I know that Sinc has written today about the consensus of the three wise men, aka prominent economists (Fraser, Henry and Garnaut) on the need for a carbon tax or some other intervention of which they approve to deal with their perception of the problem of AGW, as well as their open criticism of the Abbott’s direct action scheme. Sinc is completely on the money in his post.
My post has a slightly different purpose and follows up on Samuel J’s post about the alarming activities of some ‘independent’ government bodies and the way in which those with statutory appointments often behave in treacherous and uncontrolled manners. And this is all the while these bodies are being funded, directly or indirectly, by the taxpayer.
John Howard was completely correct to ban effectively the creation of any new statutory authorities … he disliked the idea of them and couldn’t see the point when there were public servants to provide informed, frank and confidential policy advice.
The behaviour of the Chairman, Bernie Fraser (and other board members) of the Climate Change Authority has illustrated this point in spades. I am not sure what motivated the Labor government to set up a statutory authority to give advice on climate change policies (the CCA can’t actually decide anything or enforce its recommendations).
I guess a return to favoured mates was part of the equation (Fraser, Rubin, Ridout, Karoly, Hamilton, Quiggin) is part of the answer. But I wonder whether the existence of a SA, which could only be abolished through legislation, was a sort of poison pill for an incoming Coalition government to deal with.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think the board of the CCA should have all resigned when the Coalition was elected, in the knowledge that Coalition policy is to abolish the organisation. But I guess honour and integrity do not figure highly in their thinking, because the CCA has continued to produce appalling reports which it knows are directly contradicting government policy. All at the expense of the taxpayer.
And then we have Bernie Fraser, Chairman of the CCA and a man with well-known Labor connections, particularly through the industry superannuation funds, giving a talk at the Press Club. He obviously felt no inhibition slagging off at the current government’s policies and mouthing platitudes such as “we must not put profits before people”, whatever that means.
(Many years ago, I held a statutory position and the government of the day (Labor) asked me to resign. I did. I am not saying I was happy about it – I was doing too good a job at thwarting the operation of the authority. But I don’t regret my decision.)
Here is a report of his speech:
CLIMATE Change Authority chairman Bernie Fraser has accused the Abbott government of standing up for business interests and not community interests in a parting shot ahead of the CCA’s abolition.
Mr Fraser, a former Reserve Bank governor, called for a more mature and informed debate on climate change.
He said the Coalition had demonised the price on carbon in a campaign that rivalled the Minerals Council of Australia’s “tirade” against the mining tax.
The CCA last month recommended Australia increase its emissions reduction target from 5 per cent below 2000 levels to an effective 19 per cent.
However, the CCA is set to be scrapped as part of the Coalition’s carbon tax repeal bills, although a bill to dismantle it was voted down by the Senate last week.
Mr Fraser said he was concerned the government professed to accept the science of climate change but the indications were that it was “unlikely to back that acceptance with appropriate actions”.
“It is lightening rather than adding to the policy tool kit. The price on carbon is to go, the Renewable Energy Target is to be reviewed and possibly headed for a downgrade,” he said.
He said many aspects of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan remained to be clarified “but what has been made clear is that its scale will be determined primarily by budgetary – not climate science – considerations”.
Mr Fraser said he was puzzled why the government was not taking advantage of expert, balanced, informed advice from independent bodies.
“In that sense there is a need for the leopard to change its spots, really,” Mr Fraser said.
He said the government could ultimately face pressure to act on climate change from extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and bushfires.
He also predicted that elements of the business sector would see opportunities from a transition to a lower carbon economy and press the government for action in contrast to interests associated with fossil fuels.
Mr Fraser said there had been a loss of momentum on climate change action in recent years as concerns over the global financial crisis took precedence, but momentum was swinging back.
He said international climate change negotiations in Paris next year could put pressure on the government.