Category Archives: Carbon Tax Battle 94/95

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.

Feb 15, 1995 – the Fin briefly understands Jevons’ Paradox

Having helped defeat a proposed carbon tax, the Australian Financial Review steps back for a minute and looks at the bigger picture. In an editorial published on February 15 1995, it momentarily groks Jevons paradox.

“But no-regrets policies cannot be counted on to significantly reduce Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. The reason is that making the economy more efficient and competitive will lead to higher levels of output.”

Also on this day

Diesendorf, M. 2006. Muzzling of CSIRO scientists is part of a wider campaign.  The Canberra Times 15 February.

ABC TV’s Four Corners program and especially its reporter, Janine Cohen, should be congratulated on highlighting an undemocratic practice that has been going on for decades: the muzzling of CSIRO scientists from participating in public debate about greenhouse response strategies and energy alternatives….

and

 

Taylor, L. 2011. Time to knuckle down to make a choice, before it’s too late. The Age, 15 February.

For a decade the main parties in Australian politics have been choosing expensive, dumb policies to reduce greenhouse emissions over the cheap, smart option of an efficiently designed carbon price.

They’ve consciously picked ideas that cost 10 times more than the cheapest option of a carbon price, which they have repeatedly promised, only to change their minds.

and

Green, M. 2013. Bursting the carbon bubble. The Age,15 February, p.16.

Energy analysts and activists warn that most of the world’s fossil fuels must remain in the ground, and that it can’t be business as usual for the industry.

Feb 13, 2006 – Four Corners report on the ‘Greenhouse Mafia’

The ABC investigative journalism programme Four Corners broadcast a hair-raising documentary on “Greenhouse Mafia,” the network of focussed and determined industry lobbyists who had taken over the policy advice system of the Howard government on climate and energy issues.  This documentary was based on the extraordinarily good PhD thesis of Guy Pearse, whose ‘High and Dry’ should be compulsory reading, in my opinion. The programme also looked at what happened to CSIRO scientists who tried to do their job – of studying and explaining the impacts of climate change.

You can read the full transcript via here.

 

Also on this day

1995 – Environment Minister John Faulkner announces on 2GB radio (Sydney) that the proposal for a carbon tax/levy is toast-

“I’ve indicated that it’s just not going to go forward…. As far as I’m concerned a greenhouse levy is off the agenda.”

Anon, 1995. Australia govt drops plans for carbon tax-minister.  Reuters, 14 February.

 

 

 

 

Feb 8, 1995 – Business united in anti-carbon tax meeting. Unions too.

Staying with the carbon tax debate- on this day 22 years ago, business played a blinder.  They presented a united front at a ‘business roundtable’ meeting, opposing a tax and proposing a voluntary scheme instead. And, interestingly, they eschewed climate change denial.  The assembled ministers were convinced, and Environment Minister John Falukner realised he wasn’t going to be able to get Cabinet to agree to the tax.  The following day saw this on the front page of the Australian Financial Review –

THE ACTU and the business community have joined in a powerful alliance against the introduction of a carbon tax by the Federal Government.

Behind closed doors in Canberra yesterday, five senior ministers were warned that economic output could be cut by nearly $5 billion over five years if a “small” carbon tax were introduced. And a leading mining group cast doubts over nearly $2 billion of new investment.

The ACTU, while opposed to a carbon tax, proposed a surcharge on income tax if the Government was interested in raising revenue.

More than 20 business groups and the ACTU were involved in yesterday’s ministerial roundtable – attended by Senator Cook (industry), Senator Collins (primary industries), Senator McMullan (trade), Senator Faulkner (environment) and Mr Beddall (resources) – which came after a similar session on Tuesday with environment and community groups.

Callick, R. and Gill, P. 1995. Unions back business against carbon tax. Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p.1.

Also on this day-

2010 Malcolm Turnbull gives a blistering speech on floor of parliament while voting for Rudd’s CPRS

 

Feb 7, 1995 – Treasurer points to ‘let out’ clauses in the UNFCCC

On this day  in 1995, during the peak of the carbon tax battles,  Treasurer Ralph Willis old Parliament that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which Australia had ratified in late December 1992, contained ‘let-out clauses’ and that the government might decide that a less ambitious target was appropriate Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 7 February 1995, 582 (Ralph Willis, Treasurer).

“Those are not unimportant clauses (and) they have to be taken into account when considering whether we need absolutely to tie ourselves to achieving the (targets)… `(But) we are concerned with ensuring that Australia does everything in its power to try to live up to its obligations to the convention.”

Meanwhile,five of his Cabinet colleagues were taking part in the first of two roundtables about the proposed carbon tax. The environmental and community groups were on the 7th, the business groups on the 8th.

By total coincidence, the Business Council had sent out press releases on the 6th February warning of massive job losses if a carbon tax were instituted…

Thomas, C. 1995. Business Council Hits Plan For Carbon Tax. The Age, 7 February, p.50.

 

Also on this day –

In 2009 the  Black Saturday bushfires  around Melbourne.  These were also the spur for Philip Chubb to write his book “Power Failure.”

Feb 6, 2007 – Rudd asks Howard about that pesky 2003 Emissions Trading Scheme proposal

On this day ten years ago, in Parliament, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd asked  Prime Minister Howard if a submission proposing an emission trading scheme went before cabinet in August 2003 and if that proposal was rejected.

Mr RUDD (Leader of the Opposition) (2:50 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Did a submission proposing an emissions-trading scheme go to cabinet in August 2003? Was that proposal rejected?
Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I do not carry in my head the details of every submission that has gone to cabinet. Let me simply say that our position in relation to an emissions-trading system is that we have, at present, at work a joint task group between the government and the business community. Tomorrow that task group will be releasing a discussion paper which deals with these matters.

Actually, it came to cabinet in July 2003 – a joint submission of the Treasurer and the Environment Minister, supported by others.   Howard  deferred the matter for a month, then rushed through some economic modelling and  talked to some of his business mates. IN August at Cabinet he unilaterally rejected it.  A matter to which we will return…

Also on this day –

In 1995 a coalition of industry groups sent out five news releases, under the banner ‘Carbon Tax Threatens Regional Jobs’,

(a tactic used in the ‘Let’s Cut Emissions, Not Jobs’ television campaign of late 2009 too)