The sad state of the CPRS

I’m no political scholar but I thought the deal was this: the Government tries to pass legislation through both houses of Parliament a couple of times. If they fail, they can call an election with a double dissolution to decide the matter once and for all without minorities blocking it. Now I don’t expect that is worthwhile for some fuel price monitoring or minor taxation issues. But for the biggest economic issue facing the country over the next fifty years? What better issue is there to hold an election on than climate change policy?

From what I can gather the Federal Government appears to have put that on the back-burner for exactly the reason that the far right have argued for — the rest of the world hasn’t go its act together yet. However, do I have to remind you that Australia’s decision to act here has little to do with the rest of the world. We neither lead it nor will have an impact if we don’t follow it. The issue is that we will likely want to be part of a global solution should it arise (you know, for moral reasons) and that it is better to decide and work out how we are going to do that now to give our businesses an advantage and relieve them of uncertainty than to wait. It is for the moral reasons that this is worthwhile putting to real vote.

Near as I can tell, the Government is given up trying to be a proactive leader on this front. I’d like to be proved wrong but all the signs point in the wrong direction.

9 thoughts on “The sad state of the CPRS”

  1. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Rudd supports actions on climate change when, and only when, it is politically opportune to do so.  Abbott likewise.
     
    I suppose the only answer, for those who care about climate change, is to vote for the Greens.

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  2. I think the forward estimates are the answer. this makes it a certainty that when the Charter of budget honesty is released in the election campaign the next budget will be in surplus.

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  3. The Rudd Government has hardly covered itself in policy glory over the last year or so. Their intentions were good for home insulation and school buildings in the context of quick stimulus spending, but their execution was poor. They jumped the gun on Telstra over the NBN and are now seeking a quiet deal so they can declare victory and move on. And censorship filters, hmmmm. And don’t forget the unedifying negotiations with the states over Medicare funding and the GST – a zero-sum political game if there ever was one.

    On the basis of this list, what would make the public (or even the Labor backbench) think this government could actually pull off something as complex as the CPRS? Better to stay out of trouble and hope that voters have short attention spans. (Apologies for the polemic, but I voted Labor at the last election, alas…)

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  4. Doesn’t anyone remember how Howard won the Republican debate? Abbott would do well in a DD on climate change by dividing those who want action on climate change. The Greens would pick up the hardcore deep browns and Abbott would get all those opposed to action plus the xenophobes. Simple. Only a lunatic would go for a DD on this issue at the moment. The timing sadly isn’t right despite the fact that time is running out. The media ultimately is to blame for being willingly played by the climate denialists.

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  5. Michael,
     
    voting in elections is different from referendums.  I agree that the primary vote would  be split, but surely all Green preferences (for the lower house) would flow to Labor anyway.
     
    And I’m not sure the media can be blamed.  Rudd had his opportunity to present the case for climate action and failed to take it.  The denialists just filled the resulting media vacuum.
     

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  6. This is a simple political calculation. The international climate has deteriorated (weak Copenhagen outcome, little concrete action in the US), the Australian electorate have become less favourable to action that imposes a cost on them, and there is little love for the CPRS itself. Rudd could go to a DD on the issue but does not want to. He is protecting his right flank from Abbott in the upcoming election (which is already exposed over asylum seekers). The government have shown repeatedly that they don’t have the will to try and carry a difficult and perhaps unpopular argument with the electorate. This was inevitable as soon as public support for the CPRS started to head south.

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  7. The Fin Review in a page 1 story yesterday (“Rudd climate retreat saves budget $4bn”) reported:
    “The policy challenge created by climate change was underlined by a new Lowy Institute poll showing that, while a large majority of Australians believe that the country should cut emissions before the rest of the world, few were prepared to pay for it through higher energy prices.”
    That being the case, Rudd would hardly be wise to go into the election with a policy that let Abbott continuously yap on about Labor’s “horrendous giant new tax”  – especially as by then Abbott’s horrendous giant new tax to fund maternity leave will have long been forgotten.

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  8. @MikeM
    The Age reported yesterday:
    “A Lowy Institute poll, released yesterday, found 72 per cent agreed ‘Australia should take action to reduce its carbon emissions before a global agreement is reached’. But 33 per cent were not prepared to pay anything extra to help solve climate change”
     
    So, if 33% were not prepared to pay, presumably 67% were prepared to pay.  Hardly “few”.  (Especially when 72% is a “large majority”.)
     
    A bit of spin from the Fin?

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  9. I think that the government’s decision leaves quite a few initiatives linked with environmental  issues in limbo.  I do wonder about initiatives such as “Re-tooling for climate change” , “climate ready” and similar funds.
    And what about CSIRO’s big push in climate change science? Will it stall and funds be redirected to other scientific endeavours?
    I hope not.

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