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Carr’s Column – SOME comments on the federal election

August 26, 2010

Going home last night I saw a taxi with an advertisement on its bum: “Real Action on Climate Change: Vote Green.” Excuse me for a hollow laugh. The fact is this country would have a functioning emissions trading scheme had the Greens not joined with the Coalition to vote it down in December last year…

Ok some comments on the federal election, but I’m not going to pick over my party’s campaign. I’ve been loyal to it since I joined the Malabar-South Matraville Branch as a 15-year-old, and I’m too old to rat. Grumble yes, but mostly in private. Besides, they’re still counting and my federal friends are still negotiating. We all hope.

Here are a few comments, guarded.

If Abbott wins, the tragedy of how the Greens blocked an emissions trading scheme in the Senate in December will be all the more apparent. If that legislation had passed Australia would have a price on carbon and a $700 million gas-fired power station would be under construction in Victoria – it was cancelled as soon as the Senate blocked an ETS and it would have been 70 per cent less polluting than the coal fired power plants. Capital would be being withdrawn from coal-fired power across Australia; money would be flowing into renewables and plantations. 

If Abbott is Prime Minister there will be no chance of any movement at all. Yes, I know the Citizen Assembly stuff looked feeble, although I think a truncated Citizen’s Assembly with a good agenda could have brought a recommendation for a price on carbon to the government within a few months. I’m confident that Prime Minister Gillard would have moved. 

Anyway, at this stage I hope Labor is back and proceeds to negotiate with the Greens about an interim price on carbon and an ETS stripped of subsidies to the coal-fired power sector. The problem then will be to get it through the House of Representatives… hence my lament that the Greens blocked the thing in December last year. If they had allowed it through then a Prime Minister Abbott – given the position in the Senate – would not have been able to reverse it. 

It was a missed opportunity and in its flush of success I hope the Green Party reflects on it.

See my article on the Greens blocking the ETS in December: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/greens-put-purity-before-carbon-cutting-cap-and-trade/story-e6frg6zo-1225863818340

2 Comments
  1. Matt permalink
    September 6, 2010 11:01 am

    The outright rejection of the ETS was indeed a disappointing opportunity lost. If a Coalition Government is returned, The Greens will be the gambler who stayed at the table too long and lost it all.

    It will be very interesting with to see how the Greens balance policy purity with real power responsibility. My instinct says once Greens as a environmentalist party facade fails they will fall into the irrelevance of previous ‘left of labor’ parties. But in this fluid political environment anything could happen.

    I think the Green vote will either fall or rise significantly next election. I cannot see it holding at it’s current level in this fluid environment.

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