The disastrous outcome on climate change and the Greens’ culpability

As a result of the Clive Palmer intervention, we are now unlikely to have any carbon reduction policy in place. In a few weeks’ time it is likely the Senate will vote down the Carbon Tax, its successor an Emissions Trading Scheme and Direct Action.

The party that is chiefly responsible for this fiasco is the Greens. The same is true of its holier-than-thou approach on asylum seekers, but I will leave that for another day.

I set out my views on the enormous damage that the Greens have done in my post of September 2 last year ‘Holier than thou … but with disastrous results’. That blog is reposted below. As Gough Whitlam put it in a different context ‘Only the impotent are pure’. The Greens have been giving us policy purity in truckloads, but on a sensible policy on climate change they have given us ‘a big fat nothing’.

That quote is from an article today by Phillip Coorey in the AFR, page 55. The article is headed ‘Green opportunism leaves carbon policy at zero’.

Coorey writes

‘The only mainstream party never to have taken a risk, never to have put any skin in the game and never to have lost a vote [over climate change] is the Greens. Throughout the entire eight year saga they have chained themselves to the altar of policy purity and watched others suffer for their ideals. The result is a big fat nothing. … Because they believed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme introduced by Rudd to be inadequate, they voted it down twice. The second time was the day after Abbott knocked off Turnbull. Liberal senators Judith Troeth and Sue Boyce realising the need to establish a foothold for carbon pricing, crossed the floor to vote with Labor. The Greens helped the Coalition kill it. … Even when Labor was dying last year and Abbott was at the gate of the lodge, vowing the carbon tax would be the first policy put against the wall and shot, the Greens attacked Rudd for cowardice when he announced … that if he was elected the fixed price would move to a much lower European linked floating price on July 1 2014, one year earlier than scheduled.

As I mentioned in my blog of September 2 last year, the defeat of Rudd’s CPRS brought on an acrimonious and divisive debate and a denial of the science of climate change. As a result public support for a carbon tax on an Emissions Trading Scheme has plunged from 75% in 2007 to less than 40%. The Greens cannot wash their hands of this debacle. They triggered it in the Senate.

Whether on climate change or asylum seekers, Australia is paying a heavy price for the Greens’ policy purity. They have played into Tony Abbott’s hands.

But for the Greens an ETS would have been done and dusted five years ago.

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3 Responses to The disastrous outcome on climate change and the Greens’ culpability

  1. John Willows says:

    Crikey Editorial 30 June 2014:

    Greens an easy scapegoat on climate policy

    A persistent myth about the role of the Greens in carbon pricing legislation has emerged in recent years. It’s argued even by some of the best journalists in the press gallery, such as Phil Coorey and Laurie Oakes, that the Greens, in their ideological purity, doomed Australia to years of wrangling over a carbon price by not voting for Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009.

    If they had, the myth goes, Australia would have had an emissions trading scheme up and running that could never be removed.

    Wrong.

    The CPRS was bad policy that would have done nothing to curb greenhouse emissions. In its final form, there would have been no carbon price of any kind. So generous were the handouts to industry that the CPRS would have actually cost the government money for over a decade. Indeed, free permits to trade-exposed industries grew over time under the CPRS, with households paying the bill.

    Moreover, the Rudd government had no interest — until Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Tony Abbott in the climate denialist putsch of November 2009 — in getting Greens support for the scheme. Labor was primarily interested in securing bipartisan political cover and using the CPRS as a tool to wedge the Liberals, until Abbott boldly and cleverly turned the tables. That’s why the then-government refused to even discuss the CPRS with Bob Brown.

    When it comes to the debacle that is Australia’s current position on climate action, there are plenty of villains — and they’re mainly in the Liberal and Labor parties, in business and trade unions, not among the Greens.

  2. John Menadue says:

    That defence of the Greens just does not stand up. On both ETS and asylum seekers they sided with the Coalition when it really mattered. The outcome on both is appalling .Obfuscation can not change the facts.
    John Menadue

  3. Shekhar says:

    Depends very heavilly on your deftiniion of succesful. I may be mistaken but I suspect the 4.61% swing was the largest swing against the government in its first re-election attempt in labor-liberal history. I am not inclined to believe another style of campaign would have brought the ALP a better outcome and would thus be inclined to approve of the decision to run a scare campaign from opposition.2001 you are right the government was in a helluva lot of trouble and alot of the attacks were directed at the GST but whereas the government was two and half years old in 1998 it was five and half years old in 2001. Fraser suffered a four percent swing when his government turned five years old, Peacock was generally leading in the polls albeit narrowly by 1989. To make a longer stretch the five year old Menzies government in 1954 lost the popular vote to Evatt. The point being that if the government had not spoken about the GST until 1999 and attempted its 1998 campaign in 2001 it probably would have polled even worse up until September 11.This is not to say that fighting the ETS has short term benefits but that running a scare campaign from opposition about a policy the government will not introduce until the next term can be highly effective.

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