Climate ambush arrives

The Prime Min­is­ter’s announce­ment today that, con­trary to the posi­tion she adopt­ed before the elec­tion, she has decid­ed to com­mis­sion a rec­om­men­da­tion on a car­bon price as an “eco­nom­ic reform” (sic) intend­ed to address “car­bon pol­lu­tion” is ade­vice to allow her Green allies to pur­sue their cli­mate change agen­da in dis­guise. She is break­ing the promise she made to the elec­torate to con­sult more broad­ly on cli­mate than her pre­de­ces­sor by obscur­ing the nature of the deci­sion to be made by a cabal.

But the worst fault of the deci­sion is that it ignores the recent lessons of Labor’s RSPT deba­cle and of the IPC­C’s ‘cli­mate­gate’.

The “Cit­i­zen’s Assem­bly” on cli­mate change pol­i­cy Gillard promised dur­ing the elec­tion as a means of broad­en­ing con­sen­sus on emis­sions con­trols was sil­ly. But that hard­ly jus­ti­fies trash­ing her promise of con­sul­ta­tion. She has now turned 180° on the need for con­sen­sus, to nom­i­nate a small, sup­pos­ed­ly cross-Par­ty com­mit­tee, dom­i­nat­ed by Labor and the Greens and advised by alarmists such as the hyper­bol­ic Ross Gar­naut. The com­mit­tee will hold closed meet­ings, will pub­lish none of its trans­ac­tions nor reveal any advice it receives. The Prime Min­is­ter has direct­ed the com­mit­tee to work pri­mar­i­ly on the car­bon tax and pos­si­bly to “play a role in estab­lish­ing com­mu­ni­ty con­sen­sus for action on cli­mate change”. 

But this is sup­posed “eco­nom­ic” man­date is only mis-direc­tion (not to say “decep­tion”). The “car­bon pol­lu­tion” pre­miss assumes a proven case for car­bon-induced cli­mate change. There is no oth­er rea­son to pre­tend that a colour­less, odour­less, trace gas (just over one third of a thou­sandth of air by vol­ume) that is essen­tial for all plant life — and there­fore for all life big­ger than an amoe­ba — is “pol­lut­ing”. The com­mit­tee’s man­date prej­u­dices the very sub­ject (cli­mate-change) on which they are said to be “estab­lish­ing com­mu­ni­ty consensus.” 

To plot a cli­mate-change car­bont-tax in secret is at best polit­i­cal­ly wood­en-head­ed con­sid­er­ing that secre­tive­ness, defen­sive­ness and a swinge­ing insis­tence on ortho­doxy are pre­cise­ly the char­ac­ter­is­tics that marked the pub­lic fail­ures of the IPCC/CRU’s “cli­mate-gate” sci­en­tists who brought the trans-Altan­ic cli­mate-alarm estab­lish­ment into disrepute.

It is aston­ish­ing, too, that the Labor par­ty, hav­ing just scraped past Rudd and Swan’s dis­as­trous out-of-the-blue intro­duc­tion of the “Resources Super-Prof­its Tax” (RSPT) on min­ing, now believes it can cook up a car­bon tax, in cahoots with its Green allies, in essen­tial­ly the same secre­tive manner.

I pre­dict that, unless con­sul­ta­tion is broad­ened and the com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions detailed and explained, this process will choke for essen­tial­ly the same rea­sons as the RSPT. The incon­sis­tent pri­vate agen­das of the gov­ern­ment (fis­cal pol­i­cy, polit­i­cal accom­mo­da­tion with the Greens, ener­gy-pol­i­cy, cli­mate-change), the Greens (a morass of “anti-“s), the busi­ness lob­bies (‘alter­na­tive ener­gy’ sub­si­dies, ‘com­pen­sa­tion’, cer­tain­ty) and the bureau­cra­cy (con­trol) will make it dif­fi­cult to reach or sus­tain any deci­sion, even one made by delib­er­a­tion. But a secret deci­sion? No chance. 

This is more or less, the ambush that I feared.

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