Tag Archives: Paul Kelly

April 27, 2010 – Lenore Taylor breaks CPRS cancellation, breaks Rudd

On this day in 2010 it all came unstuck for Kevin Rudd. He had bludgeoned John Howard to a pulp on various issues (anyone remember the Australian Wheat Board?) and one of the biggies was ‘the great moral challenge’ of climate change.  He then had spent two years promulgating a fantastically complicated and horribly named ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’ which nobody liked or understood.  After Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party on 1st December 2009, consensus on carbon pricing died.  After the Copenhagen debacle, Rudd was urged to fight a double dissolution election.  He flubbed it and threw himself instead into campaigning on the Australian health care system.  And on April 27th 2010, following a front page scoop by the estimable Lenore Taylor about how the CPRS was being kicked into the long grass until after the 2013 election.  it all came unstuck at a hospital.

K Rudd (Prime Minister), Transcript of doorstop interview: Nepean Hospital, Penrith: health and hospital reform; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Home Insulation Program, media release, 27 April 2010.

Two good quotes, the first from Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’

Rudd’s problem, however, was not just the decision but the manner of its release. The story was broken by Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 April when she reported that the ETS had been shelved ‘for at least three years’. The leak to Taylor was devastating. Rudd was taken by surprise and left without an explanation. ‘It was a very damaging leak and hard to retrieve, ‘ Wong said. ‘It derailed our government’, Martin Ferguson said.
(Kelly, 2014:292)

And the second from a later piece by Taylor herself.

It was the decision that seemed to snap voters’ faith in Kevin Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. Straight after the government announced it was deferring an emissions trading scheme until 2013, graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating looked like a rock falling off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumbled after it. The kitchen cabinet was scheduled to meet on April 27 to decide exactly how to explain the delay, and the conditions under which the government would pledge that the ETS policy would be revived.

News of the decision had also filtered through to a few members of the broader cabinet, who had determined to try to wind it back when cabinet met to “ratify” the budget on April 29. But on the morning of April 27, the Herald disclosed the decision to remove the scheme from the budget in a front page article entitled “ETS off the agenda until late next term”. It was the first many ministers and senior public servants had heard of it.
Knowing the back story helps explain why the government’s response on that day was so confused.
Taylor, L. 2010. Decision that shattered faith in PM. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, p.2

Also on this day

1999 The high-level Greenhouse Energy Group will today receive the final report of the task force set up by the Federal Government to devise ways to meet its target of a 2 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy over the next decade.

Hordern, N. 1999. Greenhouse targets study ready. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p. 11.

2001 Washington has mounted a diplomatic campaign to deflect criticism of its repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol, instead seeking support for its goal of broadening the UN climate change treaty to include developing countries.

And Canberra is Washington’s prize recruit in this campaign.

Asked in Wednesday’s Washington Post which countries backed him on greenhouse, President George Bush said “Australia [and Canada] said they understand why the US took this position”.

Hordern, N. 2001. Bush wary of `kiss of death’ for backers in protocol pact. Australian Financial Review, 27 April, p.30.

 

2001 – “However, the Canadian government has criticised the US for pulling out of the Kyoto process. Only Australia has provided uncritical support and is therefore Washington’s “prize recruit” in its campaign to kill the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the April 27 Australian Financial Review.” [I think this is from a Green Left Weekly article]

Feb 5, 2007 Tony Jones trolls John Howard on Lateline

Paul Kelly, in his excellent (if under-subbed) Triumph and Demise observes that John Howard’s (very) belated conversion to climate “action” (if you can call appointing a bunch of fossil fuel CEOs to a committee that is going to produce a report [aka the Shergold Report]) wasn’t going to solve his climate problem.  Kelly is robust (some would say ever-so-slightly right-wing)  but always a good read;

Howard’s problem was that he had changed his policy but not his political strategy. He refused to genuflect before the icons: Al Gore’s scare, the drought as proof of a climate transformation, and Kyoto sanctification. For the ABC, Howard was now a figure of undisguised ridicule. His Lateline interview of 5 February 2007 began with this mocking question from Tony Jones: ‘Can you recall exactly when it was that you ceased being a climate change sceptic and became, in effect, a true believer?’

(Kelly, 2014:131)

What Kelly doesn’t report is what happened later in the interview that revealed Howard might be completely on top of the implications of the issue…

At 10.25 last Monday night, 234,511 people nationally tuned in to the ABC and saw Tony Jones ask John Howard what he thought living in Australia would be like by the end of this century “if the average mean temperatures around the world do rise by somewhere between four and possibly more than six degrees Celsius”.

“It would be less comfortable than it is now,” was the Prime Ministerial response.

Tingle, L. 2007. Bear in mind threats of climate change. The Australian Financial Review, 9 February, p

 

Also on this day –

1992  In response to an Australian Conservation Foundation request to meet to discuss environmental matters in the context of the ‘Fightback!’ policy proposals, Liberal leader John Hewson told Philip Toyne and Peter Garrett that they could meet with his shadow environment minister instead, because they were ‘partisan’.  [This goes back to that January 15 1990 lunch meeting, which Paul Kelly wrote about in a much earlier book….]

Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.

According to Labor Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler’s epic ‘Direct Action’ timeline, on  “5 February 2010: Danny Price in The Australian starts to back away from costings and admits direct action is not “sustainable in the long term”. “

Jan 15, 1990 – Liberal Party feels it got shafted

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending Federal election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for nothing though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

And the follow-up

On 5th February, 1992, then Opposition Leader John Hewson wrote to the ACF, in part saying

“I see little point in meeting with you or Mr Garrett so long as the ACF leadership is driven by a partisan political agenda,” Dr Hewson wrote.

This was “so evident in the 1990 federal election when the ACF swung its support behind the Labor Party despite the demonstrably superior environmental policy of the Coalition parties,” he wrote.

Anon, 1992. Hewson snubs Conservation Foundation. Canberra Times, 6 February, p.4.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/133929200

Also on this day- 

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

Jan 15, 1990: 3 Australian men have lunch. Hilarity doesn’t ensue

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for naught though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

Other things that happened on this day:

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.