Carbon trading:

Michael R. James writes: Re. “Gillard and the Greens unveil a fixed carbon price” (yesterday, item 12) All this fuss about Julia Gillard’s pre-election statement of “no carbon tax”, which we see the ABC doing some very tight editing of Gillard saying the dreaded words, spliced to Tony Abbott’s song and dance in parliament. (Quite literally, it looked like he was about to get out a straw boater and cane to accompany his sing-song jeering and curious jiggling around.)

No one can deny that Gillard said it, and that it was pretty breath-takingly dumb to have made such an unnecessary and obvious hostage to ransom. (Did those Sussex street gurus think this was going to win a single vote on the last day before the election? Feasibly it was the final straw in converting some of those 1.26 million voters who chose the Greens.) As inexplicably dumb as it was, it has been taken substantially without the original context: Labor’s preference for a market pricing mechanism, i.e. an Emissions Trading Scheme (RSPT).

But here is the very first sentence written by Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan in that now infamous front page article on the Friday before the election:

“JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.”

And later in the same article:

“She would legislate the carbon price next term if sufficient consensus existed.”

Pretty clear? Crystal! And that is what Labor are now proposing having achieved that consensus with the Greens. It was pretty clear to the News Ltd duo that they made it their lead sentence! Then repeated it.

Yet, everyone ignores it, including Gillard herself who was on The 7.30Report last night, repeating some rehearsed spin that meant little and probably convinced no one. Again.

Tony Windsor was in the Presser photo shoot yesterday, even if he remains to be convinced. If he becomes persuaded to support it, I suggest the government outsource all future PR/interviews on this issue to him since he clearly has a natural ability to communicate to Australians in clear simple language which Labor seems to have lost.

Eveline Goy writes: It’s good to hear that we are now progressing down the road that we must, eventually, travel, even if we do not like it.

I note with concern the omission of the agricultural sector from carbon emission and, while I understand that it may be too complex and too controversial to include this sector in the scheme at this stage, I would like reassurance from the government that continued efforts will be made to realistically measure the carbon outputs of agriculture and eventually, they must also be charged for it.

Internationally, this will remain a pressure point for all agricultural sectors worldwide, and the sooner we grasp the challenge and attribute a value to it, the sooner we can address it as a competitive factor among other nations.

The early birds who are not afraid of change are more likely to be able to influence the way the issue is addressed, and to be rewarded from its willingness to be prepared. Sadly, we might already have missed this opportunity.

Lachlan Murdoch:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Why ACMA should force Lachlan Murdoch off News Corp board” (yesterday, item 19) & “Our media fairyland: where every mogul’s dreams come true” (yesterday, item 2) The reports on the technical legality or otherwise of Lachlan Murdoch’s multiple roles in Australian media overshadow a potentially bigger story.

The various recent forays including the move on TEN, the presence of Seven in CMH, the strange position of Bruce Gordon in both WIN and TEN, the consolidation of radio, the Seven WAN transaction and the continuing uncertainty at Fairfax would seem to suggest that a group of key players really expect the rules on ownership to change soon.

I don’t think for a moment that there has yet been a deal done with Government. It feels far more like these are the pre-emptive transactions before the proposition is put to Government that the rules must change with the NBN, that globalised content and the long tail mean the existing rules are already rendered obsolete.

It really looks like Seven is preparing to acquire Fairfax and that News is preparing to acquire TEN (more likely that a News Corp/Murdoch family/partially listed company will put together the News print assets and TEN). It’s just that the players have decided that they’ll place the Government in an impossible position first rather than negotiate permission.

Terry J Mills writes: Well, perhaps the Murdoch’s want to shape Channel Ten after their US flagship Fox (wotnews) in which case perhaps George can be made-over as an Aussie version of Glenn Beck or, preserve us all, Bill O’Reilly.

The 2011 Arab uprising:

Guy Rundle writes: Re. “Richardson: one cheer for American imperialism” (yesterday, item 12). My good friend Charles Richardson embarks on a spectacularly baroque argument in order to try and put the US in the centre of what is an autonomous event, the 2011 Arab uprising. As far as I can follow the argument, it’s better to live in a dictatorship dependent on the US, because they will mitigate any repressive violence that occurs when you rebel against it. Egypt and Bahrain are given as examples.

The first point to make about this is, erm, that it isn’t true. Relative to population, the casualties in Bahrain were pretty high — and if restraint by US-backed dictatorships exists, let’s say that it’s a pretty recent and possibly transitory occurrence.

The second point to make is that the death toll per se is not the most important issue. The success of a popular revolt is. The Libyan one is well on the way to it. The Bahrain one is stymied -largely because the US provides comprehensive logistical, admin and organisational support (on top of military goodies) to a govt that hosts its fifth fleet. Gaddafi’s independence is also his isolation.

Really the question of which camp which dictator ended up in the past is irrelevant. Gaddafi funded some good causes — the ANC, the sandanistas — at a time when the US was funding their murderous opposition. Also some bad ones. After that he was drawn well into the western camp, with the British military training Libyan police in crowd control using British arms for the past five years. That son-of-a-bitchism was contributing far more to the Libyan casualties than a few stray Trots turning up in Tripoli in the 80s (and there will be some mid-level Labor figures desperately hoping that ceremonial photos of themselves and the Colonel from more radical times don’t resurface).

One cheer for the US? Rather desperate. And irrelevant. All that matters now is to determine whether some form of foreign support (not intervention) is essential for the uprising’s success, and if so, what form it should take, and what the politics of such would be. On that matter, the Iraq war party have gone silent.

Separated at birth:

Brett Gaskin writes: Mr WikLeaks and Are You Being Served?‘s Mr. Humphries?

Climate change:

Tim Mackay writes: Tamas Calderwood (Wednesday, comments) uses interpretative results from scientific studies to further his arguments.

I enjoy reading Tamas’ thoughts and think that if he has scientific qualifications or experience that relate to interpreting scientific data then disclosing this would greatly strengthen his case. If he doesn’t and if we leave the job of interpreting the scientific data to those qualified to do so (i.e. the scientists), then I’d like to hear from Tamas what likelihood (from 0% to 100%) he ascribes to climate change existing. Based on that number, I’d like to hear his views on what risk management actions he believes are appropriate for us to take today.

Finally, I’d like to hear what role, if any, he believes business should take in addressing climate change. To stimulate thought, here’s a quote from the Dean of Columbia Business School Glenn Hubbard:

“We’ve already seen that, despite public policy foot-dragging, the business community has played a very constructive role in working to solve the problems caused by global climate change. And I believe that in the future, it should be business leaders who shape the proposals currently debated in the political process.”

Gavin Greenoak writes: To deny a fact is a bit silly, at best. To deny climate change, given change is that which climate does, and is obvious to everyone, is a bit silly. But Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is not a fact. Discussion, debate, and argument about the assumptions of scientific theory are the very stuff of science.

If I want to be scientific about AGW then the very worst I can do in the service of my cause is to bring the moral opprobrium of the “denialist” to anyone who disagrees with my assumptions. From this moment I have ceased to be scientific.

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