Category Archives: Carbon Tax Battle 94/95

Feb 3, 2010 – Tony Abbott meets Lord Monckton (no photos though!)

On this day seven years ago, the newly minted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott did some dog-whistling more subtle than his March 2011 debacle.  As Bernard Keane perceptively notes –

“Tony Abbott’s decision to meet Lord Monckton was contemptible — but smart politics. Abbott is just doing what he has been hired to do: dog-whistle to the extreme right of the party. Tony Abbott met with conspiracy theorist Chris Monckton yesterday at lunchtime, but Abbott wouldn’t allow photographers to record the meeting or publicly comment on what was discussed.”

Keane, B. 2010. Abbott to the lunatic fringe: it’s OK, I’m one of you. Crikey, 4 February.

Monckton visited again, the following year.  We’ll come back to that…

 

Also on this day –

1994 – John Daley (not Daly), not yet executive director of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, attends the ABARE ‘Outlook 94’ conference, and, in the words of Simon Grose, hack for the Canberra times, warns that  warns that

“Australia and the developing economies of the world could bear an unfairly high proportion of the costs of controls on greenhouse emissions in the event of any global agreement to adopt uniform emission-reduction targets”

Grose, S. 1994. Unfair burden’ on Australia. Canberra Times, 4 February, p.4.

1995 In the context of a probable/possible carbon tax, Senator McMullan gives a speech at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne “The levy will be dealt with on the basis of its appropriateness as a measure to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rather than on the amount of revenue it might raise…. What we need to avoid is any situation where we unilaterally place a wide range of export and import-competing industries at a competitive disadvantage without actually contributing effectively to reducing global or domestic greenhouse emissions.”

Gill, P. 1995. Official warns of small cut in gas with carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 7 February, p.3.

2009 At the  end of the Climate Action Summit  in Canberra, activists encircle Parliament

 

Jan 27, 2009 – Cory Bernardi launches ‘Thank God for Carbon’

Ray Evans (who died in 2014) was a tire…less advocate of climate denial, industrial relations ‘reform’ (smash the unions), etc etc.  We will meet him again in the course of this year, because he was pivotal in a variety of denialist 2017-01-27campaigns from the mid-1990s onwards.

On this day 8 years ago, in Adelaide, Senator Cory Bernardi launched his 36 page Nobel Prize worthy extravaganza. This should be seen in the context of Kevin Rudd’s doomed CPRS legislation and the mobilisation against it…

You can read Senator Bernardi’s speech here.

 

Also on this day

In 1995, a a national review for the Federal Government of Australia’s urban environment, released by the Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, called for a small carbon tax to cut greenhouse gases, and compulsory fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.

You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that it didn’t happen…..

Milburn, C. 1995. Study Calls For Carbon Tax To Cut Emissions. The Age, 27 January, p.3.

 

 

Jan 23, 2013- Australian coal mining versus the planet….

On this day in 2013, the Age journo Tom Arup starts a piece

The forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports would be the world’s second-largest contributor of new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels if fully realised, research by Greenpeace International has found.

An analysis of the planet’s 14 largest proposed, coal, oil and gas developments – to be released on Wednesday by Greenpeace – finds if Australian coal production expands as projected, the mining, production and burning of the extra resources would by 2020 result in 759 million tonnes of new global carbon dioxide emissions a year over 2011 levels.

It’s based on Greenpeace International report called  “Point of No Return

2013-01-23

Also on this day –

In 1992 , A report on an early(ish) dose of denial appears in the Australian Financial Review,

Lawson, M. 1992. Cooling the global warming predictions.  The Australian Financial Review, 23 January .

In 1995, economist John Quiggin quixotically makes the case that a carbon tax could provide more jobs….”there is no reason to suppose that business as a whole would necessarily lose from such a tax.” 

Quiggin, J. 1995. Carbon tax could make more jobs. The Australian Financial Review, 23 January.

In 2001 the Sydney Morning Herald had a front page story based on the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC

 

World temperatures may increase by as much as six degrees Celsius over the next century, leading climate change scientists say in an alarming report that adds new urgency to the warnings on global warming.

The projected increase, which would be the most rapid temperature change in the past 10,000 years, is expected to push sea levels up by nearly a metre, threatening tens of millions of people, and generate more floods, droughts and fires.

The report found that the 1990s were the hottest decade since instrument records were first taken in 1861 and that 1998 was the hottest year. And for the first time scientists agreed that the warming is mostly due to human activity.

The gloomy prognosis was released in Shanghai yesterday by the respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a joint project of the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation.

Schauble, J. 2001. Six Degrees Hotter: Global Climate Alarm Bells Ring Louder. Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January, p.1.

In 2005 A report, co-authored by the UK Institute of Public Policy Research, the US “Centre for American Progress” and the Australia Institute was released. It was called “Meeting the Climate Challenge” According to ippr – “This interim report, setting out the taskforce’s recommendations, is both a practical policy handbook, and passionate call for action on this most vital of issues.” [Actually, I think the report was launched Jan 1st, just slow on the ippr blog. Not sure though].

Jan 20, 2010- Greens propose a tax to salvage the CPRS car crash

On this day in 2010, the Green Party tried to salvage something from the wreckage of Kevin Rudd’s twice rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.  Many commentators blame the Greens for not holding their noses and voting through the CPRS package, which they rejected because it offered too much compensation to the coal companies and did too little to reduce emissions.  It’s arguable that the deal they finally got, under Julia Gillard, wasn’t that much better, and was in any case swept away by Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

But the point is that the Greens were at least trying to find a way forward for climate change policy in the dark days of early 2010.  And that should be in the ‘official’/popular narratives (it largely isn’t).

Kirk, A. 2010. Greens propose interim carbon tax. ABC, 20 January.

For further articles, see here.

See Paddy Manning’s take on it in The Age.

But there is one tenable, market-based climate policy on the table: the Australian Greens compromise proposal for an interim carbon price starting at $23 a tonne of carbon dioxide.

Most people have either ignored or misunderstood what the Greens offered to discuss with the government in January. If they ignored it, it was because they rightly assumed there was Buckley’s chance of this government doing a deal with the Greens. If they misunderstood it, it was probably because they wrongly assumed the proposal was for a temporary fix.

The idea of the Greens was that a fixed carbon price would increase at 4 per cent, plus the consumer price index, each year until at least July 2012.

Manning, P. 2010. One climate policy, and it only comes in Green. The Age, 5 May.

Also on this day-

In one of life’s little ironies, this was the fifteenth anniversary of the release of an Australian Conservation Foundation proposal for a $2.20 per tonne tax on carbon dioxide. The Budget submission, part of a broader doomed campaign for a carbon tax, said that the proposal would raise $850m [I think over the course of three years].

Milburn, C. 1995. ACF Calls For $3.3b On Environment. The Age, 21 January, p.7.

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

On this day 24 years ago the faint hopes of ecological modernisation in Australia got a boost. As a article in Green Left Weekly reported

“A major new effort to develop jobs which protect the environment”, was how the January 18 joint statement by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation described their joint Green Jobs in Industry Plan. The scheme was launched at the Visyboard Paper and Cardboard Recycling Plant in Melbourne by Peter Baldwin, minister for higher education and employment services.”

Noakes, F. 1993. ACTU and ACF launch green jobs program. Green Left Weekly, 27 January.

Norton in his  2004 PhD thesis is sanguine, and  points to the tensions between the ACTU and ACF over woodchipping (and presumably the carbon tax, though he doesn’t mention it) sending the union/environmentalist relationship into the deep freeze for a good decade or so…

Basically, if you want to have new industries (not based on ripping stuff out of the ground, then you need a highly educated workforce and conception of the state that is more open to ‘picking winners’ (rather than protecting rent-seekers indefinitely). It’s not easy, but Australia has it seems never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  So it goes.

Also on this day –

1995 – a story based on a leak of documents that purported to be Senator Faulkner’s carbon tax proposal but ACTUALLY came from his opponents gets front page billing and leads to fulminating editorials in the Fin and the Sydney Morning Herald.  Dirty tricks… work….

“FEDERAL Cabinet is considering a series of controversial measures to cut greenhouse emissions, including a carbon tax of up to $20 a tonne, which would raise $13 billion over three years, and an extra 10c/litre fuel excise.

“The proposals – detailed in a Cabinet document obtained by The Australian Financial Review – are set to generate massive industry hostility, and to switch the environmental spotlight from Mr Beddall, the minister responsible for the woodchip controversy, to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, and his departmental deputy secretary, Mr Phillip Toyne, who is masterminding the greenhouse strategy.”

Callick, R. 1995. Revealed: Green tax shock *$13bn grab *$20/tonne carbon tax *New 10c/litre fuel levy. Australian Financial Review, 18 January, p.1.

Jan 17, 1995 – Economic ministries throw their weight around on carbon tax…

According to Peter Gill, a well-connected journalist working for the Australian Financial Review, the government department seeking to introduce a carbon tax of up to $5 a tonne got schooled in who exactly runs the policy show over the course of the evening of Tuesday (17th) and the morning of Weds (18th) January 1995.  The economic ministries pointed out that

“the Government’s greenhouse response is an economic issue as much as an environmental issue. As such, greenhouse was not his province alone. That stand demanded a substantial rewriting of a confidential greenhouse options paper in the hours before it hit the fax to industry and environmental groups. The most significant change saw a mooted carbon tax of up to $5 a tonne of CO2 in the near-final draft chopped to a $1.25 a tonne tax.”

Gill, P. 1995. Ministerial rewrite softens carbon tax. The Australian Financial Review, 20 January. p.2.

This is how the game is played. Come back on October 11th, and learn about the Interim Planning Target of 1990. There’s always someone with a sharp pen – the bureaucratic equivalent of a sock full of wet sand…

Jan 16, 2006 – Liberal Treasurer supports a carbon price. Or does he?

On this day in 2006, the then Australian Treasurer, and presumptive heir apparent to the Prime Ministership, Peter Costello made a speech in Los Angeles, supporting price signals for energy.

“A market based solution will give the right signal to producers and to consumers. It will make clear the opportunity cost of using energy resources, thereby encouraging more and better investment in additional sources of supply and improving the efficiency with which they are used. That has to be good for both producers and consumers and better for the environment.”

These words were thrown back at him 7 months later by Labor MP Anthony Albanese, who in a press release on 16th August entitled “Costello & Howard at odds over emissions trading”.  This was at a time when climate change was exploding into public consciousness (thanks to the drought, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and so on.  Labor would continue to make political capital of this, increasing its tempo after Kevin Rudd toppled Kim Beazley as ALP leader in December of 2006. But back to Albo –

It is not surprising Peter Costello made this statement as in August 2003 a Cabinet submission to establish a national emissions trading scheme was co-sponsored by four Departments – Treasury, Environment, Industry & Foreign Affairs.

Unfortunately, the joint Cabinet submission was scuttled by the Prime Minister who is stuck in the past and unable to embrace the future.

Yes, that 2003 decision.  Something we will come back to…

Also on this day –

1992 The Australian Capital Territory’s first draft greenhouse strategy was launched.

Lamberton, H. 1992. Draft greenhouse strategy issued. Canberra Times, 17 January, p.5.

1995

“REPRESENTATIVES of a substantial group of Australian industries meet in Canberra today to draft a joint response to invitations issued by the Minister for the Environment, Senator Faulkner, for separate talks over the next fortnight on his carbon tax proposal”

Callick, R. 1995. Industry forces gather to slow carbon tax momentum. Australian Financial Review, 16 January, p.8.

2004- “Emissions trading scheme back on agenda for Australian states”

New South Wales state premier Bob Carr is backing a state-led greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme for Australia says a paywalled site. Presumably this was to announce the launch of the state-based National Emissions Trading Taskforce.