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 thoughts on “Gillard abandons leadership on climate change

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  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. 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.

  5. 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.

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