In an effort to soften the impact on motorists and prevent petrol price hikes, the Government is to go against the strong views of climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut and regularly cut petrol excise to make sure the emission trading scheme does not push up the fuel prices.
The Government has moved itself toward the policy incoherence that has been proving so spectacularly unsuccessful for Brendan Nelson. As a result, they will achieve little and yet leave themselves open to attack from all sides. Stupid politics combined with stupid policy. Bravo.
UPDATE: The Green Paper has been released. Here’s a quick link round-up:
- The Green Paper itself.
- Crikey’s coverage, most of which is free to non-subscribers (for now, at least).
- A couple of initial reactions from Peter Martin – the first generally positive, the second identifying a specific negative.
- An initial blog entry (with a link to the PDF of Christine Milne’s press release) from the Greens – not surprisingly, they’re unimpressed by the patchwork policy.
- Reaction from GetUp!
- Tim Dunlop’s early morning comments plus updates, including a link to Andrew Bartlett’s report on a Ross Garnaut public forum.
- Open thread at Larvatus Prodeo, with links to their related blog entries.
- An Onymous Lefty’s reaction – we appear to have had a Vulcan Mind Meld thing happening this morning.
- Andrew Bolt demonstrates what I meant about the capacity for Labor to be hit from both sides.
That should get you started. No reaction from Timmeh yet – it probably gets a bit confusing when “the Left” (i.e., everyone who doesn’t want to wipe out Islam and definitively insist that global warming is not happening) doesn’t fall into one cohesive group like a flock/tribe of winged monkeys.
UPDATE #2: Brendan says, “Leave the Taragos alone!”
UPDATE#3: Day 2 of the reaction, and some interesting posts are coming through:
- Andrew Bartlett gives a thorough analysis of where things could go from here as the Green Paper moves toward the enactment of legislation. His comments on the role of public pressure are worth noting, but he also draws on his Senate expertise to discuss what could happen in the Upper House to shape the scheme, including the potential for Labor to pull out the double Ds.
- Senator Christine Milne wrote a piece for Crikey today, in which she argues that the Government has underestimated the public’s willingness to accept what is needed to truly address climate change and failed to show the leadership needed to honestly set out what must be done.
- Ken Lovell articulates his feelings about climate change and the Government’s proposed response, coming across as both pragmatic and cynical.
- Gary Sauer-Thompson called Rudd a wimp yesterday, and today discusses the possible political considerations behind
welfare payments to large corporate polluterscompensation to carbon-intensive industries like coal-fuelled electricity generators.
- After his initial post suggesting that the Green Paper strikes a balance between the need for decisive action and the need to create a scheme that is politically viable (see the pingback in the comments below for the link – it’s well worth reading), Tim at the Tree of Knowledge has posted some Green Paper excerpts on the petrol excise cut and then elaborated on his position and responded to some of the negative reactions.
My reactions now – I’ve followed Tim’s advice and taken a deep breath. I still think the Green Paper – particularly cutting the fuel excise and compensating investors in carbon-emitting sources of electricity – is piss weak. Both provisions seem to be counterproductive to the policy objectives, a view that I seem to share with Professor Garnaut.
The themes in Christine Milne’s article resonate with me. This is a time for the Government to lead – instead of being guided by political considerations or public opinion, their first effort should be to change public opinion and gain political ground by doing so. They had the higher ground against the Opposition – Nelson and his colleagues have been incoherent and contradictory on emissions trading and their knee-jerk calls for populist manouevres to reduce financial pressures (e.g., an excise cut) haven’t given them any traction in the polls and haven’t received the clear support of the Liberals. And yet the Rudd Government continues to allow Brendan Nelson to set the agenda.
If Steve Fielding’s insistence on lower fuel prices is an obstacle, the Government can join citizen activist groups like GetUp! and tell him he’s dreaming. If insistence on an unattainable goal by Fielding or others is a barrier to the Government passing legislation, then that would seem to be exactly what the double dissolution provisions are designed for. Then it goes directly to the public to choose who they want to have in Government and maintaining the balance in the Senate.
This is the time for the Government to assert and, where necessary, to convince the electorate that decisive action is needed, and to follow that statement with an actual decisive policy.