Paying for Abbott’s wrecking ball

I should start by stating that the following is not intended as partisan political comment. I have consistently supported a carbon price policy regardless of the Party of the politician proposing it (eg Howard, Rudd, Turnbull and now Gillard).

Much has been said of Gillard’s mandate, or more pointedly, lack of mandate to introduce a carbon price. The fact that the Australian people elected the Parliament, and the Parliament chose to implement a carbon price (via the Multi Party Climate Change Committee) seems to have been lost on most commentators. But what of Abbot’s mandate to pursue his wrecking ball strategy on the soon-to-be law and its instrumentalities? What also seems to have been forgotten is the fact that the leadership spill that installed Abbot as Leader of the Opposition was almost as marginal (42-41) as the 2010 election. That means that just under half of the party room chose, at the time, to support action on climate change via the least cost mechanism of a carbon price. Turnbull has been most articulate on the logic of this, including his well-argued speech to Parliament in February 2010 supporting his position as he crossed the floor.

Both major parties support the objective of reducing emissions by 5% on 2000 levels by 2020. One of the great ironies in this debate is that the left side of politics is supporting a market mechanism to achieve these cuts at least cost to the economy, while the right side of politics is using a direct intervention approach more aligned with centrally-planned government. As Turnbull noted:

Until 1 December last year, there was a bipartisan commitment in Australia that this carbon price, this exercise in reducing emissions, should be imposed by means of a market based mechanism—this emissions trading scheme. At their core, therefore, these bills are as much the work of John Howard as of Kevin Rudd. The policy I am supporting here today as an opposition backbencher is the same policy I supported as John Howard’s environment minister. And why did we in the Howard government believe an emissions trading scheme was the best approach? It was because we as Liberals believed in the superior efficiency of the free market to set a price on carbon.

And later, on “direct action”:

Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale, and there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal. In short, having the government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions. I say this as a member and former leader of a political party whose core values are a commitment to free markets and free enterprise.

I might add that the other problems with direct action, as opposed to pricing carbon, are that:

(a)    It is not scalable. While it may or may not achieve the stated objective of emission reduction to 2020, it cannot possible yield any further reductions, and therefore not equip the economy with the ability to further reduce emissions as would be required. Government budgets are not sufficient to continue to purchase abatement through to 2050.

(b)   While government is busy purchasing abatement in a tender and effectively providing a price for carbon abatement, the rest of the economy (all those not tendering to supply abatement to the government) continues as business as usual as if there is no constraint on emissions. The efforts of government in this regard may well be futile while emissions from all sectors (that would have otherwise be covered by a carbon price) effectively accelerate out of control (in the literal rather than metaphoric sense).

The net result of (a) plus (b) is that post-2020, emissions once again accelerate upwards rather than heading downwards. The opportunity to structurally reform the economy to enable it to “peak” emissions this decade and thereafter make longer term reductions would have been lost.

The investment community and major businesses have always been concerned to point out that bipartisan support for the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions is required to reduce investment uncertainty. Abbot’s current wrecking strategy is a good illustration of what happens when this fails. The certainty that was meant to be brought about via the carbon price legislation has been undermined, perhaps even sabotaged, by the threat of repeal of the bills.

The implications for investment decision-making are considerable. It means that, once again, just as the past few years have shown, companies do not know whether to factor in a long term price of carbon or not, with no real clarity until the next election. In the energy sector, one of the unfortunate outcomes of this will be the implementation of higher opex / lower capex plant (ie open cycle gas turbines rather than the more efficient combined cycle gas turbines) than would otherwise have been built. In equity markets, investors will need to price stocks exposed (positively or negatively) to carbon on the basis of probabilities rather than knowns, leading to higher risk and therefore higher cost of capital. Perhaps even exposed companies will be wanting to settle this matter, accept the pricing of carbon and attendant permit allocation as compensation, and move on with certainty, rather than face many more years of policy uncertainty.

The pricing of carbon is a structural reform of the economy costing a modest (~0.1% of GDP). Blocking this reform is really a form of inter-generational selfishness that values more highly our disposable income today to the detriment of next generation’s prosperity.

Perhaps this is the right political strategy for the Opposition. I do wonder how many in the “Liberal” party rooms, particularly the 41, are quietly or secretly dismayed at this approach, or whether they put their convictions aside and revel in the state of the current opinion polls.

Clearly, the political strategy of the government is to have the carbon price commence on 1 July 2012, including providing compensation before then, and let the realities illustrate the vacuousness of the fear campaign run by Abbott. One can only hope that the Opposition’s current view on carbon becomes as irrelevant as Beazley’s “Roll Back” position on the GST early last decade.

Comments

  1. “I should start by stating that the following is not intended as partisan political comment.”

    Funny! It sure reads like one. The obvious Gillard lie just so she could win the election is summarily dismissed as of no concern whatsoever. Without that lie, as everyone recognises, she would have lost.
    The rest of the article is simply an attack on Abbott. In saying that Abbott is trying to ride two horses at the same time and I’d agree his proposals don’t make a lot of sense.
    Still this article is way unbalanced.

    Why shouldn’t people have some say in this? Are the rulers now so wise that they can now force whatever they like on the population?
    I was an original supporter of a Carbon Pricing mechanism. As a result of the lies told in the scientific field, and by taxpayer paid political spin doctors like Garnaut et al, in Govt mis-allocation of funds to study climate change, and, most importantly, the confiscation of private property in order to implement the proposals, I am now one of its bitterest opponents.

    The economic insanity of this thing beggars the imagination. I’m not saying that it is impossible to implement some sort of Carbon scheme if that is what the population want but what is proposed here is a lunacy of which, in 50 odd years of observing economic and political life, I have not seen the equivalent.

    • Flawse: ‘Still this article is way unbalanced.’

      This describes your comment. You lost me the very moment I read the words ‘the obvious Gillard lie’, and the rest of the comment slid inexorably and predictably into denialist territory.

      Gillard’s about-face on a carbon price was a politician’s typical empty, breakable promise. In Howard’s day, we viewed those through the frame of ‘core and non-core promises’, almost as if they were laughing matters. It’s a sign of the tea party times that in Gillard’s case her ‘promise’ has attracted such a (manufactured) splenetic, vitriolic response and that the word ‘lie’ has become a kind of media lens through which her character can be viewed and assassinated. I wonder if, in the event of his ever becoming PM, Abbot’s oath in blood will become his ‘obvious lie’, when he fails to repeal the carbon pricing legislation. Somehow, I doubt this, and his back-tracking will be seen as affirming again the idea that politics is merely the art of the possible.

      Your phraseology reflects your own ‘unbalanced’ position – the carbon pricing mechanism is described as ‘economic insanity’ (without an iota of argument) while Abbot’s ‘proposals don’t make a lot of sense’. Most commentary I have read, including Coyote’s above, argues it is Abbot’s position which is economically insane.

      • arescarti42MEMBER

        Have to agree as well. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the leadership of Gillard or Abbot, the fact is that both Parties support reducing GHG emissions. From an economic perspective, for a given amount of emissions reductions, a tax/trading scheme is far more efficient and less costly than having the government directly intervene.

      • dumb_non_economist

        Flaws,

        Talk about unbalanced; yes, all the worlds leading research orgs etc are lying. You left out that the US Gov orchestrated 911.

        Where would we be without our conspiracy theorists!

      • Flawse,

        did you vote for Gillard? Where are the people who did vote for Gillard and now are saying that they feel cheated by the introduction of a Carbon pricing scheme?

        If you didn’t vote for her, or didn’t vote against her because of her statements you don’t seem to have been affected much.

        It seems to me that the majority of people complaining about Gillard’s statements and the current outcome, are people who voted for the conservatives. In which case any of Gillard’s statements are irrelevant because they didn’t rely on them. Unless you say that you voted for Abbott because Gillard said “No Carbon Tax” and if you’d known she was going to introduce a Carbon price then you would have flocked to her then you don’t have a promise to you that was broken. If you have concerns about the effect of Gillard’s statement I think you need to show that there are a poll swinging number of Labour voters who feel cheated and who would have voted for Abbott instead (minus the Conservatives like you who would have flocked to Gillard if they’d thought she was going to introduce a Carbon price).

        Senator Parer’s 2002 recommendations are finally getting a run.

      • Macondo
        I love that word ‘DENIALIST. It’s so easy! Just park someone over in the corner with those who ‘deny’ the Nazi slaughter of WW2 and you have the argument won!!!
        I loathe extremism with a burning passion and it is the sort of use of the term ‘denialist’ to describe anyone who has ANY objection of any kind to some of the very loose science, loose and adaptive modelling, the waste of Govt spin doctors.
        I loathe the confiscation of private property in whatever form. If you are going to take someone’s private property you ought compensate them properly. Therefore I’m an extremist Nazi?????????
        Macondo you obviously vote Left and never look at anything. Much of my loathing for this thing comes from the activities of John Howard who was largely responsible for the confiscation of private property with the co-operation of Labor State Govts. My particular knowledge concerning this relates to the activities of Howard and the Qld Government.

        Again you have mouthed off concerning my calling this economic lunacy. You obviously haven’t taken a close look at some of the implications. If it’s supported by Labor and the Greens everything is hunky dory!

        Now before you haul off as you have at me I think you ought take a look at some of the detail of this legislation and its implications. Further you ought go back through these threads which were excellent open discussions of just what sort of an economy we have here in Aus.

        http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/09/fighting-australias-hot-money-problem/
        http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/09/our-economy-is-fundamentally-broken-2/
        http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/08/leigh-harkness-on-the-rba-cad-perspective/
        http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/07/are-services-economies-sustainable/

        Now Aus has a chronic CAD. It’s been running continuously for 50 years (except 1971). As a result we have sold nearly every industry in the nation off to foreign interests plus at least 80% of our in-ground mining resources.
        A little detail you MAY have overlooked is that there are not enough Carbon Credits in Aus to be bought. As I understand the situation about 50% of the Credits have to be bought from Europe! (when you accused me of not presenting one iota of argument I was presuming that anyone who would reply to me with such vehemence and bigotry would at least have the first idea of what they were talking about!)
        So here we have a nation, deeply in debt, paying out REAL money for what?
        Yep!!!! It’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better to pay money to the Europeans than to pay farmers for the Carbon taken up with their trees!!! We confiscated farmers’ trees, because if farmers had to be paid, the scheme, as proposed by Howard, would have caused havoc particularly with the Queensland coal industry. Remember here we are talking about a time before Coal prices really seriously escalated.
        Wouldn’t it be better now to be paying our own farmers for the credits rather than Europeans who contribute nothing to our society?

        I guess you are ignorant yet you take it upon yourself to deliberately apply to me the most extreme use of language, the most offensive title I can think of.
        And the +1 crowd agree with this sort of labeling. It’s wrong. It’s what is wrong with this whole debate.

        Re the science. I am a little different I read both sides.

        • Thanks Lorax! Unexpected! 🙂 I know we sit on opposite sides (to the extent I sit on a side) of the fence a lot.
          It seems to me the issue of Carbon dioxide is a separate one to the issue of the current political stage in Aus which doesn’t have much to recommend it from my perspective.
          The way the Libs are going I’m going to vote Gillard (!!!) because I’n sick of them not stating a consistent policy in keeping with real liberal philosophy!
          At the moment it’s just nyah! nyah! nyah!

    • Flawse, I’m with you on this one.

      I think the best bet for Abbott (I am not a fan at all) would be to drop carbon pricing altogether.

      He should reassure the electorate that the Coalition are concerned about climate change and the ways to better manage carbon emissions. They consider this a long-term objective of importance. However, of more immediate importance is a robust and diverse Australian economy capable of competing in global markets on an equal basis with other economies – hence a moratorium on the introduction of the carbon tax for a period of (say) three years. This will enable Australian companies to continue business without additional tax burden and alleviate concern Australian households have in regard to the cost implications of the carbon tax. It would negate the need for the development of a new bureaucracy and millions in implementation expenditure. They must remind the Australian electorate that these companies are not ‘polluters’ dealing in toxic hazardous chemicals, but have higher energy use in order to produce product and employ Australians. During the three year moratorium the Coalition will, under the Chairmanship of Turnbull (if he is not PM!) determine a carbon pricing policy that ensures the best outcome for both the environment and the electorate. This will then be put to the electorate at the next election and the people of the Australia can decide.

      Or something like that! They would romp it in.

      • Actually, if it were possible for Gillard to halt progress of the Bill right now and do the above – there’s a chance even Labor would romp it in.

        • Political suicide, the Greens would withdraw support for the minority gov, and then Labor would be back at the polls.

          • Or political resurrection?

            What if Labor did just that. Withdrew support for the Bill citing the dual imperatives of actively supporting the economy at this time and respecting the ideal that this issue should be presented to the electorate.

            Fresh, open, honest – DELAYED – for several years.

            Greens withdraw support. Election held. Electorate understands the reality of government by minority. Independents fall. Greens reduce. Stuck with a few in the Senate. Labor just may be able to pull it off. Achieves three things – reduction of Green and Independent influence which is disproportionate at best, gives breathing space to the economy at a time of global volatility and ensures mandate down the track (ie Labor presents carbon tax at end of new term) which electorate then decides.

          • If Labor could do that, there’s a big chance I would vote for them.
            Of course, unless Turnbull comes back.
            Wow, can’t imagine there is this slim chance of me voting for Labor…

    • All this rubbish about broken promises, lying, etc.

      It’s pretty obvious that a carbon tax wasn’t really on the Labor party’s agenda going into the election, and if they were not forced to form a minority government with the Greens then they probably wouldn’t have raised it.

      The real (non-hysterical) version of events is that when Labor realised that they needed the Greens and the independents to form government they started to compromise. It’s political pragmatism, not outright lying. I’m sure Gillard and Labor didn’t foresee a minority government coming when they went into the election.

      If you’re so upset about it, blame the Greens, because it’s one issue they absolutely wouldn’t budge on.

  2. “I should start by stating that the following is not intended as partisan political comment.”

    Support of a carbon ‘price’ (because taxes are really ‘prices’) is in and of itself partisan. You can’t change this fact with one sentence about ‘intentions’.

    “The fact that the Australian people elected the Parliament, and the Parliament chose to implement a carbon price (via the Multi Party Climate Change Committee) seems to have been lost on most commentators”

    How about the fact that both major parties went to the election with a “no carbon tax under a government I lead” policy? Funny how you accuse other commenters on missing facts yet you seem to miss the most important one.

    That Abbott won the leadership spill by one vote is entirely irrelevant. This could easily have been manufactured to save the face of Malcolm Turnbull. At any rate, if this was to happen today what do you think the result would be?

    “Both major parties support the objective of reducing emissions by 5% on 2000 levels by 2020”

    ‘Supporting’ an ‘objective’ is not the same as implementing a policy. Abbott’s policy SHOULD be to ignore AGW nonsense, it would certainly win him more votes, but sometimes internal politics dictate party policy.

    Direct action has one valuable advantage over the tax on the air (aside from the fact that it actually buys a tangible benefit however small) it’s that it can be cancelled over night. It can be repealed straight away for no cost whatsoever. That’s a good ‘climate change’ policy.

    “The investment community ….is required to reduce investment uncertainty. Abbot’s current wrecking strategy…”

    The ‘blame Abbott’ meme is really getting old. Want to know what would create the most certainty? Abandoning the carbon tax altogether! Your first sentence was ‘I don’t want to be partisan’ but you completely ignore the fact that it’s the government who are the ones with the policy! How could you do this without being partisan?

    Abbott is merely sticking to his word as Gillard should have done. The people of Australia are against the tax. All ‘uncertainty’ is entirely the creation of the ALP.

    “Perhaps this is the right political strategy for the Opposition. I do wonder how many in the “Liberal” party rooms, particularly the 41, are quietly or secretly dismayed at this approach”

    Not many at all, Turnbull and perhaps a handful of others. When you are ahead on 2PP by nearly 20 points it’s hard to say your leader is doing the wrong thing.

    “Clearly, the political strategy of the government is to have the carbon price commence on 1 July 2012, including providing compensation before then, and let the realities illustrate the vacuousness of the fear campaign run by Abbott.”

    Ah, but this isn’t meant as a ‘partisan’ comment, just that you are reciting the exact meme of the ALP. Not ‘partisan’ though.

    The people of Australia deserve a chance to say yes or no to this tax. It should be kept until after the next election and/or an election should be called right away. You want certainty right? What better way to give it than to take it to the people? Oh, but it’s all Abbott’s fault, I forgot. /sigh

    • ‘Ah, but this isn’t meant as a ‘partisan’ comment, just that you are reciting the exact meme of the ALP. Not ‘partisan’ though.

      The people of Australia deserve a chance to say yes or no to this tax. It should be kept until after the next election and/or an election should be called right away. You want certainty right? What better way to give it than to take it to the people? Oh, but it’s all Abbott’s fault, I forgot. /sigh’

      Sarcasm failing wholly to conceal a clearly partisan position. The ‘exact meme’ of Tony Abbott, a denialist like yourself: ‘AGW nonsense… a tax on the air’.

      • The thing is, I never claimed to be unbiased mate. Although my view is in line with the clear majority of the nation. Funny how those who support this pointless tax (and other ALP/Greens policies) always claim to be ‘unbiased’.

        I am a libertarian through and through but I support the Coalition on this issue because I value democracy and liberty and that there should never be taxation without consent or representation.

        I also love how warmists are more than happy to use the smear ‘denialist’ when confronted with opinions that oppose them.

        • Tassie TomMEMBER

          I remember John Howard clearly had Work Choices at the centre of his 2004 election campaign, hence had a democratic mandate for their institution.

          • I wonder if you are being ironic, despite the absence of a sarcastic tone of voice. I hope you are being sarcastic, because if you are not then you are speaking complete rubbish. There was no mention at all of Workchoices during the 2004 election; it was only an issue at the 2007 election. Howard and the Liberals took advantage of the unexpected Senate majority to introduce Workchoices after the 2004 election. There is little doubt that they always intended to introduce such a thing if ever the opportunity arose.

          • I also remember when Howard won in 2007 even though workchoices was a terrible policy.

            Macondo, the Coalition actually had it as a central policy for over a decade before 2004. The reason it was never mentioned is because nobody asked.

            That fact didn’t save them though. Think about it.

        • ‘Direct action has one valuable advantage over the tax on the air (aside from the fact that it actually buys a tangible benefit however small) it’s that it can be cancelled over night. It can be repealed straight away for no cost whatsoever. That’s a good ‘climate change’ policy.’

          Wait, so you’re advocating Abbott abandoning an election promise as well? Should Abbott go to the election with “Direct Action” to try and get some swinging voters and then abandon it once he’s in office? How is this any different from a “No carbon tax under a government I lead”? How is that democratic?

          Smells funny to me mate!

          • Actually I think he should abandon the policy altogether, but that’s me (and many others who preference the Coaltion).

            But you will note in my comment that there is no timeframe. He could easily abandon in just before an election if he wanted to.

            The carbon tax will be much harder to dismantle and is truly anti-democratic.

  3. And here some the hysterical liberal supporters wanting to call an election right now because they are ahead in a couple of news polls..

    I always vote independents in elections, but the word around the water cooler at work is that “so long as Tony Abbott is the leader of the Liberal Party, i won’t vote for them. They need to bring Malcolm back”.

    I honestly think that the thought of Abbott as our Prime Minister scares a lot of people……

    • I don’t know where you work but the word around our water cooler is that Julia is a liar and needs to go.

      • “Julia is a liar and needs to go.”

        Z,
        thats not the root cause.

        I think it’s her prior employment as a lawyer thats the problem here. It’s a profession based on the notion that every cause must have impartial representation for both the afffirmative and negative. She just doesn’t get the idea that her new office is not the courts and a dud policy given to her by Kev07/Greens does not need to be defendended to death.

        She is unable to think, “bugger this, why am I arguing an untenable position?” I should just cut my losses and pick a better policy”. Her response has always been, “wait, heres professor Flannery with a candlestick in the library”

        So, forget “Ju-Liar”. My take is that “Ju-lawyer” explains her obstinate support of bad policy better.

        • that “Ju-lawyer” explains her obstinate support of bad policy better.
          .
          But it isn’t her policy in the first place!! How do you expect someone to defend something that isn’t theirs in the first place?

          Her policy was to waffle around for 3 years with a people’s assembly on climate change. But the fact that her party depends on Greens/cross-bench to form a minority government meant that she had to abandon her original policy and adopt the Greens policy as her own.

          • How do you expect someone to defend something that isn’t theirs in the first place?

            M,
            thats exactly the job a lawyer does. They do not refuse representation because they think you are guilty. They do not put their hand up mid trial and say “well, this is going badly, can I have another case”

            50% of the time it’s their job to just push ahead with a lost cause and accept a lose verdict with detachment, grace and dignity.

            I think that explains where we are and how we got here better than what Mav proposed.

    • The people standing around your water cooler should pay more attention. It’s not about being ahead in some news polls it’s about maintaining the integrity of our democracy.

      When Howard changed his mind on the GST he took it to an election and won a mandate (however barely), why won’t Gillard?

    • Raglan one would have to ask you what sort of ‘work’? In Aus at the moment the population is very divided according to where their bread and butter comes from. So around your water-cooler it might be one opinion. Around another water-cooler it would be another. It is a bit like listening to the ABC commentary and concluding that the whole nation is speaking as one on a particular subject.

  4. Carbon E. Coyote. Thanks for your excellent neutral summary of the current situation.

    The discussions about admitted (AA) and accused (JG)liars are red herring side issues. A pox on both of them!

  5. I have to agree that Tony Abbott’s direct action policy is yet another stupid form of central planning and government picking winners and losers.

    It won’t do much to reduce CO2. Neither will the carbon tax, although a market price is somewhat more effective.

    Both ideas are disgraceful, its shameful that major political parties think that they should run our energy industry after state run enterprises continue to stagnate and falter.

  6. One more point.. Isn’t Julia Gillard also doing her own direct action spending on green pet projects ??

    I thought it was part of the deal to get the Greens support.

    • Ok, So do you also want a mandate/election on how the government spends the money?
      .
      Then, we should have an election every year after the budget is presented.

      • any major reform that effects the lives of practically every Australian should be atleast put to the electorate (GST..) , not the current form of representative despotism

        • No new taxation without an election”
          not the current form of representative despotism
          Isn’t that what Mr Abbott calls it? That is another one of his manufactured faux-libertarian moral positions.

          He has basically mutated and disfigured the original phrase around which our democracy is built – No taxation without representation.

          There is absolutely no legal or moral basis in our constitution for his assertion that a fresh mandate is required every time the tax structure is changed. On his suggestion about a referendum on carbon tax, he backtracked immediately when asked if the results of the referendum will be binding on him or the Liberal party! You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

  7. If the Liberals were smart, they would actually come back with an improved version that actually encourages energy production. the biggest flaw that I see with the current proposal is that there is actually a very strong incentive to produce less electricity, get paid more for what you do produce and pay less carbon tax because you are producing less carbon. The really scary thing is that the energy producers are owned by our major international competitors so there is even less incentive to produce lower costing energy , that could be used to run an aluminium smelter for example.

  8. The debate among the punters shouldn’t be about which polli said what before, during or after an election. I thought we had a unanimous opinion that all pollis lie through their teeth.
    .
    The debate should be framed on the merits of carbon price versus direct action.

  9. Ronin8317MEMBER

    It is in Australia’s national interest to have a carbon trading scheme. This is to protect against a scenario where environmental groups around the world call for a boycott of Australia due to our high carbon intensity. Buying carbon permits from overseas is a lot cheaper than direct action.

    In regard to the ‘mandate’, the Labor government doesn’t have a majority, and they’re only in government because of the cross-benchers. The carbon tax is the price the ALP have to pay for being in government, and this is also why the ALP is dragging itself over hot coal to implement pokie reform. The ability for a minor party to impose their will on the entire population is one of the hallmark of Australian government due to compulsory and preferential voting.

    • “It is in Australia’s national interest to have a carbon trading scheme. This is to protect against a scenario where environmental groups around the world call for a boycott of Australia due to our high carbon intensity.”

      So the reason for a carbon ‘price’ is because of a scenario that MIGHT happen sometime in the future? Where is your evidence that this is even a possibility? The US has said they won’t do it, China and India will never do it and the EU are all but abandoning their ETS.

      So do tell me where this idea comes from?

      Even if this within the realm of possibilty why damage our economy now? Why not delay the tax until everyone else sets up their own?

      “The carbon tax is the price the ALP have to pay for being in government”

      Do you honestly, deep down, think that the Greens wouldn’t have supported her regardless? I mean really?

      A more logical answer is that Gillard WANTED to impose a carbon dioxide tax and is trying to use the Greens as an excuse to do it. They would never have supported the Coalition no matter what the ALP did on ‘climate change’

      There is no way you can argue against the need for a fresh election. In a democratic nation no new tax should ever be passed without the consent of the people. Howard took the GST to an election, Gillard should do the same with the carbon dioxide tax.

      • Tassie TomMEMBER

        I remember Howard and Costello in the 1997 election campaign explaining why we needed the Superannuation Surcharge tax too.

        • Haha yeah, good point Tassie Tom.

          MattR’s idols Howard and Costello weren’t exactly innocent of “taxation without representation” either…

        • Yes, because a super surcharge is the same as a complete restructuring of the economy. Rudd also put in an alcopops tax which I opposed but wouldn’t demand an election over.

          A better example is the GST.

          Jason, I am a Libertarian, not a Liberal. My comments should be taken from the ‘ALP are useless’ perspective, rather than the ‘Coalition are great’ perspective.

          Either way, my facts are not wrong.

          • You have no problem with Govt dipping into our savings (taxing super) without representation?

            I too consider myself to be more libertarian leaning, and I wouldn’t say that the Coalition is any more libertarian than Labor is.

            ‘Either way, my facts are not wrong.’

            I didn’t see any facts in your comment, just opinions.

            ‘A more logical answer is that Gillard WANTED to impose a carbon dioxide tax and is trying to use the Greens as an excuse to do it. They would never have supported the Coalition no matter what the ALP did on ‘climate change’’

            Rubbish, then why was JG reportedly telling Rudd to abandon the CPRS behind closed doors? Why was JG shelving all policy until like 2013 (because Copenhagen failed) and having that citizens assembly? That doesn’t add up with your story.

            No, if Labor hadn’t got the Greens support they’d be out on their arse and the Greens know it! Most Labor appartchiks were terrified of going back to being the opposition after spending so many years there during Howard’s reign. Politically the Greens had Labor by the balls. Labor would’ve signed their own children away just to stay in power.

          • “You have no problem with Govt dipping into our savings (taxing super) without representation?”

            /sigh, not going to follow this strawman.

            “I didn’t see any facts in your comment, just opinions.”

            Try looking harder.

            “Rubbish, then why was JG reportedly telling Rudd to abandon the CPRS behind closed doors? Why was JG shelving all policy until like 2013”

            Those are good questions, perhaps you should ask her yourself, because I have no idea.

            All I know is that Gillard did NOT have to push this tax through if she didn’t want to. Actions speak far louder than words.

            “No, if Labor hadn’t got the Greens support they’d be out on their arse and the Greens know it!”

            Yes, and what is your point? This does not change the undeniable: the Greens were never going to support the coalition, not ever. Gillard did not need this tax to win their support.

            “Labor would’ve signed their own children away just to stay in power”

            Yep, they sure would have and it will cost them a decade in opposition and the potential disbanding of the party.

            Maybe you are right though, maybe she didn’t lie, maybe she is just the most incompetent PM we have ever had.

            Either way, the tax is gone next election.

          • ‘Gillard did not need this tax to win [the Greens] support.’

            How do you know this? You know that any of the minorities could’ve refuse to back either party and thus send us back to elections? How do you know the Greens didn’t issue the ultimatum to Gillard “Carbon tax or it’s back to elections”?

            Seems like a logical enough proposition for them to make since they’re an ideological minority and have very little to lose and a lot to gain by becoming a lynch-pin in the house of reps.

      • ‘Even if this within the realm of possibilty why damage our economy now? Why not delay the tax until everyone else sets up their own?’

        You imply that we should ‘damage the economy’ later.
        There’s no evidence that the economy will be damaged. You’re hyperventilating.

        Surely your second question about delaying the ‘tax’ is inconsistent with ‘In a democratic nation no new tax should ever be passed without the consent of the people’, itself a ridiculous proclamation. Arguing logically from the implied premise, we should have government by election in all things, in which case no government would go to war or introduce workers’ contract schemes, or even change tax scales or minimum wage levels, etc. ad infinitum without facing the electorate. But perhaps ‘libertarians’ are only concerned about their tax rates.

        In any case, why should a government call another election once your condition is met ie. that we should be the last to ‘impose a tax’? Cavalier use of the word ‘tax’ is quite misleading, especially as it is to be paid by polluters rather than ‘taxpayers’. Essentially, it is a carbon pricing scheme that is being set up in reverse, with a scheme based on a restricted amount of trade-able emissions to come in later.

        You assert below that ‘my facts are not wrong’. It’s illuminating to see you use the possessive pronoun; surely facts are facts. To be honest, I can’t see any statements of fact in your comments, except that Howard took the GST to an election.

        • “You imply that we should ‘damage the economy’ later.
          There’s no evidence that the economy will be damaged. You’re hyperventilating.”

          Actually there is a large body of evidence to suggest that it will hurt the economy (you won. There are plenty of examples of the effects of carbon taxes (ETS’s) already. Feel free to look them up.

          At any rate, taxes damage economies. After a certain point welfare damages economies. This ‘package’ gives us more of both.

          Re your second paragraph, no it is not a ridiculous proclamation. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that a tax of this size should be taken to an election. What is ridiculous is your continued assertation that Gillard somehow has a right to implement it despite the FACT (there it is again), that the electorate are resoundingly against it.

          By your implied premise it doesn’t matter what a government takes to an election, they can always change things afterwards and claim that ‘circumstances changed’. An utterly absurd notion that is a direct attack on democratic processes.

          “Cavalier use of the word ‘tax’ is quite misleading”

          Refering to it as anything else is misleading. Who pays the government is entirely irrelevant. Consumers will bare the final cost regardless of any ‘compensation’.

          “To be honest, I can’t see any statements of fact in your comments, except that Howard took the GST to an election.”

          What’s illuminating is that you haven’t even attempted to disprove me. Merely attacked my notion of democracy and called me ‘cavalier’ for refering to the carbon dioxide tax as a ‘tax’, even the ALP have said it’s a tax.

          Funny that hey?

  10. While no one would argue that be a cleaner country isn’t a good intent, I have come across the following site:
    http://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/
    This shows Australia to have one of, if not the highest concentration of Ozone in the world and we have had for some time. I certainly believe as country that we can always strive to be better but I’m lost as to how an ETS or Carbon price will help us. Buying a permit is simply an on-cost to be passed on, it doesn’t invoke change to any significant degree. I would have thought government imposed laws for change with incentives for innovation and and penalties for non compliance would be sufficient – maybe they shouldn’t have privatised all of our services?
    I for one have changed as many habits as I am able due to current financial constraints, more changes are – for myself, not possible. I will simply have to pay more.

    Side Question: Why, to save our hard earned tax dollars,(and emissions!) are we unable to use this wonderful internet for a referendum or voting? It would be quick, cheap and give our leaders an instant opinion direct from the people.

    • Carbon E. Coyote

      Dinkum, the thing is that the ETS is exactly what you suggest: “a government imposed law for change with incentives for innovation and and penalties for non compliance would be sufficient”.

      Yes, permits can be passed on, but only at the market rate (ie set by competition). If you’re able to find a way of reducing the amount of permits you need to purchase while still producing your goods & services, which is what we call “abatement”, then that’s the incentive you see in terms of higher profitability. Similarly, if you find that you need to purchase more permits (because you’re not emission-efficient relative to your competitors) then you’ll see a loss of profitability: that’s the penalty.

      As Barnaby Joyce said on Jon Faine 774 last week (and I’m paraphrasing becuase I can’t recall his exact words), all this will do is create a massive industry in tax avoidance. That’s exactly right … and the best way to avoid the “tax” is to reduce greenhouse emissions.

      I should add, ozone is not a greenhouse gas and nor is its concentration in the atmosphere a function of greenhouse gas production. So the ozone issue and the greenhouse issue are separate. Controlling CO2 won’t control O3.

      • CC
        “the biggest flaw that I see with the current proposal is that there is actually a very strong incentive to produce less electricity, get paid more for what you do produce and pay less carbon tax because you are producing less carbon”

        There needs to be a positive incentive, to actually produce more energy. Again not being an expert but having something in place that you can reduce your carbon tax liabilty to zero if you produce more than x amount with at least 50% coming from renewables otherwise all I can see is that the current system is skewed on negative disincentive, and will encourage less production more expensive electricity. I might be mistaken with my understanding, however particularly when we go to a full ETS, and carbon prices are speculated up to $80 per tonne for example, this could cause horrendous fluctuations in energy production. The Swiss by my undeerstanding have an ETS but energy production is exempt.

        • The Swiss by my undeerstanding have an ETS but energy production is exempt

          Yeah..but only because they don’t need to, as they have leaped forward to cleaner sources of energy?
          .
          wiki says Swiss production of electricity (2008) is :
          Hydropower plants – 56%
          Nuclear power plants – 39%
          Thermal power and other power plants – 5%
          .
          ..Whereas, we have the dirtiest coal fired plants and have ruled out Nuclear power plants.

          • so what you are saying is that the environemntalists wont allow reduction in DANGEROUS carbon emissions if its not the ‘right’ type of energy production in this country.

            You seem to have this vision that we are living in the industrial revolution where smoke stacks and chimney sweeps are the norm… ahh the visions of the anointed

  11. It is one of the beautiful features of our democracy that every now and then, an issue of significance which can be ignored for decades by the major parties is thrust into the spotlight by a minority.

    People view these situations as a minority with unrepresentative power. When you consider our democracy over a longer timescale, this is just a build up of power to previously ignored issues.

    The system has a way of balancing itself out.

    And I’m so sick of hearing about mandates. We live in a representative democracy. We elect representatives to govern. Let them govern. Criticise and debate policy, write to members, attend protests… participate in democracy, but don’t expect to be consulted on every issue.

    Also sick of hearing about who lied about what. Politicians say things, circumstances change, politicians say other things. It has always been this way and will always be this way. There is nothing to see here!

    Debate the policy. Not the politics and not the politicians.

    • Totally disagree here. Part of being a repesentative democracy is that it needs to be representative. When politicians fail to represent their constituents, when they misrepresent their intentions and when they lie in order to obtain power (not lies like “Ill spend a billion on this”, then not spending that money, real lies like “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”).

      Having a mandate to implement policies is a key aspect of a representative democracy. Without it the system breaks down. I mean, if our leaders don’t need a mandate to rule why have democracy in the first place?

      Nothing forced Gillard to go against her express word, nothing whatsoever. The Greens would have supported her regardless and the independents were concerned with other things (sticking it to the Coalition).

      There is absolutely no way the ALP can simply wish away the anger of the electorate. Had the ALP gone to the election with this policy they would have lost, end of story.

      • Ugh, last sentence of the first paragraph should finish in:

        “They lose any mandate or right to govern.”

      • Your logic is flawed. Following your logic, Rudd had a mandate to bring in the CPRS back in 2007, especially so since news polls seemed to favour action on climate change too by a significant margin. Do you hold Rudd up to the same amount of scrutiny? Are you calling him a liar too because he didn’t implement it?

        Seems to me you are saying a representative democracy is only representative when it represents your interests?

        • Whether or not Rudd had a mandate is entirely irrelevant. That mandate has now been entirely, 100%, revoked.

          At any rate, it was the Greens who blocked it in the Senate and Rudd could easily have taken it to a double dissolution election had he chosen to. He didn’t and at the subsequent election both parties explicitely ruled out a carbon tax, removing any mandate, implied or otherwise.

          Sorry, but my logic isn’t flawed. Representative democracy requires a mandate and nothing at all forced Gillard to make one of the biggest backflips in political history.

          • ‘Whether or not Rudd had a mandate is entirely irrelevant. That mandate has now been entirely, 100%, revoked.’

            Except that neither party went to the election with the policy (giving the average voter no choice in the matter). Although Greens did get record numbers so maybe that’s representative of something?

            ‘Sorry, but my logic isn’t flawed. Representative democracy requires a mandate and nothing at all forced Gillard to make one of the biggest backflips in political history.’

            Except that without it, Gillard wouldn’t have been able to form government and we would have a caretaker government and another election.

            Representative democracy is not direct democracy. Voters do not explicitly vote a party in because of one policy. They vote a party in based on their judgement of which party is better able to represent them across all policies. I bet if you asked people right after the last election why they voted for either Labor or Liberal the lack of a carbon tax would be pretty low on the agenda.

          • “Although Greens did get record numbers so maybe that’s representative of something?”

            So your saying that a party who wins one seat out of 150 should determine whether or not we have a massive new tax and major restructuring on the economy?

            This argument simply does not cut the mustard.

            “Except that without it, Gillard wouldn’t have been able to form government and we would have a caretaker government and another election.”

            Did you not read my comment. The Greens would have supported Gillard regardless. She didn’t NEED to introduce this tax, she is doing it because she WANTS to.

            “I bet if you asked people right after the last election why they voted for either Labor or Liberal the lack of a carbon tax would be pretty low on the agenda”

            Because both parties explicitely ruled them out. They weren’t even ON the agenda.

            Wait til the next election then lets see just how ‘low on the agenda’ this tax is.

          • ‘So your saying that a party who wins one seat out of 150 should determine whether or not we have a massive new tax and major restructuring on the economy?’

            I’m not saying that “should” happen, just that it did. And while the Greens only got 1 seat in the house of reps they did get 12% of that primary vote. Not to mention the amount of seats they won in the Senate.

            ‘This argument simply does not cut the mustard.’

            My “argument” consists of you putting words in my mouth. Your argument that voting for a party means that you agree 100% with all of their policies also doesn’t “cut the mustard”.

            ‘Did you not read my comment. The Greens would have supported Gillard regardless. She didn’t NEED to introduce this tax, she is doing it because she WANTS to.’

            Says who? Is this another one of your ‘facts’?

          • “I’m not saying that “should” happen, just that it did. And while the Greens only got 1 seat in the house of reps they did get 12% of that primary vote. Not to mention the amount of seats they won in the Senate.”

            Yet they wield vastly more power than their share of the vote dictates.

            “Your argument that voting for a party means that you agree 100%”

            No, my argument is that saying “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” winning the election because of it, then backflipping is a betrayal of the electorate.

            My argument is that a policy as big as a carbon tax requires a mandate to be implemented and that by explicitely ruling it out at the election Gillard does not have a mandate. The make up of the parliament is irrelevant.

            Is it so much to ask that you actually spend the time to read my comments before responding to them?

            “Says who? Is this another one of your ‘facts’?”

            Are you honestly claiming there is even a snowballs chance they wouldn’t have?

          • ‘My argument is that a policy as big as a carbon tax requires a mandate to be implemented and that by explicitely ruling it out at the election Gillard does not have a mandate. The make up of the parliament is irrelevant.’

            Irrelevant? The make up of parliament is irrelevant? I’m sorry but in the Westminster system the makeup of parliament decides who gets to be the government. Without the support of the independents and greens there could be no government. Do you honestly think any of those pollies really wanted to go back to an election? It was all about which major side could cut the better deal, and the turnout was that it happened to be Labor.

            ‘Are you honestly claiming there is even a snowballs chance they wouldn’t have?’

            Wouldn’t have what? Brought in a carbon tax? Rubbish, if JG was planning to bring in a carbon tax then why was she reportedly telling Rudd to abandon the CPRS behind closed doors? Why was JG shelving all policy until late 2013 (because Copenhagen failed) and having that citizens assembly? That doesn’t add up with your story.

            No, if Labor hadn’t got the Greens support they’d be out on their arse and the Greens knew it! Most Labor appartchiks were terrified of going back to being the opposition after spending so many years there during Howard’s reign. Politically the Greens had Labor by the balls. Labor would’ve signed their own children away just to stay in power.

          • “Irrelevant? The make up of parliament is irrelevant?”

            Please read my comments before replying. The make up of the house is irrelevant in this issue and no excuse because the vast majority of people voted for parties that had ‘no carbon tax under a government I lead’ as their policy.

            There is simply no other way you can spin it. That was her policy, she leads the government. We have will now have a carbon tax (for a year or so). Nothing at all made her bring it in, the make up of parliament now is irrelevant.

            “Wouldn’t have what? Brought in a carbon tax?”

            I was refering to the Greens supporting the ALP. They would have supported her with or without the carbon dioxide tax. She went to the election saying explicitly that she wouldn’t introduce one and her justification is ‘we needed it for the greens support’.

            I am saying this is complete and utter baloney.

          • ‘I was refering to the Greens supporting the ALP. They would have supported her with or without the carbon dioxide tax’

            You’re entire argument hinges on this one assumption that Gillard would’ve been able to make government without a carbon tax. Pretty big assumption to make.

            I don’t know how you can think that the Greens wouldn’t use their newly minted position in the house of reps to finally get what they want. If you think the Greens aren’t looking out for their own ideology and will just blindly lock step with Labor then I don’t know what to say really..

          • “You’re entire argument hinges on this one assumption that Gillard would’ve been able to make government without a carbon tax.”

            No, my entire argument hinges on the fact that Gillard has no mandate to implement this policy regardless of the so ‘circumstances’ after the election. The fact that the Greens would have sided with the ALP without a carbon tax is merely icing on an already very big and chocolaty cake.

            “If you think the Greens aren’t looking out for their own ideology and will just blindly lock step with Labor then I don’t know what to say really..”

            Of course they are, which is why they would have sided with Gillard regardless. There were two things the Greens didn’t want to do, one was go to an election, the other was side with the Coalition.

            I’m assuming they ‘demanded’ a CO2 tax and Gillard simply ‘caved’. Like I said earlier, either Gillard is monomentally incompetent or she lied before the election.

            Either way Australia deserve to vote on this tax.

          • ‘Of course they are, which is why they would have sided with Gillard regardless. There were two things the Greens didn’t want to do, one was go to an election, the other was side with the Coalition.’

            Here is where I disagree entirely. The Greens had a lot less to lose (by not supporting) than Labor did, so they really could’ve laid on the strong arm. Low risk, high reward. Labor were (and still are) terrified of being in opposition again, while the Greens are always in opposition of everyone.

            Having a dude in the house of reps is historic and all but the real Greens power is in the Senate and has been for ages. If the Greens were smart they would’ve laid down the realpolitik in their little secret handshake document and Labor would have absolutely no choice but to take it.

          • “Here is where I disagree entirely. The Greens had a lot less to lose (by not supporting) than Labor did, so they really could’ve laid on the strong arm”

            This doesn’t change the fact that the Greens were never ever going to support the Coalition, not ever, not in a million years. They had their seat in the lower house, you honestly think they are going to risk it?

            A new election makes Abbott clear favourite to win government and there is a really strong chance they lose their ‘historic’ seat.

            Trust me mate, the Greens were always going to side with the ALP. They may have huffed and puffed about having a tax but in the end all Gillard had to do was call their bluff and let them know she was in charge.

            At the end of the day, even if the Greens hadn’t sided with her, Gillard can claim “they demanded a tax, I told them no” which might even win them back their seat.

            It ended up being a massive Pyrrhic victory for the ALP that will see them wiped at the next election and this tax repealed anyway no matter what they do.

      • By all means if you are unhappy with the way they have governed then don’t vote for them next time. If you feel they haven’t represented you appropriately then don’t vote for them. However, by voting for them in the first place you gave them your trust to govern and should be making the best decisions with the current available information for the current circumstances which may or may not be different to those at election time.

        What do you mean by “a mandate to rule”? They have a mandate to rule because we elected them. That’s the mandate right there. Don’t confuse that with the bastardisation which is apparently required to introduce particular pieces of legislation that some people don’t like.

        A political party goes to an election with a myriad of policies. The fact that elections seem to get won or lost on single issues that you might deem mandate worthy is a bad thing. It shows how little people are capable of seeing the big picture.

        I doubt the vast majority of people have any clue about the carbon tax to have let it wisely change their votes anyway. I was talking to an ALP staffer not long ago and even she was pretty clueless on the whole thing.

        Apparently, to you there is a difference between a lie and a “real lie”. What’s the dollar value on that?

        • “What do you mean by “a mandate to rule”? They have a mandate to rule because we elected them.”

          When a political party goes to an election with their policies, especially a new government, should they win, they have a mandate to implement those policies.

          When they explicitely rule out a policy and win an election because of ruling it out, they do not have a mandate to implement that policy, they have a mandate to NOT implement it.

          What part of this is so difficult to understand?

          “A political party goes to an election with a myriad of policies. The fact that elections seem to get won or lost on single issues that you might deem mandate worthy is a bad thing.”

          When one policy is to not implement the shake up and tax on our economy in history, then I would say that one issue can make or break an election.

          1998 was fought on one issue. Lots of elections are fought on one issue.

          “I doubt the vast majority of people have any clue about the carbon tax to have let it wisely change their votes anyway.”

          Do I even need to comment on this? Do you even know what representative democracy means?

          “Apparently, to you there is a difference between a lie and a “real lie”. What’s the dollar value on that?”

          Please read my comment again. There is a difference between making a commitment to say increase funding at a small hospital and explicitely ruling out a massive new tax.

          Does this really need to be explained?

    • “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

      we do not want unlimited rule by an omnipotent majority

  12. The bottom line is, if Tony Abbott wins the next election he will have a mandate to repeal the carbon tax legislation, whether you like it or not.

      • I think you’ve confused representative and direct democracy.

        What if the majority of people who voted Labor were in favour of a carbon tax but they voted Labor because of other issues (eg. don’t want Workchoices back, asylum seekers, woman prime minister, etc.)?

        If you were legitimately concerned about mandate then you would be arguing for a referendum no matter who is in office at the time.

        • “I think you’ve confused representative and direct democracy.”

          Not at all, but, as I have said already (above) lots of elections are fought over single issues. The 1998 election for one. The Australian people deserve the right to vote for this tax.

          “What if the majority of people who voted Labor were in favour of a carbon tax ”

          I can tell you for a fact that lots of people voted for the ALP because to explicitely ruled out this tax. The day that Gillard backflipped was the day her poll numbers went in to a nose dive (there have since been other issues but this was what set it off).

          “If you were legitimately concerned about mandate then you would be arguing for a referendum no matter who is in office at the time.”

          Yep, the same way I would have demanded an election over the GST if I was old enough to vote.

          • The problem with the system you advocate MattR is it prevents politicians doing what they are supposed to do, which is lead, not follow public opinion. The idea of a representative democracy is governments get elected to represent the people, not respond to their every whim and demand. And, representing / leading requires governments to make unpopular decisions, which they then hope will deliver sufficient benefits before the next election cycle so voters say ‘Poilcy X turned out to be a good idea, I am going to vote for Party Y again”. Unfortunately, we don’t see much ‘leading’ these days because opinion polls are having the effect of mini referendums. Politicians these days just follow, which is why the Euro debt crisis remains unresolved, the US economy is on the skids and our government is racing back to surplus as an ends in itself. Remember, people often don’t know what is good for them, at that applies at a societal level as well. Sometimes we need leadership to set us on the right course. To think otherwise is just plain arrogance.

          • richiewj, funny how it’s only people who support this tax saying things like “the people don’t know what’s good for them”.

            You know, there is another saying “the electorate always gets it right”.

            I hear you that we should be calling elections about every issue and that politicians should be able to do things that are unpopular but right. However, aside from the fact that this tax is not right (it’s a pointless tax that will do nothing for the environment at all), it is too big of an issue to simply say ‘well gummints should do what they need to’.

            Gillard expressley ruled it out, she would have lost had she not. We deserve an election.

            This issue isn’t about leadership, it’s about the right for Australians to know who and what they are voting for.

          • ‘I can tell you for a fact that lots of people voted for the ALP because to explicitely ruled out this tax. The day that Gillard backflipped was the day her poll numbers went in to a nose dive (there have since been other issues but this was what set it off).’

            For a fact eh? Source?

            ‘Yep, the same way I would have demanded an election over the GST if I was old enough to vote’

            Demanding an election is stupid, and just demonstrates your partisanship (you have more against the party in power than the policy).

            If you were serious about representative democracy then you would accept the leaders that have been elected by the majority and would instead demand a referendum on the particular policy that you believe needs to be specifically decided by the majority.

          • “For a fact eh? Source?”

            http://www.newspoll.com.au/

            Specifically the ones about supporting the carbon tax and the polls from after Gillard announced it.

            Yes, facts are facts.

            “Demanding an election is stupid, and just demonstrates your partisanship”

            The ALP rightly demanded an election over the GST and got it.

            Once again I am repeating myself so please read it this time:

            Had Gillard taken this policy to an election she would have lost.

            “If you were serious about representative democracy then you would accept the leaders that have been elected by the majority”

            Yes, the majority who voted for parties that are against this tax. The majority decided they didn’t want the tax, yet we are now getting it because Gillard wants it.

            As for representative democracy, why don’t you ask how Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshot are doing in the polls.

          • The majority of people have little idea how these policies work or how it will affect themselves let alone the country at large. I have a better idea than most because I choose to devote time to reading on the topic.

            Correlation is not equal to causation.

            Poll numbers didn’t drop because of the carbon tax policy. Its not possible, because people don’t understand it. Yes it might be the wrong thing to do. Yes if the entire population was put through an intensive education program to help them understand, they might have come to the conclusion that it was a bad thing. But neither of these things happened. Poll numbers dropped because of peoples perception of what the carbon tax means because of a vast lack of information and a vast quantity of misinformation, and because it was drummed into their heads that the most important thing was that they were lied to.

            “Hey kids… I know I promised to walk across that bridge there, but its fallen into the chasm. But since we all know you always have to be honest, I’m going to fall into the chasm as well.”

          • “The majority of people have little idea how these policies work or how it will affect themselves let alone the country at large.”

            So why have democracy? I mean, the majority of people don’t understand policies, so why should they have a say?

            “Correlation is not equal to causation.
            Poll numbers didn’t drop because of the carbon tax policy. Its not possible, because people don’t understand it”

            Actually, correlation can, and often does, equal causation.

            This is the exact attitude of the ALP, and why they are going to lose the next election so convincingly, “if we just explain it more people will like it.”

            All people care about is that Gillard said “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” and now we are having one. ALP polls dropped the instant it became evident that she would try implement one, they dropped even more when she announced, and they just dropped again after it passed.

            Yes, some of this is due to other policy failures, but it all started with the CO2 tax.

            Your entire premise is based on the assumption that this is a good policy, it most certainly isn’t. It is nothing but wealth redistribution. It will do nothing for the environment, it will do nothing to change the worlds temperatures at all.

            Being a good policy didn’t save Howard from workchoices bringing him down (even though it was public policy and never ruled it out once, because he was never asked), do you honestly think Gillard can be saved from this terrible policy by simply explaining it more?

            We’ve seen it, we hate it. It will go next election.

          • “Your entire premise is based on the assumption that this is a good policy, it most certainly isn’t.”

            Since the attacks on the policy have had more to do with the nature of the democracy than anything else, none of my posts have had anything to do with the particular policy. They have had more to do with the nature of our democratic system.

            Since you like your wikipedia so much:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

            Which is the point I was making. You have assumed that there is a causation in poll results and I am disputing that claim to say that there is a lot more going on.

            “So why have democracy? I mean, the majority of people don’t understand policies, so why should they have a say?”

            “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
            Winston Churchill

            Because its the best we’ve got. Its the most reliable and sustainable system available in spite of all its problems. It definitely doesn’t mean it always gets things right. My trust in the people to vote out a bad government is higher than my trust for them vote in a good government. Higher… but still not particularly high.

          • While I think of it, using collectively pronouns to project that you are speaking for the majority of the population is a good way to lose respect amongst free thinking folk. I used to do it as well.

          • “Since the attacks on the policy have had more to do with the nature of the democracy than anything else”

            Because the details of this tax come second to the fact that there is no mandate and should have been introduced in the first place.

            “Which is the point I was making. You have assumed that there is a causation in poll results and I am disputing that claim to say that there is a lot more going on.”

            Yes, I am aware of this, and I can tell you, as someone who has followed federal politics very closely for nearly a decade now, that the polls started dropping the second the carbon tax was a possibility and kept dropping with the increased liklihood of it.

            Every single poll taken has shown that this tax is on the nose and is a major cause of the poll slumps. You can’t simply say “I challenge that” and assume this makes it so.

            Like I said, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it still can and in this case it does (along with every other policy disaster of this government).

            RE Democracy, my comment wasn’t about the pro’s and con’s of democracy. It was about the “let them eat cake, the little people don’t know what’s good for them” attitude of this taxes supporters.

            We do know what this tax is about. In fact, the more the government tells us about it, the more their polls drop (oh but correlation doesn’t equal causation).

            “is a good way to lose respect amongst free thinking folk”

            See my previous paragraphs. This attitude is a major reason the ALP will never sell this tax and lose in a landslide next election. I have spent years talking and discussing and reading about AGW and politics, I am more than capable of thinking for myself as are the electorate, thank you very much.

          • MattR
            It was about the “let them eat cake, the little people don’t know what’s good for them” attitude of this taxes supporters.

            Absolutely. That is really at the core of why much of the electorate is so bitter about this.

  13. The word “mandate” is bandied around like it’s some sort of holy grail but it is just a weasel word popularised by spin doctors.

    Comments about not having a “mandate” are such a palaver. As the original posting says, we the people voted the Parliament in, and from there they can do what they like, and if we don’t like it we can choose to vote differently at the next election. A week is a long time in politics as they say, and to expect the party/grouping in power to hold true to all their pre election commitments for three years is a completely fanciful notion, that no one could ever hope to uphold.

    I have to say that I am always vaguely suspicious of people who say that Parliament is not democratic, when it is based on nothing more than disagreement with the decisions that are made.

    • I’m pretty sure all this annoying “mandate” talk was just something that the government of the day used to stifle debate in parliament.

      “No we don’t need to talk about the merits of any issue. There is no reason to question our authority. There is no reason to consider any new information on a topic.”

      I first heard it with the Howard government. It may have been popularised before that but I’m not old enough to know. I do know it has always annoyed me though.

        • From your link:

          ‘Elections, especially ones with a large margin of victory, are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official a mandate to implement certain policies’

          Except we didn’t have a large margin of victory, we had record votes for minor parties and independents and a record donkey vote. Suggesting that the majority of people are dissatisfied with both major parties.

          • This changes the fact that this government doesn’t have a mandate for this tax how?

            145 seats out of 150 are represented by people whos party explicetely ruled out a carbon tax.

            1 out of 150 seats supported it.

            Like I have said repeatedly, had Gillard taken it to an election the Coalition would have won.

          • ‘Like I have said repeatedly, had Gillard taken it to an election the Coalition would have won’

            Says who? Unless you have a time machine this is impossible to prove, you cannot say this as if it was fact. Pontificating of this kind is moronic.

          • “Says who?”

            The thousands upon thousands of ALP voters who abandonded her the moment she announced it.

            She takes it to an election she loses and if the ALP didn’t believe this, they would have taken it to an election!

        • Oh goodie! Patronising, condescending remarks and personal attacks. My favourite… Reminds me of my first post in this thread about debating policy instead of politics and politicians…

          From your link using the reference to the merriam-webster dictionary:

          2: an authorization to act given to a representative

          An authorisation to act given to a representative. Not to act a specific way on a specific piece of legislation but simple to act.

          • From the link as well:

            “New governments who attempt to introduce policies that they did not make public during an election campaign are said to not have a legitimate mandate to implement such policies.”

            I wonder how that applies to governments who explicitly rule out policies before an election then implement them afterwards?

          • “What’s the reference supporting that particular quote from wikipedia?”

            Click on the link for ‘social contract’ and ‘consent of the governed’, plenty of references for you.

            Honestly, is it really that hard to just admit that this tax no mandate? I mean really?

        • “You really don’t understand democracy do you?”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy

          I’ll quote the main bit for you:

          “The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people’s interest, but not as their proxy representatives nor necessarily always according to their wishes”.

          There’s your democracy lesson.

  14. As a traditionlly Liberal voter, I’m amazed at how far Abbott has gone in this debate. Agree 100% with Carbon E. Coyote’s view. Hope Australian people will see through this and make the right decision for generations to come. This may just be enough to change my vote in the next election.

  15. Tony Abbott is one of the few politicians in the world who has not been duped by the disgraceful CAGW scam. Australia is lucky to have the chance of having a PM like that. NZ has no such choice. We have a “Tory in Name Only” government.

        • Don’t need to be free just need to deliver adequate return. The problem with many ‘Green’ initiatives is their NPV horizon is too long for the short time horizons on which our economies function. And I am applying broader conception of NPV here, not just realisable dollars but less tangible benefits that can be quantified in money terms.

          • ‘Don’t need to be free just need to deliver adequate return. The problem with many ‘Green’ initiatives is their NPV horizon is too long for the short time horizons on which our economies function.’

            And our government terms. The era of long term reform seems to have evaporated. The political process is less about the next 50 years and more about the next election (or more cynically, the next 24 hours). But alas it must be so in order to meet or increasingly shortened attention spans.

  16. For those of you that dispute the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, can you please stop using the ‘air is harmless’, ‘taxing air’, ‘C02 is necessary for life on earth’, ‘C02 forms such a small proportion of the atmosphere’, arguments. Not all of these have been used in the debate on this particular post, but some have and I am sick to death of reading such rubbish. They are simply illogical, strawman statements that aim to mislead, not inform. I have no issue with people disagreeing with scientists (despite the fact that the consensus on the AGW topic is greater then that of the CFC and Ozone Depletion link, Smoking and Lung Cancer link, and the Holocaust), but at least conform to principles of logic when making your case. The reason these statements depend on strawman principles is they subtly misrepresent the position of those proposing the AGW hypothesis, by suggesting that AGW proponents are saying all C02 is bad. No one ever said that. And in making these strawman arguments, these statements employ the false logic that: “because a substance plays an important role in the earth’s ecosystem means by definition that it cannot have any detrimental effects”; i.e. plants need C02 to survive. So what? What has that got to do with anything? When did anyone say we should eliminate all C02? It is a question of relatives not absolutes. Too much (or too little) of any substance is a problem for system stability. E.g. Water is very important to the human body, but too much of it kills us by way of diluting one’s salt concentration – condition called hyponatremia. To cover off the whole, ‘C02 only makes up a tiny fraction of the atmosphere’ position. Well you only need small amounts of arsenic and anthrax to enter the body before you are dead. The volume / concentration / size of some things existence is in no way a universal indicator of the magnitude of its impact / importance within a system. And, for those proponents of the AGW hypothesis, many of us could also do a better job of deploying logic in making our case.

    • Mate if you want to debate the science with I am more than happy to do so. There is more than enough evidence to completely discredit the AGW myth.

      But this blog is not the place, nor do they allow it (actually surprised your post got through).

      • “actually surprised your post got through”

        It wouldn’t have if it had been espousing the opposite view.

        • +1 Certainly wouldn’t disagree if a moderator decided to block a post that advocated the use of straw man tactics, false premises, and illogical arguments. Which, is the opposite position to what I was arguing.

          • All very well, except your post amounted to one long straw man attack. The arguments you attribute to skeptics are ones I certainly haven’t seen in recent times, and I’m a regular reader of wattsupwiththat.

      • MattR, not really interested in having a debate about it because my knowledge of the topic isn’t that great. I don’t have the time to scrutinise the research of scientists on areas I know nothing about. I let scientist do that themselves – they tend to be particularly passionate about what they do and many are have an intense desire to seek truth. It is a simple outsource model that tends to work pretty well (e.g. doctors tend to provide plenty of good health advice). Having said that I am well versed in the philosophy of science and principles of logic and can therefore quickly spot a poor argument and/or false premise. What surprises me, is if you have such convincing arguments and overwhelming body of evidence that disproves the AGW hypothesis, I don’t understand why you don’t use it, and instead make statements such as ‘tax on air’. Now I know it was only one statement but it undermines your integrity as it either shows that you have poor powers of logic or that you are willing to make any statement in support of your position regardless of how misleading that statement may be.

        • “MattR, not really interested in having a debate about it because my knowledge of the topic isn’t that great.”

          I don’t understand why you are commenting then. No offense intended but perhaps you should educate yourself and look at both sides of the issue before commenting?

          Skeptical side:

          wattsupwiththat.com

          Alarmist side:

          http://www.skepticalscience.com/

          Start there, read equally on both sides, watch documentaries on both sides. I used to believe in AGW. Then I found out there was another side to the story.

          • ‘perhaps you should educate yourself and look at both sides of the issue before commenting?

            Skeptical side…

            Alarmist side…’

            The language of someone who looks at both sides of the issue, eh?

            Actually, and ironically, it’s statements like ‘a tax on the air’ that are ‘alarmist’.

          • The comments were directed at the use of argument – not the science. Although, I clearly articulated my position on that and did so by qualifying that I place my faith in the scientific community at large. And, I am unlikely to read the sources you have provided, although I will try if I get plenty of spare time. However, I will admit the reason is not only time, but the fact that I don’t make a habit of reading in depth on all areas of science that effect my life. So, I am not going to arbitrarily single out the AGW hypothesis and run my not so well informed eyes over it. instead I read enough to know what the general scientific consensus on a position is and then go from there. And, remember these is no such thing as a sceptical side. Science by definition is sceptical, so everybody in the scientific community should be invoking scepticism

          • MattR seems to be highly educated on commenting and adding his 2cents… to every single post!

            We’re always asking for leadership, vision and the ability to drive and push ahead with big agendas… then we have a PM who does this and everyone is up in arms. If the policy was this bad it wouldn’t get though.

            I don’t vote Labor, but I do enjoy a bit of spine from our politicians. Didn’t think I would, but I’m also enjoying seeing independents and Greens having some say as well. I think this is real democracy… not having control of Upper and Lower houses and pushing through whatever they want – that doesn’t require Leadership IMO.

            Steve Jobs said don’t listen to the punters cause they don’t know what they want anyway… I tend to think that in a year or two it will be business as usual and the entrepreneurial skills and business nous will shine on through… (we hope).

          • A spade is a spade. Would you prefer if I said:

            Denialist side:

            Alarmist side:

            ?

            “Actually, and ironically, it’s statements like ‘a tax on the air’ that are ‘alarmist’.”

            But “we need this tax to save the planet from destruction” or “carbon dioxide is going to warm the world uncontrollably and all life will change forever” are perfectly reasonable statements right?

          • Isaak, Steve Jobs was an entrepaneur and sold products that people saw value in.

            Spine in politicians is all well and good, just take your policies to elections and don’t explicitely rule out a massive new tax then bring it in 6 days after you crawl over the line.

          • Given that all of us here are not likely to be experts with PhDs and years of research in the direct field of relevance, its not really sensible for anyone to be commenting on the science. Or alternately we can play the game of “I can find more unverified websites that support my arguments than you can yours”.

            I’d probably avoid using the word “believe in” though in a scientific context. Perhaps replacing it with “think the most probable explanation is”.

            At the end of the day its an risk management decision. There is a certain amount of risk of events happening. There are certain consequences of those events. There are different ways to mitigate that risk. These mitigations cost different amounts and vary in efficiency. Appropriate risk management requires matching the amount and method of mitigation with the perceived risk and magnitude of consequence.

            There are many topic of debate:

            1) What is the level of risk?

            2) What are the consequences?

            3) What is the right method of mitigation?

            4) What is the appropriate amount of mitigation?

            The broader scientific community has accepted that there is a high level of risk. Some in the scientific community disagree. Either side may end up being right but such a broad consensus on one side would make most people think about getting insurance. If I was told there was a 50% chance I was going to be in a serious accident this year I’d up my health insurance. I wouldn’t get all upset at the end of the year because of my wasted money if it hadn’t happened either.

          • Ugh, Nogen’s comment is clearly a comment regarding about the science. As are a number in this thread.

            I am goint to take the fact that they have been posted as meaning free-run on scientific debate.

            Or is it only one side that are allowed to do this?

          • Nogen

            Applying risk management principles as described above to carbon pricing would appear inappropriate.

            Australia does not exist in a vacuum. Emissions are global as are alleged long term consequences. If it transpires we remain one of the few nations to implement carbon pricing we have averted no risk but have imposed significant cost. Hence mitigation not accomplished in global terms.

            Another point of interest to me is where carbon tax supporters position themselves in regard to fossil fuel subsidies (est $10b/yr). Indeed, all the other omissions, exclusions etc that apply to various sectors. Do they believe these exceptions should be terminated at some point in the future.

            Finally, does someone know the expected revenue per annum generated from carbon pricing (excluding compensation to households) – perhaps CeC knows the figure.

          • @MattR

            At what point did I make a scientific argument? I framed the topic of discussion in a risk management context. I made a comment about relative numbers of experts who support each side and acknowledged the possibility of either being correct.

            @3d1k

            You have just demonstrated that a risk management framework is entirely appropriate. You have effectively discussed the merits of point 3). Your position is that the effectiveness of one method of mitigation is not important enough compared to your perceived level of risk.

          • “At what point did I make a scientific argument? I framed the topic of discussion in a risk management context”

            I see, I misread the final paragraph I feel.

            This argument in favour of ‘action’ has actually been discredited countless times. Would you purchase insurance that cost more than your car? It’s not just about the supposed risks, it’s about the cost of mitigating the risk, if there is any.

            How happy would you be if you paid $1000 for insurance and they gave you back $200?

            For those of us who don’t accept the AGW hypothesis it’s even worse.

          • “You have effectively argued for point 3)” (type of mitigation)

            Not at all. The alleged risk cannot be managed at all on an ‘Australia standalone’ level. On that basis any attempt at mitigation (at any cost) is futile, useless. Risk management principles being effective only if mitigation is achieved.

            You conveniently ignore the global aspect. You’re not a modeller are you – you know – it all works well in a perfectly constructed and contained world!

          • @Isaak

            “We’re always asking for leadership, vision and the ability to drive and push ahead with big agendas…”

            I for one dont, id rather leave that to individuals, the community and private enterprise to take forward this country, I want our politicians to set a frameowrk so this can happen most efficiently and effectively to benefit society, and basically get the hell out of the way with what ideological view they happen to have about the world and how they MUST govern the ‘rabble hordes of consisuents’

  17. Coyote, you have made the cardinal ‘framing’ error of saying at the beginning of your commentary, ‘I should start by stating that the following is not intended as partisan political comment.’

    Have you read George Lakoff’s book, ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’? You should. Here, your eminently reasonable commentary – the type that political commentators should be doing too, rather than the ‘he said, she said’ and ‘it’s a bad look’ stuff – has caused several of the initial respondents to ‘think of an elephant’ after your first sentence. The suggestion you are intending NOT to be partisan triggers the view, for some, that that is exactly what you ARE doing.

    • Carbon E. Coyote

      @Macondo, in retrospect, I think I’m inclined to agree with you. I’ve been commenting on carbon price policy for around a decade (and on this blog in the last 6 months or so). But since December 2009 this issue has been intensely partisan and even more so since the 2010 election. It’s unfortunate but I suppose entirely predictable that a policy cannot be discussed on its merits any longer without it being partisan.

      No I haven’t read the Elephant book, but I get the gist.

      • Wow!
        Extrme language like ‘Denialists’ is OK and now those of us who question anything in here are ‘demonically misled’??

      • MattR,
        I am glad you have commented.

        The forum is under attack by more than just a property blog. I lost count of the “straw man, denialist, your just arguing over semantics & it’s too complicated for you to understand” bulldust in this thread. The only thing missing is the name calling and counter name calling in Latin.

        Some people just don’t get the “pretend they are in the same room as you” Blog ettiquete.

  18. Too many people here are obsessing about the politics of the scheme rather than whether it’s the best one of the two party’s proposals economically.

    I do not see why, politics is irrelevant here; only which will perform best economically.

    • The politics is relevant because it goes right to the heart of our supposedly representative.

      If Gillard wanted to introduce this tax she should have developed the policy before the last election and taken it to the electorate. THEN it can be about who’s policy is better.

      Now, because of the way she did it, the electorate don’t care, they just hate the tax because they were told it wouldn’t happen.

      Australians like to feel they have control of their politicians, Gillard has taken that away and will see the results next election.

      • Matt,

        I’d be inclined to agree with your views about elections & mandates (sort of), except that Abbott is specifically and explicitly offering to repeal the ‘carbon tax’ should the Libs be elected at the next election.

        You can argue the semantics of the last election all you want, however, democracy is a steam train, not a ferrari. If there truly is the level of public dissatisfaction that you claim (which is well supported by current two party polling) then the Libs will romp it in next election, and will repeal the ‘carbon tax’. So what’s the problem?