Having lost his job as opposition leader at the end of 2009 because of his support for carbon pricing, Malcolm Turnbull almost quit politics. By 2011 he was fully back in the fray. With climate change again/still a hot issue, Turnbull was on the ABC programme Lateline, on this day 6 years ago, explaining that
if you want to have a long-term solution to abating carbon emissions and to achieve – if you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government – where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.
Well, thank goodness that didn’t happen, eh?
Also on this day
18 May 1993 Australian National Audit office Implementation of an ‘Interim ‘Greenhouse Response’ Media Release’ (Crowley 2013)
So, who is going to build what where and when if policies might change radically soon and leave you with a stranded elephant/white asset? It’s a hardy perennial in the business pages, and academics seem relatively blind to questions of finance…. Anyway, in 1990, at peak ‘green hype’ some were already trying to use it as a brake on “sustainable development”.
Sustainable development is catching up with Australia fast. The economy is going through an investment boom which could provide the export revenue in the 1990s that would make our current account and foreign debt positions “sustainable”….
The accompanying table lists 26 major investment projects under consideration which Access Economics says appear to be in danger of environmental veto, including the Cape York spaceport (worth $350 million), the Very Fast Train project ($4.5 billion) and 24 resource and manufacturing projects valued at $11 billion.
Stutchbury, M. 1990. Environmental threat to investment boom. Australian Financial Review , 11 May.
And as part of his epic bashing-‘Direct Action- timeline, Labor shadow environment minister Mark Butler notes that on
“11 May 2013: Investors warn of uncertainty from direct action in the AFR.”
So, Australian state governments, pushed by NSW Premier Bob Carr, had been banging on about emissions trading since 2004, with a “National Emissions Trading Taskforce” (NETT). It was busy producing reports when in late 2006 John Howard, under immense pressure on climate and with a Federal election a year away, performed one of his famous U-turns. The Shergold Report was due to be released in late May, and the Australian state governments, plus one opposition leader called K. Rudd, didn’t want Howard to steal their thunder. So…
“On 30 April 2007, the leader of the federal opposition Australian Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, (along with the state and territory governments) engaged world renowned economist Professor Ross Garnaut to conduct a wide ranging review into the effects of climate change on Australia and its economy (Garnaut 2008).”
(Rice and Martin, 2016:48)
Fed: Opposition commissions Australia’s own climate report 30 April 2007 Australian Associated Press General News
See also this from AAP-
CLIMATE By Jessica Marszalek
BRISBANE, April 30 AAP – The federal opposition has commissioned an economics professor to head a Stern-type review into the impact of climate change on Australia’s future. Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced the Garnaut Climate Change Review in Brisbane today, saying it would outline the threat to the country’s economic prosperity and investigate mitigation strategies. It will be headed by Australian National University economics Professor Ross Garnaut, who will hand down interim findings mid next year, and a completed report by October 2008.
The sidelining of Garnaut began early (See February 2008) and in the end the legislation put forward in 2009 was barely recognisable. But there you have it. Garnaut was back in the hotseat in 2010-11, as a member of Gillard’s MPCCC. But that’s another story…
Also on this day
30 April 2013: Peter Costello calls on Coalition to scrap direct action spending on 7.30 report.
On 1st December 2009, by a single vote, Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia. The issue at stake – Turnbull’s support for Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme. Abbott, who had recently declared climate science to be ‘absolute crap’ (in Beaufort, Victoria, on 30 September 2009) took over. He said that the Liberals would meet the 5% reduction by 2020 target that Rudd had set… by planting trees, basically. After the summer break, he explained what the Liberal ‘policy’ would be.
You can read his media release here.
Direct action on the environment and climate change.
There will be more about ‘Direct Action’ in due course. Suffice to say that ‘we will plant trees instead of putting a price on carbon’ was Liberal Party policy from 1995 onwards.
Also on this day –
2010 Australian ETS legislation introduced a third time. The recently deposed Malcolm Turnbull would cross the floor to vote for it, symbolic action that it was.