There is no democratically viable climate change policy in Australia

Blame Kevin Rudd.

Paul Kelly has a very good and important piece in the Australian talking about climate change policy in Australia.

Turnbull made clear his game plan: he wanted to vote for Rudd’s scheme, neutralise climate change via bipartisanship and run against Labor on economic policy at the 2010 election. Julie Bishop and Joe Hockey agreed. Turnbull needed to win concessions from Rudd on the scheme to appease his own side and Labor did offer hefty concessions.

But Rudd never treated Turnbull as his legislative partner. He did the opposite: he attacked Turnbull, depicted the Coalition as sceptics “holding the world to ransom”, accused Turnbull of “political cowardice” and branded him a risk to “our jobs, our houses, our farms, our reef, our economy and our future”.

Rudd declined to negotiate ­directly with Turnbull. He was greedy. He wanted Turnbull’s support for his policy but he wanted to destroy the Turnbull Coalition as immoral and weak on climate change. These were contradictory goals. For passing Labor’s policy, Rudd offered Turnbull nothing but truckloads of humiliation.

This is a story that needs to be told and retold. Over the last couple of weeks the ALP has been blaming the Greens and the Liberal Party for not passing Kevin Rudd’s emission trading scheme. But the fact of the matter is that the Liberals were going to vote for the scheme right up until Rudd decided to play politics.

At that point the game was revealed. This had nothing to do with global warming – it was snowing in Victoria this week – and everything to do with politics.

There lies the problem. As Paul Kelly explains:

Labor’s past three leaders — Rudd, Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten — have been destroyed with climate change policy critical in the demise of each. The paradox of Labor’s position is its entrenched belief that the people want decisive climate change action, yet its ­repeated failure to translate this belief into a policy endorsed at the ballot box.

This has been a failure of strategy and tactics. The Labor mantra, displayed again this week, is to blame the Greens, then the Tony Abbott-led Coalition, then the Scott Morrison-led Coalition, for defeating what is Labor’s non-negotiable commitment to climate change action. This raises the question: if the public is so enthusiastic, why does Labor keep losing?

Yep: you can crap on until the cows come home about “the science”.  In the absence of a clear, coherent, and common sense story the electorate don’t want to know about your plan to increase prices without there being any benefit to them.

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42 Responses to There is no democratically viable climate change policy in Australia

  1. Fisky

    The real purpose of “climate policy” is to bring down “settler-colonial” countries that have enjoyed centuries of privilege. Make them more like Venezuela basically.

  2. C.L.

    Kelly has been writing some good stuff lately.
    His long column on the scuttled union laws last week was superb. A tour de force even.

  3. C.L.

    its entrenched belief that the people want decisive climate change action

    This, of course, is total bullshit.
    Yes, nice people will tell the nice pollster man on the phone that they “care” about climate change but they couldn’t give a rat’s bum. That’s the truth.

  4. Karabar

    I have found that asking true believers to define exactly what it is that they think this “climate change” is that they “believe in” is a lot like asking for a complete description of the appearance, size and behaviour of the Bunyip.

  5. mareeS

    As soon as “believe” is introduced to a discussion, I take the sceptic’s position. It isn’t enough to believe, just prove it, or crash down with the other hysterics.

  6. Nob

    This is a story that needs to be told and retold

    … how Turnbull was a disaster, in Opposition and government?

  7. Tom

    The common man knows “climate change” is crap, a religion replacement for the dumb, atheist ruling class. Long live democracy!

  8. Herodotus

    Nice sentiment Tom, but the common man has repeatedly elected labor-green governments at state and federal level. Not all the time, But often enough to make me doubt the wisdom of the common voter and the oft repeated mantra here that the media doesn’t matter.
    As long as this threat hangs there, our previously conservative politicians are affected by it.
    I have no hope that the complexion of the media will change. Therefore while a result such as the May fed election is good, it wasn’t so convincing that the zombie left will give the game away.
    They’ll be back.

  9. Iampeter

    Blame Kevin Rudd.

    You mean to thank Kevin Rudd surely.
    The ETS was cooked up by the Howard government and Rudd was proceeding with conservative green policies. Rudd’s bungling helped save us from having an ETS.
    But I think we still have Abbott’s Climate Reduction Fund, or some such, funnelling cash into unproductive enterprises.

    Bottom line is that the climate regulations destroying this country are not Labor’s doing.
    This mess was created by conservatives.

  10. Iain Russell

    Add in the unflinching support, and the 24×7 unremitting hate speech, of the Anti-LNPBC and the ALP’s failure becomes even starker

  11. bollux

    Howard was browbeaten relentlessly by the Left and finally made a small concession [stupid]. Tony Abbott got it in one when he said “climate change is crap”. Turnbull is a traitor to everything he touches.

  12. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    The paradox of Labor’s position is its entrenched belief that the people want decisive climate change action, yet its ­repeated failure to translate this belief into a policy endorsed at the ballot box.

    Gee, anyone might think that if labore weren’t such a pack of irredeemable inbred imbeciles they might have twigged by now that most of the electorate think catastrophic human induced climate change is a load of hysterical fact and evidence free anti-scientific horseshit.

    The definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome.

  13. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    P.S. Paul “is wrong, again” Kelly remains an irrelevant unreadable windbag.

  14. Alessio

    If the “common voter” does not believe in the Great Climate Science Fiction then why are they so apathetic about escalating energy prices brought to them by renewable energy market distorting policies?

  15. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    why are they so apathetic about escalating energy prices brought to them by renewable energy market distorting policies?

    Because the frequent lengthy blackouts haven’t started. Yet.

    When they do, all bets are off.

  16. Bruce of Newcastle

    Gee, anyone might think that if labore weren’t such a pack of irredeemable inbred imbeciles they might have twigged by now that most of the electorate think catastrophic human induced climate change is a load of hysterical fact and evidence free anti-scientific horseshit.

    Joel Fitzgibbon worked this out.
    He almost lost his rusted-on seat to PHON.
    Hunter has been held by Labor since 1910.
    Since then he’s been a lone voice in the ALP.
    Now that the voters have his hairy pair in hand his heart and mind have followed.

  17. Pyrmonter

    So, instead of some coherent, more or less market-based policy (for a long list of reasons, an ETS isn’t as good an idea as a CO2 tax), we end up with a complex, opaque but undoubtedly expensive mix of:

    – indirect taxes (effectively how the RET works)
    – applied at different rates to CO2 output
    – producer subsidies
    – rorted product markets (lightbulbs, building materials)
    – ad hoc interventions by policy makers (unconventional gas) and courts (Gloucester coal case) targeting ‘CO2 reduction’ in answer to laws and sentiments calling for gestures rather than outcomes.

    It’s a mess: up there with industry policy in the worst days of McEwenism. And it has a many parents.

  18. Pyrmonter

    FWIW Turnbull’s judgment was right. Labor in 2010 were exposed on the economy as a political issue, and it is was there that the Coalition would have won the 2010 election.

  19. Tim Neilson

    (for a long list of reasons, an ETS isn’t as good an idea as a CO2 tax)

    I hope you really mean “is an even worse idea”.

  20. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim N

    Either of them would be better than the RET, the effective ban on extracting gas, and the rorts sponsored by the clean energy funding arrangements. If there is one thing I’d have thought most Cat contributors could see, it is that markets – which marshall dispersed information – work much better than command and control pollution control measures. This is the stuff of intermediate microeconomics, not the culture wars or ideology.

  21. Tim Neilson

    Pyrmonter
    #3252655, posted on December 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

    What I said was that to describe a CO2 tax as a “good idea” even in a relative sense is inaccurate.

    A CO2 tax is a dreadful idea unless one assumes that suppressing CO2 emissions is worth doing, which is a triumph of ideology over reality.

    In fact, even if one assumes that suppressing CO2 emissions was worth doing, given the massive ramping up that’s happening in China it’s still at best utterly pointless and probably harmful for us to engage in facile virtue-signalling.

    We’d be much better off scrapping all this junk entirely.

  22. Kneel

    “…unless one assumes that suppressing CO2 emissions is worth doing…”

    If you believe this, then certainly you would want policies that actually reduce CO2 emissions, right?
    If we had some – even one – I’d consider it.
    At present, we are increasing costs and “gold plating” the grid (BTW, RET hoovers say it’s “not fair” that they need to pay ANY of the costs of updating the grid to facilitate their rorts) to no effect. EG, German electricity prices have tripled while CO2 emissions have INCREASED. Even ignoring the rorts that saw SOLAR arrays supplying power AT NIGHT (because the feed-in tariff was enough to pay for fossil generated electricity to use flood-lights on solar panels), the fact that CO2 has not been reduced is proof of the failure of these policies.
    Worse, while taxpayers foot the bill for billions in subsidies, not a single cent is thrown towards LENR anuetronic fusion – despite at least two of these asking for just US$200M to create a grid scale (100+MW) demonstration system. We could foot the bill for 25 x $200M development bills for just one years worth of renew-a-bubbles subsidies. Should they work, they payback would be absolutely huge. Clean, safe, almost unlimited energy with NO CO2 generated by fuel use. Zero (none, nada, zilch) chance of these types of systems creating an explosion – well, not a nuclear one anyway, just the normal “big machine went wrong” bangs. Fuel is not radioactive. Waste is not radioactive (in fact, the waste – helium – can be quite valuable).
    Of course, the greens won’t support doing this research – unless the windmills bespoil Bob Brown’s views of nature, they’d rather pay endless subsidies to their maaates.

  23. Pyrmonter

    @ Tim

    Well, it’s a layman’s opinion, and one about which I have some diffidence, but on balance I do think restraining CO2 output probably makes sense. I know many Cats don’t, but I could make up a long list of respectable people – from Mankiw to Posner (and even, at times, Lord Lawson) – who do. And that’s just the people from a policy background.

    While the climate may be a global commons, the ‘we can (and so should) free ride on the common outcome’ argument has about it the feel of the rioter whose defence is that there was already a riot, and his joining it didn’t make it materially worse.

    On scrapping the non-market measures – from lightbulbs to renewables mandates – we are a unity ticket.

  24. Tim Neilson

    On scrapping the non-market measures – from lightbulbs to renewables mandates – we are a unity ticket.

    True.

  25. Pyrmonter

    @ Kneel

    The point with the Germans is that they’re pursuing inconsistent policies, and not using markets to puruse them. They’re dismantling their nuclear power sector faster than their coal-fired sector, driving, at least in the immediate future, higher coal usage. They’ve also got plans to reduce the use of coal, but they are suspiciously far into the future, beyond the current political horizons. We’ll see whether that happens.

    In the meantime, the effect of renewables is, in effect, to impose an indirect tax, simply because of the higher cost of production and distribution: a less efficient approach than using a direct and proportionate tax. This is why, if we are to do anything in this area, we should be using markets.

  26. mem

    Well, it’s a layman’s opinion, and one about which I have some diffidence, but on balance I do think restraining CO2 output probably makes sense.

    You would do well to go to this site and listen to what Prof Will Happer says https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHCCE-sw_Sc

  27. Iampeter

    Howard was browbeaten relentlessly by the Left and finally made a small concession [stupid]. Tony Abbott got it in one when he said “climate change is crap”. Turnbull is a traitor to everything he touches.

    Howard led the way in establishing the green bureaucracy in Australia going back to the 90’s.
    It’s one of his biggest pieces of work aside from middle class welfare.
    No one browbeat Howard. He led. He was a decade ahead.

    If Abbott thought any of this was “crap” he sure didn’t say anything at the time. He has no credibility on the subject and neither do any conservatives.

    Turnbull on the other hand, has never pretended to be anything but a leftist. So the only traitors to everything are conservatives.

    Are you saying that if we had consistently voted for Labor/Greens in this time, we would have less onerous climate policies?

    No, I’m just pointing out the fact that conservatives initiated and created the green bureaucracy. They have no credibility in suddenly opposing it from 2008.
    Their positions make no sense.

  28. Art Vandelay

    The ETS was cooked up by the Howard government and Rudd was proceeding with conservative green policies. Rudd’s bungling helped save us from having an ETS.

    Spot on. Rudd’s CPRS was largely based on work that had been already done by the bureaucracy for an ETS being cooked up by the Howard government.

  29. I_am_not_a_robot

    … While the climate may be a global commons, the ‘we can (and so should) free ride on the common outcome’ argument has about it the feel of the rioter whose defence is that there was already a riot, and his joining it didn’t make it materially worse …

    There is not a scrap of indisputable evidence that the increasing CO2 concentration is on balance harmful, in fact the only effect that has been observed without doubt or qualification is the greening of the planet. That is all despite the so-called precautionary principle.
    I can understand why a fake ‘market’ policy would be popular with a non-productive technocratic class especially economists.

  30. Anthony

    Even a relatively benign idea like a revenue neutral carbon tax is hard to get up. You ultimately have to wear some deadweight costs, and only you bear the cost – but any benefit is distributed globally. Worse you can induce some moral hazard, because if you are the last place to introduce a carbon tax, you are relatively more competitive than your neighbours with no downside whilst getting all the benefit (especially if everyone else has already achieved the necessary reduction goals).

    You look at say Washington State in the US. Solidly Democratic since the late 1980s. Has rejected carbon taxes twice. The politics is bloody hard.

  31. P

    John Howard fires shots at ‘climate change zealots’ for threatening country’s energy sector
    By Lorna Nicholas – August 6, 2019 – Small Caps

    He added he had “enormous optimism” about the nation’s future – based on its “common sense values”.

    And here from the video clip on youtube.

  32. I_am_not_a_robot

    … restraining CO2 output probably makes sense … and even, at times, Lord Lawson …

    That’s surprising.
    I can’t find any reference on the web where Nigel Lawson has endorsed ‘restraining CO2 output’, can Pyrmonter help?

  33. Squirrel

    “There is no democratically viable climate change policy in Australia”

    Indeed – certainly not if we are being expected to move significantly ahead of technology which is affordable and reliable.

    In the absence of that, the Australian public will go on swinging from one side of the debate to the other – demanding “real action” (i.e. appeasing the climate gods with sacrifices largely paid for by others) during periods of nasty weather, and then recoiling when they find out what serious action will actually cost them in money and changes to their entitled lifestyles.

  34. 2dogs

    There is no democratically viable climate change policy in Australia

    On the contrary, it is simply a matter of holding a plebiscite on nuclear power.

    The plebiscite will pass.

  35. custard

    The problem with the non-problem of the climate change hoax is that even if you believe there is a problem that needs to be fixed, the solution does not exist!
    There was an article recently over at Quadrant (thanks areff) by Tony Thomas (IIRC) which talked about the number of nuclear power stations, solar arrays, windmills and hydro power-stations that would need to be built (there was lots) and the chances of that ever happening are nil, nothing, Nada and zip. Particularly in the time frame that the alarmists would have you believe.
    Its a gigantic hoax!
    Its hot here in Perth this week, its called summer….we get it every year.

  36. cohenite

    Bottom line is that the climate regulations destroying this country are not Labor’s doing.
    This mess was created by conservatives.

    The LNP are cowards and were bullied by bureaucrats and the msm. Like all cowards they sought to appease; that’s their crime; they, apart from some green infiltrators including Wilson, sharma, although the jury is out with him since he may be doing a cynical concession to his electorate, don’t believe this shit but they’re too craven to oppose it, apart from Kelly..

    But to say the filth/liars would not have greatly exceeded what the pea-hearts of the LNP have done is either stupid or piss-taking.

  37. On the contrary, it is simply a matter of holding a plebiscite on nuclear power.

    The plebiscite will pass.

    Of course it will.

    Spread the word.

  38. Pyrmonter

    @ bot

    Lawson accepts that CO2 drives climate change and is harmful; his reported objections to action are the same ‘shirking’ from a commons – the riot to which I referred above.

    That’s not an irrational point from the perspective of an individual country; but it raises the question ‘how do we overcome the free-rider problem’. There are thick books on that – I’d start with the Logic of Collective Action and then try the Ostroms. Or consult texts on the operation of cartels.

  39. I_am_not_a_robot

    Lawson accepts that CO2 drives climate change and is harmful

    Don’t just tell me, show me.

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