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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.

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 🙁

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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?

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