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A Party Like the Others: The Green Party Gets Questioned

May 18, 2011

I have campaigned to persuade journalists to treat the Green Party like any other political party.

This is now happening. Witness Chris Uhlmann in his interview with Bob Brown on ABC 1’s 7:30 last night:

Bob Brown: [Talking about compensation for the carbon price] We are going to compensate households but Tony Abbott will not. He is going to put all the money from households into the big polluters, estimated $720 per household by the end of this decade, either that or reduce 100,000 jobs in the country or start closing hospital wards and schools. To fund the big polluters. We will not do that.

Chris Uhlmann: That $11 billion you’re talking about is money that he would forego on the mining tax – and I notice you started your budget reply speech just there. How would you replace the $50 billion a year in export income which comes by way of coal, an industry you’d shut down?

BB: Well, a lot of that money is bouncing straight back out to shareholders overseas…

CU: The money is circulating in the economy; it’s creating jobs, senator. It’s bouncing through to our cities.

BB: And what we would do is take the advice of the Treasury of this nation and recoup the $145 billion over the next 10 years through a Super Profits Tax…

CU: But you can’t recoup if you shut the industry down. If you shut down the coal industry there won’t be the money available to you…

BB: Sorry Chris, but Treasury has no intention of shutting the industry down.

CU: No, but you do.

BB: No I’m not. No I’m not.

CU: Didn’t you say in 2007 that we have to “kick the coal habit”?

BB: No, ah, I did not, you’re looking at the Murdoch press, where I said back in 2007 that we should look at coal exports with a view to phasing them out down the line.

CU: It wasn’t the Murdoch press, it was a comment you wrote.

  1. James permalink
    May 18, 2011 6:16 pm

    Gotcha! The media have been giving the Green extremists far too easy a ride.

  2. lincoln lilley permalink
    May 18, 2011 8:49 pm

    Chris is a top interviewer. Goes hard on all sides of politics, as he should. In this case it was all in the preparation. Brown should be ashamed of himself. He wants to take the moral high ground but instead has been found digging a pit. Come back Bob Carr. Show the Greens what sound environmental policy really looks like.

  3. christine swan permalink
    May 18, 2011 9:14 pm

    I enjoyed it. And reading it over! Successful campaigning

  4. Tony Booth permalink
    May 18, 2011 10:11 pm

    Yes I agree someone should examine in great detail the effect on the German economy, but as you rightly point out the soft touch approach has gone on too long. Interesting you wrote on this as I had the same impression last night. I have been watching FOX for most of the day what a hoot!! OMG we will see a re run of the ’64 campaign I think with a right winger ala Barry Goldwater crushed by a liberal.

    Bob what happens when you explain the right wingers in Australia are called Liberals? to our American friends?

  5. Andrew Campbell permalink
    May 19, 2011 9:56 am

    There are some things the Labor party can do better than the Greens, well in the past they could. Instead of Chris Uhlmann looking like the victor in his interview with Bob Brown, Bob Hawk would have made Chris Uhlmann look like a fool because Bob never let unsubstantiated statements go unchallenged. How does money in the pockets overseas share holders circulate in the Australian economy? When interviewers make comments instead of asking questions the interviewee is entitled to make the interviewer justify the comments. Chris was lucky that Bob Brown didn’t make him justify his comments but Bob Hawk would have.

  6. Achmed permalink
    May 19, 2011 10:07 pm


    In all honesty you had an opportunity to whack the Greens all these years and you waited until now. Just not good enough old son.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      May 19, 2011 10:20 pm

      Miss the point rather badly don’t you ? I competed with them successfully. Their vote didn’t soar in the elections where I led my party. But I ran such environmental policies I persuaded their voters to extend me their preferences, even when their machine didn’t recommend it.

      • May 20, 2011 12:43 pm

        A nice little gotcha piece, cut above Andrew Bolt’s equivalents.

        But there’ a broader question that should surely concern an elder statesman with intelligence. Bob Brown knows – and you know – there must be an effective price on carbon and fast. There must be targeted compensation, suitable infrastructure investment and yes, some industries (big coal being the obvious candidate) simply must be wound back for the good of the planet.

        In Government Labor largely squibbed this challenge, at State and Federal level, despite good intentions on the part of some more enlightened folk in the party such as yourself.

        Instead of playing gotcha games with the Greens, why not focus now on the more serious question: how do those of us who want appropriate change co-operate to bring it about?

      • Bob Carr permalink
        May 20, 2011 12:59 pm

        No, Brown blocked Labor’s legislation in December 2009. We would be pricing carbon now if he had not.

      • May 20, 2011 1:25 pm

        As you surely know, the 2009 package was a huge rort, locking in long term subsidies for coal producers and other major polluters which would have forced government to buy them out later to get serious on reducing emissions.

        Rather similar to the long-term wood supply guarantees given by your Government to a handful of timber companies in NSW in the 1990s, it would have created unacceptably high barriers to structural change in the energy industry.

        For goodness sake Bob, you’re not in active politics any more. Drop the spin. let’s find the solutions. real solutions – not cosmetic short-term political fixes.

      • Bob Carr permalink
        May 20, 2011 2:15 pm

        So we have no price on carbon as a result of that defeat. Terrific. And can only put a new scheme to the Senate if it meets the approval of the rural independents in the House. And you don’t think that will have to have industry concessions ? The pursuit of perfection is the enemy of progress. If the 2009 leg had passed we would be getting rid of brown coal power in Vict now.

  7. Tony Booth permalink
    May 19, 2011 10:23 pm

    Maybe Bob Brown read your blog, he was very aggressive today at least it makes a change from giving us recipes for vegetarian pasta!!

    I loved Turnbull last night classic stuff but the gotcha stuff is just silly, no wonder BC was such a stickler for media control, as a former journo he knows how it works, Bob was TA also a Bulletin journalist?

    • Bob Carr permalink
      May 19, 2011 11:32 pm

      TA ?

      • Tony Booth permalink
        May 23, 2011 10:54 pm

        sorry Tony Abbott I was rushing out the door and took 4 days holiday down at Woodbine Eco lodge near Tura Beach north of Merimbula and drove back through Bombola and Snowy Mtn Hwy via Tumut, took me hours but some amazing country! I am glad you guys saved those forests, but plenty of wood chips around.

  8. May 19, 2011 10:49 pm

    “How does money in the pockets overseas share holders circulate in the Australian economy?”

    Shareholders only get a fraction of that $50 billion export income paid out as dividends. The rest is paid out as wages to employees, royalties to governments and to suppliers for inputs. Foreign shareholders end up scraping off a fraction of a fraction.

  9. May 20, 2011 2:35 pm

    Bob – it looks like you’ve responded to my follow-up comment without publishing it. Well, that’s one step better than the ABC, I guess 🙂

    FWIW I pointed out the high, quite long-term inbuilt subsidies to high carbon polluters that the Rudd/Wong /Turnbull package contained.

    You write the history as though there was only one possible outcome at the time – Rudd/Wong or nothing. Not true. You also write as though Greens votes in the Senate was the critical problem for Labor in getting the ETS through. Again, misleading. Even with Greens support Labor fell short of a majority of Senate votes.

    The truth is Rudd didn’t bother to negotiate at all with the Greens over the ETS – assuming he could cut a centrist deal with the Libs that would lock in HUGE give-aways to the big polluters to the mutual satisfaction of the big parties and the long-term detriment of the budget and environment. In the event the Mad Hatter took over, a deal was off and Rudd/Wong were left flapping.

    This time round there’s sufficient goodwill between Greens and ALP to get a deal that works for both. Why try to play spoiler from the sidelines? I think it’s unworthy of you. If that’s the attitude among greener members of the ALP, God help us.

  10. Magpie permalink
    May 23, 2011 10:13 am

    “CU: The money is circulating in the economy; it’s creating jobs, senator. It’s bouncing through to our cities.”

    While I’m all for having non-accommodating interviewers, Mr. Uhlmann should check his economic facts before making this kind of statements. It reflects poorly on him and the ABC.
    Last time I heard, employment had fallen. Unemployment remained unchanged. Hours worked diminished by about 1%. Wages increased less than inflation. House prices falling. Retail whingeing about no sales… I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
    Say, with all that money sloshing around, how come I haven’t found my mining profits check in the mail? Have any of you found yours?

    • May 25, 2011 8:41 am

      I have. I invested in several miners a few years ago and they do a direct deposit into my bank account on a regular basis. Cheques are so 1990s.

      I wouldn’t say the money is “sloshing around” as dividends, as the miners tend to re-invest a large chunk of their profits back into the business.

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