Friday, March 4, 2011

A Price on Carbon 4/3/11

A Price on Carbon 4/3/11

The Leader of the Opposition says he would repeal legislation for a carbon price should such legislation go through this Parliament and should he be elected to be Prime Minister at the next election.

But is this to be believed? This is an Opposition Leader who has had numerous positions on this issue. In July 2009 he described emissions trading as a “plausible means to limit carbon emissions that doesn’t impose any obvious costs on voters”. Not only did he endorse carbon emissions trading that month, in the same month he also endorsed a carbon tax, saying “I also think that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?”. “Why not just do it with a simple tax?”- the words of the Opposition Leader in July 2009. Little wonder that Malcolm Turnbull lamented in a blog on 7 December 2009 that “Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it. His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this”. A weather vane indeed.

Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition showed no compunction about breaking election promises, when he was Health Minister. Remember his rock solid iron clad guarantee?

So if the Leader of the Opposition were to become Prime Minister, it requires little imagination to see him standing before the media or the parliament, explaining that it’s now all too complicated and difficult for business, looking slightly apologetic and sheepish, as he does, saying he’s not going to repeal the carbon price legislation, and saying “sometimes it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission”. After all, he’s said that before.

Amidst the tumult and shouting and cant and opportunism we are hearing on this issue, one thing matters as far as I am concerned and it is this- Do we need to cut our carbon emissions? And I have no doubt that we do. I cannot believe that anyone watching the world’s increasingly whacky weather- floods, cyclones, droughts, bushfires everywhere you look- doesn’t now understand that climate change is real. We have an obligation to avoid passing onto our children and grandchildren a world in which Lockyer Valley floods, Black Saturday bushfires and Cyclone Yasi are annual events.

Now we have frequent complaints from the Opposition, and quite a few from the media, that the Government is all spin and no substance, and focused on political advantage rather than delivering for the future. But here we have announced a proposal which is substance with a capital S. All about the future rather than about political advantage. Yet we find the Opposition and those same media commentators who’ve complained that we have no substance, trying to scuttle and undermine it. It’s no good complaining that your politicians have no ticker, when if they show some ticker you do your best to cut them down. Now the easy thing would be to walk away from the carbon problem; to leave it to someone else to fix. Leave it for the next generation. Leave it for other countries to tackle. That is the Liberal Party approach. The easy way out. Rank opportunism. But if this campaign stops us getting a price on carbon, I believe future generations will hold such selfishness driven inaction in contempt.

When the Leader of the Opposition had his ‘it happens’ moment with Channel 7’s Mark Riley a few weeks ago, I and we all defended him. We said ‘he would never make light of the death of an Australian soldier’.

But the Liberal Party does not show us the same respect. They come out with these disgusting Colonel Gaddafi jibes about the Prime Minister. You know the French expression “noblesse oblige”- that the people who have the privilege of running the society have an obligation to display high standards of dignity and decency. The Liberal Party has a lot of very powerful people in it, but there is no sign of noblesse oblige- they have no class, no manners, no breeding.

Labor is not going to do the easy, opportunist thing on climate change. We are going to do the right thing.

Kelvin Thomson MP
Federal Member for Wills

1 comment:

  1. My concern is labor has lost its ability to 'sell' major reform. Opposite to the mining tax, where all the details were done and it was a like it or lump it approach, the carbon tax lacks detail and the coalition and other scare mongers are making up their own details. Would a better approach be to put a draft proposal out there and allow the public and vested interests to debate the proposal with the government listening, making changes that are needed and bring people along with them. It feels like the climate change sceptics within the coalition are winning this debate through peddling fear and targeting the Prime Ministers pre-election comments. This is all the coalition has and it is frustrating that this negative simplistic tactic is winning the debate.