Friday, December 4, 2009

The politics of Politics -- how the ETS went down

Emissions Trading Scheme -- ETS. The majority National Labor Party (yes, spelled without the "u", go figure) tried to pass its response to global warming, the ETS, through the lower and upper houses of the Australian parliament. The PM had hoped the ETS would pass before the UN Copenhagen climate change summit. It got stuck on its way to the Senate, where the opposition coalition group, under the name of the Liberal Party, effectively blocked its passage.

Until last weekend, the leader of the opposition was Malcolm Turnbull. He is known, most recently, for some major gaffes, including trying to implicate the PM in a subplot of underhanded Ute (truck/vehicle) receivership, aptly nicknamed "Utegate" by the purple press. Malcolm's minion in that escapade, a civil servant named Godwin Greech (the name falls into the zone of more purple prose), was found to have planted information -- told "porky pies" (lies), about the PM's involvement. The PM has been cleared. The civil servant wasn't, but has not been charged with any criminal offenses. However, his career with the federal government ended. And Malcolm was implicated in the planting of false emails as well. (Many jokes were made about Malcolm in the middle...)

Back to the ETS. Malcolm Turnbull tried to drag the Liberals to passing the ETS, but the coalition's hard core rightist section, led by Senator Nick Minchin, who disbelieve the notion that carbon emission can cause global warming, wouldn't have it. A leadership vote was demanded, and a leadership vote was held early this week. The man who many thought could hold it together, and help the NLP pass its bill, is Joe Hockey. Joe was knocked out on the first ballot -- he would have supported a free/conscience vote on the ETS, which would likely have passed it. Malcolm was knocked out on the second round. The new leader is a man named Tony Abbott, who is not willing to pass the bill. So it has been rejected for the 2nd time, giving the government a trigger for a double dissolution early election, should it be desired. At this point no election has been called, but the possibility exists. The coalition is torn and divided, and the ETS, which would have cost Australian taxpayers in a middle income bracket approximately $1100/household, has gone nowhere. It's not understood very clearly by most people, and many are unimpressed at the thought of allowing carbon emitters to continue to emit, while forcing the user of the service to pay. Brown coal creates most of the electricity here, and brown coal is a large emitter of carbon. The coal miners asked for, and would have received, compensation payments in this Bill. But there was nothing in the ETS that would effectively have reduced carbon production.

It's now up to the PM, delayed for a few days in the U.S. with plane problems, to decide whether to call an early election, or to let the Liberal Party continue to fray. The best news picture that came out of this story is one of a completely fit and trim Tony Abbott, the new leader, emerging from the surf where he participates as a member of his local Surf Life Saving Club in Manly, Sydney. Budgie smugglers and nothing else, the man looked ready to tackle a few sharks. As you can imagine, there has been more than a little chat, in and out of the purple press, about a coalition leader who is prepared to (and able, I might add) wear his Speedos in front of the nation. ETS is now being referred to as extra tiny speedos ... there will be no carbon reduction in the foreseeable future.


Alouette said...

Thanks for this. I was getting a bit confused about the whole ETS thing. Now I'm even more confused - didn't Father Abbott say he didn't believe in global warming? And isn't he now going to prepare a policy about it?

B and Co said...

Well, he can believe all he wants. Who is going to approve some policy that can't get past the majority gov't? This is a hugely confusing issue, I must say. The man is more interested in showing off his tiny little... budgie smugglers!

Where is the support for alternative energy? Where is the support for something as "simple? as solar energy?