Tag Archives: Paul Keating

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…

March 3, 1990 – Report: “Energy efficiency could save carbon, and $6.5bn a year”

In June 1988 a conference in Toronto had flagged climate change as a Really Serious Thing and suggested that rich countries cut their emissions so poor countries could grow theirs a bit (but also argued everyone was going to have to change their ways) The ‘Toronto Target’ was for  a 20% reduction in rich countries emissions by 2005. .  That contributed to a growing awareness of climate change in Australia.  In mid-1989 then Environment Minister Graham Richardson had tried to get this through Cabinet. Then Treasurer Paul Keating put the kibbosh on that.  But the wheels were turning. In late 1989 a-CRA (now known as Rio Tinto)-funded report found the costs of the Toronto Target would  be enormous.  On this day in 1990 a report called “A Greenhouse Energy Strategy”,  commissioned by the Federal Environment Department and written by Demi Greene Associates, was released, and found otherwise…

“AUSTRALIA could save money and drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gas if it became energy efficient, a report released yesterday revealed.

The report, A Greenhouse Energy Strategy, commissioned by the Federal Environment Department, found that by the year 2005, Australia could reduce its carbon dioxide output by almost 19 per cent on 1988 levels, resulting in annual savings of $6.5 billion.

Mealey, E. 1990. Energy cuts could save $6.5bn a year. Sun Herald, 4 March, p. 37

Also on this day-

2014 ” Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013 is voted Down: The Senate votes against abolishing the CCA for a third time. This Bill will no longer proceed” (source)

Jan 4, 1995 Liberals say planting trees beats a carbon price…

How things don’t change.  22 years ago, the Liberal opposition spokesman Ian McLachlan (we will meet him again, I think). announced that the Federal coalition would consider an environmental levy “to fund a major national reafforestation project and a ban on further forest clearing for farming to curb the greenhouse effect.”

1995 Kingston, M. 1995. Libs Plan Levy To Revitalise Forests. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January, p.3.

The context of this was that the Keating government was having no end of a problem with wood-chipping and the potential loss of Green preferences.  And it was also in the middle of a Cabinet bloodbath about whether to impose a carbon tax (it didn’t, you’ll be amazed to learn).

This, by the way, was in the end of days of Alexander Downer as opposition leader.

Well, fourteen months later John Howard became Prime Minister, didn’t bother so much with the land-clearing, and even less about curbing the greenhouse effect…  So it goes.

 

Also on this day-  

2015 Soon to depart Greens Leader Christine Milne  warning on bushfires and preparedness for disasters

“Every year we are going to face these extreme weather events, which are going to cost lives and infrastructure, and enough is enough,” she said.

“The Abbott Government has to stop climate denial and help to get the country prepared to adapt to the more extreme conditions.”

Ms Milne said now was the time to talk about Australia’s preparedness for extreme weather events.

“Look at what is happening to people, communities, our environment, loss of infrastructure and for goodness sake abandon your nonsense about climate variability,” she said.