Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wong plays more politics with climate change - all talk and no action

The Labor party is back in election mode and restarting their campaign after the campaign started by Kevin Rudd turned to custard.  Having deposed Rudd as Prime Minister and shut him out of the new Cabinet, Julia Gillard has rewarded those loyal to her by keeping them in their ministries - despite quite obvious failures for a few of them to deliver.

Penny Wong for example failed to deliver an emissions trading scheme.  The accountability for the failed CPRS was hers, not Kevin Rudd's.  Instead of architecting an ETS based on science and evidence based reduction targets, Wong set about "negotiating" with the fossil fuel industries and running a political wedge within the Coalition ranks.  At no time in this process did she (or anybody else from Labor) negotiate with the Greens, who publicly committed to a science-based emission reduction target of 40% by 2020.

Wong "browned down" Labor's CPRS by gifting billions of free carbon emission permits to polluters and even doling out free cash payments to coal-fired power stations out of the public purse.  Then she negotiated with the Coalition and further "browned it down" so that if implemented, Australia would have achieved no emission reductions by 2020 and bought dodgy "offsets" from overseas.

Then the skillfully crafted wedge against the Liberals failed - Turnbull was ousted, and the new opposition leader sidestepped the trap set and opposed the CPRS - as it turns out for the wrong reasons, but for the right outcome.

Penny Wong had no "plan B" despite an offer from the Greens to negotiate on an interim carbon tax as described the Government's own advisor on climate change and economics - Professor Ross Garnaut.  Kevin Rudd then took the rap for the CPRS failure and said he would do nothing until 2013.  This was the beginning of the end of his time as Prime Minister of Australia, even though it was Penny Wong's failure.

I waited keenly for Julia Gillard, as the new Prime Minister, to say what she was going to do on climate change.  She acknowledged that action is required and that climate change is serious, but said that "we need to reach consensus on a price on carbon within the Australian community".  This is code for doing nothing.  

There will be no consensus when the fossil fuel industries spends hundreds of millions of dollars on propaganda and funding climate denialist groups, as we saw happening in the lead up to and during the recent failed Copenhagen Accord.  So Gillard stands for yet more talk and no real action.

Has Penny Wong learnt from her recent dismal failure with the CPRS?  Apparently not.  She is attending a 
Climate Adaptation Futures Conference at the Gold Coast along with over 100 climate scientists from around the world.  They are talking about how to adapt to climate change, not whether it is happening or not - which is now regarded as a given by climate scientists.  Unfortunately, this is cure rather prevention.  

Penny Wong told the Conference that:

"it was important to remember that science was at the heart of understanding climate change"

So how does she explain ignoring recent climate science and setting only a 5% reduction target under the CPRS?

"For too long those who deny climate change is real have muddied the debate, for too long they have hijacked this issue to pursue their own agenda."
I agree with her on this - but is Penny Wong who has hijacked the issue for petty political reasons.

"The reason we don't have a price on carbon is Tony Abbott tore down a leader (Malcolm Turnbull) and installed himself on the basis that he doesn't believe climate change is real, and the Australian Greens voted with Mr Abbott."
Some classic blame shifting here Penny.  As previously noted, she did not negotiate with Greens on the ETS at all, or after it failed!

"Julia Gillard has made clear her commitment to this issue, and her views about the need for a price on carbon" 
Penny Wong and Julia Gillard can achieve this tomorrow by negotiating with the Greens senators and getting two Liberal Senators to cross the floor.

It is time for Penny Wong to stop playing politics and to stop making excuses for doing nothing.  We need a carbon tax and we need it now.  Get on with it.

1 comment:

Grant said...

The big problem Labor found was their private polling, and public polling indicated that the vast majority of Australians would not accept any ETS (carbon pricing) that increased prices. As business also advised the Gov that any cost increases they have WILL BE passed on to the public, the whole issue became political suicide. The Gov had no choice but to shelve the ETS (or carbon pricing) until after the election, then try to find some system that will not increase prices to the public so they may accept the system.