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The case for an ETS by Malcolm Turnbull

With Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop relegated to the backbench, we may be able to get back to policy discussion.

So far, Malcolm Turnbull has said there will be no change to the Coalition’s climate change policy. He needs to rethink that.

Farmers are more aware of the dangers of mining and the connection between extreme weather and climate change. The National Party should be encouraged to understand the importance to their constituents of urgent action.

Malcolm is an eloquent speaker and a previous Minister for the Environment. There is no better person to make the case for greater action. In his own words…..

  • “I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am”
  • “I’ve always believed the Liberals reject the idea that governments know best. Schemes where bureaucrats and politicians pick technologies and winners. Doling out billions of taxpayers’ money is neither economically efficient, nor will it be environmentally effective.”
  • “if you want to have a long-term solution to abating carbon emissions and to achieve – if you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government – where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.”
  • “And the conservatives and David Cameron in particular take the view that there is an enormous opportunity to get onto the front foot and get into a leadership role in terms of clean technology, low-emission technology, that this is a coming technological revolution, it’s going to be – just like the information revolution or the industrial revolution, the green tech or clean tech revolution will be as significant as that as we hopefully move to de-carbonise the world’s economy. Now, that is a very important technological shift. Britain has a prime minister with vision who wants to be part of that change.”
  • “So for me it was very much a matter of personal integrity and principle, and that was why I took that very, very painful, anguished step of crossing the floor and voting against my own party.”
  • “The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions. The term you will see used for this is “least cost abatement”.
  • “Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well.”

So how about it Malcolm….have you convinced you yet?



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  1. miriamenglish

    Sadly, I think not:

  2. diannaart


    Stuff to look for:

    Ridding the coalition of the truly loonie AGW deniers, such as Dick Warburton, Maurice Newman, Tony Shepherd.

    The LNP needs/must divest itself of the far-right cabal – another Rudd style white-anting will destroy what is left of a democracy in Australia.

    … will continue when a little less sleepy.

  3. Matters Not

    Turnbull almost arrived there once before only to have his ambitions thwarted by the power brokers within. He won’t make that mistake again. Sure, he won’t be an Abbott (that level of stupidity only comes once every four decades or so – think William McMahon), but he is now ‘gun shy’. He’s viewed at close quarters what happened to Rudd, Gillard and now Abbott, and he realises how quickly that can happen. He won’t be for the ‘risk taking’. He’ll want his own one ‘term’ at least.

    Going back to what he once said, or once argued, might be of historical interest (and for me, it is) but I suggest it won’t be a reliable guide to his future ‘behaviour’. Pragmatism will be his watchword both in thought and deed.

    By the way, Shorten is f@cked! And so is the ALP for the next 3 or 4 years.

    But that matters not.

  4. corvus boreus

    Question for the new PM;
    Will you be willing to publicly demonstrate Australia’s acceptance of the seriousness of anthropogenic climate destabilisation, and show a commitment to serious international efforts to alleviate it, by personally attending the Paris Climate Summit in November (along with most other world leaders), rather than merely sending an underling?

  5. Kaye Lee

    Matters Not,

    I hope the world will drag us to action and I think Malcolm will be a tad easier to drag there than Tony. The economic argument for an ETS alone is a winner. I am feeling empowered today. I will resume cynicism soon no doubt.

  6. Kaye Lee


    Obama and Wen Jiabao aren’t going to Paris. Gun shy after Copenhagen apparently.

  7. Matters Not

    There’s talk that Pyne will be the new Defense Minister and given Turnbull’s recent conversion to ‘pragmatism’ (my belief) that’s certainly on the cards. How could Pyne as Defense Minister build submarines (or canoes) anywhere but in South Australia? He would be in the perfect position to ‘rescue’ the Lib’s electoral fortunes in South Australia. How could Turnbull let that opportunity pass him by?

    Besides Pyne is completely ‘on the nose’ within the education community. As an education Minister he’s been a complete failure but he’s been an effective Leader of the House, a position he almost certainly will retain.

    As for advisers on ‘climate change’, they will be history. And the ‘punters’ will be none the wiser. They have had their moment in the sun but that’s now in the past.

    If Turnbull doesn’t go the Paris, then his ‘pragmatism’ will be even more obvious. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunt gets a trip.

  8. Matters Not

    resume cynicism soon no doubt

    Worked in government for many years. Wrote and read report after report. Had to feign ‘excitement’ again and again. Very difficult not to be cynical because a ‘critical perspective’ ought to be the starting point for any intellectual activity. Neil Postman and Charles Weingarten wrote years about the need for each citizen to have a highly sensitive “shockproof crap detector in their survival kit.”

    Still valid today.

  9. kerri

    Matters Not ?? Hunt would be so embarassing!! He is my local member! Embarassingly appears in the local council information rag in a photo with a pensioner! In a photo with a fisherman! In a photo at the beach! All appearance and no substance. And these observations were made long, long ago. Hunt is a nutter and seriously inept!

  10. Matters Not

    Gee Jim, you seem upset. You mention that the ALP won in Queensland. Are you aware that Newman was on the nose? if not, then why not? In Victoria, are you aware that Denis Napthine was also on the nose? Again, if not, then why not?

    That ‘fact’ explains why Labor won. Those ALP governments weren’t so much elected as the incumbents were ‘tossed out’.

    Are you also aware that Abbott was on the nose and Shorten still is, while Turnbull hasn’t been on the nose for years. Are you also aware of the latest polling which gives the Liberals a lot more than a ‘sugar boost’? Again, if not, then why not?

    As for the UBS Report, it means ‘diddly squat’ in ‘political’ terms.

    As an aside Jim, you seem unable to understand the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ which makes it somewhat difficult for the ‘reader’ to understand what you’re trying to convey. As for ‘Adini’, I didn’t know that company was a player. I thought it was an Adani project? Perhaps I should bow to your superior knowledge?

    Jim, I am forced to grade your ‘rant’ as a failure.

  11. Matters Not

    Hunt would be so embarassing!!

    Can’t disagree with that at a ‘rational’ level, but we’re talking ‘politics’ here. In Parliament today, Turnbull lauded Hunt’s ‘direct action’ policy, claiming that the policy reduced emissions and did so very efficiently and effectively and at a very competitive cost.

    All bullshit of course.

    Remember that Turnbull only won by a skinny margin of 54 to 44. If 5 members change their view plus one abstainer, then Turnbull will be history. He is not operating from a position of strength. He’s walking on eggshells.

    Given his praise for Hunt today in Parliament, Turnbull will retain Hunt in the Environment portfolio and possibly give him a trip to Paris. Bishop willing of course.

    BTW, where is Jim?

  12. Bonni Elizabeth Hall

    Malcolm sold his soul years ago, along with his conscience.

  13. PC

    Abbott sent a fax to resign as prime minister. A fax. And that’s why I will always refer to him as the human skid-mark.

  14. jim

    So Sorry Matters NOT I will crawl into bed semi defeated by your fact-less opions oh did it hurt your head that I can’t spell so fn sorry d w2it.

  15. Matters Not

    Good Night Jim. So sorry about your need to crawl into bed.

    Was it something I said? Or is it the case that my:

    fact-less opions (sic)

    were in fact grounded in ‘fact’?

    Or is ‘logic’ beyond you?

    Jim, while I may applaud your sentiments, making claims without logic or evidence is just counter productive.

  16. SirJohn Ward

    If Labor Won by 54% to 44% it would be a Landslide victory.

  17. Matters Not

    If Labor Won by 54% to 44% it would be a Landslide victory

    Indeed it would. Moreover it would be unprecedented. But it’s not going to happen now or in the immediate future.

    The ‘stats’ I refer to are not a ‘sample’ with ‘margins of error’ and all those statistical problems but an actual outcome.

    Not a ‘prediction’ but an ‘outcome’.

    Turnbull’s elevation is tenuous at best. And he knows it. He’s not a dill.

  18. Kaye Lee

    If Malcolm is going to let politics rule policy by supporting Direct Action then what was the point? Business knows that we will have a price on carbon eventually and they just want us to get on with it.

  19. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    What Turnbull says to the far-right faction, may not necessarily be what happens. Tony used to do something similar except to the not so far-right faction and all of Australia.

    Also, now that federal government has moved on to a new leader, will NoS make it to 2013 time?

  20. Kaye Lee

    I am trying to console myself with that thought diannaart. I suppose he couldn’t scare them day one. He surely didn’t do this just to get his portrait on the wall…..did he?

  21. Kaye Lee

    “Abbott sent a fax to resign as prime minister.”

    Facebook is funny. Suggestions have varied from carrier pigeon, to errand boy to….

    “I’m surprised he didn’t get Bronwyn to deliver it by helicopter”

  22. corvus boreus

    I think it is pretty obvious that Turnbull, knowing the precariousness of his political position and the absolute feral hostility of the murdoch press towards him, is going to play the softly-softly/ small target game. ‘Moderate Mal’.
    He is not going to immediately and obviously implement a radical deconstruction of the entire Abbott agenda, but will probably dismantle a few of the more controversial items, and gradually implement some of his own reforms with sneaky stealth.
    I think Malcolm Turnbull will alienate right wing extremists but pick up votes from the swinging centre.

    This all largely negates the current Shorten game-plan of hunkering down and waiting for the incumbent idiot to self-immolate.
    Turnbull’s polished rhetoric will not provide the same ammunition for Bill’s ‘zingers’ that Tony’s umptuated manglish did.
    Bill Shorten is going to have to work out some practical alternative policies, and effectively communicate them to the public.

  23. Kaye Lee

    I agree cb. Gough laid out his agenda and set about convincing people for years. We need policy and climate change is their chance….there will be so much focus come November.

    And there is plenty of material to use against Malcolm by quoting his own words back to him – on climate change and an ETS, on metadata retention, on marriage equality, on citizenship laws, on children in detention….the list is endless.

    He should also be questioned about the “sniff” test of using your entitlements to pay off your wife’s investment property.

  24. miriamenglish

    There is the chance that Bill Shorten won’t want to attack on those things because he wants the same things the LNP wants too. He’s had plenty of chance to stand against a lot of things. As far as I can remember, the only one he’s made a genuine stand on is marriage equality. I could be wrong — I hope I’m wrong — but it sure feels that way to me. I get the strong feeling that Bill Shorten only stands for what the power brokers tell him he can stand for. Perhaps the same is true of Malcolm Turnbull — I hope I’m wrong there too.

  25. Douglas Evans

    Turnbull has plenty of room to move on climate change within the Direct Action package. Lenore Taylor has pointed out that it can be ‘dialed up’ to a cap and trade scheme. However emissions trading has not been spectacularly successful as a device for reducing emissions world-wide. Its been better at making money for speculators. Other measures are likely to be more effective. Regulating to cap emissions and strengthen energy efficiency is simpler to achieve and likely to be more use. Giles Parkinson on Re-New Economy newsletter lists eight things Turnbull should (and could) do irrespective of the angry brain dead right wing of his party. These include:
    1. Getting rid of dead wood, Newman, Warburton, IPA et al but also his colleague MacFarlane.
    2. Remove the threat to dismantle ARENA, CEFC, CCA which have proven their usefulness under adverse conditions and can play a critical role in the energy transition.
    3. Express support for renewable energy and boost the target.
    4. Impose emissions standards on coal generators and efficiency standards on cars.
    5. Either get rid of Greg Hunt or tell him to stop peddling blatant lies (I favor the first option).
    All of these are justifiable on economic grounds (so possible even within the constraints applying to Turnbull’s current leadership).

  26. Kaye Lee

    Excellent comment Douglas. I admit I am in the hands of others when evaluating the efficacy of an ETS.

    I also read something by Turnbull where he said that the value of the Direct Action plan is that it can be stopped immediately – he was saying it cynically implying that they thought they would prove climate change was a hoax and that DA was a temporary figleaf that could be easily abandoned.

    I like your suggestions which seem easily doable. There has to be at least ‘cap and trade’ legislation otherwise the polluters are free to use up all the reductions gained from the farmers (which are contrived anyway). There must be support for renewables. I wonder if he will pander to the Senate crossbench with their ridiculous war on wind.

    I was very disappointed to hear Malcolm peddle Hunt’s lies about eleventy million tonnes of emissions reduction for threepence. He needs to do better than that. Stop the lies and prosecute a believable case. Listen to those who have achievable suggestions like Doulas has shared. Why is it so hard?

  27. miriamenglish

    In some ways it doesn’t matter what the dopey politicians do. Their relevance is quickly fading as they fail to do their jobs properly.

    Marriage equality is pretty-much a done deal. When the majority of the population want it, and even the insanely homophobic nation of USA is for it, then it can’t really be stopped, only delayed a little.

    The internet continues to break down borders, and without a racist pig at the helm Australia’s vocal xenophobic minority will once again be sidelined, and that, more than anything will close those horrible and embarrassing concentration camps.

    Politicians may manage to make education unaffordable, but there is a great rise in self education as increasing numbers of books, courses, and talks are available for free on the net. All the politicians will achieve by breaking educational institutions is to make them irrelevant. People will still learn. Also, those who still want to go to a university will flock to the Northern European countries where it is free and where they welcome people from all the world to learn there.

    One of the things where politicians could conceivably cause the most damage is in wrecking our health system. But we successfully resisted some of the worst changes here and there is a massive push to reverse them. These changes come mostly from right-wing extremists in USA, where there is a great deal of pressure now to undo Tricky Dicky Nixon’s awful legacy of expensive, inefficient private insurance and dominance of private health care. (Yes, before him USA had cheap, efficient public health care.) When that’s fixed any damage done to Australia’s health system will be repaired. Or, looking on the scarier side, all we need is one big epidemic and we will get our public health system back, completely restored. And climate destabilisation is bringing big shifts in disease.

    In the medium-term coal is as good as gone. Waves of coal industry bankruptcies are already happening — the seventh in the past year, Alpha Resources, USA’s second largest coal company has gone broke. We only have to worry about coal in the short term.

    Renewable energy is gathering momentum regardless of what politicians do to try and hold it back. Solar has spread and been taken up by people faster than mobile phones! And prices are still dropping, and takeup is still accelerating. The vast bulk of newly installed power generating capacity around the world is wind power. It only needs to remain that way for several more years (which there is little doubt it will) and it will be the majority power source.

    If you want a reason to feel good about how things are heading (other than that a vicious, racist, homophobic, misogynist, elitist, asshole no longer holds the reins of power here) then watch this uplifting video from one of my personal heroes, Amory Lovins, physicist, chief scientist and founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy research organisation in USA:

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