Julia Gillard – Don’t give up on her just yet
This entire entry requires me to choke down a lot of very loud words that I’ve spoken in the past.
I’ve spent a whole lot of time being critical of the Australian Labor Party, and particularly of Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan over the past few years. I was scanning through my Twitter history, a moment ago and realized that this time last year I was actually congratulating Kevin Rudd on his resignation as a Minister in the Gillard cabinet in preparation for a renewed leadership challenge against her.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but it’s fairly recent – like, the last week or two recent – that I’ve realized, Julia Gillard has grown on me as a Prime Minister. Apparently, this is just in time for the rest of Australia to decide that they can’t stand her and think she should be ousted in, if you believe the commentary surrounding the most recent opinion polls, potentially one of the most dramatic political annihilations of modern history.
So perhaps there’s an element of the whole typical, “Back the underdog,” Aussie character coming out of me here, but honestly, I’m not normally like that – at least, unless you count my tragic love of the Richmond Football Club.
What my problem has really been, I think, has been the et tu, Brute, factor of Julia Gillard’s prime ministerial ascension. I still have a very clear recollection of her telling the country that there was more chance of her lining up to play full forward for the Western Bulldogs than being Prime Minister, only days before she was part of the Great Rudd Assassination of 2010.
Now questions have arisen about just how much a part of this she actually played, and how she was perhaps the figurehead installed by those terrible Faceless Men of the Labor Party – but regardless, the simple truth is that you’d have to be deaf and blind or deliberately ignorant to have not seen and heard the rumblings that were occurring at the time, even if she didn’t have a direct part to play, she certainly must have had enough awareness to understand that suggesting she might replace Barry Hall instead of Kevin Rudd was a pretty barefaced lie.
And look, I still see this as a problem.
However, eventually you have to get past these things. There came a point in the era of this Labor Government where I had to admit that perhaps they weren’t just skating through the Global Financial Crisis on the tails of the excellent economic situation that the Liberals left them with. Just like that, eventually I’ve had to come to admit that perhaps not everything Julia Gillard does is with malice, selfishness and betrayal.
And in fact, maybe she has more integrity than I’ve given her credit for.
What I’ve seen mark Julia Gillard’s time as Prime Minister is determination, persistence and a remarkable strength to stand by her guns. For the record, I’m not now just doing a complete backflip and singing her praises, I’ve also seen her go back on promises – such as the Carbon Tax (sorry, “price”) – and make comments I wholeheartedly disagree with like stating that being in Government isn’t about listening to the people. What I am saying, though, is that she probably hasn’t been as bad as I’ve thought and made her out to be.
Now we’re six months out from an election and the opinion polls say that Gillard has fallen to her lowest approval rating in – ever? Not quite sure of that, but it’s really low. The media is saying that an election held today would effectively wipe Labor off the Federal map for at least a few terms. It probably wouldn’t be as bad as the Queensland election last year, but anyway…
The thing is, we’re still six months out from the election, and you don’t have to have been watching Aussie politics very long to know that that’s a long time for things to turn around. Add to that the error margin between opinion polls and actual election results (Liberal should have won in 2010, too, if you recall) and the picture’s far from disastrous.
The best thing the ALP can do right now is ignore the sensationalism surrounding the media and actually get behind Gillard – something that they seem to be doing. As it stands, I probably won’t vote Labor anyway in the next election – however I’m a lot more likely to with Julia Gillard leading the party than I would be to if it were Rudd.
The Australian Democrats were once the influential third force in Australian Politics. Holding the balance of power and a mantra to ‘keep the bastards honest,‘ the Democrats stood in the centre of politics, not just as the group between Liberal and Labor, but also in policy.
Once upon a time, I believed in the Australian Democrats strongly enough to join them. To the point where I even stepped up to the role of Tasmanian Division president in order to attempt to see the party restored to at least something of its former glory. In today’s climate, why wouldn’t you? In general the public is disillusioned with both the Liberal and Labor parties, and the best option that we’ve got for a third alternative right now are the Australian Greens.
Where did the centre go? We lost a central, mediating figure back when the Australian Democrats were ousted. The Australian Greens are not a ‘balance of power’ party, they are a bought party. Their interests aren’t about honesty and integrity, but rather about getting what they can get by selling their vote to the party most willing to compromise for power – which has, of course, been the ALP.
Australia needs a genuine central party to return to parliament to provide real balance, and until recently I believed that should once again be the Australian Democrats. However, with a group inside the Democrats now attempting to seize control of the party brand for its own gains, I guess we need to keep looking.
A while back I posted an article that I then chose to remove out of respect for several people – people on both sides of the chasm that’s been created by all of this. In spite of what some people would like to suggest, I am not on one side or the other specifically of this divide. I hoped, really hoped that I could see the Australian Democrats work through the issues and come back strong enough to actually make a showing at the upcoming Federal Election. I hoped for too much.
The latest event in a string of attacks by one group of National Executive members has been to ‘expel’ Sandra Kanck from the Australian Democrats because she is also the president of Sustainable Population Australia – a political lobby group that the ‘National Executive’ decided they would define as a political party. By calling SPA a political party instead of a lobby group, they decided they could then demand that she resign from one party or the other. Ms Kanck responded to the initial letter demanding she choose one or the other with a number of questions, all of which went unanswered. Instead, ahead went the firing squad.
This all comes after the same group have decided to suspend previous President Darren Churchill and Secretary Roger Howe. Of course, Ms Kanck, Mr Churchill and Mr Howe all say no, they’re not out. They’re still in and still working.
What was the response? At a state level South Australian Democrats meeting, I am led to believe that the membership instead chose to expel Dr Michael Pilling and Alex Bond, two members of the core group on the opposite side of the divide. I’m also led to believe that those two members refuse to accept their expulsion.
This is how it’s been now for six months or more. There are two distinct sides, neither of which are willing to compromise, both of which claim that they’re the legitimate rulers both of which refuse to accept any validity to anything done by the other side. At least the Labor Caucus with its factions is able to function as a party at the top level. These people involved with the Australian Democrats are all as stubborn as each other, and insist on acting like a bunch of five-year-olds in the playground insisting that the best toy belongs to them.
Mind you. Perhaps that means they’d fit perfectly back into our current government…
Farewell to the Australian Democrats. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over. Now you just need to realize that for yourselves.
A little over a month ago, I wrote an open letter to the Tasmanian Minister for Education, Nick McKim, asking several questions about his proposal for the ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education in Tasmanian Schools’ curriculum. It was a letter that, to date, has gone unheeded and I have received no response to the questions I posed to Mr McKim.
Should I be surprised? I’m not greatly surprised that Nick McKim doesn’t see it worth his time to address those who disagree with him. It wasn’t long ago that Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin was accusing Mr McKim of throwing a tantrum after not getting his own way with Tasmania’s Same-Sex marriage laws.
And I say this after previously having a very different experience with Mr McKim. Having previously been a strong proponent for voluntary euthanasia and supporter of the Dying with Dignity Act that the Greens attempted to introduce into Tasmania a couple of years’ back, Mr McKim responded at the time to several communications within a matter of a day or two. Much different to the current position where I’ve asked what I consider to be some very valid questions about his proposed additions to the Tasmanian Education System.
What I’d like to ask, additionally, though, is why this is such a priority in our education system? A report in today’s Sydney Morning Herald showed that over the past twenty years, our nation’s education system has flatlined. In recent studies performed over a number of countries around the world, Australia ranked 27th out of 45 countries for reading, 18th out of 50 countries for maths and 25th out of 50 countries for science.
The Australian’s report on the same studies shows that more than 50% of Tasmanian grade 8 students fail to meet the minimum standard for their age in maths or science. Over half our students are not up to scratch when it comes to some of the most foundational education requirements.
Meanwhile, we have an education minister who’s more interested in indoctrinating the next generation towards his personal views on ‘Relationships and Sexuality’ than in actually addressing this fact!
Nick McKim, admittedly, isn’t the only one to blame for the current state of the Tasmanian Education system. He’s inherited a mess that was created by predecessors, including former Premier David Bartlett. However, what Mr McKim does need to do is get his priorities straight. As Education Minister, Nick McKim isn’t graded by how tolerant our students are, or how nicely they play with each other, or whether once they reach voting age they’ll give him the same sex marriage approval that he so desperately craves. Nick McKim is graded by the quality of our students coming through in their Mathematics skills, their English skills and their Science skills.
These are the things that school is primarily about. Nick McKim almost reaches the point of acknowledging this when he gives the concession that parents will have the right to withdraw their students from his sexuality indoctrination classes.
I would challenge Nick McKim to stand up to the plate, accept the responsibility of his position and actually start looking at ways to fix the problems that are plaguing our students today. If he cannot or will not do this, then he should not be in the position of Education Minister.
I’ve been surprisingly quiet in the past few weeks on political topics, part of that has been because I’ve been working on the Bible Challenge series of blogs, but also, I go back to my article in the lead up to the state election entitled “Tired Politics”.
In the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi: It’s all the same, only the names have changed.
A few thoughts, though, as we come to a close in the campaign and actually enter the polls tomorrow.
First: Are Labor ever going to realise that they’re actually in government, not opposition? For the past three years, I’ve watched as they continue to attack the Liberal party as if they are still in opposition. They’ve spent more effort attacking the guys who aren’t even in government, than they have in governing the country. This election campaign has been no different, they’ve relied on the same tired lines as they carried before, they’ve relied on attacks more than promotion of policy, and they’ve, frankly, bored me.
No, Liberal’s not any better. In fact I think if I heard the stats right from the Gruen Nation this week, Liberal have actually done even less policy promotion than Labor. It’s ridiculous.
Tell me what you’re going to do FOR me, and the country – I can make up my own mind as to whether the other side are a bunch of idiots, traitors, dinosaurs or out of touch. Give me a reason to believe in you, not just a reason not to believe in the other guys.
I used to love politics, and part of me still does – what I’m well and truly over, are the two major parties playing the same old games year in and year out.
All politicians are going to be the same, to an extent, I don’t doubt that at all. What I think Australia needs to do, though, is awaken to the other parties that are around. Today, I’d be ready to give my vote to the Australian Sex Party in a higher preference than either Liberal or Labor.
Tony Abbott might be a conservative, out of touch dinosaur – but on a party level, sorry, that’s both Liberal and Labor. Neither of them give a damn about the people any more, it’s all about the votes and the power. It’s high time that we actually saw some people in our Parliaments – both at a state and federal level – who want to bring politics back to the people.
It’s a hard road, but I believe that it is possible to restore faith in our politicians.
What we need, though, is new blood – both on an individual and party level. We’re not ready to actually get rid of the big two just yet, but it is time we gave them a bit of a scare and showed that the people of Australia aren’t idiots either, and the people of Australia are ready to see real change, real action, real people – and a real fair go.
I’ll be striking my vote tomorrow to see a fair go, to see reason and fairness returned to Australian Parliament – because (I’m going to get shot for saying this) Australia deserves better!
If Australians were from many other nationalities in the world, we’d probably have had at least one revolution/civil action of some sort in the past ten to fifteen years. But we’re not, we’re decidedly apathetic, which means that politicians can pretty much get away with whatever they want.
Australians seem to either be apathetic, or jaded. “It doesn’t involve me, so why should I care?” or “Well, they’re all going to screw us over anyway, so there’s really no point fighting it.”
Which is how Labor manages to get elected with no real policies. They just play populist campaigning, and continue to cash in on lines that were exhausted last campaign.
“They’ll bring back workchoices!”
“Remember the children overboard?”
“Tony Abbott’s a chauvenist.”
– No, he’s conservative, catholic, and traditional. Are those good values for the 21st century? Not completely, but that doesn’t mean everything he says is automatically discarded.
And one thing Australians should have learned from Julia “Et tu, Brute” Gillard, and the assassination of Kevin Rudd, is that we vote for a party, not a Prime Minister. They should be looking at the parties as a whole, and seeing what they stand for.
I’m not writing this to suggest anyone should vote for any particular party. What I’m saying is that people need to remember that it’s a party we’re voting for on Election Day, not an individual person. This isn’t the USA, we don’t vote for our President, we vote for the party to lead the country as a government.
So instead of being cynical, apathetic, or just making August 21 another popularity contest, the only thing that I have to say in the upcoming election, is look at what the parties stand for – all of the parties, not just Liberal and Labor.
Because believe it or not, our voice does count. Tasmania learned that in March this year, when the Greens suddenly shot into prominence, and neither Labor or Liberal could try and sweep them under the carpet any more. There are more options out there, and when we start paying attention to that, well that could be a very interesting day in Australian politics.
Well, what an interesting day March 20, 2010 turned out to be. I woke up to a bunch of people saying that they weren’t going to vote for a road as if that was the only thing on the entire agenda for the election, and things just got more interesting from there.
My impressions of the election campaigns run by each party:
I felt the Liberal party ran a very positive campaign, but perhaps not strong or appealing enough. They made a great effort at getting their policies and promises out there, but it was constantly overshadowed by the obvious attempt to cash in on the Rudd and Obama tactics in previous years of “Change”.
“Real Change” just didn’t seem to work in Tasmania as well as it could have done. It wasn’t backed up strongly or charismatically but rather it was backed up by a collection of fairly bland TV ads that really didn’t push the message, almost like they were simply hoping that “Change” was a magic password that automatically led to majority government. Sorry, but you need to do more than that.
Labor I was very disappointed with. In spite of some people commenting to me that all Liberal and Labor were doing the entire campaign was mud slinging, I didn’t see nearly as much mud slinging from the Liberals as what I saw from Labor. In fact, by the end of this election campaign I still had no idea what the Labor party was actually going to provide to ME over the next four years if they were re-elected to majority government – and I did look, admittedly not for very long, but even on Labor’s own website I couldn’t find policies and promises as to what they would do if elected to majority government for another term.
Instead, the only thing I saw from Labor this entire election campaign was the reliance that if they just say how bad everyone else is, then maybe people will forget all the negative aspects of their own government over the past twelve years – no, that’s not bias, it’s the truth. They flew back to the last Liberal majority government, because that group did a bad job then every Liberal government will only ever do a bad job. In fact, the only ‘positive’ ad that I saw from Labor was Bartlett talking to someone about leadership, and even that didn’t really impress me. Finally they resorted to outright lies, and somehow managed to convince their side of the fence that voting for Liberal means all the money in the state is going to be spent on upgrading the Midlands Highway. Successful? Probably. Honest? No.
The Greens were actually the most impressive party to watch during this campaign, in my opinion. Apart from the fact that Nick McKim never seemed to leave Salamanca during the entire five week campaign, they ran an effective and smooth campaign with integrity. The only negative advertising I saw from the Greens was in the final week of the campaign and that was actually being critical of the other two major parties for their negative campaigns!
The Greens have shown themselves to be growing into a real political party over the past four years and now during this campaign, they also managed to strongly present themselves as a party with real policies and real agendas that go beyond just hugging trees and saving possums.
The results themselves took shape fairly early in the night of counting. I think most people were expecting a hung parliament by the end of the night in spite of the big claims leading up by both major party leaders that they could win majority government. That was an unlikely dream from the beginning.
At the end of counting on the day, the result looks to be:
Labor: 10 seats confirmed
Liberal: 9 seats confirmed
Greens: 4 seats confirmed
The interesting part from here is the fifth seats in both Braddon and Denison which will both be decided on preferences. Braddon is going down to the wire between a third Liberal seat for Brett Whiteley or a seat for Greens Candidate Paul O’Halloran while Denison is technically a three way battle between Independent Andrew Wilkie; Greens candidate Helen Burnet and Liberal Elise Archer or Richard Lowrie.
I am doubtful that the Greens are going to get enough cross-party preferences to push Paul O’Halloran over the line in Braddon. I would be more inclined to think that Brett Whiteley will scrape across the line in the end in Braddon, giving the Liberals a 3-2 strong representation over Labor in that seat.
Denison’s harder to predict because of the Wilkie factor. I very much doubt that Wilkie will get enough secondary support to actually get across the line, which means his number one votes may well be the deciding factor in that seat. I know that he’s a Green in all but party and that automatically leads to the conclusion that his preferences may well go to the Greens as well. We’ll wait and find out.
My final prediction:
Bass: Michelle O’Byrne, Brian Wightman (ALP), Peter Gutwein, Michael Ferguson (Lib), Kim Booth (Green)
Braddon: Bryan Green, Brenton Best (ALP), Jeremy Rockliff, Adam Brooks, Brett Whiteley (Lib)
Denison: David Bartlett, Scott Bacon (ALP), Matthew Groom, Elise Archer (Lib), Cassy O’Connor (Green)
Franklin: Lara Giddings, David O’Byrne (ALP), Will Hodgman, Jacquie Petrusma (Lib), Nick McKim (Green)
Lyons: Michael Polley, Rebecca White (ALP) Rene Hidding, Mark Shelton (Lib), Tim Morris (Green)
My prediction might be optimistically Liberal, but that’s also to be expected given that my own vote did come down narrowly on the Liberal side of the fence in this election. In the end, though, I’m predicting 11 Liberal seats, 10 Labor seats and 4 Green seats.
The big message that all three political parties need to take out of this election, though, is that times are changing. It’s a particularly important message to the major parties not just in Tasmania but around the country. Australia’s democracy has been, for over one hundred years, a battle between Liberal and Labor ideologies but times are changing and life is no longer just about those two parties.
For this hung parliament to work, then both Liberal and Labor are going to have to realise that they can no longer just wave the Greens under a carpet and ignore what they have to say. All three parties are actually going to have to start working together and occasionally compromising for the betterment of Tasmania and the Tasmanian people.
All three parties are now in a position where they need to remember that they are elected as representatives of their constituents, not as representatives of their party. A hung parliament can work provided the politicians are ready to talk to one another and their constituents instead of hiding behind partisan ideology.
Democracy is changing, and the younger generation in particular are getting sick and tired of the same old rhetoric coming from the same old politicians. I really hope we begin to see a new age in Australian democracy where representation of the people, rather than representation of the party begins to take control.
On Thursday 25 of February, I sat down for an hour for a ‘live blogging’ session with Will Hodgman, leader of the Tasmanian State Liberal party regarding the upcoming election in March.
To be honest, I was quite impressed with many of his answers. Of course, now comes the test to see if the Tasmanian Liberals get elected, and whether they can actually stand up to the list of promises that have been made in the campaign war.
One thing that I was decidedly unimpressed with, though, was Mr Hodgman’s comment regarding same-sex unions.
The question came from Tim, asking Mr Hodgman:
“Can you tell me what the Liberal policy on same-sex relationships is?”
“Thanks Tim. The Liberal party believes that marriage is a union reserved for a woman and a man. We have supported moves to provide greater protection and equity for people in same-sex relationships.”(1)
I am quite perturbed to hear that there is an official party policy on something that, quite frankly, I believe should be a conscience vote if and when it comes before Parliament.
Even more so, though, is the claim of providing “protection and equity for people in same-sex relationships” whilst still advocating such discrimination against them by refusing to recognise the equality and validity of commitment between a same-sex couple.
The same day as the above mentioned chat session with Mr Hodgman brought the news that the Australian Senate began the debate on introducing gay marriage to Australia.
Unfortunately again, we find that the issue appears to be tainted by party lines at a federal level also. World News Australia from SBS reports that “same-sex marriage is unlikely to go to a vote because both the government and the opposition remain united in the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”(2)
I continue to be astounded that this is even a topic of debate.
Especially given the situation of life that we live in now.
Let’s remember that we’re talking from a legal and political perspective for a moment. Religion is not to enter the argument.
Thursday was a busy day for the topic of marriage I guess, because that night I watched A Current Affair report on a website that is specifically aimed at providing married people the opportunity to have affairs. There are actually many of these types of online dating services available out there, for people who might want to spice up their life with an extramarital fling or two.
This is not illegal under the law. There is no current Australian legal or political problem with having an extramarital affair.
Let me just also point out that I don’t personally agree with extramarital affairs. My own belief is that the commitment made to your partner in the ceremony of marriage is one of absolute fidelity and loyalty. However, this does not change the fact that legally the sanctity of marriage really has no standing.
We live in a society and culture that yes, was formed by Christian beliefs. However we’re past that. The Church is a religious institution and no longer has a place in secular society. We live in a society where upholding the sanctity of marriage is not a legal requirement.
Australia has grown into a secular culture, and as such there is no place for religion of any sort to be dictating the rules of what is permissible.
I have heard the most ridiculous arguments against gay marriage, and all from people who claim to respect the rights of same-sex couples but don’t believe that they should have the same rights as heterosexual couples in respect to marriage.
As Julia Melland of the Australian Democrats said in a press release following Thursday’s Senate debate:
“Of course it is discriminating against same sex couples and homosexual people generally to continue to ban same sex marriage. Saying you oppose same sex marriage but aren’t prejudiced against same sex couples is like saying you think Aboriginals are a lesser people but you aren’t racist.”(3)
It’s time to move on from this and stop with the hypocrisy and discrimination. When it comes to a legal standing, same-sex couples should have every right to receive the exact same recognition as any other couple.
There is no legislating love, or the commitment of two people who love one another. So please, Australia, stop trying to do so.
We are just under two weeks in to the Tasmanian election campaign, and already it’s clear that politics has little to do with policy and everything to do with mud-slinging.
I do give credit to the Liberal party for at least giving some idea of what their policies are in their advertising. Whether the goals in the end are realistic or not, there does at least seem to be an effort being made to get their policies out there.
On the other hand, we have David Bartlett sitting down talking about leadership, and how good a leader he’s been and so on. Is this a new attempt at drawing that line in the sand, Mr Bartlett?
But on both sides of the couch there’s been the negativity. Liberal’s “memories” campaign reminds us (as if we needed reminding again?) of the negative headlines associated with the past few years of Labor Government, and Labor has been so busy pointing out that twelve years ago the state was in a bad position that they seem to have missed the details that twelve years ago there was all of one current Liberal politician sitting in the parliamentary chamber. Mr Rene Hidding.
Now I know that my comments in the past contain a Liberal slant and I’m not going to deny the fact that in general I have supported the Liberals over the Labor Party, however I’m not impressed with these tactics from either end of the spectrum.
I think I speak for a large amount of people who are interested in politics in saying that we’re getting tired of the negative politics.
We youth of today aren’t as stupid as many of the older generations seem to believe we are. Yes, we have different priorities in our life, especially at this younger point in it. Yes, we look at the world differently. Yes, we grew up with technology and therefore expect things faster.
That doesn’t make us stupid. In fact, remember, technology is what makes us more informed than any party before. We can look up the details of supposed negative information. We know how to use Google and find the actual context of a quote.
We’re optimistic but cynical. We’re friendly but cautious. We don’t just take what you say at face value, we wonder what’s behind it, we wonder about the context. We know there’s a second side to every story.
I’m very doubtful that negative campaigning is winning much support from the younger generation, and don’t forget who the future of this state and nation are.
I’ve just, as I was writing this, seen the EMRS poll for February 2010. Since the last poll in November 2009, support for Labor has fallen a further 3%; support for the Liberals has fallen 7% and support for the Greens has gone up by 5%.
I can’t help thinking that the way Nick McKim carries himself in Tasmanian politics is actually a part of this. One thing I have not seen in political advertising is much in the way of a smear campaign from the Greens (of course, if I’m wrong feel free to post a link below).
If the politicians of Australia really want to earn the trust, confidence and vote of the younger generation, then they’re going to need to start looking at things a little differently.
Congratulations to the Australian Senate on voting down the CPRS and ETS legislation from the Rudd Government today.
Let’s get one thing straight before I go too deep into this discussion.
I’m not a Climate Change skeptic. I do think that the human contribution to the Global Warming phenomena has been blown out of proportion; however I am 100% certain that we as humans need to start lessening the impact that we have on this planet. I am, therefore, completely in support of any legislation that contributes to the reduction of pollution by humans.
What I’m opposed to, is the ridiculous concept that money will fix the affects of human pollution on the Earth. Recently there’s been a maelstrom in Australian politics as the Government attempts to pass its so-titled “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme”. The foundation of this entire process for the reduction of Carbon Pollution is on the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Essentially, what happens, is that companies are given a cap as to how much pollution that they can emit. If they go over this, they receive massive fines.
Sounds great, right? I agree.
However, let’s add some more information in here. Companies who know they are going to go over their cap are able to buy additional permits for Carbon Emissions from companies who are going to be below the cap. So, rather than making changes to their processes, high polluters simply need to ensure they’ve purchased enough Carbon Credits to cover their pollution in any given year.
So the money that these big polluters might implement in order to lower their own Greenhouse Gas Emissions by changes in practice or method, now has to be spent purchasing Carbon Credits so that they don’t end up being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Add onto this the fact that the Rudd Government wants to lead the way on this measure, and we really run into trouble. The US, and more importantly India and China (and many other nations) have nothing implemented against their own emissions to make grand reductions.
By the year 2030, it is projected that China and India combined will be responsible for 34% of the total world carbon emissions. Over one third! 29% of this is from China alone. Neither of these countries are subject to emissions limits under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol(1).
Clearly, on a global scale, there is much more that needs to be discussed and agreed to.
Now let me clarify something else – I am in no way saying that we should have the attitude that because we’re not as bad as others, we don’t need to do anything. What I am saying is that we need to ensure that we have all the aspects of this global problem covered.
As Australians, we need to take care of the Australian Economy, first and foremost. No matter which way you plug it, the ETS is not a commercial scheme, it’s a tax on Carbon Emissions. More importantly, it is going to drive costs of everything in Australia up. It will drive up the cost of running business – so why wouldn’t a business seek offshore movements, where they are not taxed on their pollution?
In 2005-06, Coal was Australia’s largets commodity export – 19% of Australia’s commodity exports were Coal, bringing $A24.5 Billion into the Australian Economy(2). Now Fossil Fuel burning alongside Deforestation are the two most important human contributors to Climate Change, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel that we use, so obviously there is a major issue by itself. Something there needs to change.
However, Coal is also one of the most important driving factors of the Australian Economy. It is an industry that, without a global agreement on Climate Change reduction that includes the largest polluters, Australia cannot afford to lose!
The Rudd Government wants to reduce Australia’s emissions by 5%. Australia’s overall contribution to global Greenhouse Gas Emissions is 1.5% – yes, that’s a lot for a small nation; however, 5% of 1.5% makes a total of .075% or 1 in 75000 while nations like China have no reduction obligation whatsoever, inviting Fossil-Fuel production companies to their shores with open arms.
That .075% is the reduction, remember. So Australia’s Carbon Emissions on a global scale would go from 1.5% to 1.425%.
The fundamental flaw with the Rudd Government’s ETS is that there is so little gain, and so, so, SO much cost.
Senator Penny Wong spent so much of her debate time accusing opponents of the CPRS that if they did not vote for it, then they were voting to take no action on Climate Change. What rubbish, I think the majority of the population of Australia recognizes that something needs to be done – but how about we take action against the cause itself? Let’s promote green and renewable energy resources. Let’s invest in Carbon-neutral or even Carbon-positive schemes.
Instead, the Rudd Government just wants to do what they did with the Financial Crisis – throw money at it and hope it goes away. Funnily enough, we’ve now seen three months of interest rate rises as Rudd’s Stimulus band-aids begin to wear off. Now is when we begin to see the effects of the Rudd/Swan economic management really come into play.
But that’s another topic.
I would love to see Australia take strong action on Climate Change. I would love to see Australia lead the world in reduction of Greenhouse Gases. I would love to see Australia set the standard for tackling global warming and pollution of this wonderful planet that we live on.
So let’s tackle the problem. The IPCC has already established that the two highest contributing factors to man-made climate change are the burning of Fossil Fuels and Deforestation. So let’s look to that. How can we invest in non-polluting forms of energy? And how can we minimize Deforestation?