies would have started to be phased out, significant funding to public transport would have started, energy efficiency standards (esp for homes) would have been put in place.

    Rudd was also a force for evil in Copenhagen because he was trying to get an agreement which would minimize the effect on the first world and provide minimal assistance to the rest of the world to respond to climate change. (And I’m sure that his second agenda was to equal Howard in getting Australia’s to be able to maintain higher emissions per capita than other first world countries.)

    Gillard’s commitment to solar is so weak and inconsistent that even in an election campaign she feel that it is ok to take money away from solar funding to get rid of some old cars.

    If someone is supporting action on climate change, ask them what they think of moving close to zero emissions by 2050. You will find that many who supported the old CPRS will laugh at the prospect of zero emissions.

    Real action on climate change is making the cuts that the science says are needed. You cannot play politics with nature.

  61. peet10

    David-Left arm out of sight-Like the man with no name (Eastwood duh) or was that his right hand/trigger hand?

  62. peet10

    LauraJ-Im talkng about ACTION-taking it the streets as well as local and own lifestyle choices -was it Naomi Klein or Wolfe who said the internet encourages people to vent but ultimately discourages real direct action

    Im taking up Cairns50’s idea of picketing our local election booth-a real people’s assembly 150 hard core/corps ski-masked heavyweights with William Burroughs-like electronic mayhem to confuse the POlice

  63. David

    @VENISE…now I know why the Monk who is Mad had his left arm out of sight, I thought he was just clutching her in closer, but it was the button he was after,,,why am I thinking G spot?…

  64. Michael R James

    OK, it seems all over. Contador has won the TdF. Seeing the helicopter shots sweeping over the Medoc and the Gironde (with or without nukes) makes me all nostalgic for France. Not just for the obvious–as it happens it is almost exactly 3 years ago when I had lunch at one of those restaurants on the Gironde-prominade in Pauillac–but for a country that manages to have a political vision, sticks to it for the long term and shows what can be achieved (the nuclear power industry is just one thing, the TGV network is another–3 hours from Bordeaux city to Paris, not so diff to Sydney-Melbourne), just an extreme contrast to our politicians and the Australian voting public.
    Bonne nuit, FranB, but please dream positive thoughts and please reconsider and make a formal vote for the Greens.

  65. Michael R James

    @01.01am, they just showed a broad shot of the Gironde estuary and you could clearly see the giant Blayais nuclear plant on the far bank. This is a dreamy part of the world but there is something slightly incongruous about a nuclear power plant in the background with endless vineyards in the foreground. A contrast in one of the world’s oldest technologies versus one of the more modern ones (oh well, that was a slightly false bit of romanticism because nuclear industry is actually already 50 years old….)

  66. Michael R James

    FranB.
    1. It costs what it costs: an awful lot. You’ve been reading/believing too much Brook. His site is all screwy on costings of renewables and also assumes no change in their cost base which may be true for wind but obviously is not true for the others. For a research scientist, like me, Barry takes an extraordinary attitude to those new technologies. (one of his arguments would be time, but nuclear is dead on that one for sure….nuclear simply cannot and will not save us or indeed China or India if they keep on their current development trajectory).

    2. That is no way to build an alternative political force, which IMO is what we need. (or one could argue, to force the duopoly to take the Greens/us seriously–they seem utterly immune to this, so we must simply build an actual alternative; if the Brits can do it with the LibDems there is no reason why we cannot too. Voting informal is counterproductive and I would have to say perversely fatalistic–if you are “comfortable” with it you simply haven’t thought it through.)

  67. Fran Barlow

    Michael

    1. Nuclear is not that costly, at least by the standards of low carbon sources. Mass manufactured and freed from arbitrary regulatory loading, it would be cheaper still.

    2. I realise my vote will be informal. I’m OK with that. It is wrong in principle and unwise in practice to give into political blackmail. If one can’t say what one wants, one should not say.

  68. Michael R James

    Wow, you guys and gals are still at it. I am surfing here because the TdF time trials on SBS are proving less interesting than I would like. I forgot how they don’t follow the route in a linear fashion but keep returning to the start for each new rider. Otherwise this route would be fabulous; it is of course the holy road for anyone interested in wine and a pretty nice cycle for anyone really. It passes almost all of the most famous vineyards in the world. Anyway the reason I mention it is that the timetrial terminates at the little town of Pauillac (pron. kinda like Pwee-ack, not Paul-e-ack like the young SBS commentator fluffed earlier) which is the capital of both the area of Pauillac and the whole left bank wine district. I imagiine and hope that the race finishes at the front, right on the Gironde where the port is–for both commercial and pleasure craft. And I hope they do a camera panoramic sweep of the Gironde, because if keep a sharp eye out on the far bank–about 2 to 3 km across. You will see the Blayais nuclear power facility. If you are interested you can clearly see it on google-earth. I think it is a four generator set and it powers most of South West France. Like most of the industry in France it has run without serious incident, though (cue feeble joke) if ever there is a significant “incident” that year’s vintage will have a little something extra, a je ne sais quoi. Actually it would potentially wipe out a multi-billion dollar per year industry and be a crime against humanity! (No I don’t believe it is likely to ever happen. Safety is NOT the argument against nuclear, economics is.)

    But FranB, the question we need to consider is whether nuclear power makes sense for Australia; not to be distracted by what the rest of the world may or may not do with nuclear power (China is building more new nuke plants than anyone else and at the end of this massively costly exercise it will still only account for a quite small percentage of their power, useful but no solution). Having lived in France for a decade I am quite comfortable with their nuclear industry though in reality it is has various problems (economic–when it reaches too high a fraction of power supplied, as in France, it can only operate when you have neighbours from whom you can import power when needed; eg. very hot summers). For what it is worth here is my rationale from earlier this year: theage.com.au/opinion/politics/nuclear-economics-just-dont-add-up-20091223-lcuj.html, and theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/nuclear-its-just-too-expensive-for-us-and-the-rest-of-the-world-20100225-p4y3.html.

    As to voting, (also FranB) I don’t believe your strategy is the best one. As I argued a while back (abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2907567.htm) we need the Greens (or any viable third party, they are the only ones) to register as many votes as possible if we want them to both improve their credibility and to bring even more talent to them (to dilute the loony element, which Bob Brown has largely managed quite well), AND so that NEXT TIME more voters might consider more seriously an alternative to the duopoly. The best case is given by Guy Pearse in the current The Monthly (only available in print form). Incidentally I suspect someone above has already pointed it out, but yes, to avoid an informal vote one must number all boxes on the form (if you leave the last box empty they will assume it is your last number in the series and your ballot will be considered valid). There is no way to “exhaust” your ballot (like you can for the Senate) and retain a valid one; note that if you make give your last two numbered positions to the Libs & Lab, it is no different to if you gave them #2 and #3; the others will be eliminated until eventually the Lib or Lab vote is counted, so the only thing that matters (if you want it to) is the order of Lib/Lab.
    Back to Le Tour.

  69. John Bennetts

    Dragonista should know that there is no point in citing a source which is patently and irrevocably biased. The Three Mile Island incident was an example of a poorly managed event at a potentially dangerous installation, a nuclear power station.

    However, it did not result in deaths and was essentially contained within the site.

    Your choice of CommonDreams.org as a reference is curious and most unprofessional. It is “an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997.” (Their own words).

    They commenced this site almost 20 years after the event. They played no part at all in the post-incident investigation. From the point of view of offering evidence for consideration, they have brought none at all. They are purely a purveyor of opinion which suits their causes.

    My reference was to the most authoritative site I could find on-line. If there is evidence which contradicts that which I have put before Crikey’s readers, please provide a link. However, please refrain from offering up unjustified opinion as fact. It doesn’t wash.

    So, get this straight: The only substantial nuclear power station safety incident in USA was over 30 years ago and did not cause even one death. No other significant power source of any kind has a safety record which comes close to the stellar record of the nuclear power industry, which is improving its designs and safety record year by year.

    Dragonists’s use of the phrase “the real death toll” is both a lie and an unnecessary attempt to use emotion when the facts do not suit her opinion. In short: fraudulent.

  70. Last Chance Cafe

    @DAVID

    They are both “losers” because one of them is gonna win undeservingly…it’s a sham. .that was the context I meant.

    You ‘re right about the punters, they go by the street..much better feel.

    @VENISE..Tricks are good Venise!!!….I liked your little rant earlier. ..”lycra clad wandering minstrels”..hahaha

    Late Friday night and a long lunch today?..sounds like the hair of the dog to me. Ole!!!..

  71. Fran Barlow

    JamesK said:

    [I’ve just committed a grievous insult to somebody named Fran Bailey.]

    You ought to know who that was JamesK

    She was the Liberal member of federal parliament for McEwen (Victoria) who squeaked home by 14 votes in that area where the bushfires hit. She isn’t recontesting as I understand it.

    Had she not been away from parliament ill, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull would have tied in the leadership vote.

  72. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID: You left out the most important detail about Julie Bishop. She has a button in the small of her back. When activated, this tiny doll opens her eyes and stares.

  73. David

    @ Last Chance Cafe…cheers just a passing point…they cannot be both losers, one will win. I reflect on my previous post about the loser. Particularly after his absurd performance in Fremantle today with Bishop at his side trying to apologise for his position in the polls with female voters. He will not win any friends with Bishop along side him , she is a big big negative. Her public lack of warmth oozes from her every pore.
    I will be interested to see the odds on a Labor win this coming week with the betting agencies, they are the best indication . The punters are a better guide than any poll.

  74. Venise Alstergren

    @LAST CHANCE CAFÉ: Recovering from a late Friday night, last night. Also from a late lunch today. Olé. 😯

    Hows tricks with you? 😉

    Cheers 😎

    Venise

  75. Fran Barlow

    John Bennetts asked:

    [What two deaths at Three Mile Island?]

    My apologies … I had been talking with someone else about the steam explosion at the Kansei Plant in Japan — but that was four people anyway …

  76. Last Chance Cafe

    @DAVID

    I know what you mean by Abbott’s body language, but I also notice it with Gillard. They both have negative body language…this tells me they’re both losers.

    @VENISE..a big hello!!!..someone said it’s Saturday night, what are you doing home?

  77. Venise Alstergren

    ERRATUM: I left out the name of the ex-Prime Minister of Singapore who said that Australians were “The poor white trash of Asia”.

    Lee Kuan Yew.

  78. David

    @BIS…after 174 comments here, yours is a fitting summing up…This debate is redundant…..it became redundant the day Abbott pronounced climate change is CR-P. He has ensured he has no way of picking up the pieces by that statement and the Greens and Labor will play it just the way they are doing today. He has fecked up, and he continues to do so day by day. Watch him in action at his media stops,listen, see the body language….you are looking at a loser

  79. David

    @BIS…after 174 comments here, yours is a fitting summing up…This debate is redundant…..it became redundant the day Abbott pronounced climate change is CRAP. He has ensured he has no way of picking up the pieces by that statement and the Greens and Labor will play it just the way they are doing today. He has fucked up, and he continues to do so day by day. Watch him in action at his media stops,listen, see the body language….you are looking at a loser.

  80. dragonista

    @franbarlow

    My mistake – Three Mile Island

    And here is a story on the real death toll

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/03/24-3

  81. Venise Alstergren

    DAVIDK: The person who called Australians ‘The poor white trash of Asia” is the ex-Prime Minister of Singapore.

    For years I’ve been searching for proof that he was wrong to say this. So far, without success.

    Cheers

    V

  82. Venise Alstergren

    POWERISNOTSTRENGTH: 🙂

    Good one.

    Cheers and thanks.

    Venise 😎

  83. bis

    This debate is redundant.

    The desire of the billions of people in the developing world who aspire to the quality of life of the people debating this thread will only continue to grow, climate change or no climate change. The peasants of China and India are more interested in improving their lot then improving the environment, and you would be too if your chief concern was where your next meal was coming from:

    Environmental concerns are the luxury of the comfortable Westerner.

    If anthropogenic climate change is a real and existential threat to humankind, then nothing short of a culling of the global population will address it, whether by war or plague.

    To add to which: It’s Saturday night people! Don’t waste it trying to one-up someone you will never met on a subject you can never change!

  84. powerisnotstrength

    Venise Alstergren, I like your story and I thank you for it. And I find it far less mythical than much of what I have heard from Canberra in recent years.

  85. powerisnotstrength

    As I said John Bennetts, outside your intellectual comfort zone. Dog-and-pony economics such as that practiced by Rudd, Gillard and Swan is guilty of all the things you say. If you listen to a real economist such as F. Hayek you might learn something:
    [(T)he economist can not claim special knowledge which qualifies him to coordinate the efforts of all the other specialists. What he may claim is that his professional occupation with the prevailing conflicts of aims has made him more aware than others of the fact that no human mind can comprehend all the knowledge that guides the actions of society …
    Perhaps it is only natural that the scientists tend to stress what we do know; but in the social field, where what we do not know is often so much more important, the effect of this tendency may be very misleading.]
    Others may not grasp the relevance of that but you, JB, if you calm yourself down and think, are capable of seeing the connection between that principle and the reason I suggest that, together with a strong voting signal to the ALP, a government which does little and does it rather well is your best chance now for real climate action starting in 2013.

  86. Venise Alstergren

    PINS: “”Do you not see, there are no good ideas, or at least no good plans for implementing good ideas, being floated in Australia in 2010. When there are no good ideas or good plans, it is a great time to choose a government which will do very little (other than return us to surplus) and do it rather well.””

    Your first two lines are, beyond doubt, completely accurate when applied to the political sphere (I am not able to speak about other spheres of endeavour).

    It is the lack of philosophy which bestrides the sickening void of vacuity of thought and ideals by the Coalition and the Labor Party which crushes the soul.

    There was a time when political parties actually articulated their beliefs and hopes for the betterment of Australia, those oh so many moons ago-fifty, a hundred years ago?

    Where there should be mental vitality, and an eagerness to participate in the coming election, the thoughtful voter is overcome by lassitude.

    To vote for a political party for the sole reason to see “a great time to choose a government which will do very little (other than return us to surplus) and do it rather well.”” IMO this slogan (for want of a better word) connects with none of the gears in my brain, nor does it connect with my fusty ideals about a better world, my concern about our population explosion, together with the appalling degradation of our land, Global Warming and all the associated environmental ills.

    BTW, please don’t take these words to be directed at you. It is the point of what you have cleverly written which is important.

    It is voting by default, which is what most of us will be doing. The old Aussie thingy of voting for the least worst party/candidates.

    Accepting your hypothesis, I have to ask what I would gain by having a Party of aged politicians-Philip Ruddock take a bow-who served under the corrupt and venal government of John Howard-What would make me want to vote for them?

    Why should all these has beens, who have learned nothing from the rout of 2007, be given the go ahead?

    PINS: Please find enclosed a little story about wandering minstrels which I wrote especially for you. It is set at the time of Robin Hood, with a couple of flash forward thoughts.

    Various groups of people are wandering around on something called “‘The Campaign Trail”. And the biggest group is led by a wandering troubadour who cross-dresses as a Catholic priest, with a penchant for displaying his Lycra clad bollocks to the very same women whom he considers to be beneath contempt. So much so that he would tell them to have multiple births, not be allowed to plan their families by using such dangerous means as RU486, and other anti-conception pills. Nor will his proposed audience, these same women, ever be allowed to have an abortion, and when they are dying a hideous and protracted death, they aren’t even able to access euthanasia because it has been deemed to be a crime. By whom? By the wandering troubadour’s Catholic conscience.

    I, for one, would like to see our Lycra-clad troubadour tripping on his Tambourine whilst getting his under-carriage mauled in the cat-gutted strings of his Mandolin. This failed troubadour and wandering, cross-dressed priest offers nothing and deserves nothing. But he wanders in a fog of what used to be.

    His side-kick is another cross-dressed priest who leads a confederation of completely honest men. They call themselves the National Country Party, which is a euphemism for SOCIALISM FOR THE RURAL BRIGADE. “We want everything, and every benefit belonging to the rest of the country , “for our boys
    down on the farm.” “We want all the water rights, all the money, and the whole bloody country to be bowing and grovelling in front of us.” Is the less than ambiguous philosophy of the National Country Party.

    It is my devout wish that this weird rabbit-skin clad, fellow troubadour to Tony Abbott. (The one. The only Barnaby Joyce.) Also would meet with an unfortunate accident. Perhaps by accidentally sitting on his very long wind instrument, a flute?

    Travelling on the same minstrel trail this ‘Canterbury Tale’ are a band of nuns whose Mother Superior has fiery red hair. Emblazoned on her chest is a double-headed budgerigar, indicating her ability to point in any direction, if it so pleases her.

    On this action packed pilgrimage to Sanidad y Expectacions in a rainbow-hued, and wattle-covered valley wait a band of people, all of whom are clad in forest
    green. They are led by a sober man called Saint Bob. A decent and worthy leader of a seemingly impossible cause. He actually aspires to return the land of Oz to an environmentally friendly, and fertile land. He would save what is left of our flora and fauna, and make big companies also to behave in environmentally sound practises.

    Some of his followers are clad in hoods and long green capes. Little is known of these mysterious people.

    Waiting for this motley band of pilgrims in Canterbury, Bondi, Latrobe, Koo-We-Rup, Bendigo and the CBD of all the major cities, are listless citizens whose hopes and wishes have been so thoroughly trashed by other roaming bands of minstrels, they seem no longer to care what happens to these prophets and musicians who would claim to lead the people to a decent future (as long as the people are rich, laden with millions of gold bars). These chosen few are the big mining companies and owners of vast water rights. The miners are depressed as the wicked Queen Nun, with the fiery red hair has made them pay for their huge profits, taxwise.

    Their dress is strange. At times they wear the rags of the Great Unwashed. At other times their dress is restrained. They wear around their necks, thin pieces of textile which they call ties.

    Ah yes! The time has come to present the Great Unwashed, the multitudes. The people who infest the major cities in their millions. The ones living in strange boxes called units, and cluster ant-like in things called shopping malls. These people live in huge houses with only four people in the family.

    The Great Unwashed are of a religious bent. They have priests and worshipers
    who perform strange acts of devotion in vast round buildings called ovals. They sit and they watch, during the winter months, groups of mini-shorted, but very tall men performing strange rituals where they sacrifice teams of men and an oval ball. They watch to see these creatures chasing an oval ball in winter and a small round ball and bat during the summer months. (In these months the form of dress seems to be mandatory to wear white.)

    The Great Unwashed have been told that on a certain date they must present themselves in order to select one of the wandering troubadours, minstrels, people dressed in Green, the Nuns, the Priests, to be their new leader. Or will it be Saint Bob himself who is fated to be their leader?

    What will be the outcome of this less than riveting moment in history? Will it be the cross-dressed wandering troubadour, with his stringed Mandolin and his trusty Tambourine, clad in Lycra, and his stout side-kick, with the name of Barnaby, (If he hasn’t had a nasty accident with his flute). Or will they choose a rank outsider-via the local custom of preferential voting? Or will they choose Saint Bob?

    Does anyone care? If not, why not?

    These are some of the thoughts flitting through the minds of the Great Unwashed as they await their next betrayal by those who aspire to lead them.

    PINS: I had some time on my hands, and sought to present the problem as a myth. And a myth is as good as it gets in troubadour land.

  87. John Bennetts

    Topic: “Gillard abandons leadership on climate change”.

    PINS: Attempts to justify diversion of the discussion of WorkChoices, Howard, Costello, Hawke, Costello and his wallet, under the notion that somehow Economics Is Everything.

    Others might say that Economics Has Been Frequently Shown To Be, At Best, A Guess and At Worst A Collection Of Arguments And Theories, All Of Which Are Endlessly Debated By Affictionados, and Which Have The Predictive Ability Of Tea Leaves When Compared With Real Knowledge, Such As Physics or Mathematics.

    Somebody does not understand the phrase “off topic”.

  88. John Bennetts

    Fran Barlow.

    What two deaths at Three Mile Island?

    See nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.html.

    31 Years ago, something happened which appeared at first may have been dangerous, but which subsequently was found to have trivial health effects on those involved. This incident was very thoroughly investigated and design changes to this type of reactor were mandated to ensure that this type of incident could not happen again. No reactors of that design have been built since or will be constructed in the future.

    During the past 31 years, the reputation of this incident seems to have grown like Pinnochio’s nose, even as the facts are demonstrated to have been less and less threatening to either the workers at the plant or the surrounding communities and the effects on health are correctly described in official reports as “negligible”. The radiation dose to community members was far less than that from a chest X-ray. Even at the perimeter of the plant, the radiation dose was not worse than 16 chest X-rays or an airline flight around the world.

  89. powerisnotstrength

    Sorry John Bennetts but economics is on topic for everything, and if it’s outside your intellectual comfort zone, that’s not my problem.

    The headline at the top of this story is “Gillard abandons leadership on climate change”. None of your discussions on informal voting or the finer points of nuclear technology is going to change that, except that the Coalition is actually far more open to nuclear power than Labor is.

    Your only hope for serious commitment to climate reform is to
    (a) teach the ALP a lesson in the only language it understands, and
    (b) ensure that when 2013 comes around and the ALP has learned its lesson, it will have an economy strong enough to be able to take real action.

  90. JamesK

    @ The Crikey Moderator

    Please don’t bother allowing posts published that immediately follow ones you’ve capriciously blocked.

    Often of themselves they make no sense.

    Ideas contrary to your own are so very difficult aren’t they?

    And please don’t insult other contributors’ intelligence by pretending that you’re ‘only’ following some guideline particularly a sanctimoniously expressed one.

    A very short journey thru’ this website would disavow anybody with a modicum of intelligence on that score.

  91. John Bennetts

    PINS, off topic is still off topic.

    Some of us are happy to discuss economics with you at the right time and place. Just not now.

  92. John Bennetts

    Oh dear, Dragonists!

    The technologies used at Chernobyl are in no way fair comparison with the nuclear alternative for fossil fuels, neither was its accident anywhere near as deadly as the know-alls like to think was the case. Chernobyl was damaged during an unauthorised, stupid, dangerous “test” on a poorly maintained plant of superseded design. Type III and better reactors are better, cheaper, cleaner and safer by far than Chernobyl. I do not say that Chernobyl was a picnic in the park – it was a disaster for all involved. The downwind and long term effects are nowhere as devastating as was first posited.

    Regarding Three Mile Island, there were NO deaths or suffering from that incident. None. A small, slightly radioactive gas release occurred. Full stop. The actual amount of radiation released was so small as to be insignificant on a local scale, let alone globally or over an extended period of time.

    That Yucca Mountain has been deferred or mkothballed indicates that the need for this facility is simply not as great as was initially feared. So it has been re-prioritised. Construction has ceased. This is a good outcome, not a bad one. It indicates that the road ahead is not as difficult as some feared. The risks can be and are being managed adequately by other means and the money not spent remains in the bank.

    As for your last statement, “adapt or perish…”. There is a third option re GHG and climate change.

    Stop damaging our planet by release of GHG, OR adapt OR perish. I know which one is preferable. It doesn’t even make your list.

    Are you unconscious, or what?

  93. powerisnotstrength

    And I told you trade practices law would be boring to your kind, and that’s because for all your formidable intellect you are intellectually lazy. But it’s the sort of thing which makes the more sexy stuff possible, like getting through the GFC intact and having the spare wealth to save the planet.

  94. Fran Barlow

    This is a world problem Dragonista, not just an Australian one. But it does happen that the world’s dirtiest coal plant — Hazelwood — is right here in Australia.

    Some of the figures in the US were less than 10 years old. I took it that you were referring to the US as I had referred to them in a prior post.

    [Try telling the victims of Chernobyl and Nine Mile Island that no-one has died or suffered from nuclear radioactivity.]

    Now you’re verballing me. Chernobyl killed, as far as can be told, about 50 people, mostly first responders. That’s less than your average coal mine blast. In China, about 2500 die each year in coal mining accidents alone. In the US, where it is highly mechanised and there’s more open cut, it’s about 300 per year.

    And it was Three Mile Island, and the two that died there did not die of radioactivity. Stop lying.

    [Even in Australia scientific nuclear waste sits in warehouses waiting to find a “safe” home.]

    People have unreasoning fears. What does this mean?

    [As to you last point, we will adapt or perish. That is the way of all things]

    Finally, the basic misanthropy of your position outs. You are relaxed about mass suffering and mass death. Thanks for the candour, as it shows your hypocrisy over the threat from nuclear power and explains your pollyanna position on coal.

  95. powerisnotstrength

    John Bennetts: “Typical. Bloody typical … People generally do not choose to waste time haggling with slippery dills.”

    How typical of you to start swearing and calling people names when they interrupt your three-hour-long discussion of dainty little ways to protest at lack of Labor action, by voting informally or Green. “Run out of steam”? You wish. But your wishes don’t mean a thing to me, no matter how much you swear and call names. Get it?

    There is only one kind of protest that counts, and that is throwing out the government.

  96. dragonista

    @franbarlow – as we are talking about Australia, I’m surprised that you need to refer to decade old figures about US power plants. A long bow.

    Try telling the victims of Chernobyl and Nine Mile Island that no-one has died or suffered from nuclear radioactivity. And I hate to tell you that there is no secure sequestration of nuclear waste at present. The Yucca Mountain solution has failed and the industry is scrabbling for an alternative. Even in Australia scientific nuclear waste sits in warehouses waiting to find a “safe” home.

    As to you last point, we will adapt or perish. That is the way of all things.

  97. rossco

    “three years on the outside contemplating where they went wrong” hasn’t caused the Libs to moderate their position, why would it bring about a change for Labor? In fact, the Libs have concluded that it is the electors that got it wrong in 07 and that we are just waiting for the election to return them to their rightful position. Five terms out of office might bring about a change, but if Labor has 5 terms of the current lowest common denominator policy regime it probably doesn’t matter, we will all be well and truly stuffed anyway.

  98. John Bennetts

    @ powerisnotstrength, Posted Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 6:16 and 6:36 pm:

    Typical. Bloody typical.

    When PINS ran out of steam regarding the subject at foot, he introduced, from somewhere in his nether regions, a change of subject as a smoke screen. So, in a comments stream already 160 items long, he now wants us to debate the ACCC and consumer legislation. Apparently the Coalition have great plans for improvements in the way we do business. Is this related to the deregulation of labour, aka WorkChoices, or is it a wholly new issue, I wondered.

    Then I thought “Why bother?”. Each time we get to the crux of another big lie or expose his lack of knowledge, this bloke will simply utter another fib or distraction and expect his lack of manners to be overlooked.

    So, PINS, it is up to you.

    Stay on topic and rational or be prepared to not be taken very seriously, whether within Crikey’s comments pages or life in general. It is that simple. People generally do not choose to waste time haggling with slippery dills.

  99. Fran Barlow

    Dragonista said

    [for the record, I’m a woman, not a man]

    FTR, fellow is not etymologically masculine. The Old English root word feolaga meant partner. You are an interlocutor and thus a “partner”. Crikey is our “college”.

    [Power stations have for quite some time now (ie. decades) used scrubbers in their (smoke) stacks to remove particulates such as mercury and dioxins. ]

    You will have to tell that to the US EPA amongst other things. They say that about 500 plants have no such scrubbers.

    See for example:

    Scrubbers (EIA) which suggests that 628 plants producing a total of 22o.6 GWe have none at all.

    [of 257 U.S. coal-fired power plants which produced more than 2,000 GWh of power in 2006, 86 had SO2 emissions that were higher than 10 lb/MWh – compared with an average of 1 lb/MWh for coal plants with state-of-the-art SO2 scrubbers.]

    Here’s a general source that covers current emissions

    [U.S. coal-fired electricity-generating power plants owned by utilities emitted an estimated 48 tons of mercury in 1999, the largest source of man-made mercury pollution in the U.S. In 1995-96, this accounted for 32.6% of all mercury emitted into the air by human activity in the U.S. In addition, 13.1% was emitted by coal-fired industrial and mixed-use commercial boilers, and 0.3% by coal-fired residential boilers, bringing the total U.S. mercury pollution due to coal combustion to 46% of the U.S. man-made mercury sources]

    There’s this:
    [Among air pollution sources, the deaths attributable to power plants are rivaled only by those due to the fineparticle pollution from the combined total of all the diesel trucks, buses, locomotives, and constructionequipment in the U.S. which, according to the Abt Associates analysis, are responsible for approximately80 percent of the deaths attributable to power plants.]

    See also

    [I smiled at your use of “notional hazard” to describe nuclear radioactivity. So it can only kill people (either quickly or slowly) for the first 300-700 years. ]

    Wrong. It isn’t killing anyone, precisely because it is securely sequestered.

    [You have to be kidding to put man-made CO2 in the same category. CO2 is part of the world’s natural processes, as are global warming and cooling. The world can adapt to global warming if it can’t find a way to stop it.]

    Specious on a number of grounds. What the “world” adapts to is less interesting than how the world serves human needs. The biosphere may change adversely for the 9 billion around by 2050, and that is salient. CO2 is part fo a flux, buyt humans are desquestering large quantities of it, disrupting the balance and reconfiguring the biosphere in ways that we don’t entirely understand but are likely to be adverse to us as a species.

  100. dragonista

    Dear Mr @djsnow – I’m surprised at your casual abuse of statistics! Yes, Australia has the 2nd highest ghg emissions per capita. That is a number conveniently latched upon by those who seek political wins and who don’t understand the real ramifications of climate action such as a price on carbon.

    Consider some other relevant statistics:

    – by area, Australia is the 29th highest emitter (after South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan and Britain)
    – by GDP, Australia is 74th (and our emissions intensity has declined by 37.3% since 1990)
    – in reality, Australia is the 19th highest emitter.

    Let’s keep our emission action in context. Let’s not penalise Australians for their quality of life so as to reduce emissions at home that will make no real difference to global emissions.

    My proposed solution is a levy on taxpayers (1.5%) amounting to $8bn that can be spent deploying clean energy technologies in fast growing nations such as China and India. If Australia was genuine about taking a leadership role, then this is the type of action that it should be taking.

  101. powerisnotstrength

    Birdie,
    “Australia’s economy is widely acknowledged to be in better shape than in most other developed countries. It staggers me that Liberal supporters refuse to acknowledge this.”

    There are big debates going on about this elsewhere. But in short, I believe it was Hawke, Keating, Howard, and Costello, who did more than anyone else to save us from the GFC.

    It staggers me that Labor supporters do not appreciate that Australia went into the GFC as one of the strongest, most robust economies for its size in the world, with many layers in its financial system specifically designed to reinforce our economy against that sort of international shock. The very same reinforcement that made us almost completely unaffected by the Asian currency crisis of 1998, and the international recession of 2001.

    Labour in 2008-9 in some ways helped, while in other ways making it worse by subsidizing housing investment at the expense of business investment, causing investors to exit from shares, bonds and cash and herd into unproductive property speculation instead. There is no employment in second-hand housing speculation, and therefore no stimulus. Fortunately, Australia was so strong as a result of previous economic reforms that it was able to cope with even that.

    I don’t sidestep the question of the current government “saving us from the GFC”. I strongly deny that they did so.

  102. John Bennetts

    @ dragonista, Posted Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 5:58 pm:

    First, this writer asks Fran Barlow to update her knowledge of coal fired power stations. Then, she demonstrates that she knows diddly-squat on the same subject.

    Second, this writer claims that coal fired power stations use scrubbers to remove particulates such as mercury and dioxins. This is odd. Where, exactly are scrubbers used in Australia? I know of exactly none. However, fabric filter bags have become standard practice in lieu of the precipitators which used to do the job of removing perhaps 98% of particulates from the smoke. Fabric filters are capable of reliably achieving 99.8% particulate removal, year after year, or about 100 times as clean.

    As for mercury, it is a variable and very small part of coal. Different coal – different mercury percentage. Different load or power station – different mercury discharge. This is monitored and reported and kept within EPA guidelines and publicly reported, year after year. I do not know why you are concerned about dioxins… perhaps just a popular word meaning “nasty stuff which I do not understand”. Perhaps this lady needs reassurance that the EPA is doing its job, as are the coal burners, re the pollutants other than CO2.

    For Dragonista to then say “CO2 is part of the world’s natural processes, as are global warming and cooling.” is a nonsense in relation to additional CO2 emitted by mankind. It has been shown to be the cause of very substantial and damaging global warming. It is not the naturally occurring CO2 that is doing the damage to our planet – it is mankind’s contribution which is threatening to degrade the very values which humans value most – liveable climate, stable shorelines, diversity of species, healthy rivers and snowfields, security against famine and plague. It is not just cane toads which are heading resolutely to Sydney and further – how about Malaria and a bunch of other very unpleasant tropical diseases?

    These processes have effects which are huge beside the current effects on the world of nuclear power, which is somewhere well below trivial. Continuing deployment of Type III+ or better nuclear generators will have absolutely huge environmental benefits. Type IV will be even better – they actually use as fuel the stockpiles of nuclear warheads and the used fuel rods from existing nuclear power stations.

    It is Dragonists who is showing a lack of knowledge about her subject, not FB.

  103. powerisnotstrength

    Birdie:
    Howard’s “failure to develop critical parts of the nation’s infrastructure, e.g. ports for export of the minerals that are all that keeps this nations economy in reasonable shape”

    Even the ports we did have in 1996 were grossly underperforming their capacity and Howard did get them working again. All governments, Labor and Coalition, state and federal, are failing us here, and I believe the reasons are related to the over-centralization I mentioned, but that’s too big a topic to go into here.

    It’s also related to the trade practices and competition laws I mentioned. BHP has built its own freight rail lines without waiting for governments to do so. The ACCC is in the process of forcing it to make those rails available to competitors. Imagine if it were intellectual property such as a patent which they were forced to rent out to competitors. What is the point in any private company building freight or port infrastructure now, if they cannot gain competitive advantage from doing so? That’s one of the issues in Tony Abbott’s planned review of trade practices law which I mentioned.

  104. djsnow

    Well @Dragonista I joined your call for entering the debate. Mine contribution will be brief.

    Firstly, claiming that we (Australia) contribute only 1.5% of global emissions is a little bit trite. Last time I looked, Australia, on a per capita basis, is the second largest emitter in the world. So we should take individual responsibility for our emissions. And our personal responsibility is huge. I suspect our personal financial cost will be commensurate. So pay up Australia or find another way.

  105. powerisnotstrength

    John Bennetts:
    “The best idea, without doubt, is to save this little blue globe upon which we and all that we hold dear reside. Unfortunately, the two major parties have either declared this notion to be crap (LIB) or decided to delay indefinitely and to accept no responsibility for the outcome (LAB).”

    Doesn’t that prove my point? I said “there are no good ideas, or at least no good plans for implementing good ideas“.

    Government is more centralized now than ever before in Australia’s history. No matter what petty little protest you make – Greens, independents, informal vote, putting Labor second, whatever – will make absolutely no difference. Either Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister, and they do not give a toss about your little gestures as long as they get the job.

    The only thing that will cause Labor to take your “good idea” of saving the planet seriously, is three years on the outside contemplating where they went wrong. You might then see a very different approach to that issue.

    In the meantime, from your point of view, a Coalition government will not make anything worse (unless you believe, against all evidence, that they will bring back Workchoices). From my point of view they are offering quite a lot that’s of value, such as a big review of trade practices law. But I expect that sort of stuff is epic snoresville to Crikey readers.

  106. dragonista

    @franbarlow – and for the record, I’m a woman, not a man.

  107. dragonista

    @franbarlow

    It would be worth updating your knowledge of coal-fired power. Power stations have for quite some time now (ie. decades) used scrubbers in their (smoke) stacks to remove particulates such as mercury and dioxins. More people die working for the construction and agricultural sectors than the coal-mining (or any mining) sector.

    I smiled at your use of “notional hazard” to describe nuclear radioactivity. So it can only kill people (either quickly or slowly) for the first 300-700 years. Gee that is reassuring.

    You have to be kidding to put man-made CO2 in the same category. CO2 is part of the world’s natural processes, as are global warming and cooling. The world can adapt to global warming if it can’t find a way to stop it.

    But there is no way to adapt to cancer or other ailments caused by radioactivity from nuclear waste.

  108. Birdie

    @PINS There are none so blind as will not see. There is one very good idea that cries out to be implemented and that is to put a price on carbon. Climate change cannot be tackled effectively without it.

    The fiscal rectitude of the Howard Government came at great cost; decaying public school infrastructure, creation of a vast structural deficit through doses of middle class welfare at every election, failure to develop critical parts of the nation’s infrastructure, e.g. ports for export of the minerals that are all that keeps this nations economy in reasonable shape (due to the above structural deficit). And remember interest rates were rising in the last year of Howard. The idea that somehow the Liberals would reduce the deficit faster than Labour is the stuff of fantasy.

    Labour’s response to the GFC was both necessary and successful. The resultant deficit is modest and manageable. Australia’s economy is widely acknowledged to be in better shape than in most other developed countries. It staggers me that Liberal supporters refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they focus on a temporary deficit necessitated by the economic circumstances of the time.

    What appalls me is the total lack of vision in both major parties. The only visionary in the Liberal Party in recent times was Peter Costello, who at least drove through changes that went past the next election, e.g. the Future Fund, and brought issues such as the aging population to the fore.

    Both parties have squibbed on Climate Change, which is undoubtedly the major issue of our time. It is shameful that a rag tag band of luddite deniers aided by the MSM and the ABC could derail the critical and urgent reforms needed to restructure the energy sector. We do not have time to twiddle our thumbs while a random 150 good and honest citizens muddle over the issue. And we don’t have time to wait 3 years while the the Coalition ‘returns us to surplus’ and gives us a breather. A price on carbon is needed now because every year of delay just makes the problem worse and the task of fixing it harder.

  109. LauraJ

    @Peet10 – If People want action THEY have to act’

    I couldn’t agree more. Individuals have to take their own action, however small, to do their bit (if that’s what you are referring to). It is totally hypocritical of people walking around with all the energy-sucking lights on in their house, surrounded by plastic shopping bags with the non-energy efficient washing machine and dryer going while bleating to the government to take “action”.

    Action, in this case unfortunately, costs money. I don’t know if Gillard’s “citizen’s committee is a good idea or not, but at least there are some other positive things in the policy.

    An ETS has been in use in Europe for several years, and has just been introduced in New Zealand. In both cases power bills rose. The economy however, at least in Europe, has remained stable.

    So there is a lot to consider about introducing a price on carbon. I’ve read in the media that polls say people want an ETS, yet other polls indicate that most people don’t even know what one is.

    At least Gillard is considering the situation better than Mr. “climate change is crap” Abbott.

  110. John Bennetts

    @ powerisnotstrength, Posted Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 4:27 pm:

    Quote: Do you not see, there are no good ideas, or at least no good plans for implementing good ideas, being floated in Australia in 2010. When there are no good ideas or good plans, it is a great time to choose a government which will do very little (other than return us to surplus) and do it rather well.

    PINS, we must again agree to disagree. The best idea, without doubt, is to save this little blue globe upon which we and all that we hold dear reside. Unfortunately, the two major parties have either declared this notion to be crap (LIB) or decided to delay indefinitely and to accept no responsibility for the outcome (LAB). CP voters are in the interesting situation of having no discernable policy to consider at all on this matter.

    Greens, claiming the high moral ground, have a policy, of sorts, but it is totally wacky in at least three ways: They have decided to cut energy consumption by 50% just by tantric chants and yoga. They have completely outlawed consideration of the safest form of power production, the only means by which the power requirements of a developing world and increasing population can depend without simultaneously stuffing the earth, and they absolutely refuse to consider alternatives, secure in the knowledge that doing nothing is far more noble than working with whoever they share a goal, even if not the means of attainment of that goal.

    Sorry, I am so p_ssed off by this that I have no party political statement to make, just a request to those of you who ARE affiliated with a party, “Please do your best to promote adoption of the best climate change mitigation policy possible.”

    I will n ot waste my vote by voting informal. I guess that I will have to decide who to support based on the colour of their hair or other irrational things, because the single most important current issue has been pushed off the agenda.

  111. David

    @Birdie…at least with the return of the Govt and the Greens with the swing in the Senate ..on Climate Change there is a chance of some agreement, with Abbott, climate change is crap, no deal it doesn’t exist. He is using it as a lever to try and convince the electorate a carbon charge will see the end of life as we know it, charges going up in every commodity, doom and gloom, taxes on everything..the man is a fake and a fool and the majority can see through him. The more he fronts up at a press conference the sillier he sounds and looks. The Monks mates on this blog are as transparent.

  112. JamesK

    I’ve just committed a grievous insult to somebody named Fran Bailey.

    I clearly meant Fran Barlow.

    Whosoever the former is I apologise but …. I’m freaked out……..

  113. David

    Anyone who saw Abbotts effort at the Lib party meeting this morning in Perth and his followup press conference with the ice maiden Bishop at his side to extoll his virtues of loyalty and love for the female of the species, will now understand why he will never lead the coalition to victory. 2 ducks out of water would have looked more impressive. Already the so called safe Lib seats in WA are getting a nudge and watch Alana McTiernan, she is a little beauty already ahead of the sitting Lib member of 9 years, they love her. Emily Pankhurst your idea of women for our time and chaining to the railings was worth it. Pity Bishop can’t see it.

  114. powerisnotstrength

    What’s the point of this? Every one of you is going to vote Labor or the Labor-supporting Greens. Bob Brown could raise a bill to close down the entire mining industry, Julia Gillard could announce a plan to half the country’s Gross Domestic Product on populist programs which turn cheats into rich men and drive honest business people into a career change, both at the same time, and you would still never consider taking a breather from big extravaganza reformist government for a few years.

    Do you not see, there are no good ideas, or at least no good plans for implementing good ideas, being floated in Australia in 2010. When there are no good ideas or good plans, it is a great time to choose a government which will do very little (other than return us to surplus) and do it rather well.

    The entire campaign against the Coalition is based on scaremongering that they could bring back Workchoices. They won’t. They will sit quietly for three years bringing back some fiscal discipline and keeping an eye on things, and that’s about it. And that will give people some time to catch their breath, get on with the business of living, and wait for the next really good idea to come along.

  115. Birdie

    @MWH The Greens have chosen to sup with the lesser of two devils.

    While I support most of the Greens policies and have been a Greens supporter since day 1, I cannot in good conscience let my vote pass to either of the major parties. They have both failed so appallingly on Climate Change and a range of other issues that neither is an option for me. Voting should not be about weighing up who is least bad, which is why I think we need an electoral system that allows a greater diversity of views to be represented in the Parliament.

  116. David Allen

    Dragonista – check out 4th generation nuclear power. It changes the paradigm and can even use existing nuclear waste as fuel. 4th gen reactors can be small and deployed locally allowing significant savings on energy transmission costs.

    A good place to start your research is here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/10/ifr-fad-5/

    This site is probably the best on the web discussing practical mitigation of global warming and being Australian is of particular interest to us.

  117. Fran Barlow

    Channelling John Howard, the man from the Mission Impossible team said:

    [You hate mainstream Australia ]

    I don’t hate anyone, not even John Howard. Of course, I don’t agree that the ignorant, the misanthropic and those possessed by cultural angst (a.k.a. “mainstream” Australia) should have their wishes fulfilled.

  118. Fran Barlow

    JamesK said:

    [It’s a vote for a mining super profits tax of 50%.]

    Go0d on Bob Brown. Count on him to stand up for fairness and justice when it stands to count and when those who oppose it can vote against him. You have to love that.

  119. Fran Barlow

    Dragonista said:

    [How can you in good conscience talk about the human and environmental cost of fossil-fuel energy but be blind to the even greater risk to both posed by nuclear waste?]

    Self evidently because the “risk” is trivial compared with the measurable life cycle damage associated with FF combustion.

    [The world will be much better off working out ways to use coal and gas while capturing and storing the CO2, than taking the nuclear option.]

    You do realise that whereas nuclear hazmat remains a notional hazard for about 300-700 years stored CO2 remains a hazard for eternity. You do realise that some of the CO2 emitted today will still be about in 50000 years? You do realise that coal combustions emits radiation into the local biosphgere, along with the neurotoxin, mercury and many other toxics and is even now contaminating the oceans? You do realise that hundreds of thousands of lives each year in the US alone are prejudiced by FF combustion and that the cost of this to their health system, to productivity and even to the state of their buildings is in the tens of billions?

    How many people died mining coal in China alone last year according to official figures?

    What a strange fellow you are!

  120. Fran Barlow

    David Allen said:

    [Ahh! But they don’t get the $2 or so from the AEC paid to the candidate who attracts the ‘1’. Significant swings away from major parties would have an adverse material effect on them. If you vote informal then you save the taxpayer some loot as no one gets paid.]

    My partner and I plan to scrutineer for The Greens and to donate to them an amount equivalent to $2.30 for each informal vote in my booth in Bennelong in which the primary vote was for The Greens. I’d urge others to do the same.

  121. dragonista

    Sorry @franbarlow, I was enjoying our exchange (albeit the somewhat arcane divergences) until you outed yourself as a nuclear supporter. How can you in good conscience talk about the human and environmental cost of fossil-fuel energy but be blind to the even greater risk to both posed by nuclear waste? I have followed the nuclear energy industry with interest for about 30 years – and during that time there has not been a technology developed to store spent fuel rods safely, nor a geologically stable enough place to store them. I remember back in the 80s when Tennant Creek in the NT was touted as being an ideal spot to store nuclear waste deep underground because it was the most geologically stable place in the world. Then in January 1988 and earthquake measuring 6.7 on the richter scale hit the very same spot. The world will be much better off working out ways to use coal and gas while capturing and storing the CO2, than taking the nuclear option.

  122. Fran Barlow

    MWH said:

    [For example, does voting informal send a message that: you want real action on climate change or that nothing at all should be spent on this; { etc …} ]

    It sends a message that the proposals of the major parties were inadequate to persuade people to support them. In this case, given that the proposals of the major parties were constructively identical (consensus on: no effective climate change action; mining thug rule; animus towards asylum seekers and migration; occupying Afghanistan ad infinitum and brutalising the population; gay marriage out) it invites one side to break ranks on at least one of these.

    Isn’t it obvious that you can’t vote against a policy by voting for its advocates?

    [Voting informally means that neither major party is affected by your vote, and it shows that you don’t even support the Greens.]

    No. Both parties are denied your preference when it might have made a difference. A Green who would not have won still hasn’t won, so there’s no downside. It shows that Green voters understand that the issues they support are not to be traded for tribal affiliation, even to their won party. An issue as important as the future of the planet is more important than achieving a respectable long distance loss for some worthy candidate. If the structure of the voting system forces a choice between voting formally for policies one opposes and voting informally for policies one supports, and Green supporters see the latter as the lesser evil, then this shows we really aren’t like the other parties, and that our principles are not to be traded, and that we are serious whereas others are, finally, mere pretenders. As the old aphorism goes, it is not whether one wins or loses, but how one plays the game.

    We must ask ourselves: what sacrifices are we willing to make to see our policy preferences acted upon?

    We are willing to pay a fair price on carbon where this is fairly applied. We surely must be willing, if it comes to that, to live with an Abbott government. If enough of the population really is in a state of mind to permit the entire debate to between parties that agree on sociopathic and misanthropic policies, then it is only fair and just that they accept the consequences and that we, while pointing out the looming disaster, remain untainted and in a position to explain to them how they brought this on themselves and those they said they cared about. We can’t do that if we behave as recklessly and sociopathically as they have. We must be able to say to them: this was not done in our name, but yours. This is what you have done. It is time to find another way.

  123. JamesK

    Damn! I almost forgot…

    It’s a vote for a mining super profits tax of 50%.

    It’s a vote to ban coal exports and presumably natural gas as well.

    What else I wonder?

  124. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Another benefit of voting 1 Green is that this shows the media that there is community support for their views, and this may lead to more reporting of progressive views.

    Voting informal says that people don’t care about politics and thus may lead to even less coverage of the real issues.

  125. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    Voting informally means that neither major party is effected by your vote, and it shows that you don’t even support the Greens.

    Voting informally shows that you don’t care about what happens. And not caring is more likely to encourage Labor and Liberal rather than to lead to any change.

    Rather than imagining lots of informal votes (which means nothing) I would like to imagine lots of votes for The Greens which I think will make a difference.

  126. David Allen

    Fran Barlow said:

    “Also … why would voting 1 Green … 2. Major Party induce either to change their policy. In the end they get your vote.”

    Ahh! But they don’t get the $2 or so from the AEC paid to the candidate who attracts the ‘1’. Significant swings away from major parties would have an adverse material effect on them. If you vote informal then you save the taxpayer some loot as no one gets paid.

  127. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    As I said before, voting informal cannot make a difference.

    For example, does voting informal send a message that:
    * you want real action on climate change or that nothing at all should be spent on this
    * allow gay marriage or make homosexuality illegal
    * troops in or out of Afghanistan
    * spend more on public health or privatize the whole system
    etc etc

    The only way to get real change is to get enough people to formally vote for those who support the change.

  128. Fran Barlow

    Michael W-H said:
    [Note that voting 1 Green and leaving the other squares blank is an INFORMAL vote, and the vote 1 Green is not recorded in any official way. ]

    I am going to give ALP-Liberal an equal numeric value, not leave it blank. I don’t care if it is informal and is not officially recorded. I also don’t litter or spit in the street or vandalise public property. I assist others in need when I can. I regularly do unpaid community service with vulnerable people, even though this goes officially unrecorded. It is enough that I know that I have refrained from doing the wrong thing or done the right thing as the case might be.

    Imagine if all green voters took this approach? Let us say that the Liberals won the election 51-49-2PP but that the Greens, despite getting 10-12% in polls got almost no primaries at all and informals were 12-15% of the vote and highest in strongly Green seats?

    One suspects the ALP might then take a rather less casual view about what to do about this key section of the politcal market. That would be worth enduring a term of Abbott to get.

  129. Birdie

    @MWH Voting informal sends a protest. If there was a large increase in the informal vote, both major parties would realise they are collectively on the nose. While it is true to say that voting green informally would not be recorded as a green vote, it satisfies me and that’s what counts as far as I’m concerned.

    It should also be noted that the reasons people vote for any party are not transparent via the vote itself. There are many, many reasons people vote one way or the other, from blind ideology (the rusted on vote, which is about 40 percent for both major parties) through a mix of issues (swinging voters) to, in my case, a single dominant issue (in this election).

    Short of storming the barricades, the only way to effectively protest and deny one’s vote to those who don’t deserve it, is to vote informally.

    I am in favour of an overhaul of the electoral system that gives fairer representation to a greater diversity of views in the House of Representatives, as there is in the Senate. I believe we need an optional preferential system in the lower house at the Federal level, rather than mandatory preferential, at the very least. The current system has brought us to an awful impasse where both sides are gutless mimics of each other.

  130. John Bennetts

    @ JamesK, Posted Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 11:36 am:
    Quote:
    Fuel Volume Emissions (CO2-e)
    Petrol 1 litre : 2.56 kg
    Diesel 1 litre : 2.90 kg
    LPG 1 litre : 1.71 kg

    This is not informative unless it is matched with energy output figures, which could well reverse or change the order. Evidently, JamesK is one of those folk who grab at factoids and twist them to suit insane ends.

    Unfortunately, all of us share the same world and we are all disadvantaged equally by the damage which JamesK and other science-averse and other peddlers of disconnected, incorrect or just plain malicious factoids are causing.

  131. shake n bake

    Julia Gillard’s ‘citizen’s assembly’ on an ETS has been widely ridiculed as gutless, as was Labor’s ‘shelving’ of the ETS under Rudd. Most of the critics say that Labor had a strong mandate to act on climate change from 2007. However, in the 6-12 months leading up to the shelving, opinion polls showed public support for strong action on climate change (action that could cost them say $10-$20 a week on their power bills) had waned from above 60% to around 40%. This was a product of the perceived failure at Copenhagen, the climategate email scandal, and the coalition’s ‘great big new tax on everything’ scare campaign, all of which happened between late 2009 and April 2010. The climate sceptics were emboldened, the waters were muddied and the public support for serious action shrank by a third.
    In a pre-election environment, Gillard is delaying action on a not-particularly-popular reform (and even less popular, one suspects, in the outer metropolitan seats still populated by the Howard Battlers/working families/ordinary Australians), while re-establishing Labor’s mandate for climate action, while cutting a preference deal with the Greens to increase the likelihood of a climate-friendly senate in the event Labour is re-elected. Sounds pretty sensible to me.
    Perhaps it is the 20% of the public that waivered in their support of strong climate action between the second half of 2009 and April 2010 that should be called gutless.

  132. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Voting informally sends no message as it does not indicate why you voted informally.

    If enough people voted formally voted Green then of course there would be a huge change because they would form government.

    The interesting thing is what happens if the Greens get a huge increase in their vote but not enough for government?

    One possibility is that Labor decides to remain a right wing government – and perhaps one of Liberal or Labor will become a minor party with the Greens becoming the real opposition.

    The other possibility is that Labor becomes more progressive to win back some of the Greens votes.

    Either way, thanks to the big increase in Greens votes, politics in Australia significantly changes.

    Of course if the vast majority of Australians support the current Liberal or Labor policies they should continue to vote for their major party of choice. Whether or not we change depends on how people vote.

  133. Peter Phelps

    I’m not sure what I like more…

    Watching Julia Gillard, lifetime member of the Socialist Left, former member of the Socialist Forum, totally sell out her beliefs for power.

    Or the Lefites here at this Crikey, watching their heads explode as their avatar shows herself to have feet of clay.

    All I can say is: ha, ha! Wake up and smell the roses. You don’t represent the real Australia. You represent a tiny intellectualoid clique, which mouthes post-modernism and sups on bourgeois Socialism.

    You hate mainstream Australia – but that’s OK because we don’t give a damnwhat you think, anyway.

    And that’s the problem, isn’t it dearies? You just want to be noticed. You just want to be respected. You just want to be, er, in charge of our lives and our opinions. And off to the re-education camps for those who think differently. Isn’t that right?

    And good luck voting Greens. You’ve gotta give your preferences somewhere.

  134. peet10

    Likewise-voting for either main party will produce no change.

    “Urging people to vote informally” as if people don’t know to do that anyway.

  135. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Fran,

    Note that voting 1 Green and leaving the other squares blank is an INFORMAL vote, and the vote 1 Green is not recorded in any official way.

    As the 1 Green vote is not recorded, you are not sending a message to either party that you support Greens policy. Voting informally will thus not result in any change.

  136. Fran Barlow

    Also … why would voting 1 Green … 2. Major Party induce either to change their policy. In the end they get your vote.

  137. Birdie

    @FRAN I’m with you. I decided some time ago to vote Green and leave the other squares blank in the lower house. Julia’s Climate Change policy farce confirms my decision. I will not support any party, by way of primary vote or preference, that does not have an effective policy to combat climate change.

  138. Fran Barlow

    Michael W-H said:

    [PS: Note that urging people to vote informally is against the law, so keep this in mind if you use your real name on Crikey.]

    Urging the Langer option is not against the law, however.

    You argue for allocating preferences, but as I said above: One may in life, ask for something one wants and not get it. That may be due to factors outside one’s control. Yet if one asks for what one doesn’t want, and gets it, is one not simply a fool?

  139. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    One of the reasons we are in this mess is that people keep acting as if we are in a dictatorship.

    In a dictatorship the way to get change is to lobby the dictator to change.

    If we accept that we live in a democracy, the right course of action is very simple – vote for those who support your views, and urge others to vote for these candidates as well.

    If enough Labor voters change their vote to 1 Green, 2 Labor, the Labor party might just get the idea that they need to change.

    And if enough Liberal voters change their vote to 1 Green, 2 Liberal, the Liberal party will also be sent a strong message.

    This is the only way that I can see Australia’s politics moving back from being one of the most right wing in the OECD to something approaching at least a more centre position.

    Of course the change will not come about by the Greens getting power. It will come about by both Labor and Liberal changing their policies to win back the new Green voters.

    And we need to stop believing everything bad said against the parties we do not support, and ignoring the faults of those we do support. We survived many years of Howard. The world will not end if Abbott wins. Likewise the Greens, though not perfect, have a very good record in parliament and should be taken seriously.

    PS: Note that urging people to vote informally is against the law, so keep this in mind if you use your real name on Crikey.

  140. powerisnotstrength

    I think you’re all underestimating the usefulness of these focus groups. They will come up with some really useful slogans and buzzwords for winning elections. When the resonance of “Working Families”, “Moving Forward”, “Fair Work”, and “Sustainable” wears off, the country is going to need some really good symbolic brand names, and focus groups are the best way to get them.

  141. CliffG

    What about a bit of reality.
    Obama has just abandoned climate change legislation in the US. Why? Because they don’t have enough votes in the Senate to win their legislation.
    That’s familiar isn’t it? And Labor gets the blame!!!!!!
    It’s the Right that’s to blame. The Right is opposed to action on climate change because it threatens to many of their financial backers and friends. And when the Right joins forces with the Greens. That’s it folks! So are you going to give them power at the next election? To do what? Think just a little.
    “Leadership” is one thing. Political suicide is another. Had Rudd gone to a double dissolution they would have lost. How would anyone benefit then? And the hysteria whipped up in the media (“The Australian” particularly) about tainted science and any off the street climate change deniers who were given enormous amounts of air time were enough to see Turnbull off. That’s the source of the problem. There may be a measure of agreement on climate change if Tony Abbott is defeated and Turnbull returned. That’s the best hope for Australia!
    So people need to suspend their fervour for a moment and look at the politics. You win if you have the votes. To have the votes people have to be pleased with what you offer. “Leadership” (i.e. forcing your position through if you have the numbers in the Senate) can play a part but it isn’t only politicians who “lead” especially in a society like Australia where we all love being led by the nose to the tune of the latest dog whistle that’s around.

  142. JamesK

    The Orwellian Fran says:
    “We want people to pay the community cost for damaging the environment”

    Who is “We”?

    What damage to the environment?

    What’s “the community cost” as opposed to let’s say ‘the cost’?

    Who are the people that “we want” “to pay the community cost”?

    How do you spell ‘gobbledegook’ Fran?

    What’s your defintion of insanity?

    Can you put forward a a single rational argument without chicanery at its core?

  143. Fran Barlow

    What about no pain no gain … carbon price now!

  144. peet10

    Right on Cairns50-I’ll have a t-shirt made up for the barricades: “I’ll take the pain’. or ‘Ready for ‘Real Action’. This is serious isn’t it? Crikey we cannot let 150 people determine the outcomes here…a nice peaceful walk across a bridge ..on a working day…

  145. abmessage

    The climate change policy is, as expected, very weak, and any thinking person would be put off voting for Julia after the miserable effort she has put in to this and pretty much every other issue she has built her leadership around. However, I think she is going to romp in, perhaps with an increased majority, because the alternative is too woeful to contemplate. Abbott was a terrible choice by the Liberals and people are not going to switch from Labor to vote for him when they get to the ballot box (and never were going to, even under Rudd). I hope the Greens do well, but I suspect they will, as usual, fall short.

  146. Fran Barlow

    JamesK said:

    [So LPG which has a significantly lower carbon footprint than petrol and diesel in transport but it’s still evil (fossil fuel) so let’s slug it (stop subsidising its usage)[attempted verbals corrected] anyways?]

    Yes. It is irrational to subsidise activity we are trying to restrain. We want people to pay the community cost for damaging the environment. I’d be OK with business being able to deduct the proportionate difference between LPG and Diesel CO2 per km driven as a cost. I wouldn’t rebate the changeover cost though but make them roll it into the price.

  147. cairns50

    a general strike is a good idea, but i think i have a better one

    picket all the polling stations on election day to stop all people voting

    a general strike will only allow the right wing elite to demonise the people who do withdraw there labor, and the show will go on regardless

    people picketing polling stations and stopping people from voting , will force the 2 major parties to do what they have to do if they are elected, that is to legislate for a carbon tax

    of course expect the right wing ruling elite to go absolutely off there minds and demand that the police army etc be brought it to break up the picket lines

    so what, i doubt if the police or the army will want to start killing or injuring there fellow citizens

  148. peet10

    Ok-here’s the deal then-a national general strike. People take a sickie or leave for a day-stay out of the cities as an expression of discontent?
    If tens of thousands can cross a bridge for Sorry day, will they sacrifice a day of work for an issue just as huge as that?
    pick a polluter in each state-organise a siege of that site

    For those arguing about costs-I dont think you get it. We are prepared to pay extra -we know its going to be painful!

  149. JamesK

    Fuel Volume Emissions (CO2-e)
    Petrol 1 litre : 2.56 kg
    Diesel 1 litre : 2.90 kg
    LPG 1 litre : 1.71 kg

    So the “perfect unctuously intoned lack of reason that’s so utterly preposterous” has a grand plan to save the planet from mass drownings and mass baking?

    Yes!

    “Abolition of all subsidies for use of fossil fuels (e.g. LPG conversion rebate, diesel fuel rebate)”

    So LPG which has a significantly lower carbon footprint than petrol and diesel in transport but it’s still evil so let’s slug it anyways?

    Yes!

    Which makes perfect sense if you happily throw reason out the window for apparently no other reason than you’re a fully-paid-up member of Looney-Leftists Inc.

  150. Fran Barlow

    Dragonista said:

    [Suggesting (implicitly I admit) that energy suppliers take the pain, leaving only “clean” options for consumers still ignores the fact that energy prices will rise. The cheapest source of renewable energy is still six times more expensive than coal-fired electricity.]

    Actually, in practice, I believe the cheapest renewable energy at industrial scale and quality is probably closer to ten times the cost of coal- fired electricity. The cheapest ubiquitously available near-zero carbon-emitting industrial scale and quality energy technology is nuclear power. That is what we should be rolling out on a fast-track timeline if we want to get the world off emitting most GHGs. This can also underpin the transition to electric vehicles, straunch new emissions associated with desal and perhaps even assist in doing something low carbon in restoring the Murray Darling river system. Assuming a fair community cost for carbon emissions and for the other toxic effluent from coal plants, emissions from gassy mines, the human and environmental cost of accidents and illness in coal mines and along the transport routes is already far cheaper than coal. It’s worth noting too, that apart from the complete inability of renewables to replace a single unit of existing fossil thermal capacity, the embedded carbon cost of millions of cubic metres of concrete footings for wind turbines, or millions of tonnes of steel and glass for solar thermal, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of kilometres of copper cable to connect these disparate energy sources to grids is simply huge. Throw in the carbon cost of redundant fossil thermal capacity, the footprint of large pumped storage units and dams and consider how long it would take in practice to build all of this capacity anyway and one can see that the push for industrial-scale renewables is an absurd pipe dream, literally as well as metaphorically. It is utter greenwash–at best, a cover for using more gas, which, absent nuclear, is what would happen.

    But I’ve digressed …

    [And yes, if you want the right to rail against the evils of capitalism and consumerism, aren’t you an arch hypocrite for keeping your flatscreen?]

    Assumes facts not in evidence. I have never rail[ed] against consumerism not claimed that capitalism was evil. I have never proposed that combatting climate changeor helping the environment should entail not purchasing flat-screen TVs or similar consumer goods. I merely note the obvious — that where emissions are created is less important than how and why they are created. Those emissions by “Chindia” are largely at the insistence of western countries, and so those emissions (including the transport-related ones) are not “Chindian” but western. To say otherwise is simply accounting tomfoolery. So the figures about how much of world emissions are created within Australia is not reliable and thus of only limited use in deeriving a model for burden-sharing.

    AGW is clearly a kind of tort — akin to what the law regards as “nuisance” or “tort”. Assessing damage in tort law entails considering:

    how much damage has been created
    who has borne the damage
    the share of the responsibility for creating the damage amongst various tortfeasors and contributory acts of commission or omission by sufferers
    foresight of tort feasors
    the capacity of defendants to make restitution
    transaction costs in applying remedies

    A fair consideration of these matters places the vast bulk of the burden of remedy squarely with the wealthiest jurisdictions on the planet. That includes Australia. In practice, our burden is probably in the range of 5-10% of total system remedy costs.

  151. Fran Barlow

    It seems to me that we who are scandalised at the ALP’s reckless hostility to action on climate change can spend the next four weeks feeling angry and powerless or we can do something.

    In my opinion we need to provoke ALP or Liberal members to jump ship and break the consensus within the parties. Those at greatest prospect of doing this are surely those on margins of less than 5%.

    Over the next three weeks we ought to be identifying those who fit this description and letting them know that after the Greens, as we see no important difference between the parties on this crucial issue, we intend to give both parties the same numeric preference, effectively spoiling our ballots. We can be induced to change that if the member publically declares before the election that he or she will campaign for the inclusion of a serious interim price on carbon (at least $20 per tonne applied universally) in the 2011-12 budget. They must publish this in an authorised campaign leaflet not later than 14 August 2010. If they do so, we will circulate this fact amongst our peers and within the blogosphere under a title called “Friends of Action on Climate Change”.

    We need to email them, phone them and slip letters under their electorate doors explaining no more than this (no long defences of the action — more letters/contacts with less in them is better).

    We could of course accept the following as satisfying the above demand:

    1: Abolition of all subsidies for use of fossil fuels (e.g. LPG conversion rebate, diesel fuel rebate)
    2. Abolition of tax deductibility of dirty energy sources

    as both of these would amply satisfy the $20 per tonne of CO2 price. Neither represents a carbon tax or an ETS.

    What about if folks?

    Note: I realise not all of you have the stomach to spoil your ballots. What you do in practice on August 21 is of course a matter for you. Bear in mind the following though:

    In any seat where the Liberal secures more primaries than the Green but fewer than the ALP candidate, your preference will assist Tony Abbott in assisting big business do nothing on climate change. In any electorate where the Green secures more primaries than the Liberal but fewer than the ALP, unless Liberal or other preferences put the Green in front, the Green won’t win, nor can preferences to the ALP help the ALP defeat the Liberal as he or she has already been eliminated. So where you send your preferences is purely symbolic. They will be in practice useless to either of the major parties. You might want to reflect on what sort of symbol you want to send.

    I’m in Bennelong and the Green will have zero chance of finishing ahead of the Liberal (ex-pro tennis player, John Alexander).

    Personally, I don’t agree that the choice should be limited to helping John Alexander beat Maxine McKew or the reverse. If the neither of the above option is in practice a none of the above option*, that is the lesser evil, and I am bound to follow it.

    *subject to my proposed deal above about declaring for a carbon price

  152. peet10

    LAURAJ-if people want action THEY have to act

  153. peet10

    This ‘policy’ leaves us no choice imo. Who’s with me on a mass siege of a coal-fired power station. Let the workers out but no-one in. Shut it and whatever city it powers down.

    It really is time I think to take direct action-we can’t leave it to 150 people who may or may not want the pain associated with real change.

    I mean, if you want change you are prepared to take the pain aren’t you?

  154. Steve354777

    I’m dumbfounded. Labour has come up with an even more vacuous Climate Change policy than the coalition. Still, we have to choose, and at least Labour believes there’s a problem, even if their too scared to do anything about i. On the other hand, the conservatives are divided between those who think global warming is some sort of socialist plot and those who believe voters are more worried about power bills than the future of the planet. How depressing.

  155. JamesK

    I have to shake my head in utter bewildering disbelief at the sheer extent of the denialist delusion of those on the left.

    David Grace is a case in point.

    He says:
    “The labor party(sic) has shown that it is as much a tool of the corporates as the liberal party”

    Mate, Labor are much more the tool of the large corporations than the Liberal Party ever were.

    What planet have you been residing on the past 25 years?

  156. David Grace

    We now know who actually owns and rules our country now. The only organisation that seemed to be supporting this monumentally stupid idea was the Mineral Council.

    The labor party has shown that it is as much a tool of the corporates as the liberal party, and that voting is really just a sham.

    We try to get the billionaire bludgers who run the country to pay their way, and they organise a vicious lying media campaign to keep their money, and just for good measure got rid of the prime minister who suggested it…clearly he was getting just a bit too uppity.

    We try to ensure that we have a planet worth living on for our children, and these same bastards sabotage everything that might stop their obscene scramble for a dollar. They organise selfish old men to spend their time showing their ignorance about science, but bleating “we want to hear both sides”, and bring out ridiculous charlatans to do just that. Of course the real scientists, who have done the work get pilloried and slandered. Clearly they were getting just a bit too uppity.

    I grieve for my country.

  157. Socrates

    It is depressing. Labor’s new slogan could be:

    “No coal mine was harmed in the making of this climate policy”.

    I wish one of the pollsters would do a comprehensive set of questions on climate change and publish the results. I can see three reasons why Labor woudl adopt this policy, none of which have to do with voter approval:
    1. They know the Liberals will be worse, so they know they don’t have to do much.
    2. It will appease the powerful CFMEU (coal miners) which bankrolls elections and has plenty of conference delegates.
    3. It will appease business interests who might help fund Labor’s elections
    4. It will permit financially incompetent state governments to keep milking power prices to make up revenue.

    Bizarrely, this will also assist large mining companies, who recently treated Labor like dirt. Now they are cowering like dogs.

  158. Michael

    @JAMESK

    Succinct & utterly brilliant !!!

  159. LauraJ

    The majority of voters want “action” on climate change.
    Yet the majority of people also don’t want to pay extra for power bills (As Tony Abbott keeps going on about).
    What “action” are people referring to? An ETS? Investment in renewable energy? Abbott’s tree-planting army?
    An ETS will supposedly drive up power bills for people because of carbon costs to the company.
    Renewable energy is more expensive – at least for now – so presumably costs to consumers will also go up initially.
    As for Abbott’s “green army”, there’s no point planting trees if everyone is still polluting like crazy.
    If voters want action, they are going to have to pay for it.
    So, it looks like a decision between saving the planet or saving on your power bill.
    What’s it going to be?

  160. bis

    This debate is redundant.
    The desire of the billions of people in the developing world who aspire to the quality of life of the people debating this thread will only continue to grow, climate change or no climate change. The peasants of China and India are more interested in improving their lot then improving the environment, and you would be too if your chief concern was where your next meal was coming from: environmental concerns are the luxury of the comfortable Westerner.
    If anthropogenic climate change is a real and existential threat to humankind, then nothing short of a culling of the global population will address it, whether by war or plague.

  161. JamesK

    Its the perfect unctuously intoned lack of reason that’s so utterly preposterous about the more oleaginous climate alarmists ……….. a sort of looney left equivalent of “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti”

    The subconscious alerts the awareness a few seconds later with ……. wtf?

  162. dragonista

    Ah thanks @franbarlow but you have (I suspect intentionally) made the issues much more complex than they are. Drawing parallels between physical and economic pain (sharp, dull, referred) is fascinating but kinda beside the point. Suggesting (implicitly I admit) that energy suppliers take the pain, leaving only “clean” options for consumers still ignores the fact that energy prices will rise. The cheapest source of renewable energy is still six times more expensive than coal-fired electricity.

    Also, I’m not arguing that the wealthy countries should not pay, but that they invest their ill-gotten gains (by your measure) in nations that are fast growing and heavily reliant on fossil-fuels. The globe does not recognise per capita emissions but net emissions and so that is where the mitigation investment should be made. But you already know that I meant that.

    An yes, if you want the right to rail against the evils of capitalism and consumerism, aren’t you an arch hypocrite for keeping your flatscreen?

  163. Fran Barlow

    Dragonista said:

    [The whole point of a carbon price or ETS is to change behaviour and change the structure of the economy – so it HAS to be painful (regardless of whatever is being proferred by the parties). Ask any economist.]

    Too simplistic. Just as there are all sorts of physcial pain — sharp, dull, referred — with all sorts of responses to it, there are all sorts of economic “pain”. There is also a question of who bears it. As I said on another thread, if you hand back money to people and provide them options that fit within the budget you;ve given them, they can adapt, just as a sports player with an injury will change what he or she does to compensate for his or her injury.

    [To your second point – climate action should not be based on a country’s capacity to pay, but on that country’s potential to add to (or subtract from) net global emissions.]

    You can’t get blood from a stone, so capacity to pay is key. It also happens that capacity to pay is correlated very strongly with contribution to the problem. Burning those fossil fuels and digging up coal and oil was and is key to contemporary wealth. So both in terms of restituion and capacity to pay the case for the wealthy to shoulder the burden is strong. And then one may consioder that the bulk of the really serious effects will fall upon the poor and that the wealthy don’t actually want climate displaced persons on their borders demanding entry.

    It doesn’t matter if only 1.5% of emissions are in Australia’s borders. Australia (alng with other wealthy nations) needs to be helping other countries who can’t do it themselves to reduce theirs.

    [I won’t comment on your cheap shot at China for satisfying the desires of capitalist nations. No doubt you will take your flatscreen tv and espresso machine to the dump this weekend.]

    Utterly silly. The point was that Australia can’t pretend that the problem lies in Chinese production when that production is Australian demand. That’s merely accounting tomfoolery. What I should do with my flatscreen TV is beside the point.

  164. davros

    Dear Kate
    Hi all, here is my slightly deliberately naive leter to Kate Ellis, my local member ( you know, the one you saw who sat behind the labor front bench a while back before she became a Minister?). Perhaps it just gets it off my chest.

    “I am protesting in the strongest terms about the decision to have a collection of 150 people meet to make recommendations about the way forward on issues such as greenhouse.
    As a non -Liberal voter, I am continually forced to vote Green because of the lack of real leadership your party takes about the environment when it is in government.
    As an educator i am only too aware of the way that having task groups and committees on everything actually slows down action occurring at times.
    I find it hard to believe that this is not Labor’s cynical intention by having this gabfest.
    The Big Science is irrefutable. Just do something!!!!
    Lead. Labor. Lead. please?????”

  165. geomac

    Why the fuss ? Rudd tried a couple of times to get the EST bill passed and the coalition and greens blocked it. Its a stalemate and whoever wins the election wont change a thing. If the coalition wins it has a claytons policy which the greens wont like. If Labor wins it has a policy that the greens will say doesn,t go far enough or as with the liberal one is useless. So either way nothing will be done and the polluters win. Carbon tax ? What about the sulphides and other noxious gases they belch into our air ? Too bad noxious fumes aren,t as visible as oils spills.

  166. dragonista

    In reply to @franbarlow

    You are missing the point of a price on carbon. You can’t have one that has an imperceptible sting (1-10 cents per kWh) if you want to wean energy users from fossil-fuel based products. The whole point of a carbon price or ETS is to change behaviour and change the structure of the economy – so it HAS to be painful (regardless of whatever is being proferred by the parties). Ask any economist.

    And any economist will also tell you that if you shield people from the price increases then you won’t get the behaviour change either.

    To your second point – climate action should not be based on a country’s capacity to pay, but on that country’s potential to add to (or subtract from) net global emissions. Emission reduction actions should not be bound by state borders but instead be focussed on China and India (who will soon contribute more than 50% of emissions) and other rapidly developing nations. Anyone who is genuine about climate action knows that these countries are where the reductions should be taking place. Not symbolic and expensive reductions in small developed nations such as Australia.

    You talk about fairness – it would be fair for Australia to spend an equivalent of its Medicare levy ($8bn raised from taxpayers) on establishing clean energy sources in China and India. Other developed nations should also be investing in these fast growing countries so that they can bring their populations out of poverty without adding to global warming. Donning sack-cloth and ashes in Australia is nothing more than symbolic and makes no discernible difference to global emissions.

    I won’t comment on your cheap shot at China for satisfying the desires of capitalist nations. No doubt you will take your flatscreen tv and espresso machine to the dump this weekend.

    That’s only fair.

  167. David

    @Rodger Davies…Roger much past experience of JamesK bullshit on these blogs leads to the conclusion it/he/she/thingie writes what suits regardless of facts, ignores constructive meaningful comment that shoots its/his/hers/thingies crap down in flames and twists and turns words like a worm with both ends cut off and searching to join them.
    Basically whatever JamesK is it aint normal.

  168. David

    @denise allen…also Denise let us not forget on the Sunday preceeding the election, every catholic priest throughout the length and breadth of this nation will stand in the pulpit, in every catholic church in every town and city, looking down on the faithful from on high, dressed in their multi colored robes, and read from a letter written and signed by the Cardinal of the land, Pell by name, as they are obliged to do, which will advise and suggest and cajole that the catholic faithful is advised by the catholic church to vote Liberal and National lead by the catholic refugee from the seminary, the monk who is mad Abbott. Of course not all catholics will obey, it is not a sin, almost. However tens of thousands of catholics will see it as their duty to take the advice of their spiritual leader Pell, who speaks for the German former Hitler youth member Bennedict XVI in Rome, who is the mentor of Pell, who in return is the ‘spiritual (and other matters) adviser of Abbott.
    Oh there is more intrigue to come yet, tis early days.

  169. lord lucan

    People can make decisions based not on what they actually want to do, but on what they think that other people want to do, with the result that everybody decides to do something that nobody really wants to do, but only what they thought that everybody else wanted to do.

  170. gef05

    @ Rodger

    “You added catastrophic…”

    Well, no. He used a phrase that has been kicking around for a while.

  171. JamesK

    A lucky if mortal shot, Roggiedodge!

    It’s getting dark………. tell Auntie Em to let Old Yeller out,[cough cough], tell Tiny Tim I won’t be coming home this Christmas, tell Scarlett I do give a damn…… tell Fran there may be anthropogenic global warming but it’ll almost certainly not be noticeable…….[cough cough, splutter]

  172. John Bennetts

    When the ocean level rises 8 metres, where will all the rich harbourside dwellers move to?

    Just wondering…

    Will everybody have to move up the valley 8 metres (vertically) in unison, kind of shuffling backwards up the hills? Or, will those with wet feet find themselves bidding at auction for newly released land 30km SW of Liverpool as those newly harbourside hope for windfall gains, if only that damned water would just stop rising?

    Ditto, will the bridges across the Yarra be jacked up progressively, thus linking West Floodplain to East Floodplain?

    Australia’s largest saltwater lake, Lake Macquarie in NSW could become its largest new inlet with quite a few nice homes becoming haunts of the fishes.

    Surely there are a few well-heeled votes to be won by the Greens if they selectively leaflet drop the lowlying suburbs of coastal cities and towns. There are certainly more than a few votes to be lost by the ALP and Libs if they insist on doing nothing more than increasing the risk.

    Yes, I rather like the phrase “catastrophic anthropogenic climate change”. It matches my sentiments exactly.

  173. gef05

    @ Gratton

    “But when it comes down to it – how many of us prepared to repay the planet for past behaviours.”

    *Past* behaviors?

    Apart from anything else – while you Aussies continue to madly cash in on Chinese expansion there is nothing “past” about your behavior.

  174. Rodger Davies

    @JAMESK
    Fran Barlow did not write “sceptical of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change”.
    You added catastrophic because she is right about ordinary anthropogenic climate change.
    Now go back and read it again and I dare you to say you are sceptical of anthropogenic climate change.

  175. JamesK

    Damn!

    Fran Barlow must be as as schemingly brilliant as our best evil backroom boffins to have discovered our formerly covert depraved right wing cunning plot………..

    Can she help Wayward Floozulia save Vacillating Oz from The Parsimonious Parson?

  176. Ian

    While all and sundry are belting the PM around the head re the climate change policy ask yourselves this;

    Can this country afford another debate such as the first one? Vested interests , deniers, flat earthers all making sure that the science was buried in the noise? The Greens demanding what the economy has no chance of providing. The politics of sheer bastardry by the Opposition?

    Can we go through this again and still end up nowhere? Can we afford to?

    I think that this policy is sensible in that it basically saying;….let’s slow down, take a breathe and have a rational discussion. Who is going to be the first politician to claim that the concerns of average Australians are of no import.

    The change to our way of life, the way we produce and manufacture is going to be immense and it can’t be done overnight. We have to be prudent. There is no other way.

    Think about it.

  177. John

    J – U – L – I – A
    You’re such a fool, ya
    I gotta school ya
    We need to cool, ya.

  178. zimmerman

    Some leadership at last. Now with that $6.5 billion that the Wombat Whisperer Ken Henry found inside his ricketty abacus Jools will be able to deploy her army of 150 Everymen to the sunny climes of Tuvula to build The Centre. Now that we have established it is not sinking but actually getting bigger, and a signatory to UN Refugee Convention it is the perfect ausurper to that ungrateful Timor-Leste.
    Viva Jool’s Building The Climate Revolution.

  179. Fran Barlow

    Consider also this scenario.

    Let us imagine that despite polling 10-12% primary on the eve of the election, that not a single valid Green vote stood. Tony Abbott was instead elected on rightwing preferences despite polling only 39% primary against the ALP’s 42%.

    In the senate, there were no new Green senators elected. An examination of the ballots shows that the ALP would have won comfortably if 75% of Green primaries had been validly completed and gone to the ALP.

    What would the upshot of that have been? How would the ALP have reacted to such a devastating riposte?

    I suspect they’d pay more an order of magnitude more attention to the Green-left voter’s concerns. That would be worth enduring a term of Abbott to get, bearing in mind that the ALP will not be doing anything in 2011 that a Green-ALP government couldn’t do in 2013.

    Right now, the left is on the wrong end of right-wing blackmail. We need to stop paying the blackmailer to spit in our faces as the lesser evil.

  180. denise allen

    amazing isnt it…all those who want to vote for Abbott must support (or be conveniently or stupidly forgetting about)his extreme right wing catholic policies that he hiding up his sleeve and wont talk about during the election….but just wait folks…they will raise their ugly heads if by chance he wins….and if you believe he wont bring back workchoices (albeit under another name) I will sell you a bridge in China……

  181. Fran Barlow

    Michael said:

    [At a girl Fran. Keep the the word going. Let’s all together bring Tony home by a landslide. Then you too can feel warm & fuzzy after you take a sharp turn to the Right and an exit stage left.]

    You can’t vote against a policy by voting for those proposing it.

    Some people say that it is better to have good people do bad things than have bad people do bad things, but I say, how do you know that the first group are good people, save that they do good things?

    One may in life, ask for something one wants and not get it. That may be due to factors outside one’s control. Yet if one asks for what one doesn’t want, and gets it, is one not a fool?

  182. Venise Alstergren

    Excuses, excuses, excuses. No one in their right minds, or in all good conscience, could vote for the Coalition. This left Julia Gillard home and hosed.

    Then she whimps out of Climate Change and attempts to put it on the back-boiler by a talk-fest.

    She may have any good qualities. However, courage isn’t one of them.

  183. John Bennetts

    [EDITED… MY FAULT]

    OK, now I know for sure.

    Poor lady, she forgot to read the position description for the job of Prime Minister. It includes traits such as leadership and honesty and BEING A GOOD team member. Julia, the time when you can say that something matters and expect even the previously loyal TO BELIEVE YOU is rapidly passing.

    If this nation was supposed to be governed by focus group, the Constitution would have been written differently and we would not require Parliament House or about 80% of Canberra’s public servants. Julia, as a lawyer, you know that this is so. As a lady, you are excused for having no b_lls. Only jellyfish have no backbone.

    I have never had less faith in our political system. It is beyond sad.

  184. John Bennetts

    OK, now I know for sure.

    Poor lady, she forgot to read the position description for the job of Prime Minister. It includes traits such as leadership and honesty and team member. Julia, the time when you can say that something matters and expect even the previously loyal is rapidly passing.

    If this nation was supposed to be governed by focus group, the Constitution would have been written differently and we would not require Parliament House or about 80% of Canberra’s public servants.

    I have never had less faith in our political system. It is beyond sad.

  185. Caths

    Great discussion here folks.

    I was appalled when I read about this so-called “policy”. What a spineless way to proceed on such an important issue – on which the Government ALREADY has a mandate.

    Yes, an EFFECTIVE climate change policy will cost us money. It might cost us REAL money (ie more than a takeaway meal once or twice a week). It’s the job of those we elected to explain to the populace why this is a fair price to pay for the future. The impact of climate change if we do nothing OR IF WE DON’T DO ENOUGH will cost us a lot more – not just financially, but in quality of air, water and food, and in terms of health, employment and, well – just a future for our kids.

    Something that no-one has picked up on yet – I don’t think (there are so many comments here!) is this idea that we’ll rely on the “plain common sense” of (a selected group of) Australians. This is remininscent of the Howard Government’s anti-intellectualism that arguably got us into this situation in the first place. Why trust “common sense” instead of science? WTF does an ordinary person know about climate science? REALLY? What the hell is going on? I thought we were going to start valuing education and research under this Government!!! Silly me, looks like we’re back to “common sense”, ie ignorance informed at best by the popular media’s superficial interpretation of SOME of the science.

    No wonder it’s so hard to fill science places at our universities. Why study for 10, 15, 20 years when “common sense” is preferable to real knowledge?

  186. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Michael, hold the champagne and put your money on the Libs…you can get $4 on them at the moment.

    Just don’t celebrate a win too early.

  187. Gratton Wilson

    If the majority of the above really want action on climate change the way to make your desire come true is to make sure no one votes Green, National or Liberal for the contenders of those parties for the Senate or House of Representative

  188. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Fran Barlow answered your question pretty thoroughly dragonista, but you could also think about emissions per capita, and Australia is right up there at the top of the pile.

    So, we argue to the rest of world that they should constrain their emissions while we waste power, keep coal the cheapest source, and put more carbon dioxide per capita into the atmosphere than nearly anyone else on the planet? But that’s OK because we are only a small population?

    I doubt anyone thinks that a morally acceptable position.

  189. denise allen

    I’m a climate change believer but you only have to watch the news tonight and listen to talk back radio to know that we need the debate that the PM is proposing…there are too many conflicting views on this subject….thanks to the Libs for choosing to vote against the ETS….and scaring the people with a “great big new tax”…amazing isnt it that the liberals are going to put a ‘great big new tax’ on big business to pay for their exorbitant paid maternity leave………

  190. EngineeringReality

    Amazing how a press release can change the laws of physics and chemistry.

    Even though all new coal-fired power stations burn coal thereby liberating energy through the chemical reaction:

    C + O2 = CO2 + heat

    Somehow some “tough emissions standards” will be imposed to make all new power stations “cleaner and greener”.

    Suddenly adding carbon and oxygen together and burning them will produce a completely different chemical reaction with “cleaner and greener” products – purely by the action of government regulations.

    Nice.

  191. David

    @Michael..dont put the bubbly on ice, it will never be drunk except of course to drown your disappointment…Abbott will never ever be PM, ever. The Greens are making doubly sure of that.

  192. donica

    Just when you think you are immune to disappointment…bugger it.

  193. Michael

    @ FRAN BARLOW

    “Like the bulk of others here I too am scandalised and it simply underlines my determination not to preference either of the major parties.”

    At a girl Fran. Keep the the word going. Let’s all together bring Tony home by a landslide. Then you too can feel warm & fuzzy after you take a sharp turn to the Right and an exit stage left.

    THE QUEEN IS DEAD !!; LONG LIVE THE ABBOTT !!

  194. Michael

    “So blatant is Labor’s refusal to lead that it raises serious questions about its fitness for government.”

    Come on Bernie go the full monty and admit they NOT FIT FULL STOP!

  195. hopeleft

    @ Fran – didn’t see your reply. well put.

  196. hopeleft

    @ Oscar
    The idea that the Greens voted down the CPRS because they didn’t think of it themselves is a nice narrative but doesn’t correspond to history. They voted it down because it would “lock in failure”. That three-word soundbite doesn’t properly explain the issue, so they failed to effectively communicate why they were voting against the CPRS.

    The CPRS defined pollution permits as a property right. This means that they couldn’t be taken away by any future government without “just terms” compensation. So if a future government decided to increase the target from 5-15% to something that had an icecap’s chance in hell of avoiding runaway climate change (or being accepted by the rest of the world’s countries), they would have to pay tens of billions of dollars to heavily polluting corporations to buy back pollution permits that they mostly got for free. That would never happen, even if Captain Planet were prime minister. If the CPRS had passed the Senate, we would have missed our last chance of avoiding runaway climate change. Remember that the CPRS’ purpose was not to avoid runaway climate change, but ostensibly to “reduce carbon pollution” and in reality strike a half-way balance between what scientists are saying needs to happen and what the Liberals would accept. (Kind of like Solomon proposing to cut the baby in half).

    @ Dragonista – Australia is the world’s largest per-capita greenhouse emitting country, the world’s largest coal exporter and among the 15 most greenhouse-polluting countries. The idea that China and India would agree to heavy emissions cuts without rich countries like Australia agreeing to heavy cuts is ludicrous. (not many people know this but at global climate meetings like Copenhagen and this year Cancun, Australia sits with the “Umbrella Group” of nations – US, Canada, Japan, and Aus – to block consensus on a binding treaty). If all of the countries with lower total emissions than Australia took the same attitude, we would not be able to meet the global reduction targets required no matter which way you crunch the numbers.

  197. Fran Barlow

    Dragonista said:

    [Could somebody please explain to me why Australia should hike the cost of fossil-fuel based products to drive emissions down by, say, 50% by 2020, when this will have ten fifths of bugger-all impact on global emissions? Do you not realise that Australia emits less than 1.5% of global emissions – are you all serious in suggesting we should impose considerable financial pain on all Australian households to reduce global emissions by less than 1%?]

    Hmmm ten fifths is double … nice maths there.

    Your basic objections are a mixture of the spurious and the fallacious.

    Firstly and most obviously, the imposition of a cost of 1-10 cents per kWh on dirty energy does not constitute ‘considerable financial pain’. Most of us spend much more than that on take away and of course, if most of the money is returned to us, the cost is only a fraction of the charge.

    Secondly, if one excludes all jurisdictions emiitting less than 1.5% from responsibility one excludes all but about 15 of the 192 countries that could pay. A state emitting 1.6% could wonder why the line was drawn there and argue, as you have, that it should be exempted from emssions up to 1.5% to get the same treatment as Australia, especially since iof that jurisdiction imposed costs there would be flight to one of the 177 remaining exempt jurisdictions. One could iterate this right up to number 1 who would of course feel singled out.

    This therefore is simply a disingenuous way of trying to subvert the integrity of the system. The fact remains that if the system of burden sharing is to be fair, it must take account of capacity to pay, share of the damage, not just today but, given the persistence of CO2 within the atmosphere, historically, and of course, it must take into account on whose behalf emissions are generated Much of China’s GHG-intensive production is carried on to satisfy the demand by westerners for cheap consumer goods. It seems bizarre for us to be complaining about China’s emissions and yet receiving their products.

    Once one realises this, the 1.5% plimsoll line is revealed as a radical understatement of Australia’s burden, even passing over the specious chracter of the argument proposed above.

    The rich countries should pay much more, pro rata than the developing countries both on equity and capacity to pay grounds, and if they are bothered by this they should use some of this largesse to assist the developing world to develop in ways that don’t repeat the errors of the first world. If they do that, then everyone will utlimately be a winner, and the biggest winners will be those who most need to be winners. That’s only fair.

  198. bakerboy

    @aphra – yes, Gillard will win but she now won’t get the vote I had put aside for her some time ago. Rudd sqibbed climate change and it basically cost him his job. All he had to do was present the legislation to the parliament again with a few changes and most people would have been OK with that, even though it wouldn’t have been passed. For Gillard to now squib is truly pathetic.

  199. Venise Alstergren

    First the Coalition, and now the Labor Party reveal their sickening greed for power, and the unplumbed depths to which they are prepared to descend to in order to enable the mining giants their rape of the land called Australia.

    Let all of our rivers turn into muddy sludge, and let the the destruction of the Murray Darling Basin be the template or standard against which can be measured the destruction of all the smaller rivers.

    let the farmers denude the land; watch as the leached-out top soil is whipped up by the wind so that it can deliver it to cover the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. We should be grateful to let the big mining companies rip the mineral heart out of the country.

    It doesn’t matter all that much because when we run out of minerals to flog, we have their word that China, Japan and America will give us their spare minerals-for free. (they will, by then have converted to nuclear power)

    We must encourage the coal industry, and the desalination plants, the aluminium companies to pollute and poison the environment. We are sure that when the whole land is covered with thick greasy grime, these same countries will give us, and what’s left of our fauna, special, dirt-cheap, Chinese second hand gas masks. Guaranteed for a week.

    For all the gullible amongst you, the quixotic, the mentally starved, and the perennially stupid, our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will be running a series of ‘meet the last remaining environmentalists’ talks. These will be, meetings-with full audience participation. We will have full and frank discussions as to the need for Green measures. We will value your input. Questions answered but don’t take their words to heart, otherwise you too will believe a Green Australia is a better tomorrow.

    We will move forward and step up our birth-rate. We intend to make it the law for each family to have six children- minimum. We aim to ramp up the immigration rate, ‘A Big Australia’ beats a ‘Buggered up Brasil”, any day of the week. Also, we intend to bring in a million immigrants this year, and two million next year.

    And on their visa applications, and passport applications they must affirm that they will never countenance a vote for a Republic. It will be just like the nineteen fifties all over again.

    For sale to the lowest bidder one starved and parched Australia. Ten million dollars, ono

    This is a joint enterprise between your Prime Minister, the Honourable Julia Gillard MP, PM and the leader of her Majesty’s loyal Opposition, Tony Abbott MP, and the Deputy Shadow Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce MP.

    Vomit!

  200. JamesK

    Yes Jeremy Sear!
    Jeremy is such a brave and original mind an’ all……..

    Vote GreenieReds! Break free of “the duoply”

    Oh…..wait…… damed if that’s not a vote for the particular ‘mono’ of the ‘duo’ that Sears is known to prefer.

  201. ParnassusMD

    How amusing it is to see so many Crikey subscribers (who would normally classify themselves as members of the intelligentsia) still clinging to the belief that either of the major parties gives a rat’s arse about climate change. After all – in a modern democracy (sic) corporate rights will always outweigh the rights of individual citizens. After all – who pays the piper?

  202. David

    @ Aphra…thanks, just how I see it as well. She knows what she is doing. Interesting no coverage of Abbotts so called major border policy announcement in WA this morning. What a blood red herring that was. A real non event except lets spend another 90 million on more border guards and machines to xray containers and packages at ports and airports. And standing at his side that wimp premier Barnett pronouncing hear hear Tony, our borders are at grave risk. Of what, asylum seekers in containers? Spare me!!!!

  203. Greg Angelo

    As my original comment appears to been removed by the moderator but my explanatory comment has not, I am self censoring the naughty word in the original on the presumption that it will get through the “net nanny”this time.

    My original comment modified for the sensitivity of the moderator is as follows:

    Normally I do not indulge in profanity on this website but the term “clusterf*ck” seems apt to describe the Julia Gillard’s attempts to win an election on sloganeering with no substance. After the gross failure of Rudd’s 2020 summit to produce anything of value we now have “Son of 2020 summit” in the proposed “Citizens Assembly”.

    The last last “citizens assembly” that I can recollect was a bunch of poor French peasants and workers who got the better of their uppers by clustering around the guillotine in Paris and cheering when their heads were separated from their bodies.Perhaps Julia Gillard will morph into Mme Robespierre to cheer on the masses in the “citizens assembly” to mete out punishment to polluters.

    In reality labor lied about the standard of living impact of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the 2007 election and they have been afraid ever since to confront the community with the impact of carbon dioxide emission reduction on everybody’s standard of living. They want to sell the solution without the cost and they will use every means at their disposal to defer the consequences of environmental policy whilst trumpeting their green credentials.
    I never thought I would see the day when I could ever welcome back John Howard, but that day is rapidly approaching. 40 years ago Labor stood for something, but now it is just a mean and grubby powerplay with absolutely no moral compass.

    At least with Howard you knew he was a grubby politician with no morals, and despite the pretence no one really believed him because he was selling self-interest. “St Julia” on the other hand preaches high moral conviction but in reality is an even more grubby politician than Howard.

    In almost every Rudd announcement she was sitting just behind him with her head bobbing like “Noddy” yet all the time she was sharpening the knife for the assassain’s thrust. Now that she is in the box seat she will every trick in the book including Rudd’s type of fanciful misrepresentations and hollow slogans to try to win government. Like a good milkshake the woman is all froth and no substance.

  204. Bruce Shaw

    At last, Bernard Keane, writes something I can’t disagree with:

    “What a choice, two major parties incapable of leadership and unfit to govern.”

    It is an appalling situation but one which was obviously on the way during the 2007 election campaign when we had to work out whether we would vote for “Kevin Howard” or “John Rudd”, but the media, including Crikey and Bernard, failed to assess it as it was. The mainstream media finally decided, like the hyenas they are, to tear the carcase of Rudd apart with information about his character and style they must have known about for 3 years, but ignored. Bernard couldn’t face up to the obvious until well after Rudd was gone. Remember his article stating that if Rudd stuck to his guns on the mining tax he would go down as one of the great reformist Prime Ministers of all time! If Bernard is really “our man in Canberra” he must have known for years what a failure as a person Rudd was and being great at anything was beyond him. It seems that the people that really control this country are tired of dealing with government at all when, as they proved over the mining tax, they can get their own way anyway. This election is for the Herald Sun readers to worry about whether they are standing waiting for a late train or paying for an unnecessary school hall. The outcome will have no effect on the future of Australia. Forces not answerable to our political system will determine that and looking at the incompetence of Julia and Tony and their support groups perhaps that is just as well.

  205. lindsayb

    If the consensus of EVERY credible scientific institution on the planet regarding the problem of AGW is not enough to convince the government that it needs to do something, what hope have 150 citizens?
    And even if you are “sceptical” enough to doubt all of the evidence that the globe is warming, surely it is a great idea to wean our society of its critical dependence on a finite resource rather than working to make us even more dependent on it?
    History is littered with civilisations that have collapsed suddenly and catastrophically. I’d say we are odds-on favorites to go the same way within our lifetimes.

  206. dragonista

    Could somebody please explain to me why Australia should hike the cost of fossil-fuel based products to drive emissions down by, say, 50% by 2020, when this will have ten fifths of bugger-all impact on global emissions? Do you not realise that Australia emits less than 1.5% of global emissions – are you all serious in suggesting we should impose considerable financial pain on all Australian households to reduce global emissions by less than 1%?

  207. Oscar

    @John,

    Sorry, you’re right – that was indeed what I meant. If the Greens and the Liberals (and that Fielding lunatic – assuming he was re-elected) all voted against it when it came to the joint sitting, what would have been the point of a DD on the CPRS?

    In fact, what would have happened to the government in such a case – i.e. if they had called a DD, won the election (with a small margin) but not control of the senate – and then lost the crucial vote in the joint sitting? Is there any precedent?

    I don’t really know whether that would have actually happened – who does? – but I do know that getting the CPRS (as it stood) through a joint sitting was by no means guaranteed, given the Green’s ongoing opposition to anything they didn’t think of themselves, and the fruit loop of an oppostion leader who can’t seem to understand that there is more to being in opposition than simply opposing EVERYTHING.

  208. hopeleft

    As usual, Crikey is the only news source that cuts through to the issues.

    Twelve new coal-fired power stations are being built in Australia, which will send greenhouse gas emissions shooting up no matter how many focus groups or schemes are put in place. Expanding coal power is extremely unpopular and makes a farce of democracy. I’d like to see more naming and shaming of the unelected corporate lobbyists who fought climate action tooth and nail, watered down the mining tax and even shunted the prime minister of the country.

    This is why the climate camp movement is growing. This year it will be held at Bayswater power station, where the biggest of the dirty dozen power stations is planned to be built. Political compromise is not going to appease the laws of physics or stop the Pacific Islands from being wiped off the map, and it won’t stop the growing movement of people taking non-violent direct action (not Tony Abbott’s version of direct action) on coal.

  209. joelisabeth

    I don’t care for the the political family either, the attention makes me sick, that is not the point. The media makes much of them, whether we like it or not, that was my question.

  210. Oscar

    @Troy C,

    Something “almost” happened a couple of months ago – remember? When your party rolled it’s own leader to prevent it?

  211. John

    @Johnfromplanetearth
    “What’s the problem? People in Australia have a lot more to worry about than bloody Climate Change!”

    It is not a matter any longer of first order versus second order political issues.
    It is now a question of character for Julia Gillard.

    @Oscar
    “I also used to think that Kevin should have had the courage to call a DD. However, I think the internal polling showed that he would not gain control of the senate anyway, so there was not really much point in doing so.”

    Rudd didn’t need to gain control of the Senate to have a majority at a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the Bills which had already been rejected by the Senate. That was an excuse which Rudd trotted out but it was a red herring.

  212. Jeremy Sear

    I wish people would stop voting for the duopoly.

  213. Troy C

    but I’d love to ask the bunch of crikey journo’s why is the media leaving Mrs Abbott alone.

    Please leave Mrs Abbott out of this. Nobody gives a flying stuff about Tim Mathieson. Equally, why should anyone give a stuff about Mrs Abbott? Let’s focus on our potential leaders, not their spouses. Leave them right out of it.

  214. Aphra

    The PM is merely acting as a consummate politician. She knows where the votes which really matter are and that’s not with any of us.

    She will win.

  215. Syd Walker

    Flanked by Penny Wong and Martin Ferguson, Gillard’s Press Conference sent more than a dog whistle to the Coal Industry.

    Big Coal certainly is ‘moving forward’ in Queensland – no doubt about it. The Labor Party has shown once again it’s unwilling to stand in the way. Not a tiny bit.

    Labor wants a nice happy climate for the well-regulated, monitored and censored working families of the future – but just can’t kick the coal habit. So we get more improbable drivel. Gillard announced a promise to build only ‘carbon capture ready’ new coal plants, if I recall correctly.

    Why doesn’t she insist all new cars are ‘perpetual motion ready’? It would sound good too. Perhaps the government should also finance a gigantic research effort into perpetual motion machines?

    Outside on the lawn, their distant angry voices occasionally wafting through Gillard’s speech, Friends of the Earth protestors tried to inject reality into the proceedings, holding aloft a banner prominently featuring this URL:

    http://www.sixdegrees.org.au/

    It’s well worth a look.

    Good solid response from Christine Milne too:

    http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/gillard-moving-backwards-climate-crisis

  216. joelisabeth

    Yes a curse on both parties, I couldn’t agree more…but I’d love to ask the bunch of crikey journo’s why is the media leaving Mrs Abbott alone. As a possible “first lady” and “keeper of her daughter’s gift’s to “man”kind she has a big role to play. where is she. The media are usually not that kind!

  217. Troy C

    Nothing is going to happen until we can educate people a little more.

    Oh, what pollywaffle. Why is nothing “going to happen”? Who is stopping anything from “happening”? Perhaps, it’s Labor’s notorious inability to sell its policies. Surely, after the election, with a workable Green-Labor majority in the senate, the legislation could gain passage. How many more opinion polls citing majority support for an ETS do you need to see?

  218. JamesK

    @Fran Barlow.

    I’m sceptical of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change.

    So too are many others including climate scientists including atmospheric physicists.

    Please don’t make silly assertions and ascribe ownership to me.

  219. nicolino

    Yet another talkfest and then a review, the results of which will be shunted off to an archival home and forgotten about.
    A curse on both major parties.

  220. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    And just for a bit of irony, China has just announced they’ll have an ETS in operation within 5 years (while they pump alternative energy as only a centrally planned economy can).

    And take a look at the interview with one of our Reserve Bank board members on Business Spectator,Warwick McKibbin. He reckons that investment in electricity generation is drying up because we don’t have a price on carbon, and that we’ll have one in the next parliament regardless of who wins! He also claims that only the Greens have anything like a sensible policy.

    It’s refreshing to hear an adult talking about the issue. What he’s saying is that business will push government to action…Abbott or Gillard, it won’t matter.

    Meanwhile, the public has this charade from both the major parties.

  221. davidk

    I agree with most of the above. I remember somebody saying once that Australian’s would end up being the white trash of Asia. If we don’t get smart soon we well may.We are certainly well on our way to being Asia’s quarry. One mined by convicts I’m inclined to add, with a population convicted of apathy.

  222. EddyAl

    Alby Schultz Never heard of him? Never mind. He was my local member for yonks- some long standing incumbent liberal who wants to farm national parks and not say sorry to any MoFo. I wanted to give him a right Roos this election but they moved my boundary. Now for all my bleating I have Ms George’s retiring is seat about as ALP as the punch up at my local on closing.

    Leading them is the two part leaders playing how small a target can I be. Teeny weeny minded politics. My new member for throsby is a ALP hack. Abbott has made some great gaffs about everything under the sun and now is a meek as a lamb. Miss Ranga with her pop vox leadership style. Pewk.

    Simple ideas are a plenty. Make the mining tax less palatable by diverting it 100% to re-newables, give sustainable power a tax break and it will go better than ripping off old ladies for their insulation. But these two leaders are as goalless as the socceroos. Sure the coal miners and mr forest will get cranky but so f’k’n’what they always are aren’t they. what there going to take the tonka set to africa and start up there.. right you are boys off you go.

    Give me Alby, at least he gives me the shits because he stands for something i can aim at. He stands for crap, but crap I can point at not all this soft product control leadership.

    yep I have gone green At least the buggers stand for something, pox on the rest. Gen x now has no x factor

  223. Fran Barlow

    Like the bulk of others here I too am scandalised and it simply underlines my determination not to preference either of the major parties.

    This morning on Fran Kelly’s Breakfast, Richard Dennis (Australia Institute) described the “Citizens’ Assembly” as completely meaningless.

    He was wrong of course. It means that Gillard wants to delay action for even longer and to persuade people that contrary to what they know, there is no consensus on what to do about mitigating AGW. This canard is the most dangerous of all propositions to offer the opponents of action.

    What a scandalous and reckless cop out clown this woman is proving to be!

    Delay, as Penny Wong said quite rightly, is denial, and this is arbitrary delay dressed up as consultation.

    TroyC called Gillard a climate skeptic.

    There’s no such thing. Nobody is skeptical of climate. Indeed, nobody is skeptical of climate change.

    Indeed, I would argue that nobody is skeptical of anthropogenic climate chnage, since skepticism implies a grasp of the corpus of work in the field, the usages of the science, the flaws in various theories within the corpus including in those that depart from the consensus position and a willingness to engage in scholarly review.

    There are no such persons in Australia (or to my knowledge anywhere) calling themselves skeptics in relation to the mainstream position on the post-industrial climate anomaly at all. There are merely some culture warriors and snake oil salesfolk self-identifying as skeptics to make themselves appear less ridiculous than their apparent credulity for ignorant nonsense would imply.

  224. Venise Alstergren

    It is becoming blindingly apparent that the Labor Party’s concern for the people of Oz is exactly the same as the Coalition’s concern for the voter.

    About minus fifty degrees?

    Perhaps we should all take our concerns to the people who really run this country.

    The mining companies.

    It is ludicrous; our so-called political leaders just regard us as a bunch of whores for which they expect us to be grateful for their handouts?

    This year, 2010, sees the nadir of Australian politics. We should all express our contempt for the people who have brought us to this sorry state.

    As of now, I couldn’t give a damn who gets elected; it will be a politician.

  225. Oscar

    @John,

    I also used to think that Kevin should have had the courage to call a DD. However, I think the internal polling showed that he would not gain control of the senate anyway, so there was not really much point in doing so. That’s basically when the wheels started to fall off the whole “climate change” thing.

    @Troy C,

    Put aside your dislike of Labor for a minute, and acknowledge that Climate Change is probably not really a winner for either side. We may think so, but out there in the “real world”, Australia (like America) is full of people who are simply CC deniers. In this category I’d also put anyone who still claims to be a CC skeptic – since the science is now “in”, anyone who still claims to be a skeptic is either too ignorant to ever be convinced, or is simply being mischievous.

    Actually, given all of the above, maybe Julia is not so silly after all. Nothing is going to happen until we can educate people a little more. Talk about it for a while. Discuss options. Take away people’s fear and they may begin to be a little more rational about the whole thing.

  226. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    It’s more than clear that modern democracies are incapable of enacting the people’s wishes. In the US, a majority has wanted universal single payer health insurance (for at least 20 years poll after poll has shown this), but did they get it? Nup. Not even Obama could get that passed, and we all saw Hilary’s effort slapped down by the rightwing fear campaign in the 1990’s.

    And likewise here. Climate change was an issue that had a consensus until the rabid wingnuts and the MSM eroded it with the blabbering of clowns like Monckton and his ilk.

    So we’ve now got the politicians we deserve: incapable of making big changes for fear of the political heat.

    Face it, our political system has descended into farce.

  227. Gratton Wilson

    Most of these comments reveal the stupidity of a lot of Australians. We all agree something needs to be done about climate change. But what? We will all have to pay for our avarice and of that of our forebears. But when it comes down to it – how many of us prepared to repay the planet for past behaviours. I guess some scientists are good citizens but the avaricious will squirm and twist to ensure they pay the minimum. After all that is what Abbott is about – protecting the haves from the have-nots. There are land owners who object to wind farms to produce green electricity because it might alter the panorama from their lounge room window – how petty can these people be? It will only be when the weight of public opinion far outweighs the views presented by Abbott and his ilk that we will get positive action.
    The PM’s fora for citizens and scientists as communicating tools are excellent opportunities. In the meantime maximizing renewable energy and strict guidelines for new coal power stations is to be commended.

  228. David Allen

    It’s all cynical politics. The Labs know they have driven me, and a few others evidently, to the Greens. They also know that they’ll still catch my preference before the Libs do.

  229. stephen

    Maybe it’s the new political correctness to say you’ll do something about climate change nodding to the majority who want change, but then do nothing.
    At the same time winking at sections of business who are running an effective scare campaign through the media and lobbyists, by exaggerating costs and job losses, and confusing or denying the science.
    Our craven reponse as a populace to the bodgey threats from miners over the RSPT is a graphic illustration of how collectively the only thing we are lead by is our fears.

    Maybe it’s the only way you can get elected these days.

  230. Johnfromplanetearth

    What’s the problem? People in Australia have a lot more to worry about than bloody Climate Change!

  231. Troy C

    Why are people so surprised by this “policy”? Was it not Julia Gillard who talked Kevin Rudd into scrapping — sorry, delaying — the ETS earlier this year? Ms. Gillard has always been, and remains, a climate skeptic.

  232. Altakoi

    The link between politics and politicians has almost completely disintegrated. In the same way that changing a middle manager in a major corporation doesn’t overly change the character of the organisation, it appears that who is actually in office is now largely irrelevant to what actually occurs. The labour party and liberal party are just two applicants for the same position whos job description they both understand has been written by other people. All they can hope for is good super and the opportunity for travel.

  233. rogerrabbit

    Wow I didn’t think Labor could sink any lower on its 07 election promises, they haven’t even tried to throw a bone to the significant number of voters who want strong action on Climate change. Will be interesting to see if there will be another spike in support to the greens such as what happened when Rudd ditched the CPRS.

  234. John

    @Lynchpin
    Kevin Rudd should not have assumed his desired outcome for Copenhagen, but he should have had the courage of his “greatest moral challenge” convictions to call a double dissolution election in February. The people would have backed his government at the beginning of the year and a joint sitting would have passed his bills into legislation.
    Instead, he whined about the Liberals’ obstruction in the Senate. That’s why the Constitution allows double dissolution elections.
    Julia Gillard should have a fair dinkum policy and have the courage to put her leadership to the test at a double dissolution election. Otherwise, she ain’t fit to govern.

  235. Mark Duffett

    Yep, unless there are any even more disappointing developments during the campaign, that’s my vote decided right here. Has there ever been a clearer demonstration of lack of leadership?

  236. Greg Angelo

    As my post is awaiting moderation I’m not sure whether it is the noble military term “clusterfuck” or likening Julia Gillard to a milkshake that has caused the moderator some concern.

    For the benefit of the moderator I am providing the following definition from the “Urban Dictionary” – a highly reputable source of modern definitions.

    Clusterfuck – “Military term for an operation in which multiple things have gone wrong. Related to “SNAFU” (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”) and “FUBAR” (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair). In radio communication or polite conversation (i.e. with a very senior officer with whom you have no prior experience) the term “clusterfuck” will often be replaced by the NATO phonetic acronym “Charlie Foxtrot.” “

  237. Rush Limbugh

    Joint Transcript-Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Greens Senator Bob Brown.

    2 December 2009
    Press Conference
    130PM Wednesday

    …and I quote…

    “Delay is the same as denial and the costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of action.”

    …that was the full line unedited..

    Rudd was the worst PM in our nations history, but if Gillard does win, I guess she could challenge for that title.

    What I don’t get is why the greens are on board with this? Socialists sticking together? Reds under the bed together?

    You may hate the coalitions green army proposal…but its better than a citizens assembly and it would start July 1, 2011.

    Why are the Greens preferencing Labor again?

  238. Oscar

    @David Gibson,

    Yes, exactly. I’ve been saying for a while that the real problem we face is that the government knows the opposition is simply unelectable with their current leader.

    So they don’t really need to do anything to win the election except drown out the opposition’s dog-whistling.

    Sadly, they have been very effective at this.

    The most depressing part is that we have another three weeks of this to go!

  239. harrybelbarry

    MWH , do all of these groups receive funding$ ?? I will be voting Greens 1 , and will choose the order on the day , except for the Fiberals last spot. Both parties will pander to Big Coal or they get the media to work them over .Get-up is labor union back room and out front. We are all doomed to a dirty future. Why?

  240. Lorna

    The Policy or more correctly the thought bubble on Climate change is as farcical as Kevin Rudds 2020 love in at Canberra, the only thing that has changed is the number down from 1000 to 150. At lease Abbot’s policy at the end of the day will improve our local environment where as the ETS would improve that of India and other “cheap” countries – it will not reduce carbon output here in Ostralia.

  241. David Gibson

    @OSCAR, I think the MSM (and crikey too) didn’t give the Liberal party’s policy very much attention because it didn’t really seem to deserve it, it is barely a policy in so many ways and no one seems to be under the impression it was anything but tokenistic.

    This has all changed because Gillard has out-tokened the Liberal’s tokenistic policy. Labor had a policy (which admittedly was seriously undermined after negotiations with the Liberals) which having been dropped, cost the last PM his position. How is it she can justify this policy? Rudd’s fall from grace was primarily driven by pulling the ETS off the table, now Gillard is refusing to put it back on the table. I fail to see the strategy here, it is truly mistifying to me.

  242. zut alors

    Leapin’ lizards, it’s now a race to see which of the major parties has less vision – ALP currently nosing ahead.

    The Gillard mantra about Moving Forward needs a small modification where climate policy is concerned ie:

    Moving THE DATE Forward.

  243. Astro

    Just been to a fineral of a young women who had Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (Mad Cow).

    This stupid Gillard government wants to import overseas beef from know Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease countries.

    Absolute Madness.

    Lets get rid of them, please

  244. Dionysus

    What an absolute shambles. I am depressed.

  245. JamesK

    If this doesn’t lose the election for Labor I don’t know what else could.

    Rudd’s grandiose quite insane rhetoric unchallenged by a lay down a roll over cabinet containing quite a few intelligent people started it.

    Now the perceived need to keep the loons on the left onside after Rudd’s ousting not by cabinet level colleagues but the backbench should break them.

    And Labor thoroughly deserves it.

  246. Oscar

    @All,

    Gosh – some people are just never satisfied!

    The Liberal’s have had much the same policy for months now, but instead of saying how much crap it is, the MSM (including Crikey) has been more interested in the contents (or lack thereof) of the fruit loop’s budgie smugglers.

    Finally Labor acknowledges that the Libs had it right all along and adopt essentially the same policy – but they get pilloried for it!

    Where’s the justice in that?

  247. cairns50

    bernard, when are you going to write what has really happened with politics in this country

    julia gillard is not allowed to have a climate change policy because the born to rule right wing elite in this country will not allow her to

    they comprise approx 40% of the population, but in effect they have a veto on any progressive policies that a labor government might want to implement

    witness what occured with the mining tax

    witness what has transpired today with andrew forrest and clive palmer once again threating a campaign against the modified tax, because labor and the greeens have reached a preference agreement

    those bastards are threating and telling australian voters that they are NOT allowed to vote green

    what do you expect julia gillard to do annnounce a carbon tax and be defeated at the forthcoming election?

    we do not have a democratic system of government in this country at the moment

    what we have is a system of government that dictates that the right wing will be and remain in control

    this is true of all so called western democracies

    what choice is there in australia

    a right wing labor government or

    a right wing racist redneck government run by the liberal and nationl party lackeys of big mining big business aided an abetted by the murdoch press and there like

    thats a fact, thats the only choice the australian people have

    under these circumstances in our so called democracy i will be voting LABOR every time

    it sickens me that is has come to this, boy has that bastard john howard got a lot to answer for

  248. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    It will be interesting to see how the pro-environment lobby groups respond.

    So far all these groups have wanted to remain a part of the negotiations with Labor. This means that they have of course been able to criticize Labor, but they have never campaigned against Labor. ACF in particular seems to praise Labor as much as it criticizes them.

    In the Higgins by-election, possibly the closest we will ever get to a referendum on climate change, none of the major environment lobby groups were active. Clearly the knew that if they campaigned for The Greens that this would put them in Labor’s bad books.

    One thing that the last four years has proven is that the environmental groups policy of trying to stay friendly with Labor so that they can influence Labor to do more has been a spectacular failure.

    If any of these groups actually care about the environment (rather than caring about staying on good terms with Labor), they should campaign hard on behalf of all candidates who are committed to the large cuts which the science says are needed, and campaign against those who have not made this commitment.

    In major party terms, this means that they should campaign for The Greens and campaign against both Labor and Liberal. (They should also support any independents or other parties that support full action.)

    But even with today’s proof that Labor is all spin and no action, I expect that not even one of ACF, Beyond Zero, WWF, Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Get-Up, etc , will take the step of campaigning against Labor.

  249. Bogdanovist

    Tanner quitting makes even more sense if he knew this was in the works. Labor have a snowballs chance in Hell of holding Melbourne after this effort.

  250. dragonista

    While I also think the Citizen’s Assembly is a transparent stalling tactic, I am puzzled at Mr Keane’s shirt-rending despair at the folly of Labor’s abandonment of the CPRS/ETS.

    Surely he has realised by now that most people calling for an ETS thought it would be as painless as Kyoto ratification. Only now are political focus groups picking up that voters now have woken up to the fact that it will be very painful for the hip pocket nerve.

    Any price on carbon is designed to make fossil fuel based products so expensive that their climate-friendly alternatives look competitive in price and, given the choice between these equally expensive options, people will choose the green one.

    The low rate of uptake in green energy schemes shows that people just aren’t prepared to pay more to be greenhouse friendly – and now politicians have been faced with this fact.

  251. Lynchpin

    Well John, what do you expect. The main stream media, the LNP and the general commentariat that passes for “journalism” in this country does not want change. We have all contributed to the current situation by giving licence to the media to pore over every word and criticise every aspect that a politician utters. We reward the naysayers. Turnbull beaten by Abbott. What does that say? Rudd assassinated by a vicious media, full of journalists with huge egos trying to get the next scoop. You think Abbott would do better? Don’t think so. The Greens? They will never be in power in their own right. Get used to it. This is democracy.

  252. Liz A

    hear hear, this “policy” is a monumental FAIL – I have already contacted my (labour) member Nicola Roxon and complained.

    What damn good is a group of 150 “Joe Blows” when those who we elect to govern can’t even make a tough decision…. it is COMPLETE AND UTTER CRAP.

    There is some irony to the fact that Minchin was just on ABC 24 saying that the greens were a “radical left wing party” and that he “fears for the country” if they are given the balance of power in the Senate… well if it does turn out that way (and I hope that there is backlash on this issue), then HE ONLY HAS HIMSELF TO BLAME.

    Words fail to describe how angry I am at the current state of affairs. I did note vote Labour at the last election because I was afraid of workchoices, I voted because KRudd was going to do something about pricing on climate change… what a waste of my vote.

  253. paddy

    I’m actually beginning to wonder, why does Julia want to be PM?
    There doesn’t appear to be *any* actual policy that she thinks is worth fighting for.
    What a sad and sorry state of affairs. 🙁

  254. John

    Today is the day Julia Gillard began to lose the election. Her climate change non-policy is the biggest political hoax I’ve ever seen. The Labor Party is a joke. Julia Gillard has become a laughing stock. She lacks any credibility. She will be lampooned mercilessly. This vacuous back-to-the-2020-Summit farce is proof that she is unfit to govern. She is a pretend prime minister, a sham: full of faux and signifying nothing.

  255. rossco

    The only positive thing about this climate change “policy” is that it will definitely lock in a solid vote for the Greens – balance of power in the Senate and a couple of Reps seats at least.

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