Category Archives: Carbon Tax Battle 94/95

April 24, 1994 – A Carbon Tax is floated…

It is forgotten history, but in 1994/5 a carbon tax – a small one, mostly for R and D rather than outright emissions reductions – was on the cards.  There’d been some to-ing and fro-ing in previous years, but on 24 of April 1994, shit got real.

“Senator Faulkner said yesterday the plan was a long-term aim but made it clear he was serious about the move.
“All I can say is that I’ve suggested already to some of my ministerial and Cabinet colleagues that I am interested in pursuing the issue of economic instruments,” he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.”
Peake, R. 1994. Faulkner floats energy tax. Canberra Times, 25 April, p.3.

 

Also on this day

2007Snow joke!
Australia’s biggest renewable electricity source, the Snowy Hydro power scheme, may have to shut down major generating turbines due to the nation’s crippling 10-year drought.
In a desperate attempt to keep running, the Snowy Hydro operator said on Tuesday it had turned to cloud seeding to boost water inflows.
“It is unrealistic for anyone to think that the Snowy scheme could somehow have been immune from the effects of the current severe drought,” Snowy Hydro Ltd Managing Director Terry Charlton said in a statement.
Prime Minister John Howard last week asked Australians to pray for rain in the food bowl Murray-Darling River basin, an area the size of France and Spain that accounts for 41 percent of the nation’s agriculture.
Howard warned that without heavy winter rains in coming months, irrigation in the food bowl would be turned off as the worst drought for 100 years grips Australia.
In a move that local authorities feared could reduce supply of power to the capital Canberra, and major cities Sydney and Melbourne, some of Snowy Hydro’s operations could be stopped by May-July without heavy winter rains, the Snowy Hydro said.

Lewis, P. and Woods, J. 2012. Australians seeing through the feel-good mining ads. The Drum, 24 April.

The mining industry has been dusting off its chequebook again in the lead-up to the federal budget, with feel-good glossy ads in the weekend papers reminding us how much miners love Australia – or at least the bits of it they can dig up and export.

2014 Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper released: The ERF White Paper sets out the final design of the ERF, with a reduced emissions target of 421 million tonnes of CO2-e over the period to 2020, compared to 431 in the Green Paper.

 

April 17, 1993 – A carbon tax? Don’t be a mongrel

 

The pre-history of pricing carbon (it didn’t start in 2006) is a fascinating thing.  If you’re a geek like me, that is…

“The Prime Minister, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, have denied knowledge of alleged Treasury proposals for a $1.9 billion energy tax.

“Mr Crean rejected reports in The Weekend Australian and The Age on Saturday [17 April] which suggested that a tax on the energy content or fuels and possibly carbon emissions, being discussed by Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had drawn on studies by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.”

Brough, J. 1993. Keating, Crean deny energy-tax proposal. Canberra Times, Monday 19 April, p.3.

This turned into a full-blown battle in late 1994/early 1995.  Everybody knows the green guys lost…

Also on this day- 

2000 The “High Level Forum on Sinks” was held in Perth from April 17-20 2000.

Australia is preparing to host a major international meeting of environment ministers to broaden global acceptance of forests as a source of carbon credits. But the meeting comes at a time when the ability of forests to actually generate these credits is increasingly in scientific doubt…..

Hordern, N. 2000. Australia pushes carbon sinks. The Australian Financial Review, 3 March, p.16.

Oh, and they stacked it –

Australia is being accused of deliberately “stacking” a conference of international environment ministers in Perth next week in a bid to undermine the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….

Australia has invited ministers from around the world, but stands accused of inviting only countries sympathetic to its own position on sinks.

Germany and other European countries which are of the view that overuse of sinks could encourage countries not to reduce emissions have been left out.

Clennel, A. 2000. Greenhouse Gas Conference `stacked’. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April, p.15.

Meanwhile, on the same day it is reported that

“Federal Labor is preparing a major push for the green vote at the next election by toughening its stance in key areas including greenhouse gases and mining in national parks. A draft of its revised policy platform also commits the party to establishing a new independent watchdog, the Commissioner for the Environment.”

2000 Robinson, M. and Clennell, A. 2000. Labor To Push Tough Policy For Green Vote. Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April, p.7.

Yes, well, there was a bit of a blue in Hobart later that year. Can’t have everything.  They went to the 2001 election with a reasonable green policy.  And… Tampa.

2001 “Hill was introduced at an April 17 climate change conference in Washington, organised by the Pew Center, as representing the country with the closest position to that of the US. According to the April 21 Melbourne Age, Hill “waffled at every question suggesting Australia was conveniently hiding behind the US withdrawal because it never really supported Kyoto”.” https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canberra-covers-bush-greenhouse

2005 A unique multidisciplinary conference entitled ‘Science and ethics: Can Homo sapiens survive?’ was held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra on 17-18 May. See Canberra Times article.  It was about Frank Fenner.  The answer? Pretty obvious, 12 years later…

April 8, 1995 – Australia ‘satisfied’ over not taking Berlin…

Australia went to the first meeting (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hoping to be able to scupper moves towards emissions reductions commitments for developed nations.  By 1995 it was clear that the ‘National Greenhouse Response Strategy’ agreed between the states and Federal government in December 1992 was worthless.  Faulkner had been involved in efforts to get a small carbon levy (‘tax’, whatever you want to call it) through Cabinet, if only to fund R&D into low carbon energy sources. That effort went tits up in February. Just before flying out to Berlin Faulkner had launched the “alternative” – Greenhouse Challenge scheme, which was not worth a bucket of warm spit.  Ultimately, Australia acquiesced to the ‘Berlin Mandate’ – the costs of (futile) intransigence simply too high.  Two years of attempts to get support for so-called ‘differentiation’ would follow…

LONDON, Saturday: Australian Environment Minister John Faulkner said yesterday he was satisfied with the outcome of the Berlin climate change conference, saying it offered a way forward for all countries to combat global warming. On the final day of the 11-day meeting, agreement was reached on a mandate for further negotiations on greenhouse gas emission reduction measures by developed countries. Senator Faulkner, who was part of the group of ministers who hammered out the final agreement, said it was ultimately a successful conference given the wide range of interests represented. “Australia’s very satisfied with the outcome of the group of ministers and the achievement of a mandate to negotiate a protocol,” he said from Berlin.
1995  Noack, K. 1995 Faulkner sees way forward from Berlin. Canberra Times, 9 April.

Also on this day.

2015  Energy White Paper released: The White Paper promotes increasing competition and production of energy, while reducing the cost of electricity. [a farce, basically. Not a funny one.]

March 29, 1995 – Greenhouse 21C launched, in aftermath of massive defeat for sanity

On this day in 1995, the Federal Environment Minister of Paul Keating’s government basically ran up the white flag.  The environment movement had tried to get a carbon levy/tax onto the statute box. They were defeated, comprehensively, by a very well-organised and strategically astute bunch of (fossil-fuel) industry lobbyists, who proposed a voluntary scheme instead. This became the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’, which is what John Faulkner, just before he hopped on a plane to the first meeting of the UNFCCC, in Berlin, held a press conference about.

I am pleased to announce the Federal Government’s additional greenhouse response package: Greenhouse 21C.

Greenhouse 21C delivers a whole of Government approach to climate change. My colleagues Brian Howe and Peter Cook have joined me today because there are some important measures in this response package which directly relate to their portfolio responsibilities. They will detail these measures shortly.

One of the critical elements of Greenhouse 21C is the active involvement by all stakeholders to successfully tackle the greenhouse challenge. Governments alone cannot deliver on climate change.

The active partnership between Government and industry is a significant feature of 21C. We expect that voluntary agreements will achieve in the order of 15 million tonnes of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2000 – and more in the long term.

Greenpeace,licking its wounds from the November 1994 Redbank decision,  knew what was coming.;

Greenpeace’s climate campaigner, Mr Keith Tarlo, said the biggest single item was the $25 million program to promote clean coal technology in India.

“This is a scandal. (It) is a transparent attempt to promote the Australian coal industry and can only lock India into escalating greenhouse emissions,” he said.

Boreham, G. 1995. Industry Says Yes, Greens Say No To Emissions Policy. The Age, 30 March, p.3.

and

Greenpeace said the biggest item in the package was $25 million to promote “clean coal” technology overseas. This was really meant to boost Australian coal exports and the “clean” meant only low sulphur content, it said.

Shehan, C. and McCathie, A. 1995. Bid To Cut Gas Levels – But It’s Voluntary. Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March, p.3.

 Also on this day- 

2007- At roughly the same time personal carbon allowances/trading were gaiing tradction in the UK, former NSW Premier Bob Carr predicted carbon trading among individuals

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, who chairs the Climate Institute Advisory Council, says carbon trading may one day extend to individuals, not just businesses and governments.

Mr Carr told a Property Council seminar in Sydney this morning that a national carbon trading scheme in Australia is inevitable.

He says everyone will one day have a carbon entitlement.

“Every citizen a carbon credit, but if you use up yours by reliance on an inefficient, old-fashioned vehicle, for example, or a large quantity of household air-conditioning, you’ve got to buy your right to any further carbon,” he said.

 

And on the same day the Australian Government, led by John Howard, launched a Global Initiative on Forests and. Climate.  Which of course produced no actual benefits. So it goes.

March 28, 2010 – Protest flotilla aims to block coal ships in Newcastle port

On this day in 2010,  “A flotilla of 60 rafts, kayaks and a yacht try to blockade coal ship movement into the port of Newcastle. Newcastle is the port through which the rapidly expanding coal mines in the Hunter Valley are being exported. “We’re not willing to accept the massive expansion of the coal industry in New South Wales and coal is Australia’s major contributor to climate change and it’s also the fastest growing,” said Rising Tide spokesperson, Naomi Hodgson.”

Source:  sourcewatch

Here’s the ABC take – Protesters trying to block Newcastle’s coal port

Also on this day-

In 1994, with the carbon tax/levy battle still ahead, the Australian Conservation Foundation tried to salvage something from the wreckage, urging “substantial rises in taxation and a jobs levy, to fund environmental and conservation measures and to reduce next year’s Budget deficit by between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.”

Ellis, S. 1994. Consensus emerges among lobbyists. The Australian Financial Review, 29 March, p.4.

In 2015 the “Setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions” Issues Paper was released: The paper raised questions about what Australia’s post-  2020 emission reduction target should be, and how that target would affect the nation.

March 2, 2009 – Climate groups very unhappy with Senator Penny Wong…

Kevin Rudd had come to power promising to do something substantive about climate change, which he described as ‘the great moral challenge of our generation’.  By the time White Paper for the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ (CPRS) was released in December 2008, nobody was happy (with the possible exception of the miners, who must have been beginning to suspect that the whole thing would fall over – as it did…).  The environmentalists were furious with the lack of ambition around targets for emissions reductions, and support for renewables, alongside the amount of compensation being offered to the big end of town.

In January -February 2009 climate activists had held a Climate Action Summit, and decided that the CPRS was a dog. Recriminations and potshots were exchanged.  On this day in 2009, 65 Groups published an open letter to Rudd’s Climate Change Minister, Senator Penny Wong.

Also on this day- 

1991  The following advert appeared in the Canberra Times

1991-03-02-adverts

The reports mentioned were published in late 1991, but by then the Hawke Government was circling the drain…

1994 The Australian Conservation Foundation began its push for a carbon tax…

 

AAP, 1994. Alter taxation, spending to aid environment: ACF. Canberra Times, 3 March, p.4.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has proposed sweeping changes to the Federal Government’s taxation and spending practices to safeguard Australia’s future environmental and economic interests.

In its first detailed Budget submission, released yesterday, the ACF proposed measures it said would save the Government between $ 1.4 billion and $1.9 billion next financial year at the same time as promoting more environmentally responsible practices and creating jobs. The measures include a jobs levy, carbon tax, woodchip export levy, more money for public transport, and taxation incentives for nature conservation and the use of green technologies.

1994 Middleton, K. 1994. Conservationists Urge PM To Go For A Green Budget. The Age, 3 March p.7.

Canberra — The Australian Conservation Foundation has urged the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, to consider green-based Budget measures, including a radical tax on carbon.

The foundation’s president, Professor David Yencken, and its executive director, Ms Tricia Caswell, met Mr Keating yesterday. They sought support for a complex Budget submission and asked for a swift replacement for the former Environment Minister, Mrs Kelly.

 

 

2012 ABC interview with Mitch Hooke, then CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia and the man who killed off Kevin Rudd’s mining super tax.

Aedy, R. 2012.Interview with Mitchell Hooke. ABC,  2 March.

 

March 1, 1989 – Australian government calls for international treaty on #climate

Hard to believe it, almost 30 years later, but in 1989 the Australian Federal Government – caught up in the concern about climate change, and aware that Australia was vulnerable, and that the problem needed co-ordinated global action – favoured action. This was all in the pre-UNFCCC period (the negotiations for that did not start until January 1991). This below came a week before Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans went to The Hague for a conference on climate change, part of the flurry of the years 1989 and 1990…

Federal Cabinet is set to back calls for an international treaty to protect the environment, a move which could drastically alter the nation’s future pattern of trade and the development of its resources.
Australia would support an international treaty to guard against potentially dangerous shifts in the earth’s climate and atmosphere, under a submission expected to go before Cabinet’s structural adjustment committee today.
Dunn, R. 1989. Environmental pact backed. Australian Financial Review, 1 March.

Also on this day –
1990

“Products that pollute should be taxed to be more expensive than environmentally friendly goods, a leading environmental economist said yesterday.”
Polglaze, K. 1990. Polluting products should be taxed’. Canberra Times, 2 March, p10.

1995 (after the defeat of the carbon tax proposal)

Canberra — Conservationists yesterday called on the Federal Government to overcome its “policy paralysis” after Cabinet again deferred finalising a greenhouse emission-reduction package. On Tuesday night, Cabinet agreed to hold off on a decision to allow all Government departments to work out effective proposals to curb emissions.
Boreham, G. 1995. ACF Slates Greenhouse `policy Paralysis’. The Age, 2 March, p.8.