Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

March 21, 2007 – Unions want #climate action

Ten years ago today, with climate change on everyone’s mind and a Federal election looming, the Unions stated their case. The excellent journo Rosslyn Beeby, then at the Canberra Times,  had this story-

Beeby, R. 2007. Union pressure on climate. Canberra Times, 22 March.

The ACTU has called for sweeping national reforms across transport, mining, agriculture, construction, education and public health to tackle climate change and generate new jobs. The comprehensive green action plan will increase pressure on federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to adopt a more radical climate change policy as Labor prepares for next month’s national conference. Reforms outlined in the ACTU’s newly endorsed climate change strategy include government subsidies for energy efficient retrofitting of buildings, new mandatory green building codes for all commercial buildings, large-scale reuse of treated effluent, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and greater use of shipping to cut national transport emissions. ACTU secretary Greg Combet described climate change as ”the pre-eminent policy challenge of our time”, and urged industry to ”face up to global warming and be accountable for investing in sustainable jobs rather than raising the fear of job losses and expecting government handouts”.

It all went horribly horribly wrong of course.

Also on this day-

In 1990 Bob Hawke spoke at the National Press Club, ahead of the Federal Election (you are never more than 2 years 11 months from a Federal Election campaign in Australia).  He warned disaffected voters “When you wake up on 25 March,” he said, “there won’t be a Democrat government or a green independent government.”

In 1994 on this day, (on the same day that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into ‘force’) the New South Wales  Singleton Council approved Redbank coal-fired power station. Greenpeace contested this in the courts, and lost…

In 1995, according to

Dwyer, M. 1995. Australia takes strong line against greenhouse rules.  The Australian Financial Review,  21 March.

“FEDERAL Cabinet is today expected to endorse Australia taking a tough stand – at a ministerial meeting on climate change in Berlin next week – against new measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

And indeed, Australian negotiators did got to Berlin hoping to prevent a global agreement. But that agreement – to come up with something the “developed world” would do – got through, and set the path to Kyoto… Of which more later…

March 11 1989/2008 -Fine Australian words on #climate change

Nineteen years separate two Australian declarations of motherhood, apple-pie and peace/love/understanding.   In 1989, with climate change on everyone’s lips, Australia was a signatory of the Hague Declaration=

“The right to live is the right from which all other rights stem. Guaranteeing’this right is the paramount duty of those in charge of all States throughout the world. Today, the very conditions of life on our planet are threatened by the severe attacks to which the earth’s atmosphere is subjected. Authoritative scientific studies have shown the existence and scope of considerable dangers linked in particular to the warming of the atmosphere and to the deterioration of the ozone layer. The latter has already led to action, under the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, while the former is being addressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change established by UNEP and WMO, which has just begun its work. In addition the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 43/53 on the Protection of the Global Climate in 1988, recognizing climate change as a common concern of mankind. According to present scientific knowledge, the consequences of these phenomena may well jeopardize ecological systems as well as the most vital interests of mankind at large.”

And then, in 2008, after Kevin Rudd had won the ‘first climate change election’ and ratified the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act, on this day that ratification came into  effect. The Government issued the Initial Report under the  Kyoto Protocol detailing how Australia aims to reduce  greenhouse gas emissions.

“Words. Words. Words”, as the doomed Danish dude declared.

 

Also on this day- 

2006: Burning Coal and burning the planet – “The Australian Labor Party has just released its environmental policy blueprint, and on the face of it, the policy looks ‘half decent’, but, as always needs to be asked, is the ALP policy all it’s stated to be? And, how vulnerable is the stated target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050?”

2011 Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining and Geology at the University of Adelaide and author of ‘Heaven + Earth’ (published in 2009), appears on the Sydney-based “Chris Smith Afternoon Show,” a talk-back radio programme. Plimer expressed a view that there is no evidence that ‘human emissions of carbon dioxide gives us catastrophic climate change’ and took pops at the Gillard government’s so-called ‘carbon tax’.

 

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.

 

February 25, 1981 – Senator ponders the dangers of burning coal. Yes, 1981.

If you were paying attention in the 1970s, you knew there might be trouble ahead, not just for the whales, but the even stupider mammals; the ones on two legs.  Various green and scientific publications ran stories on the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the worrying trends throughout that decade.  The first World Climate Conference took place in February 1979.  Some Australian politicians (whom we will encounter as this project goes on) were aware of the problem. Still, props to Senator Stan Collard,  Country/National Party. On 25 February 1981 he had this to say –

“Our steaming coal exports are mounting. I have no objection to that, except for one thing. I ask: Just how much further can we go with burning these masses of coal and pouring the pollutants, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere? One thing that we are not sure of, of course, is the ultimate greenhouse effect that it will have on this continent, maybe even in our lifetime. I think we must consider quite reasonably just where to cry halt to the burning of masses of steaming coal and where we can bring in one of the cleanest methods of power generation, that is, nuclear power generation, until something cleaner and better comes along. I reject the suggestion that the Government is lacking in its planning, but I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate.

Also on this day – 

1992  On 25 February at UN headquarters (New York City, USA), 20 business associations from 9 countries released a joint statement to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The business associations, nearly half of which are from Australia, are in the fields of fossil fuel and energy production, manufacturing, and metals.

Anon. 1992. International Business Associations Issue Statement on Climate Negotiations. Global Environmental Change. Vol. 4, No. 5  13 March.

Fraser, A. 2007. Rudd unveils his ‘clean coal’ plan. Canberra Times, 26 February.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is giving Prime Minister John Howard a race for his ”clean-coal” money, unveiling a $1.5 billion plan yesterday to come up with breakthrough technology.  (see 26th March 2007 for  Lavoisier group response)

On this day in 2011, fresh from signing her own ‘death warrant’, Julia Gillard was on the breakfast radio show of Alan Jones.

“Or consider this excerpt from Jones’ 25 February 2011 interview with Gillard (which he began by berating the prime minister for being late). He concluded his line of questioning about her CO2 emissions policy saying: ‘Do you understand, Julia, that you are the issue today because there are people now saying that your name is not Julia but JuLIAR and they are saying we’ve got a liar running the country’ (cited in Barry 2011a).”
(Ward, 2015: 236)

Feb 9, 2007 – State governments call Howard to act on climate change

On this day ten years ago, the state governments of Australia basically told John Howard ‘ lead on climate change or we will’   (insofar as an emissions trading scheme is leadership….).

Since 2001 Bob Carr (at the time premier of New South Wales) had been trying to get the Federal Government to introduce an emissions trading scheme.  From 2004 a state-governments supported ‘National Emissions Trading Taskforce’ had been at work.  Prime Minister Howard had remained opposed until suddenly overwhelmed by political pressure, and in November 2006 he had back-flipped and started a Federal process. (‘the Shergold report).

But the NETT process rumbled on, and at the second meeting of Council for the Australian Federation (all the state governments meeting without the Federales) is was agreed to press Howard to introduce an emissions trading scheme based on Shergold and to warn him that if the Commonwealth didn’t bring in a scheme, the states would, by the end of 2010.

There were caveats. Peter Beattie, then the Premier of Queensland said

“All I’ve ever been concerned about is to make certain that we don’t abandon a commonsense approach about developing clean coal technology, because of Queensland’s coal reserves and out of that we will get zero emissions.

“So we’ve made it clear that we are prepared to be part of a national response to deal with climate change, but we want to see a very clear focus on developing clean coal technology which would give us a world response to greenhouse gas emissions, not just an Australian response.”

(Taylor, J. 2007. Premiers meeting over carbon trading scheme Premiers to sign climate declaration. ABC, 9 February.

It was at this meeting that it was agreed to they would ask Ross Garnaut to go to work on a further study of climate change impacts on the Australian economy and how a trading scheme would ‘fit’ internationally.  (Garnaut started work in April, having been asked by then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and then opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

Also on this day- 
2007 Greens leader Bob Brown calls coal the energy industry’s heroin habit

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)

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.