Gillard’s broken promise

Gillard is still the best person to lead the ALP (there is no one else). How deal with the loss of trust following her broken promise on carbon tax? This is a difficult question but it must be resolved.

Abbott keeps making stupid remarks and then saying “it was an inappropriate comment”. Why not try something similar? Gillard could say “what she said then was an inappropriate comment and she regrets it”.

She can argue that there is still a strong case for a carbon tax but only in the right circumstances. She now faces a hung parliament (a tied, minority government). She either had to sit on her hands and do nothing on carbon pollution. OR she could make some effort to negotiate a new carbon tax scheme, through a Labor-Greens agreement (such as the one signed in September 1, 2010), which could have the general approval of Parliament (including the Independents). It went for the latter.

It was the right decision – but she went too far with her promise. She wishes she had never made it. But that’s politics.

Has anyone a better suggestion?

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37 Responses to Gillard’s broken promise

  1. Patrick says:

    A double dissolution election?

  2. Darryl rosin says:

    There cannot be a DD unless a bill is passed twice by the house. The independants are not going to pass a bill a second time, knowing it’s going to open the door to an early election.

    The *only* available election at the moment is a House only election, with a seperate half Senate election in 2013 or 14 ( or the outside possibility of a dd election following the election of Abbott, but the timing might be hard to make that happen.)


  3. Alan Davies says:

    I’ve always liked Julia but the present obsession with getting a surplus suggests the political issues around her are too much, they’re crowding out good policy.

    On the question of the carbon tax, whoever is leader needs to apologise openly and clearly for breaking a promise but go on the offensive arguing it was the right thing to do i.e. the promise was wrong, not the carbon tax. Of course the compensation and small impact on electricity prices relative to other causes should be emphasised, but I think it’s time to really go in hard on it being the right and moral thing to do. Abbott should be vulnerable on the question of principle. All of that could be done with Gillard as leader but it would be harder. The leader also needs to reverse direction on the budget.

  4. Pedro says:

    Ummm, isn’t that what she’s being saying? Doesn’t seem like such a good plan.

    “but I think it’s time to really go in hard on it being the right and moral thing to do” That assumes the average person is stupid enough to swallow a dud argument.

    A good plan would be to put up an amendment for a reduction in the rate to $10 and then force the opposition to make a choice. A better plan would be to scrap it for now, but leave the legislation in place until introducing a CO2 tax makes some sense.

    There’s a big difference between: “I won’t introduce a carbon tax” and “GG was right about her bum”. Frankly I think Abbott gets a raw deal on that one. How many ALP MPs have slagged him for his sporting attire? If obesity is such a big issue in society then let’s not be squeamish about calling the whale tail for what it is!

  5. chrisl says:

    When you buy a new car ,it comes with a warranty for (say) 3 years to fix it if anything goes wrong. A promise. How would you react if the dealer not only broke his promise to fix your car but celebrated wildly and high-fived fellow workers when said promise was broken.
    This is what Gillard and her collegues did with the carbon dioxide tax.
    Absolutely disgraceful and no amount of spin,backtracking,blameshifting or blaming Tony Abott is going to change that.

  6. wilful says:

    The thing that is such utter utter bullshit about this, putting aside the fact that it’s a carbon trading scheme with a limited fixed price, not a tax, is that we never really had any sort of a debate in Australia about the merits of a tax versus a trading scheme.

    No one (not even Tony Abbott) denies that Labor intended to put a price on carbon, so if you follow the logic of their charge, all they are quibbling about is the relative merits of tax versus trading.

    Not that anyone is actually interested in following the logic.

    The debate wasn’t had for two reasons:
    i) a completely irrational loathing of the word tax, aided and abetted by the normalising mainstream media
    ii) econocrat elites declaring that since in theory a trading scheme is more efficient, therefore in a first best world it is the only system any right-thinking econocrat could support.

    Personally I think that a carbon trading scheme will be so beset by rentiers that it will be far less efficient.

  7. Alan Davies says:

    Well Pedro, I don’t agree that a price on carbon is a “dud argument”. I think it’s a necessary and extremely important policy. One of the big issues of our times.

    The tragedy is Gillard can’t seem to carry it off. At this stage the options for the govt are pretty limited. I’d like to see them take the moral high ground – be a bit Whitlamesque – and push the importance of the carbon tax, backed up with a big-thinking infrastructure and social policy program. It’s not as if business-as-usual is going to get them anywhere.

  8. JB Cairns says:

    The only disgraceful thing is the amount of people who do not know the difference between a carbon tax ( which is NOT coming in) and an ETS starting with a fixed price which is coming in. That includes Gillard.

    Funny when the Opposition negotiated with the government and wanted a longer period for a fixed price before it turned floating price no-one then called it a carbon tax!

  9. Patrick says:

    The disgrace is that you are still bleating about that homey.

  10. emess says:

    When TA makes a gaffe, he immediately deals with it. That minimises the possibility of it sticking.

    OTOH, Julia G did not immediately repudiate her rather impulsive concession that she was putting a tax in place. That gave everyone time to digest it and it stuck. It is too late now to recant.

  11. Thomas the Tout says:

    Gov Gen to dismiss the dud government and then we have an election.
    How about a convention that if a govt breaks a core promise, or a number of peripheral ones, then GG dismisses the Govt.? It would be a certain aid to democracy.

  12. zoot says:

    Whatever happened to non-core promises?

  13. Stephen Hill says:

    Didn’t Tony Abbott support a carbon-tax as well

  14. JB Cairns says:

    agh Patrick like others still doesn’t know the difference between trading permits and paying a tax. Ignorance is bliss

    A carbon tax is actually better than an ETS which makes it doubly ironic.

  15. john says:

    It looks likely that the libs will win the next election with a landslide. Thus the scheme will either be repealed or rendered by regulation into a non-scheme (with or with out a double dissolution).

    Labor in the upper house will face the difficult choice of either abandoning support for carbon schemes or defying the will of the people, not fun.

  16. Patrick says:

    It’s pretty dumb of Gillard, she could abolish all company tax tomorrow if she introduced a profit-trading scheme with a fixed price. Companies can make as much profit as they wish but they have to purchase a 30c permit for each dollar of profit, and if they fail to surrender those permits before the lodgement date of the tax return they are subject to penalties.

    Of course, you can no longer trade losses since they introduced section 80A (now Division 165), section 100 and schedule 2F, but that aside, look ma, no hands!

    And yes the rate is far higher than any comparable jurisdictions except the US whose overall system is just f***ed so you’d be stupid to copy it.

    PS: I’m not disputing that a carbon tax might be better than an ETS, in a world where anyone cared about carbon.

  17. Pedro says:

    LOL Patrick. Gotta love the semantic arguments about whether a promise was actually broken. Anyone who says Gillard kept her promise that “there will be no carbon tax in a government I lead” is a flat out wanker.

    Homer, you should check on Amazon to see if “sophistry for dummies” has been published yet.

    “I’d like to see them take the moral high ground – be a bit Whitlamesque”

    If heading for a landslide defeat is not Whitlamesque then I don’t know what is!

  18. The day before the election, The Australian quoted Gillard as follows:

    “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”

    Source of quote:

    Clearly she ruled out a Carbon Tax but not an emissions trading scheme.

    The legislation is for an emissions trading scheme, not a carbon tax, though it behaves a bit like a carbon tax for the first few years.

    Like JB Cairns I think it is amazing that our public debate is so poor that we can’t differentiate between a carbon tax and an ETS.

  19. JB Cairns says:

    it is pretty easy to understand except to the stupid the difference between buying a permit at a fixed price where at a later date they will be traded at a market price and paying a carbon tax.

    you do not and cannot trade carbon taxes.

    People realised soon after the GST that most of the prise rise stuff was claptrap.

    what bugged them was BAS etc.

    This time around the effect will be over five time less yet at this stage people believe the impact will be greater than the GST.

    What wil they do when they realise they have been wood-ducked?

  20. JC says:

    A carbon tax is actually better than an ETS which makes it doubly ironic.

    Homer, have you lost complete leave of your senses? Don’t answer that, leave it aside. You’re always putting forward the notion that this isn’t a tax, but a fixed price ETS.

  21. Patrick says:

    Homer, I’m fairly sure that fixed-price period permits have to be surrendered to acquit an emissions liabilty for their particular vintage year.

    Sure, there is a plan to introduce trading, but what that has to do with the tax that’s been introduced now (other than that it succeeds it, in this sense they are temporally and subject-matter related) I’m not sure. It isn’t really trading if there is a ‘floor’ price in excess of the record highest market price.

    A more accurate statement might be that there is a plan to cut the tax rateprice. How much would you bet on a promised taxprice cut four years out?

  22. JB Cairns says:


    There is a period where the price is fixed. It then become market based.

    When the opposition negotiated with the government and negotiated a longer fixed price period they didn’t claim then it was a carbon tax.

    you cannot trade a tax. You can a permit.

    It is pretty simple.

    Whether the market price goes up or down is up to market forces.

    And yes a Carbon tax is better then an ETS.

    However what we have is an ETS

  23. Pedro says:

    Homer, get your hands off it, you dirty boy!

    No we don’t have an ETS. We will have an ETS in a few years if the legislation survives. Until then, if you want to emit carbon dioxide you to pay money to the government with the amount payable being proportional to the CO2 emitted. You really are just being stupid if you say that arrangement is not a breach of the famous promise. Don’t be a fuck-knuckle.

    As for the impact, why not just ask the treasury, who have forecast reductions in the growth rate and increases in power prices? Treasury usually underforecast tax collections so I’m guessing the impact will be worse than they say even if the stupid assumptions miraculously come true.

    Yes the floor price nicely emphasises the bloody-mindedness at work. Still at least we will have a clean energy future. It must be working because I’m just about the waste a few grand ordering solar panels before the local idiots close off the stupid feed in tariff.

  24. JB Cairns says:


    you are buying a permit at a fixed price!

    Actually Business wanted a fixed price for certainty in the early period.

    It is no different except being shorter than what was agreed to by the government and Opposition.

  25. Jock says:

    Fred, The carbon tax statement cannot be passed off as an “inappropriate comment”. The ALP went into the election with a policy of a community forum to determine the way forward, along with clear statements from the leader and deputy leader that there would be no tax. This was pure deceipt and I am astounded that people who would not behave like that themselves are proposing that the deceipt be fobbed off. To compare it with one of Abbott’s foot-in-mouth events is absurd. Gillard’s only option is to acknowledge that she did the wrong thing and wind the price back to around the EU level of $5-10. This is both good politics and good policy. Labor would probably still lose the next election, but not as badly as they will if they go into it with the position that deceiving the voters is OK.

  26. Pedro says:

    Yeah, homer, business is simply clamouring for the carbon tax because it’s such a good idea and they just love certainty.

  27. JC says:

    Actually Business wanted a fixed price for certainty in the early period.

    Yep, Homes.. heard it everywhere “Give me certainty or give me death”

  28. Fred Argy says:

    Jock, I don’t disagree much with your proposal – but it won’t be easy to implement, given the Green intransigence. Without Green support, they would be only cutting their own throats.

  29. JB Cairns says:

    well if you two were consistent you would have been arguing against a CARBON TAX when the agreement was reached between the government and opposition.

    Only now it becomes a carbon tax!

    Well business thought it would create too much uncertainty to have a floating price straight away given the European experience.
    This is why the opposition argued for a longer period for a fixed price in that deal.

  30. rog says:

    Gillard’s response or lack thereof shows how the leadership of the country has changed. Had it been John Howard we would have heard lots about “core” and “non core” promises and phrases along the line of “at the time and under the circumstance I made the right decision”.

  31. Karl Kessel says:

    Anyone on the Left should love Tony Abbott.

    He is the only thing standing between a serious wipe out of the ALP at the next Federal Election.

    Ironically he’s also been vastly more successful as an opposition leader than anyone expected. He’s effectively destroyed two Prime Ministers. He almost became PM at the last election and is strongly the odds on favorite to do so at the next election.

    But can you imagine the polls and the results with a popular Liberal Leader? The Libs would be looking at a probable 5 point bounce. Put that on a pendulum and the next election would be a catastrophe for the ALP.

    As it stands it will just be a serious defeat.

  32. Thomas the Tout says:

    I care not whether it is a tax or an ETS. Implementation of either of them will be such a very bad thing as to be nearly treason.
    The Federal Parliament is there to govern for the betterment of the citizens of this nation. From my perspective, it plans to pay money to other countries so as to keep them ‘off our backs’. That is what the ancient Romans did – pay the barbarians to stay away. But then Rome weakened itself through payments, and so the barbarians came and sacked Rome.
    She is not a Julius: Caligula, perhaps?

  33. Rafe Champion says:

    RIP the global warming scare?

    Who was it that said the science is settled in favour of alarmism and the CO2 tax?

  34. Laura says:

    You are senile, Rafe. Stop embarrassing yourself even more than you already have.
    Linking to Bolt which no one but morons and tribal loyalists such as yourself read won’t do it.

  35. Calling Champion names doesn’t help in the debate, though I agree that linking to Bolt on this site is embarrassing.

    This is not really the location to discuss the science, but it should be noted that the study that Champion is referring to is flawed and has been severely criticised.

    See this link for an example: .

    It seems that the paper used the well worn “skeptic” technique of de-trending the data and then claiming that there is no trend.

    To quote Tol: “Having removed the trend from their data, LLE cannot answer the question: What caused the warming? They eliminated from their analysis the very thing in which they are interested.”

    This is a familiar trick that “skeptics” use, eg McLean, de Frietas and Carter.

    Tol’s critique is the more compelling as he is not one of the “Alarmists”; as well the criticism is on Judith Curry’s Site which I should be more convincing to Champion.

    In the end most climate experts agree that most of the warming is due to anthropogenic effects, because they can clearly see the flaws in papers like the one that Champion referred to.

  36. john says:

    nice bit of graphic

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