Monday, 12 December 2016

Turnbull does a Rudd & abandon's climate change policy

The Monthly
Remember the great Rudd collapse back in 2010? It was a spectacular fall from grace, with Labor's primary vote nose diving from 43% to 35%, Rudd's satisfaction from 50% t0 39%, giving the Lieberals a TPP lead over Labor for the first time since the Rudd gov was elected in 2007. All this in one week. It was all downhill from there and Rudd ended up being turfed by Gillard a few months later.

The collapse was unexpected by Labor, but the reasons were clear in the electorate. Rudd had ditched the implementation of a carbon tax, well at least until 2012. Suddenly the "greatest moral challenge facing humankind" didn't matter for now? A frustrated electorate concerned about climate change agreed that climate change was indeed a great moral challenge to save the planet against corporate greed. The scientists were all in consensus and just about pulling their hair out warning the world of the coming climate catastrophe, and Australians agreed with them. We wanted serious action on climate change, so when Rudd backed down on it we saw his back-down as more than just political maneuvering. In his own words it was a moral failure and "abject political cowardice".
The Rudd government now faced the most crucial decision of its first term. In November 2009, in a passionate and persuasive speech to the Lowy Institute, Rudd had characterised any backdown on ETS legislation as abject political cowardice. He now chose cowardice as his way.

In late April, to the near-universal astonishment of the political nation, the prime minister announced his decision to defer all consideration of the emissions trading scheme until late 2012. The prime minister had famously called climate change the greatest moral challenge facing humankind. How was it possible for him to nonchalantly abandon the issue that more than any other had shaped his political identity since assuming the leadership of the Labor Party in late 2006? The decision was particularly puzzling precisely because of the ease with which the passage of the ETS bill might have been achieved – by a double-dissolution election and a joint sitting of the houses. Rudd could achieve in a day something that Barack Obama might not achieve in a year. Apparently neither Rudd nor his advisers possessed sufficient political nous to see that with the abandonment of his climate change legislation his credibility as a politician of conviction had been almost entirely destroyed. The Monthly
Now Turnbull has done the same. 

Everybody knows Abbott's "direct action" was nothing more than window dressing and didn't have a hope in hell of reaching Australia's emissions targets. It's incredibly expensive as well. In the review on gov climate policy the recommendations were to implement an "Emissions Intensity Scheme" for big polluters as the cheapest and most effective way to reduce Australia's emissions:
What's all the more galling about last week was that Mr Turnbull had the ammunition to demolish the arguments of Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi. He had myriad reports and research including extensive modelling by the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator that showed an emissions intensity scheme to be the cheapest and most reliable way to reduce emissions. He had a report from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel that was presented to state and territory leaders on Friday. It showed the plan under review would save the nation's electricity consumers $15 billion over a decade. ninemsn
What? Something that's actually going to work? Surely what a sensible idea! Let's do it! But alas as the gov is being run from the back benches the idea has been torpedoed by the likes of Abbott and Bernadi.
Yet Mr Turnbull, claiming the baseline and credit scheme would increase power prices, appears to have buckled to the forces he defeated 15 months ago with a promise of a new way of politics. He seems to be behaving as though he thinks his political survival takes precedence. 

It will take more than one market mechanism to deliver the emissions reductions Australia requires. But we cannot afford to rule out the best options through political self-interest. As we argued before the election, Australia had the seeds of a bipartisan approach to climate change: "All that remains is for Mr Turnbull to silence the deniers and stop the scare campaigns." 

The Prime Minister has proved too weak to do so. ninemsn
I see no reason why the electorate won't see this in the same way they saw Rudd's climate back down; as a moral failure by Turnbull and abject political cowardice. Whatever character respect Turnbull still may have had will be evaporated by this one act alone. A frustrated public wants real climate action, not Tony Abbott preaching to them from the backbench. 

Personally my prediction is that he's finished. A lame duck bit of decoration for a gov dead in the water. How long will it be before he's rolled as Gillard did to Rudd? He won't last more than a few months now. We may well end up with PM Abbott again.