Politics, Principle and the ETS

If we were in any doubt about how politicians often put politics ahead of principle, the back flip by the Prime Minister on the ETS should remove all doubts. In what appears to be a purely political move in an election year, Mr Rudd told us yesterday that his emissions trading scheme would be shelved for at least three years.

What was until recently the most pressing issue of our time is now being put on the back burner until 2013. Evidently Mr Rudd does not believe there will be many votes in this, and he wants to go to the next federal election pushing health care policies instead.

Pure politics, in other words. Recall that just recently he was insisting that “climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation” and that it is “the great moral dilemma of our time”. Indeed, it was the very centrepiece of the Federal Government’s election strategy, an issue that could not be ignored or compromised on.

It does not take great intelligence to ask a few hard questions here. If climate change is indeed the great moral challenge of our day, then how in the world can it be put off for years to come? And if it can be postponed a full three years at least, then how can it be such a vital and imperative issue?

Of course Mr Rudd has already shot himself in the foot big time with the home ceiling insulation scandal. Battgate has proven to be a hugely expensive debacle, with lives lost, homes burned down, many more at risk, and an entire industry reeling. All because we ‘had to act’ and deal with climate change, according to Mr Rudd.

Other political commentators have not been slow to see through all this as well. Andrew Bolt for example speaks of “Kevin Rudd’s great ETS fraud found out”. He asks us if Mr Rudd was lying in the past or if he is lying now. Good question.

Says Bolt, “Yet only last year this same Government claimed ‘delay was denial’, and we could not wait to save ‘our jobs, our houses, our farms, our reefs, our economy and our future’. To stop ‘700,000 homes and businesses’ on our coast from drowning. (Another lie.)”

He continues, “For years he’s mocked warnings from sceptics and some Liberals that it was reckless for small Australia to make cuts that almost no other country would make. As I’ve often argued, we’d just export jobs overseas without making a scrap of difference to any warming, which seems to have halted since 2001 anyway. Rudd pretended then that such arguments were mad. Almost criminal.

“‘The clock is ticking for the planet,’ he said six months ago. ‘The resolve of the Australian Government is clear – we choose action, and we do so because Australia’s fundamental economic and environmental interests lie in action. Action now. Not action delayed.’ The costs of delay would be ‘severe’.”

But how can something be so urgent one day and simply ho-hum the next? If this really is the defining issue of our time, he should go down fighting. “If Rudd truly believed his ETS was so desperately needed to meet the world’s ‘biggest challenge’, why didn’t he fight like sin to get it through the Senate, as President Barack Obama fought to get his health reforms through his Senate? Why didn’t he throw everything into cutting a deal with the Greens and the two independent Senators to vote through an ETS to ‘save’ the planet?”

Of course Rudd may yet decide that this is once again the moral crisis of our age, and resurrect it without warning: “Rudd’s ETS is not yet a corpse but a zombie, and with an election looming, Rudd wants that zombie down in the crypt, so timid voters won’t tremble.”

But maybe critics are being a bit too strong here. Perhaps Rudd really does mean well. Well, past words of Rudd seem to clearly condemn him. As Bolt concludes, “You may think I’m harsh on Rudd, but I say little that he hasn’t said himself – and of delayers just like him.

“I remember his speech last November to the Lowy Institute in which he vilified me and a few other sceptics he named: ‘The third group of climate deniers are those who pretend to accept the science but then urge delay because they don’t want their country to be the first to act. What absolute political cowardice. What an absolute failure of leadership. What an absolute failure of logic.’ You said it, Prime Minister. Or were you just spinning then, too?”

All politicians can easily put politics ahead of principle, and spin ahead of reality. But it seems we are getting more than our fair share from the current Prime Minister. Funny isn’t it, what an election year can do?


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16 Replies to “Politics, Principle and the ETS”

  1. I’m just wondering, why is “gate” stuck at the end of certain controversies such as the one mentioned here “battgate”, or of course, “climategate” etc?

    Nathan Keen

  2. Thanks Nathan

    It goes back to another scandal in recent history, perhaps just before your time. In 1972 President Nixon ordered the break-in and burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

    So now any big public scandal tends to add a –gate to it.

    BTW, Chuck Colson was involved in this, and was imprisoned. He of course became a Christian and then founded Prison Fellowship as a result. So some good came out of this whole mess.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Let us face it, he is borrowing a tactic from Howard. He is clearing the deck for an election. The ETS is not dead, just taken holidays. A double dissolution is out because Rudd could not stomach 9 or 10 Greens in the Senate. (Remember, Rudd is from the only state without ever having any Greens reps in any Parliament, past or present).

    As for the ETS, After the next election Penny Wong will hold semi-public negotiations with the Greens. The business lobby will be pertified. Pressure, will come on the Liberal senators and, if Malcom Turnbill is still in Parliament, we will be leader of the Libs again. Whatever happens, Turnbull’s ETS Bill will be pasted with Liberal senators without Green support.

    Pitty! We need an ETS drawn up by the Greens.

    Michael Boswell

  4. I will not be voting for Rudd. I never did.

    The insulation debacle did it for me.

    Jane Petridge

  5. With all this ‘climate change’ didn’t many parts of the Northern Hemisphere experience its coldest winter on record? And what of these email scandals I have been hearing about etc. If the world is not getting warmer but cooler, shouldn’t that be making everyone happy? That maybe humans are not to blame for rising temperatures? It makes me wonder why governments want these carbon emission taxes so much. Where is the money going to go anyway if we are not going to get it? But at the same time if we can reduce pollution in both land air and sea, that would still be good. But we don’t need a tax to achieve this.
    Carl Strehlow

  6. Rudd is the master of spin. He is the ventriloquist doll of the spin doctors. Spin is like lies. You can’t remember what lie you told and you slip up. With spin you spin you web and you end up caught in it. Spin on Kevin, you are heading for a fall. You can’t fool all the people all the time.
    Des Morris

  7. Bill,

    We disagree about the necessity of the ETS. However, we agree about the political motives putting the ETS on the back burner. You might be surprised with the gradual increace in the Green vote. However, the Green vote increases greatly when the ALP is unpopular. With 2.7 double dissolution election quotas, Tasmania might give 3 Green Senators. Two Senators from WA and one other state. With one coming from two others would give the Greens 9 senators. Queenslnd and the NT will probably not return one. While the Greens might make it 10 by gaining a senator in the ACT, Given that the bulk of the Liberal senators with go – being elected in 2004, the ALP will want the to capitalised on it’s success in 2007. It called the numbers game.

    Michael Boswell

  8. Michael Boswell, you said:
    “Pitty!(sic) We need an ETS drawn up by the Greens.”

    Sorry to say that you have fallen for the religious mania that represents the man-made global warming agenda – a ship now severely holed below the waterline by the torpedoes of reality.

    Please investigate the Greens policy platform before giving them any more air-time.

    I hope you will be shocked at the outrageous nature of their totalitarian and libertarian ideas.

    John Angelico

  9. Actually I thought the roof batts far more sensible than sending coal to China and taxing our industries for using it. Pity they hadn’t done it more quietly and safely. There should have been more supervision. Just pray we don’t have both sides making policy faster than they can plan or we will have a continuing problem.
    Perhaps you should be saying “Glad you have realized that Australia’s contribution is small by world standards.” They keep waffling about per capita contribution but as we are small population our green house emmissions (supposing they do make a difference) are small by world standards.

    Katherine Fishley

  10. Hi Bill, a good article by Bolt. I thought the insulation batts scheme was more of a so-called economic “stimulus” measure than it was an anti-global-warming measure? Either way it was totally misguided.

    (Michael Boswell, Turnbull has announced he is not contesting the next election.)

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  11. Ewan, your right, Malcolm Turnbull has announced his resignation. However, so had the present WA premier, Colin Barnett. Troy Buswell chair sniffing can be thanked for that. Even from Perth, I can hear the rumours that they are trying very hard to get him to stay as member for Wentworth.

    John, I have,The proof is a very bad piture of me, even in 2005.

    Michael Boswell

  12. Turnbull says he will now stand again because a lot of voters in his electorate want him to.
    Question is will he now stand as a Labor candidate as he originally desired?
    Rob Withall

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