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.