Gillard, Labor and Carbon Price : How to Win
In 1987 the dollar was falling and Labor was facing an election. Treasurer Paul Keating advised his colleagues not to retreat from economic reform. He said that to have the ALP defeated twice in a little over a decade because of economic management would have left it in an irrecoverable position. The government held the line of economic management and was re-elected.
I have argued previously that it is better for the Gillard government to adhere to an ETS and be defeated than to prevaricate and be defeated. She may as well fight – like a Keating, Hawke or Whitlam. As the debate over carbon pricing is joined, she can think of the battles over Medicare and economic reform as inspirations. To lose would be to lose honorably but with the party a viable concern, able to win back next time around. To prevaricate again over climate is unthinkable.
But Labor can win this debate.
“This is the policy we would have had if Tony Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, had won the 2007 election,” she is entitled to say. And then hit them with a raft of Turnbull quotes about the need to price carbon. And quote the policy details that Turnbull had signed off in 2009.
Then quickly put in place the protective and compensatory measures that are going to be part of any package. Fund them partly by trimming some of the business compensation measures that were part of the 2009 package negotiated with Turnbull, as I suggested below. Some businesses will be upset but those that lobbied the Coalition to oppose the package ( and won ) like the Minerals Council can’t complain – they should have known that if they did in Rudd’s package a re-elected Labor government and a Green Party-dominated Senate would have another go and the next version would not have to be so (excessively ) business-friendly.
The government needs a council of war, advisers to help it get the arguments right and win the propaganda. On the agenda for the first meeting should be 1) the long list of calls from business for carbon price certainty 2) the economic arguments that uncertainty caused by the absence of a scheme is lifting the price of power and 3) the list of Howard quotes in support of pricing carbon.
They are the government’s killer facts. You only win debates with killer facts.