When Clive Palmer stood beside Al Gore (God only knows why Gore did it) in the Great Hall at Parliament House to announce his party’s voting intentions regarding the Carbon Tax, I like many others watched with daunting anticipation. After all he had, in his own typically flamboyant way, created an event (or an illusion) of world importance worthy of a major speech at the UN.
The former Vice President gave the occasion celebrity value. For me it was not just an announcement. It was about a decision vital to my country’s future. What might this man of singular self-importance do?
Then Palmer announced the terms and conditions for his party’s support for dropping the tax, one of which was that it be linked to the implementation of an ETS, albeit without a price. Well that’s what I thought I heard and I said to my wife:
“I think Clive has Tony by his Crown Jewels”.
What I thought I heard was not what I had heard at all after Palmer later clarified his remarks. It was not linked at all. I was somewhat devastated when, after doing some quick intellectual gymnastics, I concluded that Clive had pulled a swifty. Then I angered to write but prudence got the better of me and I decided to canvas some thoughts from those like me who are concerned and opine on serious matters such as this. It was as well I waited because the subject has taken more twists and turns on a daily basis than the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit.
I can guarantee that a read of these articles might tip your sanity over the edge, confuse you, make you more aware, disappoint you, or even infuriate you. But hopefully they might convince you that we are being led by a moron of unbelievable stupidity and myopia. Closely followed by a businessman who only wants two things. Anything that will advance his business interests and revenge against those who wouldn’t give him what he wanted.
But hopefully the last article by the ever astute Peter Martin will put things in perspective for you.
First off the grid was former Gillard Minister, Craig Emerson.
”Lots of carbon-emitting smoke and sideshow alley mirrors were on display yesterday when Clive Palmer and Al Gore announced a major environmental breakthrough. Now that the smoke is cleared and a light is shone on the mirrors, here’s what was actually announced. It confirms what I wrote last night.”
PUP Senators will vote with the Government to repeal the existing Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) law, including the present fixed price and the future floating price. PUP will seek to introduce its own ETS with a zero price. However, it will not insist on the Government voting for its bill. Even if the new ETS bill were to make it through the Senate, it must then go to the House of Representatives where the Government has a majority (that’s how it became the Government). Unless PM Abbott has a massive change of heart, the Government will defeat PUP’s ETS Bill in the House. The bill therefore will not become law.
Palmer is insisting on the Government retaining the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority. He has also announced PUP will vote against the Government’s Direct Action legislation.
As announced, the net result is that Australia’s existing ETS will be scrapped and not replaced with any ETS. Direct Action will be defeated. The Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority will be retained.
While this is better than nothing, it is hardly cause for celebration for anyone who believes an ETS is vital to reducing carbon emissions. Unless Clive Palmer or Tony Abbott change their minds, there will be no ETS and therefore no effective action on climate change.
Mark Kenny in what I think is one of the best pieces on the subject said this:
The understanding here is that Abbott’s real priority is – and only ever has been – the destruction of the carbon ‘‘tax’’. Everything else, including the $2.5 billion direct action plan to pay large polluters to cut emissions, was merely put forward because the Coalition feared that offering nothing was electoral suicide.
Barry Tucker. Blogger for THE AIMN had this to say:
By voting for abolition of the carbon price (“tax”), Palmer saves millions in future payments for pollution from his mines. He still has to pay for overdue carbon price bills, plus fines and penalties of about $63 million and growing almost exponentially.
He may do another deal to get some relief for that liability. Ultimately, he’s just in politics for his own benefit.
James Clancy a Facebook friend commented on the guaranteed reduction on his power bills:
Well today I received a letter from Energy Australia that Electricity prices will increase from 1st July 2014. The weighted average price increase to Qld customers will be $4.58 per week. So it looks like they are going to charge first and give a little off if the carbon tax is repealed. I seem to recall that Electrical suppliers had written to the Federal Government saying that they will give consumers the savings they make. So we Pay $294.00 extra a year, how much will we get back when the carbon tax is repealed I bet it is not around $550 as Tony Abbott has claimed.
Economist and carbon pricing expert Professor Ross Garnaut says the Palmer United Party’s position to vote to retain the RET and other key climate change bodies will have “important” and positive effects.
Doug Evans another writer for this blog said.
Abbott and his band of hateful sidekicks are a disgrace. Even if they become a one term blot on our political landscape we still have three years of their carnage to endure. On the bright side they are not getting it all their own way. Their first budget is in tatters raising the question of whether or not there will be a second ‘horror’ budget next year, further cementing their unpopularity. The really important elements of the Clean Energy legislation (CEFC, ARENA) look as though they will endure as does the RET. No-one in government or the MSM seems to be able to fully evaluate the meaning of the loss if the price on carbon. Thanks to Labor’s insistence carbon price was always set too low to drive meaningful change and when linked to the global carbon market was going to come much lower (hence the Greens’ insistence on the fixed price period). The carbon price hasn’t been and was never going to be the major element of this legislation driving the clean energy transformation. Axing the tax will have very little effect on the rate of growth of our carbon emissions.
The media with their unshakeable fixation on THE CARBON TAX have taken to repeating that without the (very small) stick of our ETS we are without any mechanism for driving down emissions. Not sure why they ignore the (somewhat larger) carrot that is the combination of RET and CEFC.
For those of you who (like me) love to hate Greg Hunt, Mark Kenny ( a journalist for whom I normally have no respect at all) has written a very interesting speculative piece for Fairfax on who wins and who loses from Palmer’s carbon tax machinations The article bears strongly on assessment of what matters and what doesn’t in the wash up of Abbott’s shock and awe onslaught on our climate policy. It is worth reading and reflecting on, not least because it reveals tensions within the government around this issue.
Similarly I found Lenore Taylor’s piece on the background leading to Palmer’s stunning appearance beside Al Gore pretty interesting also. It also explains why Gore having agreed to appear with Palmer still looked so very uncomfortable about being there.
Lenore Taylor in an interview with Palmer last weekend.
“Our amendment makes it a requirement that people will have to pass on the power cost savings … not a voluntary situation, it doesn’t leave it up to the ACCC to decide at its discretion whether or not it wants to enforce this”.
“But I’m not in business, I’m serving the Australian people, so knowing that I am going to make sure this legislation goes through to protect to protect our pensioners and everyone like that”. “Palmer has given up several directorships but remains the owner of a number of companies, including a nickel refinery, coal leases and an iron ore holding”.
Annabel Crabb in her usual stoic style.
“Direct Action is about as popular within the Coalition as a peanut at a preschool, and not having to make sense of it in practice is something of a lucky break for the government”.
“Anyone building hypothetical future scenarios based on Clive Palmer continuing serenely as the new face of emissions trading might want to exercise caution”.
Michael Pascoe in The Age.
“Clive Palmer is being hailed in several quarters as a jolly green giant saving Australia’s carbon emissions trading scheme, not to mention lauded as a master political strategist. Hold the phone at least on the first part of that”.
“One of the problems with Clive is working out what he’s saying, what he might think he’s saying and what he actually means”.
“They can all be quite different things. For businesses having to plan and invest around carbon policy, that’s not very helpful”.
Bernie Fraser former Governor of the Reserve Bank.
“Policymakers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations in the interests of some of the big companies to longer-term community interests. That’s what governments are supposed to do, but unfortunately it’s not happening at the present time”.
Laurie Oakes in Melbourne’s Herald Sun.
“Palmer himself? It’s only a couple of months since he was proclaiming disbelief in the whole idea that human activity contributes to global warming. Scientists, he claimed, could be paid to say anything.
Now he adopts the stance of an environmental warrior, committed to retention of the Climate Change Authority and opposed to any change in the Renewable Energy Target designed to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from sources such as wind and solar by 2020”.
“The Prime Minister has held every position there is on climate change, from branding the science “absolute crap” to claiming before his recent Washington visit he accepts it, and from supporting an ETS when John Howard embraced it to asserting a price on carbon would destroy the economy”.
And this from Australianpolitics.com
Palmer has demonstrated today that he has a deft and populist political touch, even though his political positions don’t withstand close scrutiny. He has positioned himself to be seen to be sympathetic to climate change policies, although nothing he has proposed will ever come to pass. The carbon tax will be abolished, with a direct financial benefit to Palmer’s companies.
Mark Kenny again.
“Just before the House adjourned on Thursday, there were jubilant scenes on the floor of the House of Representatives as the Coalition passed the carbon tax repeal bills for the second time”.
“Mr Abbott met Mr Palmer on Thursday morning and emerged happy that the minor party’s four upper house votes would support the abolition of the fixed price, subject to just one condition – a guarantee that the package would contain legislated assurances of cheaper electricity for households”.
Mike Carlton in his usual full on journalistic style got right to the point.
“His idiocy would not matter a toss but for the fact that Newman is chairman of the prime minister’s Business Advisory Council and, therefore, presumably in Tony Abbott’s shell-like ear. Publicly, Abbott has held more positions on climate change than there are sexual acrobatics in the Kama Sutra but you know that, deep down, he believes it’s “crap”. His word.
Abbott is appalling and will no doubt do plenty of damage but he is not getting all his own way. With any luck this will be the dominant theme of his one term government.
Richard Dennis on the cost of power.
‘The main reason that electricity has been getting dearer is the over investment in poles and wires, and the fundamental inefficiency in the way that the national electricity market’s working,’ says Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute”.
“For six glorious wild and wet days last week, South Australia sourced 67 per cent of its electricity from wind. Needless to say, it’s an Australian record. So fast were the turbines turning from early Monday to early Sunday that the entire national grid sourced an extraordinary 14.5 per cent of its electricity from wind”.
But the last word goes to the Prime Minister in this article from Philip Correy:
“Tony Abbott has sparked a war with the renewable energy sector by claiming their product was driving up power prices “very significantly” and fostering Australia’s reputation as “the unaffordable energy capital of the world”.