Why Gillard has a mandate

At the risk of stirring up the howls of protests and calls for another election (if you don’t accept the outcome of the last one) or an early election (if you do), I thought I’d put forward a case for why I think the PM has a mandate to introduce the package she announced on Sunday. Based on opinion polls, this is very much a minority view, and therefore one worth putting forward on MB, although I realise this ventures very much into politics rather than sticking with the economics.

It all hinges on the critical difference between a carbon tax and an emissions trading system (ETS). I recall the day Gillard said “there would be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, and I remember thinking at the time, “well, good, I would also much prefer an ETS over a tax”. A tax gives you price certainty but no certainty over the emissions outcome, whereas an ETS (also known as “cap-and-trade”) gives you emissions certainty (eg meeting a -5% target by 2020) but no price certainty. Perhaps the problem is that this difference may not have been fully appreciated in voterland, especially in the marginal seats.

The package announced on Sunday is not a tax. It is an ETS with an initial fixed price period with a firm transition to a floating price regime after three years. In this respect, it is almost exactly the same architecture as the Rudd/Turnbull CPRS, and that envisioned in the Shergold Report under John Howard, which had an initial fixed price, then floating. Ironically, if the CPRS had got up (either by double dissolution, or a one vote difference in the Coalition party room in late 2009) the floating price would have been in effect for a few weeks now. That being said, while the price is fixed, the economic effect is the same as a tax, even through the administrative regime is very much different for a tax than for a fixed price ETS moving into cap-and-trade.

If Gillard had said instead “there would be no carbon price under a government I lead”, where the price refers to either a tax or an ETS (or both), then I would be agreeing with the majority opinion and really questioning the mandate. That statement would have underdone the clear mandate and bipartisan policy position at the 2007 election for a price on carbon, which carried through to the CPRS.

One could also cheekily suggest that the PM is perhaps not really leading the government when it comes to climate change, and is therefore not breaching the pre-election commitment! Having now read and absorbed the package, it is clear that there is a heavy Greens fingerprint all through it. It is a surprisingly ambitious and comprehensive package, yet there are some aspects of it that I believe are economically inefficient and unnecessary (eg contracts for closure, price collars). That being said, there is no real 100% pure ETS design; each scheme whether it be EU, NZ, US (previously proposed) or Australia is very much a function of the political environment in which it is created.

Comments

  1. well…… It’s not what she said, it is the perception that the great boganvillians believe that she said that there would be no form of a ETS carbon tax etc, and as we all know that perception is reality in the eye of the beholder!!

    Is it a case of our pollies being too cute with their words and having them “misunderstood”?

    • Umm Yes.
      Its not the words she said is the problem, in my view.

      Its how Gillard/Swan got to the stage to say it.
      I presume it went like this.

      1) Libs come out and say “There WILL be a carbon tax, under Labor”
      2) Labor focus groups the accusation by the Libs, and they find Labor will overwhelmingly LOOSE votes if this “gathers legs”
      3) Swanny/Gillard are trolled out to deny the accusation.
      4) Accusation dead.
      5) Some people who were swing voters took this as the Libs scare mongering and trusted Labor with their vote. (And maybe turned off listening to Libs from that stage)

      In my view, its not a situation of a off the cuff comment that’s come back to bite her, it was a calculated ploy of winning votes in a very tight election.

      That’s my problem.
      Of course there are the Libs who didnt vote for them anyway, but even if Labor converted a fraction of the vote with this statement, they lied to win an election.

      • The Libs lied, and used the military to support the lie. Who’s worse? At least this may, at some indeterminate point in the future, have a benefit.

      • If I was given a dollar everytime a politician lied or “bent the truth” I wouldn’t have to work for a living!

        Politicians are people to you know. Expecting anything more from them than you would your neighbour is pretty silly.

        • They are publicly elected officials, often elected on the basis of what they say and should always be called to account when they lie.

          Negation of the ideal of high standards and ethical practice (just because these are human frailties) simply further erodes functionality of the political system.

          In politics call a spade a spade, a liar a liar. Demand truth and straight-talk.

  2. agree with MAcrobear…

    CC said: “Perhaps the problem is that this difference may not have been fully appreciated in voterland, especially in the marginal seats.”

    This was because this was the exact message Gillard intended to send…she wanted to hose down the idea of ETS/Carbon Tax…

    She had no intention of bringing this in during 2011…it was forced on her by the Greens and her position in minority Government.

    There is no argument to be made she has a mandate. She has described it as massive reform – yet the people of Australia never had an election that gave people clear choices.

    • Exactly, when you campaign on not doing something, then immediately do it after ‘winning’ the election (the Coalition even won more seats) then arguing she has a mandate is like arguing China is in Europe.

  3. I’d argue that Rudd had a mandate to introduce a price on carbon in 2007 (and we didn’t get it) and the combined ALP + Green vote had a mandate in 2010 for a price on carbon.

    So now the people have voted twice for substantive action on climate change. As I’ve pointed out many times, the Greens vote of 12% in the House of Reps is massively under-represented winning just one seat out of 150 when in percentage terms they should have won 18. So don’t tell me the Greens have more influence than they deserve over policy. If anything its less.

    Now the carbon tax might be unpopular at the moment, and would most likely be voted down in any popular vote that was held today, but that’s not how our democracy works. We don’t vote on every decision made by governments, otherwise governments would never do anything the slightest bit unpopular. We vote governments in for 3 year terms (too short IMO) and we pass judgement at the end of the term.

    Right now Abbott and the fossil fuels lobby is mounting a monumental fear campaign over something that will have minimal impact on people’s lives. Certainly nothing compared to the havoc being wreaked by the Dutch Disease and the structural change to a Quarry Economy. The three year Parliament gives the government time to introduce their policy, and gives people 12 months of living with the carbon tax to decide whether it really is the “bad, bad, tax” Abbott says it is.

    My guess is most people’s situation will be little changed, and many will be better off, and Abbott will look a bit like Beazley did in 2001 with his GST-rollback nonsense. My recollection is the world didn’t end when the GST was introduced, and Treasury modelling suggests the inflationary impact of the Carbon Tax will be much smaller.

    • I should add that the only way we would ever get a price on carbon in this country is if one of the major parties was held “hostage” by minor parties and/or independents who had the courage to actually do something.

      Lets face it, without the hung Parliament we’d still be having citizens assemblies, reports from eminent economists, several white papers, green papers, and papers of other hues, and dozens of “technology demonstration projects” to keep the punters happy while nothing substantive was done.

    • Well said Lorax.

      Good article Carbon Coyote.

      Its amazing to me that people are upset about government that is doing what they were voted to do. What did they expect? A no cost solution?

      Sometimes what is right is not popular.

      Sometimes you need leadership by policy, not opinion polls.

      Although I don’t agree with the entire package (some elements are complex for no reason than compromise and not upsetting too many future voters) and I’m definitely NOT a Labor supporter – what could a minority government have done instead?

      • Prince even though I disagree with this tax I’d agree with the proposition that the government is there to lead etc. etc. if thats what they were doing. But it is pretty clear that what they have delivered is focus group driven to try and tick as many boxes as possible and keep everyone happy. It is not leadership they are showing at all. They are juggling keeping the electorate and the greens happy and trying to hold on.

        And based on Adam Smiths comments Treasury has dropped the ball with their modelling and when punterville finds out it is not being compensated sufficiently all this opinion poll and focus group driven BS will be their downfall.

          • There has been a total lack of analysis of the stuff that was released last Sunday everywhere.

            Yes on the assumption about wholesale prices contributing 25% to the retail price it is a no brainer. Adma Smith pointed to the NSW data and there it is. Wholesale contributes 40% to the retail price.

            Even the critics of this tax in the MSM and liberal party seem to prefer lazy jingoism to fair dinkum analysis exposing the holes and flaws.

      • “What did they expect? A no cost solution?”

        Of course not, they just expected a solution that would come at not cost to THEM. It’s because they’re special, they deserve it, they’re entitled to a better standard of living, etc etc.

      • “Its amazing to me that people are upset about government that is doing what they were voted to do. What did they expect? A no cost solution?”

        What I find amazing, and truly bizarre, is that people are still arguing that the ALP are doing the right thing and that they were voted in to do this.

        Firstly, they weren’t voted in, it’s a hung parliament and the coalition have more seats. Oakshott and Windsor are both residing over conservative electorates and even at 1000-1 I wouldn’t bet on them winning their seat back next election. You know why? Because they are overwhelmingly considered traitors and turncoats.

        The government has a mandate to do one thing and one thing alone, NOT introduce this tax.

        “Sometimes what is right is not popular.
        Sometimes you need leadership by policy, not opinion polls.”

        You see it as ‘right’ I (and the vast majority of the nation) see it as a massive waste and completely pointless. It won’t acheive any reduction in temperature and it will send money and jobs oversea’s.

        “what could a minority government have done instead?”

        This argument is actually laughable. Do you honestly think, in a million parliaments, over millions of years, the Greens would have supported anyone other than the ALP? Be honest, do you really see this as happening?

        The only honest answer is ‘no’ it never would have happened, not ever. The Gillard government could EASILY have stood up to Bob Brownshirt and we would have exactly the same parliament that we have right now.

        It’s a terrible policy that has no mandate. Australia deserve an election. A reasonable and balanced person cannot take any other position.

      • Problem for Gillard is that she does not have a mandate.

        [Perhaps we will see a poll run on how many voters voted for labor in the knowledge that a carbon tax was not on the agenda.]?

        If she had been properly mandated to pursue the tax that ‘steely determination’ would be seen as an virtue.

        We are given the right to ‘purchase’ a government with a vote every three years. Gillard’s lie amounts to a material misrepresentation of the ‘offer’.

        This is not about the tax, it is about the viability of representational democracy.

    • “I’d argue that Rudd had a mandate to introduce a price on carbon in 2007 (and we didn’t get it) and the combined ALP + Green vote had a mandate in 2010 for a price on carbon.”

      There is absolutely NO way you could argue this point without being truly biased to the nth degree. It is simply the most unreasonable position you could have.

      BOTH major parties went to the 2010 election saying there would be no carbon tax of any sort. Those parties received the majority of the vote. No party has a mandate. Case closed, end of story.

      Arguing anything different is anti-democracy.

      “Right now Abbott and the fossil fuels lobby is mounting a monumental fear campaign over something that will have minimal impact on people’s lives.”

      You mean like global warming preachers push their fear campaigns over something that will have minimal impact on peoples lives? Aside from the fact that this statement is entirely untrue, is it extremely hypocritical.

      Your comment is nothing but wishful thinking. This is not Gillards GST, because the GST was taken to an election. This is Gillards workchoices. When he wins in a landslide Abbott will have an undeniable mandate to remove this disaster of a policy.

      People had time to ‘get used’ to workchoices and it was still removed (and, in true ALP fashion, replaced with a terrible IR policy).

      Abbott would be crazy to not follow through with the dismantling of it. Anyone who thinks this will still be around in 2013 is going to be very disappointed.

      • I think there’s something more at play here than what meets the eye.

        Gillard is committing political suicide by pushing this agenda (Agenda 21 of the UN) unless she was offered a carrot – a seat in the UN?

  4. The ‘general population’ does not make a difference between a ‘ETS’ and a ‘carbon tax’. This kind of argument will not work in a court of public opinion.

    In regard to the all important ‘mandate’, we have a hung parliment, which means neither party have a mandate outright. Tony Abbott is now promising to roll back the carbon tax through a double dissolution. This means he’s staking the Liberal Party’s future on repealing the carbon tax after it ran for a year. It’s a very risky move especially when they alreay have an election winning lead. A deal at the next world climate change conference in 2012 will leave the Liberal Party stranded.

    Claiming a ‘mandate’ whenever your opinion poll is good is dangerous for democracy, and becomes a ‘dictatorship of the majority’. There is also a high probability that the Green will retain the balance of power in the Senate after a double dissolution. Then WHAT happens? Double dissolution every year?

    • “There is also a high probability that the Green will retain the balance of power in the Senate after a double dissolution.”

      Not on current polling numbers. The coalition has enough support to get a minimum of 6 seats in every state, one in each territory and additional seats in at least two states. The Greens would get approximately the same as their current representation. The ALP would be badly wiped out. Do the sums.

      • The equations for the Senate is different from the House as it’s no longer TPP, with some Liberal voters will vote Green in the upper house to keep the scheme. There is also the ‘poison pill’ which the Labor government have engineered with the change to the taxation brackets. Unrolling those will require revenue from somewhere, else you’ll be raising the tax rate on the poor to give to the rich.

    • Think about it logically.

      Abbott will win the next election (whenever it is) and will have an undeniable mandate to remove this tax.

      If the ALP put the Greens last on preferences, which they are very likely to do because they represent a big threat, the Greens are finished as a party.

      The Greens can block it all they want, what do you honestly think will happen at a double dissolution election? That people will vote for the Greens?

  5. “The package announced on Sunday is not a tax.”
    What then do you call the money which the 500 companies will be required to pay to the government?
    The redistribution of a tax, even in full, does not result in it not being a tax.

    • It is a tax. Julia conceded and apologised for having to impose this tax, for that is what it is, as a necessary precursor to eventual ETS. This week, on her campaign to fool, I mean persuade, the electorate.

      CeC is having fun. He knows there was no mandate. The electorate does too.

      • Mandate mandate mandate. Can you think of any major economic reform (floating the dollar, removal of tarrifs, superannuation, GST, etc) that had a clear mandate from the people and wasn’t surrounded in controversy? Sometimes you have to drag the electorate kicking and screaming to get long-term reform.

        • Are you quite sure that all the issues you cite above resulted in the electorate ‘kicking and screaming’. I don’t think so.

          Mandate mandate mandate – say it as often as you want – there isn’t one!

          You can’t will it into being. No Mandate.

  6. @ CEC

    You’re being just as cute with words as the PM (& Swan as he said the same thing that weekend before the 2010 election). I thought we had a mandate for a people’s assembly on Carbon pricing? Not to implement a scheme.

    Anyway, it’s no longer about the policy it’s the impression that you can’t trust what JG says. Once you’re lost the general public who don’t understand the difference between ‘tax’ or ‘ETS’ then you’re in a world of hurt.

    Quite frankly Labor had a mandate in 2007 but was too tricky in trieing to wedge Nelson and Turnbull. This came back to bite them when Abbot snuck in (Hockey tweeting whether he should support a ETS before the leadership ballot anyone?). Then Copenhagen fell over. Then Rudd blinked. If they called the double disolution on the ‘greatest moral challenge of our time’ I suspect we would still have Rudd as PM. Anyway the rest is history.

    Mind you if the Greens really wanted the ETS they could have negotiated with Labor in 2007, instead they stood on principle. Which they were happy to ignore when negotiating in the hung parliment.

    This issue has been a shambles for both sides. Sadly instead of shoring up the economy for the potential GFC mk II we are mucking around on a Carbon/ ETS scheme that the USA, Canada and other similar nations have decided was too difficult.

    • We’re in the land of spin. Even CeC is trying his hand.

      We have government at the behest of the Greens. Bob Brown wants a media investigation (he’ll get it), Bob Brown “may” look favorably upon the $300m steel industry sector assistance package (one man can determine the fate of so many?). Sarah Hansen Young says shutdown Whyalla and replace it with windpower – the land of the cuckoo – and this is the bunch controlling the fate of this country. A very dangerous mixture of zealotry and incompetence.

      • All this talk about the Greens controlling the parliament is utter rubbish. The combined total of ALP and the Coalition have the numbers to do whatever the two parties might agree to do. The blame for the Greens having any power at all (not that I think this is necessarily a bad thing) is that the obstructionist Coalition will not even enter into reasonable dialogue with the ALP – their first and only response to everything is “No”.
        If the Coalition had wanted to find the best position for Australia, rather than just lusting after power for its own sake, they could have participated in the multi-party climate change committee to argue their case prior to an agreement being reached. However they weren’t at all interested in being constructive and so chose not to participate.

  7. So the argument for a mandate is based on semantics?

    Thats very compelling…

    Lorax: do you think that the ALP/Green coalition would be in power if Gillard went to the polls with a carbon tax/ETS policy?

    The minimal impact is by design, the entire package is designed to overcompensate with minimal impact as the govt has an eye on the next election. The impact grows over time.

    • Totally agree Pete.

      Sensitive issues are always done in increments – two steps forward then one step back.

      The grass is made to look greener on the other side of the fence – and with this government – will this still be the case when we jump that fence?

      The people were given a false choice in the last election. It has now been foisted upon us through deception.

    • Lorax: do you think that the ALP/Green coalition would be in power if Gillard went to the polls with a carbon tax/ETS policy?

      Who knows.

      I do know that climate change was a huge factor in the defeat of Howard in 2007, and we didn’t get the substantive action the people clearly wanted.

      I do know that Abbott ran a very strong anti-carbon tax campaign in the 2010 election, the ALP was ambivalent, and the Greens have always strongly supported a price on carbon. If the carbon tax was such a hot button issue in 2010, surely Abbott would have won in a landslide?

      • “If the carbon tax was such a hot button issue in 2010, surely Abbott would have won in a landslide?”

        HURRAH – that’s exactly it. Carbon tax was not a hot button issue, clearly no mandate. Carbon tax was not a hot button issue, Julia assured it would be non-existent. Carbon tax was not an issue. Period.

        And he nearly did.

        • “He nearly did [win by a landslide].”

          Utter rubbish, most of the swing against Labor went to the greens. In the senate the vote swung away from both the Liberals AND Labor and Greens picked up most of that too.

          Either way trying to predict the results of the previous election “had things been different” is worthless speculation.

        • Its very easy to forget that both major parties supported an ETS at the 2007 election, and both major parties supported an ETS right up until Abbott defeated Turnbull by one vote a little over 18 months ago.

          What’s changed since then is a non-stop fear campaign from Abbott. Its political opportunism at its worst. He makes Keating’s 1993 anti-GST campaign seem constructive and positive.

          • What makes it worse for me is that Abbott’s opposition appears to be based on “economic” arguments. Yet the Liberal’s direct action is far more costly and inefficient. You could understand his argument if it was based on nothing should be done on climate change as its not real. Yet isn’t liberal policy for the same cuts by 2020 as Labour?

          • Even if you assume that the ETS had a mandate after 2007 it was firmly revoked in 2010.

            “What’s changed since then is a non-stop fear campaign from Abbott. Its political opportunism at its worst.”

            But telling people the world will end if we don’t stop emmission immediately is not this? Ok then…

          • You don’t think Abbott’s widely publicised “anti-everything” policy stance had anything to do with causing apathy in the voters in the lead-up to the 2010 election?

            Let’s get our horse and cart in the right order eh?

      • Those who voted Greens were either in favour of a carbon tax (and the Green policy set in general), or lodged a protest vote against the two major parties (it shouldnt be surprising given that both Gillard and Abbott are rather weak leaders in the eyes of most people). We cant know the proportion who voted pro-carbon tax vs the proportion that were protesting.

        We do know that Abbott ran a strong anti-carbon tax campaign, and Julia’s promise of no carbon tax was designed to eliminate that as an election issue. It tells you that Labor knew its voters were not in favour of a carbon tax. Gillard would not have come out and said that if she felt that Labor voters were supportive of a carbon tax/ETS, as it was a clear point of differentiation at the time. Clearly it was a negative in Labor’s polling and they moved to eliminate it.

        If Labor went to the polls with the carbon tax/ETS, then you could say that since Abbott didnt win in a landslide it wasnt a major issue. But because Labor moved their policy towards the Liberal position that distinction cant be made. The only reasonable inference is that the lack of a Labor carbon tax/ETS saved them votes and kept Abbott out as it removed that point of differentiation.

        The current reaction to the carbon tax/ETS makes that pretty clear.

      • “I do know that climate change was a huge factor in the defeat of Howard in 2007, and we didn’t get the substantive action the people clearly wanted.”

        Complete nonsense, Howard lost because of the “it’s time” factor and work choices. Nothing more, nothing less.

        Climate change was just a side show.

        The answer to the question is “No”. Gillard never would have won if she had taken a Carbon Tax/ETS to an election. That’s why she ruled it out.

        • “The answer to the question is “No”. Gillard never would have won if she had taken a Carbon Tax/ETS to an election. That’s why she ruled it out.”

          You can’t conclusively say this! Speculating on “could have/would haves” is stupid and unverifiable. You can say it’s your opinion but stating it as if it was fact just reveals how ignorant/naive/partisan you really are!

          • You can conclusively say it, because if Gillard thought the carbon tax was a winner she wouldnt have ruled it out.

            Are you suggesting that the ALP sabotaged a winner strategy?

          • I’m saying that basing an argument on going back in time and predicting a different outcome is absurd.

  8. Given how much of the vote swung towards the Greens, I would say that was a fairly clear mandate for change. If Julia doesn’t have a mandate, Tony certainly doesn’t.

    I would have a lot more respect for the coalition if they were willing to compare apples with apples and share the costing and how they would deal with the concept of limiting pollution /combatting global warming.
    I worked at a polling booth at the last election, so my general opinion of the decision making processes of the average voter is very poor- typical interaction involved a 20 something male asking me which of the parties was best for the mining industry and me having to tell him I couldn’t provide advice on the party lines because I was a polling booth official. Wish I had told him to vote for the Greens. The only other thing I learned from the election is that the national liberal party in QLD has a much better “youth outreach” program than Labour- we had several younger obnoxious “observers” from the libs and none from labour.

  9. At the last election, the majority of the swing against Labor did not go to the Liberals – it went to the Greens. Had Gillard talked decisively about an ETS then, Labor would probably have won the election in its own right.

    Whether Gillard lied or not is the wrong issue. We should be discussing whether the proposed ETS the best way to reduce carbon emissions (and I think it is).

    In any case, arguing over a mandate is irrelevant. If legislation passes through both houses, that constitutes a mandate. We don’t have an election over every single issue.

  10. Well, the Labor had the mandate to implement CPRS after the 2007 election.

    It was Abbott who prevented them from implementing that mandate by trouncing Turnbull. I didn’t hear any libs then screaming how an election mandate has been overturned because of party machinations.

    This is how parliamentary democracy works, people – So suck it up, grin and bear it until the next election.

    • “Well, the Labor had the mandate to implement CPRS after the 2007 election.

      It was Abbott who prevented them from implementing that mandate by trouncing Turnbull. I didn’t hear any libs then screaming how an election mandate has been overturned because of party machinations.”

      Finally some rationality. It’s pretty ironic (just plain stupid really) that the Liberals are claiming that the Labor doesn’t have a mandate to pass this policy when the Liberals don’t really have a mandate to oppose most of the policies they opposed after the 2007 election.

      If the public actually voted on policies instead of governments then you can argue specific mandates for specific policies. But the public doesn’t choose specific policies it chooses the party and gives the party a mandate to govern.

  11. ETS looks to me like one more “commodity” that will allow speculators to earn money while delivering bill to ordinary people.

    • +1

      I haven’t seen any argument that makes the case that financialization won’t happen in the case of ETS.

        • Regulation. When permits will be contracted in international markets beyond Australian jurisdiction how can this regulation be all-encompassing, monitored and compliance ensured. Powerful entities will ensure the free-flow of trading, regulation to take a back seat.

        • ??

          The Government is specifically trying to foster a forward market by releasing permits for the flexible trading period prior to 1 July 2015. AEMO is now obligated to publish a carbon index for trading purposes. The investment banks and the big four must be salivating at the thought of setting up derivatives markets for carbon. Trading has already started. All the energy players are very comfortable with, and having trading teams devoted to, dreaming up ways to contract for risk with regard to input cost, carbon or otherwise.

          I mean, Westpac and AGL did a deal for $200K back in 2008 as a PR exercise (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/19-a-tonne-the-price-to-pollute/2008/05/19/1211182703278.html). Imagine how much money they’ll be willing to invest in setting up these markets if/when legislation passes?

        • “Keep government off my ETS!”

          I can already see the wingnuts arguing against government interference aka regulation of the “free market”.

          Then history repeats itself – we will have our version of the Larry Summers versus Brooksley Born fight, the “self-regulation” meme taking hold and the whole thing blowing up a few years down the line.

  12. Gillard announced ‘No Carbon Tax’ because they were going to lose the election with a Carbon Tax policy. Why do you think she made that statement on the eve ov the election. Labour polling has always been very accurate and they knew exactly what they were doing.
    It doesn’t matter that there was a swing from Labour to the Greens. There would have been one hell of a massive swing towards the Libs as well as to teh Greens if they had gone in with the Carbon Tax on the agenda. Why is everyone pretending it would have been otherwise just to justify their own personal position here?

    So this forum is now going to say ‘Lies disguised as tricky words in politics are OK?’
    Great!

    As I’ve said all along. I was turned off the idea of a Carbon ETS Tax whatever by all the lies that were being told starting with the confiscation of private property through to paying someone like Garnaut being paid $750K to go around spruiking a one-sided disgraceful attack on anyone who in any way questioned the agenda.
    Just all stop lying then I’ll start re-considereing the whole issue!

      • Settle HnH, all Flawse said was this:

        Why is everyone pretending it would have been otherwise just to justify their own personal position here? So this forum is now going to say ‘Lies disguised as tricky words in politics are OK?’
        Great!

        That does seem to be the tone of CC’s article…he is suggesting that there was some fine distinction out there that people in ‘voterland’ didnt get…but the enlightened ones on MB understood a carbon tax was coming in 2011

        I think ‘thrashing the forum’ is a little strong. Flawse could have been precise and singled out CC…however some other MB regular bloggers seem to support his argument…so maybe he has a point.

        The Carbon Tax and the way it has been snuck in (in my opinion) is an emotional issue for some…its goes to the core of their political belief and their faith in poltiics…so you have to give a little leeway in the debate in my opinion

    • “Lies described as tricky words in politics is OK?”

      Isn’t that what politics in this country has been about for decades?

      Why expect anything different just because the faces and names have changed?

      At least in this case the lies are not perpetrated in the name of killing and war…

      • “At least in this case the lies are not perpetrated in the name of killing and war…”

        I don’t think that makes it OK. Do you?

  13. Please guys.She was quite clear, carbon tax and ETS were the same when she talked, she had not intention to implement any of both.

    When you talk ETS giving certainty to reach 5% target, are you talking about real reduction or wasting money by paying corrupt countries to buy Carbon certificates.I heard about 5-7 billions a years going overseas !!! could be better used in financing green projects in Australia instead of way of life of corrupt leaders.

    With our population increase since 2000 we will need to drop our emission by 40% per capital to reach the targets LOL.

    • Her full quote was:

      “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”

      Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, The Australian & news.com.au ALL reported on the day of the election that a vote for Labor would result in a carbon price/tax.

  14. Carbon Coyote, this is slightly off topic but if you could get around to it , comparisms of the Carbon tax/ets with what exists overseas, more specifically the Swiss, as i think those guys are the world beaters when it comes to democracy and economics. I understand that carbon is taxed or traded about $18 (CHF) ? but is exempt for power generation. I personally see the current proposals as a disincetive for greater efficency in the electricity production market. produce less electricity , get paid more for what you do produce and pay less carbon tax, or am i missing something

    • The point about taxing emissions is that if they can be reduced, you pay less tax. So there is a financial incentive to make electricity production progressively greener. Because the tax increase the supply cost, it also makes it easier for green energy supplies to compete in the electricity market.

      It is really not complicated or difficult. If you are in the electricity supply business, you can reduce your costs by reducing the pollution you create. Even the energy companies are on board with this. It is just very, very simple. Objections to this are driven by political opportunism (Abbott), ignorance (Abbott) or pure fabrication (Abbott).

  15. Once again, on a semantic note, it really depends on what counts as lying. In my book, if when you make a statement you know it to be false, then you have lied.

    But if you say something about the future, then you are talking about intentions. You are not talking about the present or the past. You are talking about what you intend to do, knowing the future to be uncertain.

    If circumstances evolve in a way that means you have to change your mind, well that is just part of what happens over time.

    I do not think JG lied. And I think protests about lying are simply attempts at scoring points as an alternative to debating the merits of the policy. Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    I think climate change is the biggest issue of all time and that if a few politicians get chewed up trying to handle it, well it’s a small price to pay. The absolutely unarguable facts are that climate change has to be dealt with at some point. At least JG is having a go. I think she doesn’t have enough political skills to pull it off and come out in front in a political sense. But I don’t think that matters. What matters is that reason is being brought to bear on a very difficult set of environmental and economic issues.

    As a result, I think all the argy bargy about lying is just totally irrelevant.

      • While you’re at it, let’s have an election on gay marriage. And let’s have an election on parental leave schemes. Let’s have an election on whether or not we should withdraw from Afghanistan? How about an election on “boat people”?

        Have I missed any of the major hot-button topics?

        • Firstly, there is quite a clear distinction between a ‘reform’, that fundamentally changes our economy and minor social issues. Do I really need to explain this to you? Really?

          Example the GST was taken to an election, therefore the Carbon tax should be as well when the people demanded it.

          Secondly, “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”. A promise like that, on an issue this big, deserves an election.

          The answer is clear. She has no mandate and Australia deserve an election

          Case closed.

          • The government has a mandate to govern. Granted in this instance by non Labor MPs because there was not enough Labor MPs.

            That is enough mandate required.

            And no MattR, I’d consider the carbon tax of similar importance as the other hot button topics suggested. Its all relative to an individuals situation.

            Hypothetically speaking, not having the same rights as other couples simply because of your gender is by far a bigger issue if its you thats affected, than paying slightly higher prices for some things.

            I consider comments about requiring mandates for individual policies akin to complains from people outside the Griffin electorate about Rudds removal on the basis of voting for him.

            Both display either ignorance and a false sense of entitlement about how the Australian government works.

          • You might think those are “minor social issues” but I think you’ll find the people that are affected by them are not affected in a minor way.

      • The rules about elections are straight forward. The Parliament will run its term unless the G-G dissolves the House of Representatives on the advice of the PM. Talk about elections is just not material. It is speculative at best.

  16. The biggest issue i see here is that the tax is based on unproven science.

    What i personally see the Labor government doing is taking a gamble with Australian industry. I believe what Gillard wants is for Australia to lead the climate change front because she believes that eventually when the large polluters China, India, America etc start their own Carbon trading scheme Australia will have had a head start.

    What has lead me to this conclusion is a quote I herd her say back when the carbon tax was just introduced & she went on the Allan Jones show knowing she would get torn apart in early 2011. “I want people to be like Bill Gates” (something along those lines). Now this got me thinking. What Gillard truly wants is to create a new industry of inventors & investment who will design and manufacture green/renewable technology that will then export it to the rest of world who will buy our technology at a premium to keep emissions low because she assumes in the near future all countries will take on their own ETS.

    Gillard is gambling because how do we know if in the future other countries will start their own full operating ETS. They might but it could be 10-20-30 even 100 years before it may be implemented by the major developing countries. How do we know that in 10 years a new technology shows us Carbon has 0 effect of the climate. How do we know that the end of the world wont come about in 2012 ;). What im trying to point out is that there are too many variables for Gillard to punt on green/renewable energy being the future of Australia. She is trashing existing manufacturing by making them uncompetitive in the hope that green/renewable technology is the way of the future.

    You, me, Labor, Liberal, greens even my dog know Australia’s emissions mean nothing in comparison to the rest of the world and high polluting countries. This is why my above theory proves that Labors true agenda is to create a new green industry that will replace Australia’s dominate export of energy with green/renewable technology.

    This also explains why the ETS is not about the environment but Australias new green/renewable sector that will emerge out of this Carbon Tax. If Gillard was truly going about stopping climate change she would stop the exportation of coal.

  17. The biggest issue i see here is that the tax is based on unproven science.

    What i personally see the Labor government doing is taking a gamble with Australian industry. I believe what Gillard wants is for Australia to lead the climate change front because she believes that eventually when the large polluters China, India, America etc start their own Carbon trading scheme Australia will have had a head start.

    What has lead me to this conclusion is a quote I herd her say back when the carbon tax was just introduced & she went on the Allan Jones show knowing she would get torn apart in early 2011. “I want people to be like Bill Gates” (something along those lines). Now this got me thinking. What Gillard truly wants is to create a new industry of inventors & investment who will design and manufacture green/renewable technology that will then export it to the rest of world who will buy our technology at a premium to keep emissions low because she assumes in the near future all countries will take on their own ETS.

    Gillard is gambling because how do we know if in the future other countries will start their own full operating ETS. They might but it could be 10-20-30 even 100 years before it may be implemented by the major developing countries. How do we know that in 10 years a new technology shows us Carbon has 0 effect of the climate. How do we know that the end of the world wont come about in 2012 ;). What im trying to point out is that there are too many variables for Gillard to punt on green/renewable energy being the future of Australia. She is trashing existing manufacturing by making them uncompetitive in the hope that green/renewable technology is the way of the future.

    You, me, Labor, Liberal, greens even my dog know Australia’s emissions mean nothing in comparison to the rest of the world and high polluting countries. This is why my above theory proves that Labors true agenda is to create a new green industry that will replace Australia’s dominate export of energy with green/renewable technology.

    This also explains why the ETS is not about the environment but Australias new green/renewable sector that will emerge out of this Carbon Tax. If Gillard was about tackling climate change she would stop the exportation of coal

  18. Slightly off topic but related to the financialisation of carbon. What do CeC, the other MB bloggers and commenters think about the long term structural changes this will cause?

    For example, if everything goes to plan then in 2050 we’re forecast to import 434mt worth of permits at $125/t in $Real2010 (see Charts 5.1 and 5.2 in the Treasury Modelling a Carbon Price report). That’s $54bn in $2010 (roughly $150bn nominal) that we would be sending overseas for permits in that year. What’s that going to do the the current account? I would have thought it would create a structural tendency towards deficits (or strengthen the existing tendency).

    That’s Australia, what about the rest of the world? Table 3.2 and Chart 3.1 of the same doc make it clear that China will be buying permits from the US. What does international trade, and geopolitics, look like if China is handing over half a trillion dollars a year in today’s money to the US each year for the right to pollute? Is a global economy where sovereign nations pay significant percentages of GDP to purchase intangible commodities from their competitors likely to be stable?

    • I reckon you should do a guest blog here – you clearly have in-depth knowledge and perhaps a more contrarian view.

  19. I get the impression that there are some here who consider that a carbon tax/ETS is a good thing and should therefore be enacted regardless of the wishes of “the great boganvillians” ie the voters.
    It comes over as elitism.
    They appear to be saying, even in the blog, that it is right for politicians to misrepresent/lie to enable the introduction of an ETS. The ends justify the dishonesty.
    I suspect that the easy dismissal of Julia’s lie under the “all politicians lie” umbrella is selective and might not be acceptable if it were another issue.

    • by the same argument, we should legislate to never have interest rate rises, as voters would rarely support such rises….

      To say it was a lie is perhaps stretching the truth as well. Perhaps Gillard meant what she said – if labour was elected to govern, there would be no carbon tax. But labour wasn’t elected. It is a coalition that is governing in effect.

    • “Machiavellianism – the principles of government set forth in The Prince by Machiavelli, in which political expediency is exalted above morality and the use of er aft and deceit to maintain authority or to effectuate policy is recommended.”

      That is what is occuring here…an elite and off well-to-do minority think they know what is best for the ‘bogans’ who are selfish for being worried about whether they can pay for their heaters to be on next winter.

      It is not ignorance or selfishness…and they didnt misunderstand the PM. She made a clear statement that was intended to neutralise the carbon tax issue…which is did and won her Government.

      It is totally incorrect to say that she is allowed to ‘change her mind’ provided she didnt ‘intend to lie’.

      How can anyone ever define a lie then?

      Just because she needed to lie to stay in power, doesnt make it not a lie…she would have known that the GReens could hold her to randsom after the 2010 election and she would be in a position to break her promise.

      The fact that she did break her promise is exactly the definition of a lie.

      • Perhaps it is sermantics, but a lie is:

        “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood”

        a broken promise goes to reliability…
        a lie goes to honesty…

  20. P.S. My reference to ‘lying all the time’ was in no way aimed at this forum in any form.
    Again apologies to all concerned.

  21. If more than anything else in this whole sage, people should be ashamed of the “kindergarten” we call our parliament and the standard of political debate.

    Honestly, being an immigrant from Europe I can’t stop shaking my head when I see and hear both sides of politics shouting, interfering and just plainly behaving worse than five year olds!

    Personally, as a libertarian, I despise any new taxes and even more so when wealth re-distribution is masked as “good for the environment” all the while giving absolutely no incentive to individuals so getting “greener” and not pollute. If the politicians were serious about reducing pollution they would certainly not exclude fuel and may be they would also be looking at introducing building standards level with some European countries.

    I have to laugh every time I hear politicians blurt about revolutionising and changing the Australian economy to become world leading in green technologies. From what I can gather “that train has left the station” years ago, if they want to see technical innovation for greener technologies, saving energy etc they should book a trip to Germany/Switzerland or may be lately even to China to see what they missed years ago.

    • yeah so childish it is quite shocking and pointless debates, foolish argumentation.Frankly difficult to bear.In France we have some issues with our politicians but at least they are skilled.

      I cannot stand that the prime minister is still a member of the parliament and as to stand as equal with the leader of the opposition every wednesday.

      where is the separation executive/legislative ?

  22. My apology posts seem to be disappearing?

    As a result of profligate spending, stimulus packages and waste there is no doubt Govts in this country have to raise taxes.
    According to various reports, including Deloittes and the Greens, the minimum price we need to change behaviour is $60 per tonne. That Petrol has been excluded is just a farce and must be included. That is where we are heading.

    Now we raise the money from productive industries, we add a whole new layer of administrative charges to both Govt and private business, then spend it how? Handing most of it to consumers in compensatory packages to continue our over-spending on consumer goods?

    To the extent that taxes are raised from productive industries and spent on consumer goods the ultimate effect may well be the emission of even more Carbon.

    • Are you saying that reducing energy consumption (a production input) could not cause increased productivity?

  23. I am confused as to how human created climate change is “unproven”. I understand there is a debate still raging on whether the earth really is warming up and whether human action is involved, but the question of whether human actions change our climate has been on the obvious side since Henry the 8th imposed restrictions on wood chopping and burning around London. The vast majority of the scientific community involved in climate observation beleive in it.
    By standing around debating whether pumping masses of chemicals in proportions that do NOT naturally occur in the atmosphere will make a dfference, we are continuing a gigantic science experiment where we do not have an escape route. Later generations are going to look back on the “scientific institutions” that are denying any form of climate change with the same contempt that we have for the scientific institutions that said smoking a pack a day keeps your lungs fit and healthy.
    Climate change may be a “theory”, but so are the laws of gravity, and I haven’t seen anyone try to ignore those lately with any success.

    • Erhh, it is not the theory of gravity, it is the law of gravity.

      It’s understandable and immutable.

      You really don’t appear to express any understanding of science whatsoever, much like Ross Garnaut.

      • Carbon E Coyote

        Rusty Penny, kylie is correct and you may find your appreciation of science somewhat lacking. When you call it a “law” this is the name we give to Newton’s “theory” which was derived by Newtonian mechanics. However, we now know that his “law” of gravity is actually an approximation for what’s actaully happening which is more accurately described by Einstein’s “theory” of general relativity. Neither Newton’s or Einstien’s propositions are actually “laws”; that’s just the name we given them. They are theories until they are disproven. Einstein effectively showed Newton up as a good approximation. General relativity has not yet been disproven.

        Sort of like climate change. The science is saying that we know the world is warming and that it is “highly likely” that it is anthropogenically forced. “Highly likely” is a scientific assessment of probability. It’s just that no other factors can adequately explain the observations.

        • I thought discussions science were banned here?

          Just asking, but more than happy to oblige if the rules are changed.

        • Except that there are competing theories for climate change, such as solar activity. There are people (scientists) that consider solar activity to be a better predictor of Earth’s surface temperatures. It seems to me that the current position is based on current data, which makes the model look good. But once you take in count other sources of information, well, things are not looking so clear. The recent human history has shown evidence of both hotter and colder climates. UK had wineries 1000 years ago, check out ancient towns and street names in England. The Alps were crossed on foot in sandals, as we could see on some discovered bodies. Some European water lilies still exist in insulated pockets that now only exist in Egypt. The whole Europe lived in stone houses that now would give you pneumonia. Check out the wiki article on Earth’s atmosphere, CO2 is 0.2% IIRC. Water vapor is a bigger greenhouse source than CO2, from what they say.
          In the end, life on Earth is carbon based, CO2 is food for plants, all terrestrial life chain is hooked up on plants. Yes, maybe we lose some coastal land but Central Africa and Central Australia might return to being lush, green country as they were once before.
          I agree, I think we should do something about our petrol and coal based economies, we need to reform the tax system to accommodate the hoards of baby boomers etc.
          What I don’t like is the government appointed climate change high priests that L-forehead people with adjectives for not agreeing with them. I welcome debate, let people talk about it, this is how we work as a free society. I don’t agree with many policies, but 50% +1 make decisions that I have to go with. 87% of the population seem to disagree with the government decision on carbon tax. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem relevant…

          • Science is banned here. However, on this question just let me say that, yes, there is some reputable science that argues its solar-driven warming but the vast consensus is that this accounts for only a small fraction of the warming we’ve seen and it cannot account for other changes in the atmosphere that carbon emissions can.

        • CeC, if you think that “highly likely” is a scientific statement then it is you who does not have a solid grasp of science. It is no such thing.

          H&H, i can make a similar statement on “consensus”. A theory stands on its own validity, it does not stand on whether there is a declared “consensus”. Einstein said it best when a ‘consensus’ of scientists were trying to impede his work: “it only takes one of you to prove me wrong”.

          This is a large part of the difficulty with climate science, somehow the idea of ‘consensus’ has been allowed to creep in and obfuscate the science behind it all. If you read the full IPCC report, take in only the science and ignore the political commentary, you’ll understand what i mean. To say the “science is settled” is nonsense.

    • Climate change may be a “theory”, but so are the laws of gravity, and I haven’t seen anyone try to ignore those lately with any success.

      the reason gravity forumlas aren’t ignored is because people can make accurate predictions based on the formulas. If global warming formulas had the same predictive value we would never be having these discussions.

      In discussing global warming you really need to separate the part which seeks to provide a most probable explanation of the data from the part which seeks to predict what the climate will be like at some point in the future. The predictive value thus far is worthless regardless of whether you accept AGW or not.

  24. What I find so frustrating about the debate is what appears to be the complete contradiction of Abbotts position re climate change.

    He admits that it is real (I think) and has the same policy as labour re cuts by 2020. He attacks with amazing venom the carbon tax / ETS as being costly, inefficient and ineffective, yet his treasury modelling of his policy “direct action” suggests it will cost 3 times as much (ie 3 x the burdon on the economy) to get the same outcome as an ETS.

    And 3 years ago he supported the Howard policy of an ETS as being the best option.

    So it is difficult to see his opposition to an ETS as being anything other than blatent political opportunism. I wonder when the media spot light will fall on his “alternative”.

  25. You have GOT to be joking right? You are basing your whole argument on semantics? Spare us this tiresome spin please.

    “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” is as clear cut a statement as it gets. Calling it a ‘price’ or a ‘fixed price ETS’ is sheer spin and a massive attempt at deflection as an ETS is a tax as well (just with variable rates)!

    If it looks like a tax, smells like a tax and acts like a tax…

    The only thing I’d half accept is that the PM isn’t the leader of the government. In which case an election simply MUST be called as the Greens only won a single seat in the lower house and the balance in the upper house.

    There is no good argument as to why the Australian people do not have the RIGHT to decide on this policy for themselves. Howard took the ‘never ever’ GST to an election, why can’t Gillard do the same with the tax we wouldn’t have under her?

    It is the only reasonable position to take.

      • Irrelevant, she ruled out a carbon tax. It doesn’t matter what she calls it, it’s still a tax.

        Are you honestly saying that if Howard had changed the GST to a ‘market based price based on goods and services’ that would have changed the need to take it to an election?

        Pulease.

        • My point was that Gillard clearly stated before the election that a market based mechanism (ie an ETS) was on the table…

          you seemed to be implying that by ruling out a carbon tax, Gillard was clearly also ruling out an ETS… Which is plainly not true.

          • It was on the table but a ‘people’s assembly’ was going to decide the details.

            What happened to that?

          • “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”. We are now getting a carbon tax under a government she leads.

            You can argue ets/tax semantics all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that she like and more than 2/3rds of the nation agree with me.

    • They don’t have to. That’s not how our political system works. We don’t have an election every time some new legislation comes up. There will be another election soon enough and people can vote then. Hopefully we will have moved on from this irrelevant “mandate” argument.

      Whatever your feelings are on the science, Australia has bipartisan support to reduce our emissions. Given these facts, what is the best way to achieve this?

      • Exactly.

        paying people not to pollute – direct action (purportedly 3 x the cost of ETS)

        people paying to pollute – ETS

        really that is where the debate should be focused. If you are against the ETS and vote for Abbott, then effectively that is a vote for Direct Action isn’t it?

      • Feel free to have that attitude, it’s perfectly fine. The electorate see it differently because the technical aspects of the system are irrelevant. The issue is democracy and a governments conempt for people who vote.

        The fact is Gillard said she would not introduce this tax and now she is introducing it. You can argue that the system allows it all you want, it’s quite clear the system allows it. What matters is whether or not Gillard is representing the people she was (not) elected to represent.

        This is not some small change in social policy. This is a massive new tax that will fundamentally change the way our economy works.

        If you can’t spot the difference I worry about you.

    • Its actually the other way around. There is no good reason why any acts of government (within the power granted by the constitution) require any for of referendum, which is what you seme to be suggesting.

      The people get their say on who makes up the government each federal election.

  26. Talk about sour grapes. The lady has WON government. She sets policy as she sees fit. She has always been in love with pricing carbon. None of this is a surprise. If you have a problem with it, see you at the next election.

    But endlessly whining about mandate is for losers, to be arguing about a definition of tax and whether a pledge is a promise .. all that is for idiots who don’t take the time to look beyond retail politics. Of which this country seems to have quite a few.

  27. Wow, lots of debate about this – consider that the total impact of the carbon tax/price/permission/regulation/impost/whatever is less than a few cents appreciation in the AUD/USD (or JPY)…..yet that move is given 0.24 seconds coverage on the nightly news…

    I think the major problem with the carbon debate is the public’s distrust of the economics – a distrust that is completely founded, as this truly debatable “dismal” science has routinely failed the community and society (particularly overseas, where the GFC is more rightly called The Great Recession).

    This is the matter of trust at hand – and just like the introduction of the GST (a very worthwhile tax, in of itself – but failed due to the retention of penalties for saving and rewards for speculating (CGT discount, FHBG)), no one trusts governments to do what needs to be done.

    Its the great disconnect of democracy – you vote in the least capable of all leaders (because if you want capable leaders, the majority wouldn’t vote for them) – but expect them to come up with fantastic (fantasy?) solutions that hurt no one.

    I continue to watch this debate with philosophical interest. It truly is fascinating.

    • Exactly. The rules of the game have been established and both sides must play by them. The rules are that governments are formed and elections are held every 3 years. You can’t just change the rules because you don’t like the way they impact you.

      The current government has every right to serve out its term. If people are still enraged in 2013, they can vote the government out.

  28. Jason

    I AM saying that if you tax productive enterprises and redistribute the money for consumption purposes we may well end up with more total carbon produced.
    Can a Carbon tax lead to increased productivity? Maybe… but first it needs to be reallocated in the economy efficiently by the bureaucracy, it must be administratively VERY simple from an enterprise viewpoint, Secondly any improved productivity result will be VERY long term. Despite all the rhetoric there are NOT any magic bullets for electricity generation waiting in the wings.
    Given all the costs involved and the tendency to spend the proceeds on production on consumption the result is there, if there are productivity gains, they are multiple decades away.
    Lastly to get ‘improved productivity’ you might need to redefine ‘productivity’ and how it is calculated.
    That ought be a priority I’d think.

  29. I have another wee problem other than the consumption issue.
    Example the mining of iron ore.
    The mining of magnetite requires more processing here. However to final processing the total power needs, and therefore carbon produced, is less for magnetite than hematite.
    So the Carbon tax, in Australia, will favour the production of more Carbon from steel making.
    Unintended consequences. I wonder how many of them there are?
    Of course, no cost is too great for us to bear.

    • Does this account for the concentration difference?

      My understanding is that Hematite is mined at around 69% and magnetite is mined at around 35%.

      Hematite goes straight to the steel mills, magnetite is concentrated (to around 65%) and then goes to steel mills.

      So I would have thought that going from 35% magnetite to steel would require more power / carbon then 60% hematite to steel?

  30. So because she didn’t actually say there wouldn’t be an ETS she has a mandate for one?

    Anyone else think this is stupid? At best you could say she didn’t lie.

  31. ‘Georgia……The biggest issue i see here is that the tax is based on unproven science.’

    This is just whacky. There is plenty of empirical evidence to show the biosphere is warming. The maths show it is warming at a very rapid rate. The only valid explanation for this is the increase in GHG emissions. The physics and the chemistry are well established on this. They have been well-established for a very long time.

    The fact that the science has to be applied to a large-scale and dynamic system with many variables all interacting simultaneously does not discredit the science. It just means it takes a lot of investigation to collect and verify the data. Luckily, the effort is going in to this project.

    Professional doubters will argue otherwise, but they have yet to advance a single valid proposition that can explain the rise in temperatures that has been recorded or to model their own forecasts of the effects of changing temperatures on the earth’s surface.

    Considering so much is at stake here, surely the onus is on the sceptics and the deniers to develop their explanations, publish their work, have it subjected to peer review and show they have the data and the theory to support their views.

    Until they do this, they have to be regarded as either fraudulent or ignorant or both.

  32. Got to love the CSIRO’s timing on this one.

    http://www.csiro.au/news/Forests-absorb-one-third-our-fossil-fuel-emissions.html

    A quote from above “scientists now know that deforestation is responsible for emitting 2.9 billion tonnes of carbon per year”

    (But we have all been told its big bad coal and oil!!)

    And this line “For comparison, total emissions from fossil fuels are currently above eight billion tonnes of carbon per year.”

    (So if deforestation didnt happen, CO2, would be 5M/t, but probably a lot less due to less compounding through the years)

    And the cracker :”Combining the uptake by established and forest re-growth plus emissions from deforestation, the world’s forests have a net effect on atmospheric CO2 equivalent to the removal of 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon every year.”

    • Yes, it’s deforestation overpopulation doesn’t help – go to any third world country and observe the woodlands are denuded mostly for firewood (energy). What the world needs is a massive reforestation programme. Forget the carbon tax – only helps bureacracies and vested financial interests.

    • Rob Z, I have now read your comment five times and still don’t understand your point.
      Fossil fuels contribute 8 bn tonnes CO2e, deforestation 2.9 bn tonnes CO2e. Ok, so far so good, but then you comment:
      “if deforestation didnt happen, CO2, would be 5M/t”
      I don’t understand the “M/t” unit you use, but you seem to be subtracting the contribution of deforestation from fossil fuels [though I may have misunderstood]. Surely the contributions to CO2e released by deforestation and fossil fuel use are essentially independent of each other and so each stands on its own?

  33. The economics on this issue is also really very settled, both as to the efficacy of pricing carbon and to the difficulty of getting people to agree to do it.

    Elementary theory of firms acting in competition means the Carbon Price will work. It is just not controversial or complicated. Pricing the right to pollute will work over time to bring down emissions. So simple and yet so elusive, it seems.

    And why should such a simple thing be so hard to realise? Economic theory tells us that we are a bunch of free-loaders, given the chance. We have been free-loading on the atmosphere and on the quality of life of future generations. Free-loaders of the world will unite to avoid paying their way. They will find every imaginable device and ploy, engage in every appealing delusion and distraction to avoid paying for something, if at all possible.

    The trouble is, of course, that some-one somewhere will pay for the destruction of the atmosphere. The current population of free-loaders just want to make sure it is not them.

    Well, that is not good enough. It reminds me of the bankers and the brokers who brought us the GFC. They were happy to take the benefits while the the high-risk debt-creation game lasted, but unwilling to accept any of the costs involved when the system broke down.

    There is an exact parallel with pollution. Those who benefit from a high-pollution/high-risk economy do not want to accept any of the costs involved. They wish to take the benefits, but pass the costs on to others.

    There is only one means to prevent this and that is intervention by the State, representing the interests of society as a whole, both now and into the future. The State routinely intervenes to deal with the problem of free-loading on publicly-held or -supplied goods and services. This applies to nearly everything that makes modern societies work, from defense to pre-school education, health to the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The environment is just another category of a commonly-held good, and it is in our common best interests that the State act to prevent its destruction by private acts.

    This is just so simple it should not be controversial at all. And yet is, because our species is at times its own worst enemy.

    • Lots of absolutes in that argument david – “only means” “will work”. The science of economics and finance is very far being about absolutes – even the basics (law of demand) are poorly understood or completely wrong.

      And neoclassical competition theory is FAR from being proven. There will be gaming and unintended consequences of any policy, good or bad (look at the GST for example. It was supposed to broaden the tax base, but now our tax system is in worse shape than before)

      Nothing is absolute when it comes to behaviour, politics and “The State” except perhaps ideology.

      • The theory of the firm tells us that firms – in a competitive market and mandated to maximize returns on capital – will seek to minimize the marginal costs of their inputs. Since electricity producers, for example, will be able to reduce their input costs by reducing the pollution they produce, they will invest in less-polluting production technologies. This is not controversial. It is about discounting cash-flows and capital returns.

        As for free-riding, this is not controversial either. We all do it if we can. In some places – say with inner city transport, offering free-rides produces public benefits by reducing congestion; likewise, it society-wide benefits accrue from offering free education.

        Pollution of the atmosphere can be conceived within the same cost-benefit framework. Because the long-run costs of pollution (environmental collapse) outweigh the short-run benefits (marginally cheaper electricity) and it is economically rational to find ways to reduce the production of pollution.

        Call me an absolutist, but this is just plain good sense to me.

  34. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. No ETS or tax will save us. Don’t believe me! Read Chris Impeys future of the planet. He is an astronomer

    see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-1999537.html

    He well defines how in 500 Million years the sun’s demise will cause the earth to be so hot that no life will exist here. And this has nothing to do with our emissions. I found this truely scary. At leats it will take out all the greens so to speak!

      • I love Hair-Cuts and Splitting Ideas..Aside and…Could I Dig a Hole in your Local-Park,Use
        the Water and Solar ,off your Roof after,a wash down and, ‘Set up a Water Splitting Station..(SUAWSS)I could rebate you for your input,
        Piped pumped and wired to me ,from you’re house,against the Electrical kW you’ve used
        from my Hydrogen/mix/oxygen/Air fueled Motor generator..(240v/ac),I could use the water it emits too in-turn water the park,
        We could work out the differences monthly when ,You fill up your Car or Bike..See who’s in front…But splitting aside ,and of intoxicating times and I think Triples usually come after doubles are downed…But i don’t Drink ,more the Designated ,and amused type…just memories and more for that..or is it a Dream…anyway in finishing n.. Why does the Asbestos Run down my Roof into the gutter into the Drain into the Oceans to-do it all over again and again…Is it something to do with the Drain….
        Thanks.. CEC
        Have a Good-One,One and All…Cheers JR

  35. El Zorro Dorado

    It is clear that Gillard and Labor had no mandate to act and they have been pressured by Brown’s Greens into bludgeoning the electorate with this excessively bureaucratic and dangerous impost ( especially dangerous at this time). Gillard and Co know they have no mandate as well, and it obvious by their body language and rhetoric …but they have nowhere to go in the stymied political shambles of Canberra today. The people are not convinced by any means that Australia should be taking the lead, or even be in the first 100, in the cimate change remedial stakes. We have been made to feel guilt and shame for our per capita emissions, just like we have been made to feel guilt and shame for all sorts of supposed misdemeanours associated with being a wealthy and happy people in a world beset by problems. Bringing in a tax or any sort of ETS at this time smacks of the desperation of decision-making and the paucity of policy thought which characterizes so much of Austrlaia these days. Collectively we should have more courage so as to be decisive in our choices: of politicans, and of the host of issues on which we vaccilate daily.

  36. CarbonE, so much effort on the word play but nothing much on the context.

    The Liberal party had just deposed a leader and ended any hope of a bipartisan carbon policy. They now had a clear “No” position which JG was attempting to negate by saying “No, we won’t either”. The public understood the context and took “No” to mean “No”.

    Labour have a Mandate, no arguement there. But their efforts to block out the capability of future governmnets to apply their own mandates is to be condemned. Locking in astronomical termination payments in the NBN and threatening to block CO2 roll back in the senate are deplorable.

    It seems ending your own term in office with a few economic tumours is not enough. Lets make sure they are inopperable.

  37. well well well….what a great lot of passion we’ve had today…. so maybe the politics should be banned from this forum as well…. very naughty of CeC to try to get the most reply s to his post…. wonder who will beat this record…. most amusing… unfortunately the matter will never be resolved by science …. maybe we can apply efficient market theory to the market and play Mr Market as usual over reacting each way…. my best bet is that the bogans will loose again!!!!

  38. CEC, while you think that this is not an economic issue, I disagree strongly.

    Firstly I challenge everyone to read the following article from Business Spectator (in particular the first 2 paragraphs) and then return to my following comments:

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/carbon-tax-Gillard-China-coal-Labor-Greens-pd20110706-JGT5P?OpenDocument&emcontent_Burgess

    This whole argument should be about the economics.

    Australia has the highest emmissions per capita and the highest emmissions per $ of GDP in the developed World.

    From the article quoted, given that China is viewing emmissions from a ‘per capita’ perspective, we should be very worried and urgently concerned of any possible international agreement on emmissions that involves China.

    If an agreement is reached, then in this case (whether in 5 or 10 years) Australia will bear the greatest cost and economic adjustment of any nation.

    To me, any start on this process ahead of the potential of an International Agreement is a step in the right direction.

    Given that the majority of economists back the propossed Labor sponsored mechanism then for me, that is the best option.

    And as a life long (l)iberal voter (having been born in Wentworth and now living in Warringah) I refuse to support them again until they reconcile their current idealogical impurities.

    • The Greens don’t care and Labor wants power at whatever price. And the Liberals need to change leadership.

      • If the Liberals changed leadership to Turnbull the entire political landscape would change overnight because Turnbull supports a price on carbon.

        It will never happen anyway because the Libs are infested with denialists.

    • Carbon E Coyote

      Just for clarity, I do believe this is an economic issue and I normally write solely on the economics and steer away from politics and science. The opening remarks in the blog just preface that the piece was a little more political than others I’ve written.

      • Given that clarification would you be able to write something about the holes in this scheme that commenter Adam Smith has highlighted?