I reckon this is the most succinct, accurate and balanced summary I’ve read of the current state of the carbon pricing debate:
Pricing carbon in Australia is about pricing carbon, not saving the planet. As an insurance policy, we need to have a soft mechanism in place that can be ramped up in the future if it needs to be, if the rest of the world joins Europe in getting serious about it.
It won’t do much and it won’t hurt much either. Capitalism as we know it is not about to come to an end, despite the rantings of the Alan Jones/Chris Monckton side show. The coalition’s crazy promise to spend billions burying charcoal, that too will pass.
And the Greens will have a new bureaucracy to play with as they try to forget their big mistake. A national propeller hat roll out can’t be far away.
Abbott’s Direct Action policies, not to mention the Greens’ equally silly plans that Gillard has been forced to embrace despite being debunked by the Productivity Commission, are peas in a pod. At least judging by the leaks to date, Gillard’s carbon pricing scheme is modest, sound and sensible policy. It’s a miracle of political negotiation and constructive compromise that she managed to get the Greens to accept it. Julia’s skills at public communication aren’t as great as I’d hoped but she must be an awesome behind-the-scenes deal-maker, possibly the best Australia has seen. Moreover, given the disparate interests and personalities among the Greens and cross-bench Independents, the only way she would have achieved such an outcome is to have impressed all of them as a leader of great strength, integrity and fundamental decency. You don’t hold together people like Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie or the Greens by being mean and tricky. But that assessment doesn’t fit the current MSM hive mind narrative so it’s probably not what you’ll hear and read.
PS And, for schadenfreude afficionadoes, that treacherous prick Rudd will know in his guts that a bloke with his personality and skillset could never have pulled it off in a million years. And so will the rest of the Labor Caucus who’ve had to deal with his prima donna antics on a daily basis.
Update – The actual program is if anything a bit more ambitious and substantive than I’d expected. A modestly progressive redistributive taxation alement is a positive feature. And the independent Climate Change Authority is a definite plus, a transparency/accountability check and balance along similar lines to Nicholas Gruen’s long-advocated fiscal probity authority and the enhanced Infrastructure Australia that I’ve been writing about for a while. In other areas, Gillard was right to steal the Coalition’s proposal to call for tenders for closing down or scaling back the dirtiest coal-fired power stations. It was the only sensible part of Abbott’s Direct Action policies. OTOH the renewable energy and soil carbon funds are no worse than Abbott’s policies and the unavoidable cost of getting the Greens, Windsor and Oakeshott onside. All in all, better than I expected. Whether Julia can sell it successfully in the face of Abbott’s willingness to mislead and deceive in every possible way is another question. But having a solid product to sell is a damn good start.