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. 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?

  2. John

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Johnfromplanetearth

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.


    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.

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