Howard repositioning, but still doesn’t get it

Tim Flannery talking to Phillip Adams last week said he had set himself the task this year of trying to get both major parties to adopt sensible climate change policies for the election.

He said they had to answer the simple question, What temperature change we can tolerate before risking dangerous consequences? One degree? Two degrees? Three degrees? When they have answered that one they need to consider what actions are necessary over what time frame to prevent a temperature increase that will get us into severe trouble.

Out of those two simple considerations they will then find themselves committed to emissions targets and develop (we hope) appropriate strategies to achieve those targets.

Howard’s language has undergone an interesting shift:

Mr Howard reaffirmed his opposition to the states’ target but insisted he was not against cutting targets “generically”.

A political fault line has emerged over the climate change issue, with federal Labor committed to the more ambitious target – but Mr Howard said he would not embrace targets that would harm the economy and destroy jobs.

“But that doesn’t mean to say that you forever say there are no targets,” he told journalists. “It depends on their levels and it depends on your understanding of their impact.”

So to sum up the major party positions, Rudd has accepted the 60% by 2050 target which is rapidly gaining favour as the generic standard. Rudd is also promising his own Stern review to look at the economic implications.

Yet Rudd has not answered Flannery’s question of what we truly need to do to fix the problem. Nor has he nominated interim targets.

Howard is still saying, we’ll only do what doesn’t cost jobs and harm the economy. But he is completely disregarding Stern’s warning that no action or inadequate action is the more expensive route, (which is the counter-argument Labor is putting.)

Yet Howard seems to be hedging his bets and giving himself wriggle room, while posing as the one with safe hands on the tiller.

Lenore Taylor in the weekend edition of the Australian Financial Review has an interesting analysis of where Howard’s at. She says he is defending his climate change credentials in three ways.

First, he is spruiking that we will be one of the few developing countries to meet the Kyoto standards we didn’t sign up to. But that is almost entirely due to the cessation of tree-clearing in Queensland, which in 1990 was at a record high. Our power generation emissions in 2012 will be at 156% of 1990 levels; our transport emissions will be 140%.

We’ve used a “once only get out of jail cardâ€? and the tough decisions are still to come.

Second, we’ve played around with the Asia Pacific partnership (AP6) to help establish greenhouse-reducing technologies in developing countries in the region. Taylor points out that Howard has successfully passed this initiative off as the “new Kyotoâ€? to the MSM, whereas to the rest of the world it is irrelevant and well below the radar. In the real Kyoto world technology development and diffusion to developing countries is done through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):

which has so far launched 621 registered projects in developing countries, reducing emissions by 860 million tonnes of carbon and earning their proponents an equivalent number of credits.

Australia is on the sidelines.

Third, Howard has sprayed some money around internally on technology development and trial projects. Yet such expenditure is unlikely to reduce emissions

because without a price signal, even the best new technology is not going to be bought.

It seems that Howard is going to attempt to fix this by adopting an emissions trading system after his working party of polluters and others is finished their work.

Taylor reminds us that back in 2003 a submission for a carbon trading system that would only inconvenience big business marginally was co-sponsored by the Treasurer, the Environment Minister and backed by Industry and Foreign affairs. Howard talked to the überpolluters and canned it. Now he’s brought the big polluters right inside the tent to give it another whirl, because actually they themselves want a known framework for investment.

The states have decided to go it alone and install a system by 2010. Prof Rob Fowler, director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law, says that the states initiative is workable. When Howard moves will mainly be determined by political considerations.

On the positive side the COAG announcement of a climate adaptation centre was a welcome addition to provisions for adaptation rather than mitigation. It is a recognition that despite the sceptics within government, the impacts of drought on farming and the danger to property on the coastline have reached a point where they can’t be ignored.

Meanwhile there is a powerful meme being established, that 60% reductions by 2050 is going to wreck the economy. The press is too stupid to unravel it, with Max Walsh telling us the other day that by 2050 our per capita GDP will double, hence our emissions will double, hence we’ll all be rooned if we reduce emissions by 60%.

I want to address this in another post, but the 60% norm may soon become an 80% norm. The grass roots US campaign Step it Up has just run a 1400 event campaign in 50 states calling on Congress to cut carbon by 80% by 2050. The campaign only started in January. Very impressive!

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53 comments on “Howard repositioning, but still doesn’t get it
  1. Yes, the French economy is completely rooned by per capita emissions 60% less than ours.

    Which brings up, yet again, a point that is not grasped here in Australia very well at all. Do you really think places like France and Sweden are going to be happy making further cuts in their emissions, when their current emissions are what Australia would face under a 60% cut?

  2. suz says:

    The Grand National was run in unusual heat which had a big impact on the horses. I heard about this via a telephone call – people are noting these strange weather events. Howard increasingly is out of step with general anxiety on this issue.

  3. John Greenfield says:


    With all due respect to your interlocoturs Messrs Adams and Flannery, they have shown themselves to be unusually stubborn in “getting” Howard these past 12 years. 😉

  4. chrisl says:

    Is that because of their use of “evil” nuclear power Robert ?
    That is an issue you ever so slightly green tinged people will have to face up to sooner or later.
    Ruination via nuclear or co2

  5. observa says:

    Well it’s now official and the ALP have to come up to pace, no doubt with the similar findings of the PM’s task force to be released soon. Then we’ll see who’s still locked in the past and who isn’t eh Robert Merkel and Co?,23636,21560033-31037,00.html

  6. observa says:

    Can’t you just picture it-
    “Who do you trust to get GG emissions down and run your air conditioners?”

  7. chrisl says:

    Observa I know you don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories,because you are way too clever, but do you think that ALL WARMING IS DUE TO CO2 has been promoted by the nuclear power companies probably the french ones because they are traditionally very sneaky.Boy those people who are you know where in the color spectrum have a conundrum don’t they!

  8. Brian says:

    Observa, that’s interesting about the G7. Germany is definitely worried about Russia as an energy source and Merkel is under suspicion about wanting to reverse the German policy to phase out nuclear.

    suz, 10 degrees above average is pretty astonishing. I heard the Dutch talking about a heat wave yesterday and last night happened to hear talk on the BBC about a soccer match in the UK where it was 23C and about double average.

    About a week ago I heard about the disappearing Lake Patzcuaro. 30 years ago it used to rain 300 days per year. Now they are lucky to get 150 to 180.

    Unsettling things are happening all over the world.

    John G, Flannery was making a fair point in a non-partisan way.

    Robert, a good question. The EU must have had a fair idea how things would work out before they went for 20% by 2020. I know they are going to go easy on countries like Poland. Because the EU as such has no head of power the decision had to be unanimous and compliance is voluntary. The next process is to work out individual country targets.

    BTW Four Corners is on clean energy tomorrow.

  9. steve says:

    Obby,Think you will find Howard will be stuck in his same pro nuclear, dlimate change denialist, unconscious spot after the report as he was before it.

    It’s like this, people can and do live well and longterm without using credit cards. People who are not able to live without a credit card cannot even begin to imagine how to live without a piece of plastic to help out in case of an an emergency.

    Nuclear Power is similar in that if that is all you depend on then that is all you get and other successful options for energy distribution and supply are lost by not having the investment to develop them.

  10. Ken Lovell says:

    Let’s be honest, neither of the major parties has a credible policy on global warming. 60% by 2050 is a comfortable way of putting off any hard decisions for at least 20 years. The upshot is that whoever is in government will engage in lots of activity because, as Sir Humphrey Appleby observed, it’s a substitute for achievement. Expect lots of inquiries, trials, committees, pilot schemes and so on.

    I’m at something of a loss to understand how anyone could introduce a carbon trading scheme without caps but maybe Howard will follow the EU model and set caps so high that they don’t have any practical impact. Then he can give permits away instead of auctioning them and have the grateful thanks of big business for a windfall increase in wealth while kidding the mum and dad emitters that he’s on the case. It’s called a win/win solution I think.

    Or then again he might head off to a tropical beach with Janette for a romantic weekend and come back with another $10 billion plan on the back of the breakfast menu. Hey it’s fixed the Murray-Darling.

  11. observa says:

    Steve,- 60% less petrol in your tank, 60% less jet fuel for holidays, 60% less transport to get all the things to you that you get now, 60% less fuel to dig those things up, plow the fields and harvest them, run the boats to fish them, etc, etc and while we all do this, Chinese and Indians are happy to take up all the slack in demand and more and negate everything we’re trying to achieve. That I gotta see, if it really was a case of ‘who do you trust to keep interest rates low’ that swung the punters last time and now they’re supposedly worried sick about their jobs, penalty rates and loadings.

    That mangy old fox Howard hasn’t been skun yet and one thing he knows from experience is not to break cover too soon. That old bastard’s up to something and he’s still got a marginal seat or two up his sleeve yet.

  12. Leinad says:

    60% less dodgy arguments from Obby?

  13. Brian says:

    Observa, I can see we need to do that other post on the 60% target, so that perceptive people like you no longer take such a simplistic view, but near as I can tell if you take the grid out of play by going nuclear, hot rocks etc you are as good as there.

  14. observa says:

    It’s down to 40% of those 1990 levels remember Brian and our population’s still growing and will keep growing right through to 2050.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch,10117,21560483-1246,00.html?from=public_rss
    the good guys are hoping to gas up a bit (and export the bad coal globally perhaps) and that’ll save us all from the nuclear bad guys. All this and 3 years of Kyoto hasn’t produced a global scratch in emissions, let alone a dent yet. One thing Howard would know for sure- talk’s cheap, but getting the fossilly fatties to walk the talk….?

  15. Paul Norton says:

    60% less petrol in your tank, 60% less jet fuel for holidays, 60% less transport to get all the things to you that you get now, 60% less fuel to dig those things up, plow the fields and harvest them

    Obby, what part of “micro-economic efficiency” don’t you understand?

  16. via collins says:

    it would cause no carbon emissions for Obby to be paid handsomely for perpetually linking to the site.

    Hang on a minute, first myspace, then observa…is there anything rupert won’t do to control the internets?

  17. Obby also fails to grasp that there are energy sources that don’t emit greenhouse gases when consumed…

  18. observa says:

    I was just kinda wondering what generation we had to go back to, to find the one that was using around 60% less fossil fuels per capita cf our 1990 levels. Of course I’m just old enough to remember as a tacker, hopping up on the baker’s horse and cart for a ride (Lovells Bakery as I recall) He and the milky were the only ones left dropping manure by that stage. I can also remember electricified trolley buses, but I reckon it’s gunna be a bit hard converting all the cars over (with 60% less industry carbon in the process of course) and don’t quite see how that will work out on all those farm tractors, road trains and the like. All this, when it’s nigh on impossible to get the greenies’ offspring to pick up a hand tool these days. Still the Ruddster and Co reckon they’ve got the red undies and the capes to prove my skepticism all unwarranted.

  19. Brian says:

    Observa, via collins has a clue in paying you to link to the site. As our GDP increases more of our GDP is going to come from the service economy.

    BTW I was 9 years old when my dad bought his first motorised transport – a ’26 Dodge ute. We used to go the three miles to church in a wagon.

  20. Jen Cluse says:

    Back in the 60’s the editor of the American science fact/science fiction magazine ‘Analogue’, one John W Campbell, projected the then known and projected reserves of oil, coal, against energy consumption and growth projections, and came to a conclusion.

    It was that for mankind to be able to eventually develop fusion power (that which reproduces the sun’s processes, and should hopefully provide endless power with near zero side effects for rational cost) that ‘we’ would have to have to resort to fission power, with all it’s well understood drawbacks, to provide sufficient on-going power to maintain the industrial resources to maintain the research necessary to finally control plasmas hotter than the surface of the sun.

    Mr Campbell is no doubt smiling (at least grinning) in his grave that the latest developmental fusion research facility is soon to be build in France, which I note from this discussion (thanks for the link, observa) is now producing 79% of it’s power via fission power stations.

    Pragmatic people the French. No drama. Just quiet ‘clean’ power, in the short term at least, sitting in their paddocks.

    The fusion process development is taking longer than anyone estimated. We’re not running out of oil (it’s a pity we didn’t, come to think of it) but are choking on oil’s by-products.

    This text would seem to suggest that I’m supporting Howard’s Damascus like conversion. I’m not. Other countries will need to go down this path for a while. We do not.

    I do believe we should continue to supply fission fuel to the world so that it can continue functioning for as long as ‘we’ need, to get to practical fusion.

    We should instead direct massive resources to rapidly accelerate the infrastructure to extract base load power from our vast resources of geothermal energy – 700 years worth at current estimates. Clean. Zero byproducts. Zero pollution.

    Howard is not strong on building infrastructure for the future. Spoils the budget surplus figures, doesn’t it.

    Mind you, the long term effect of removing heat from the earth’s mantle may prove to be interesting. Hopefully we will only need to tap this source for 50-100 years. Fusion power should surely be finally practical and wide spread by then, in-shah Allah/God willing.

  21. Sorry Obs…

    that said, there are a lot of efficiencies available. As I think you were noting yourself, most of the people driving fleet Commodores don’t actually need to carry five people and a bootful of stuff around, and could be driving around in Mitsubishi Colts (or to satisfy the snobs, Mercedes A-Classes). More people might choose to ride something like this (or the Chinese copies at a third the price) to work rather than drive – in the inner city you’ll actually get there quicker on these than a car. Trucks used to travel in the cities will probably be hybrids. Long-range heavy haulers will carry larger payloads (you only have to push the air out of the way once), with B-doubles and triples becoming more and more common, and will be much more aerodynamic. Freight will be shifted onto rail. Some railway lines might be electrified. And so on.

  22. Robert Merkel on 15 April 2007 at 11:54 am

    Yes, the French economy is completely rooned by per capita emissions 60% less than ours.

    Actually the French cabon emmissions output (6.2 t/pc/pa) is ~35% of Australia’s (18 t/pc/pa). So they use 65% less than us. This strengthens your point.

    An even better comparison is to New Zealand. It has a comparable economy, geography and standard of living to Australia. The NZ carbon emmissions 8.2 tpa. Just over half the AUS rate.

    So using the price system to curb carbon would not ruin our economy. Although it would wreck the coal industry.

  23. To be fair to Howard he coming to the climate change curbing table, although dragged kicking and screaming. He has agreed to a national carbon emmissions monitoring system, which is the prelude to a regulatory regime.

    Australia is a step closer to a national carbon emissions trading scheme, with Prime Minister John Howard tacitly endorsing the setting of greenhouse gas targets.

    He almost gave the nod to carbon emmissions trading scheme. Sensibly he wants a schedule of costs and benefits drawn up.

    Chaired by Mr Howard’s most senior staffer, Peter Shergold, the task force was told to research the possible architecture of a global emissions trading program in which Australia could participate without economic harm.

    Its interesting to see the status reversal between jobs and smog. In the old days one would get an ecologic impacts statement for any carbon-producing enterprise. Now we are in the position of having to ask for an economic impact statement for any carbon-curbing enterprise.

    How the worm turns.

  24. observa says:

    I should explain about the use of links to the News site. I have no financial interest in them, bar holding some Newscorp shares. My internet service provider Adam displays these local and national news headlines and I pick up on the ones that may be of more or less interest to the topic at hand. In this respect most news is syndicated these days and many items appear across the spectrum of news outlets. You can decide at a glance for yourself whether the news items are mostly factual or slanted and just cursory flavour or of more in depth interest. eg the news that Mars has experienced the same increase in temp as earth in the last 30 yrs arouses me to read more closely the article’s reasoning etc, than say the article that the APPEA are flogging gas more than oil to be a bit ‘greener’. I’d suggest you use the links accordingly or not at all as you please. The links are certainly not meant to be a particularly comprehensive summary of the issues at hand. Just some light snack or sometimes more serious food for thought about the topic.

  25. Paul Norton says:

    Meanwhile there is a powerful meme being established, that 60% reductions by 2050 is going to wreck the economy. The press is too stupid to unravel it, with Max Walsh telling us the other day that by 2050 our per capita GDP will double, hence our emissions will double, hence we’ll all be rooned if we reduce emissions by 60%.

    This makes it all the more important for folk like us to state the policy problem as it should be stated, namely to determine emissions reduction targets which satisfy scientifically determined criteria of ecological and biophysical sustainability, and then work out the most economically expeditious and socially equitable package of policies which will get us there. In short, the ecological imperative must take priority, and economic and social goals redefined to be attainable within what ecosystems will allow.

  26. tim says:

    Thanks for another great post, Brian. Your lead with Flannery brings to mind my endless frustration that the political climate debate is utterly disconnected from the scientific reality.

    You, and various commenters, point out that the Howard line on economic cost of action is one of those disconnects. I’d add the lie about renewables not being able to provide baseload to that.

    But the targets issue is by far the biggest. Howard’s refusal to set a target at all demonstrates quite clearly that he is not willing to engage with the science. He still considers climate a political game to be played, not a scientifically demonstrated problem that we have to deal with.

    Then you’ve got to look at how confused the ALP leaders are on the 60% target. Rudd hasn’t said, as far as I have seen, whether it is below 1990 levels or 200 levels. Bracks says it’s below 1990. Rann stuffed it up on AM last week to the extent of saying reductions TO 60% OF 2000 levels by 2050. So that’s only a 40% cut, and less again off a 1990 baseline. Either the ALP leaders don’t understand the issue or they are deliberately obfuscating.

    The deepest irony of all, as I am hoping will come out when the next IPCC Working Group report comes out, the mitigation report on May 4, is that the 60% target itself is woefully inadequate. I hope that’s what Flannery was getting to when he linked the issue back to a determination of what levels of climate change we’re willing to accept.

    If you want to have a decent chance of saving the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, you’d have to set much stricter targets. Probably closer to 60% by 2030, or maybe even more. At least 30% by 2020 to get us on track.

  27. observa says:

    “To be fair to Howard he coming to the climate change curbing table, although dragged kicking and screaming.”

    Perhaps like me he doesn’t like the populist quack cure and thinks it will be worse than the disease in the long run. For me the quack cure is Kyoto type quantity control targets. For any cap and trade to be in principle the equivalent to carbon taxing, the emission warrants would have to be auctioned competitively. As well their rights have to be set up and policed adequately and as we have seen with Kyoto over 3 years that’s improbable and I’d say impossible. In their rush to be seen to be ‘doing something’ I fear the left greens are going to sell future generations down the river like the Murray Darling water rights. A pure in principle cap and trade would see a global set of emissions worked out for Oz and then those auctioned on the basis that they are reducing by say 2%/yr over the next 30 yrs (that so called 60% reduction mantra) Now given that, the current players have to estimate what that’s worth right now, an impossible knowledge task you’d think. One thing’s for sure, those decreasing warrants are likely to increase rapidly in value over time and handing them out now to current emitters gratis, would be criminal. That’s what the left greens are pushing here and I’d castigate them totally for pushing that line. What they need to ensure is that any such warrants are auctioned on the basis that for each tonne of emissions sold now, that the residual 0.4 tonne emission in 30 years time remains in the govt’s hands. Sort of like PPPs where the infrastructure reverts to govt hands at the end of the term. That way future generations will not be shafted like water rights now.

    My own preference is for carbon and resource taxing generally, to avoid the pitfalls of trying to play God with global caps and policing, but if that’s inevitable politically, then we shouldn’t sell future generations short now. Fuck the left greens forever if they do.

  28. tim says:

    Observa, I know targets to you is like geosequestration to me, but can you please explain how you work out what level of tax to put on carbon if you haven’t decided how much you aim to reduce emissions by?

    You need to make a judgement on how much climate change risk you are willing to carry, translate that to a stabilisation level, translate that to how much carbon we can emit and still stay under that level, and then how to achieve that aim. Whether it’s with cap-and-trade or a tax, you need to determine a target for emissions reductions.

  29. observa says:

    “Observa, I know targets to you is like geosequestration to me, but can you please explain how you work out what level of tax to put on carbon if you haven’t decided how much you aim to reduce emissions by?”

    The point about carbon taxing is you just keep raising them gradually over time until you get the movements you desire. In theory this should be the same as a perfect knowledge, cap and trade auction system, without all the downsides. Should you find out 10 years into reducing emissions, that mars is warming for exactly the same reasons as earth, you can back off immediately. Try unwinding 30 year reducing warrants without the next Depression, let alone the administrative nightmare of policing those warrant users all the time. Really those warrants have to be universally applicable for every consumer/user and policed, which is clearly an impossibility, umlike taxing. Hence the handouts to big users only with cap and trade. The big attraction for cap and trade is the pollies varen’t seen to be raising the price of carbon and they can blame it all on industry, like the constant whinge with petrol prices. The MSM should know better and decry fatally compromised cap and trade systems. Keep the bloody pollies honest here.

  30. Spiros says:

    “That’s what the left greens are pushing here”

    Observa, you’ve got it backwards. In fact, cap and trade with permits given away not auctioned is being pushed by the business community.

    In contrast, Clive Hamilton, who is a left green, has criticised this as falling into the same trap as giving away water rights.

  31. observa says:

    I’m with Clive here Spiros(and the odd honest corporate) but can’t you see that wall to wall Labor has swallowed the Kyoto model politically and are you telling me the current signatories auctioned their declining emission permits, with Govt residual ownership at the end? Not on your nellie they didn’t. Why would Oz be any different under the same pressures and practical difficulties of cap and trade? The left greens have to take responsibility for railroading this, even through economic ignorance.

  32. patrickm says:

    I decided to listen to Flannery and Adams and was utterly revolted by these two smug phonies! It’s hard to imagine that people could listen to these two without throwing up at the gross hypocrisy; themselves flying round the world while advocating that workers stay home and vegetate! Both of these revolting, rich, green carpet-baggers, and shameless name-droppers are simply ALP campaigners and nasty examples of the Chardonnay drinking petty bourgeois that hold the masses of working people in contempt.

    They have no idea what the battlers will do come election day and neither does the average poster on this site.

    Come election day it will be plain that the actual policy coming from the party of millionaires and yuppies (ALP) is closer to the Greens and the soon to be extinct Democrats – and that policy is to attack the living standards of the masses. They all want us to use less of everything and seek to give us ‘price signals’; but the battlers and workers want to use more of everything and want prices to continue to fall as they have since elected governments were invented. So electors will say no thanks.

    Think of the masses that turn up to watch the car racing! Despite the protestations from people like Rann, and Rudd and Garrett that of course they don’t want to lower peoples living standards it is they who praise to the heavens the likes of David Suzuki and Flannery. i.e the people these politicians have praised repeatedly say that the price of petrol and electricity and food ought to be raised.

    The two trains driven by Tweedledee and Tweedledum have already left their stations. Both say they are going to prosperity. But the one that Flannery is on wants to make stops at ‘price signals’. The cheaper ticket buyers don’t offset their ‘carbon footprint’ and want cheaper price signals; they are going to get on the other train. The ALP will thus pull itself apart by trying to be all things to all people – having already painted themselves as too green with the money grubbing Peter Garrett.

    The ALP will get more of the Doctors wives to vote for them in safe Liberal seats, but battlers will work out that their best interests are probably to stick with Howard as their world has not actually collapsed despite them failing to vote for Latham. ie the last leader that people on this site recommended they vote for.

    Howard will campaign for the vote from the workers and the battlers as he did with the timber workers last time, and I predict that Howard will sink the Mark Latham light version of the Rudd /Garrett ALP by the end of the election campaign, and over this very populist issue so beloved by the pseudo-leftists and Greens that Obby confuses with the genuine left.

    At this stage the party of millionaires and yuppies just don’t get it and they are already the walking-dead as the polls start the slow turn around. Rusted on voters don’t count; all that counts are those that are prepared to swing in the marginal seats and the swinging voters want cheaper petrol and electricity, not ‘price signals’ from either carbon-trading or carbon-taxes. They don’t want to know that they ought to take even fewer Sunday drives or trips around Australia, or overseas holidays. They want more for less, not less for more and they are not the dolts that the let’s talk about the weather cranks take them for.

    The battling voter is simply not going to be stampeded and or not recognize what ‘price signals’ mean to their wallet and their standard of living. They will take the following punt about the current Flannery /Adams hysterics.

    The people posting here and voting ALP (after they have voted green of course) want these price signals out of so called desperate necessity; they have to give us the medicine for our own good! ‘The planet is endangered’ etc. ‘We have only ten years to act or it will be too late’. Time for a bet. I think that electors will think it’s time to vote for the guy who is less panicked and in three years time they’ll get to vote again. At that point the catastrophists can either say we only have seven years left and then we can demand some sort of proof of how they can be so precise in their predictions. (I can tell you now three years out that they will not be able to convince anyone of such precision).

    Then if the fear mongers are still raving that we only have ten years then we can roll over the bet while we continue to see rising living standards and the greater use of energy etc that it implies. But whatever happens the ALP won’t be as gung ho to cut workers living standards as they are now.

    No guarantees at this early stage but the Rudd ALP is starting to stumble on basic character form even before people have begun to focus on policy substance, so even though I’ll be voting informal, being left of the ALP and hostile to it, my early money is on a Howard win.

    PS. Maxine, having positioned herself so brilliantly for the expected Bennelong by-election will turn out to be another rejected ABC (not biased) celebrity.

  33. Paul Norton says:

    Great Newspoll today, eh Pat. What a shame you wouldn’t have seen it until after you wrote your post.

  34. patrickm says:

    I don’t give care about the current poll.

    The truth is that Paul Norton wants to make it more expensive for working people to fly and to drive and to run an air conditioner and when that point is clear to everyone we shall see what swingers in the marginals will vote for your type.

  35. Kim says:

    A searing manifesto from the Maoist forces!

    patrickm should get a job as a staffer for Mar’n Ferguson.

  36. Christine Keeler says:

    A searing manifesto from the Maoist forces!

    Onwards! A steel furnace in every backyard!

  37. Paul Norton says:

    Clearly the social-fascists and the Green running dogs of social-fascism such as myself are in a state of deep ideological confusion because of our acceptance of bourgeois climate science and unwillingness to accept the one true dialectical materialist conception of the invariability of the climate regardless of the composition of the atmosphere.

    so even though I’ll be voting informal, being left of the ALP and hostile to it, my early money is on a Howard win.

    Rewind to 1933:

    so even though I’ll be voting informal, being left of the Social Democratic Party and hostile to it, my early money is on a Hitler win.

  38. Spiros says:

    Patrick’s analysis has a fatal flaw. In 2004, the battlers had no traditional ((Marn Ferson) reason to vote against Howard. This time they do. It’s called Work Choices. Rightly or wrongly, this issue is huge in the electorate.

    The battling voters will vote Labor into office to rid them of Work Choices and will get Labor’s climate change policy as an incidental by-product.

  39. patrickm says:

    Kim, and Christine would like to distract attention from the issue by once again (it never gets tedious for them) shooting the messenger. They would like people not to notice that most people posting on this thread want carbon reducing ‘price signals’ imposed by the ALP under the leadership of Beazley, Crean, Latham, Rudd/Garrett (anybody). Paul N makes this perfectly clear as he ignores the issue and ridiculously compares Howard to Hitler.

    Actually, I think that the old argument from twenty-five-years ago about leftists having to pick the lesser-of-two-evils (founded on the notion that the ALP was left of the Coalition), is now answerable, not by explaining that the differences are not sufficient to be stuck behind the ALP, as it was all those years ago when the ALP were selling out the East Timorese, but by explaining that the ALP is now clearly to the right of the Coalition and left of the Greens. Pseudo leftists are a bigger threat to working peoples interests than Howards more straight forward conservatives. Take the ALP / Green proposal to abandon the Iraqi peoples to mass-murdering bombers rather than render them assistance; but I digress.

    Kim is aware that realist ALPers like Ferguson etc wants the Greens appeased sufficiently to get their preferences meanwhile after the election they can be dudded and the Coalitionesque policies followed. The ‘realists’ have always argued that Greens etc have nowhere else to go with their all important preferences, but it may be that the Green tide has peaked (except for the wealthy electorates where the ‘Doctors Wives’ may still have some room for growth) now that consequences are coming to be tabled. Green association has not got the ALP elected for some time now and the timber workers in the last election showed that there is a price to pay if you cuddle up to close. The timber workers were not dudded by Howard so they are unlikely to come back to the ALP despite Work Choices.

    Obviously the ALP will not admit that they would impose ‘price signals’ on the people (and if the Ferguson types had their way perhaps they wouldn’t), so voters will have to work out (as usual) what is most probable and take their punt.

    Just like Paul N, Flannery is quite clear – as is Suzuki. etc I think that people (swinging voters) will understand that the Garrett ALP is closer to these Greens than the Coalition is. I think that no matter what either of the Tweedles say the people will have concluded that the train has already left the station for both of them. Brown and Flannery and the rest of the Green reactionaries are noticeably on the back of the ALP train and the ALP can’t effectively throw them off.

    Naturally petrol, electricity, and air-fares etc are at issue – or these ‘price signals’ mean nothing and as this is very easy to understand if one is battling, I say that swingers ought to be able to be convinced that the best bet is currently to do nothing that would put their living standards at risk. When in doubt doing nothing is often best. Tweedledee could well appear to be the safer bet or Tweedledum may get over the line.

    We are still seven months out from the elections. That means that people will have had that much longer to get across the Work Choices legislation as it affects them personally. 32 year lows in unemployment, and a low number of disputes etc would suggest that the issue might cool in the face of a looming direct threat to hike prices to ‘save the world’. Honest Greens will be arguing that coal and oil etc has to be ‘put behind us’ ie energy prices have to be pushed up to blazes, as they are already saying about water and that means food prices up. But because it is electoral poison many of them will become more dishonest.

    This issue has been the sleeping giant that the Global Warming (now Climate Change) cranks have avoided all along.

    The masses of people have become convinced by the fear mongering so ‘something must be done’ but that something is push more research money at the issue as Howard will, rather than adopt the Flannery ‘time to act by attacking peoples standard of living with price signals’ while pretending that that’s not what you’re doing to people.

    Spiros; you could be right, but here is why I discount the work choices ‘issue [that] is huge in the electorate’ at the present time.
    Work choices is more a theoretical fear that falls away day by day in the face of peoples practice, while ‘price signals’ are a genuine threat that is looming. Once it is clear that the Greens/ALP are lying when they start to say price signals and higher living standards they will be thought of as exaggerating over what Work Choices means to battlers.

    Howard has a long way to catch up – but he has Bob Brown and Peter Garrett to help him. Anyway one year of Rudd pretending to be PM might be enough to warn off most swinging voters. Polls beginning about a month after the budget will give a better indication of which of the Tweedles will get to run the two party dictatorship for the next swing.

  40. FDB says:

    Patrickm, that is such a load of fresh-from-the-arsehole-plucked tendentious nonsense I don’t know where to begin.

    Maoists for Howard – dude, start a new party! Folks would flock to your overworded and incomprehensible banner.

  41. Spiros says:

    patrickm, your argument is logically inconsistent. Workchoices is already here. It might (or might not) be affecting people directly, but enough people to change the election outcome think that it might, and their fear is based on existing law.

    Climate change policies which might (or might not) affect the living standards of battlers are entirely hypothetical at this time. If people are going to vote on the basis of a scare, it is more likely to be the scare that is enacted in law, and that is Work Choices.

    In any case, Tim Flannery isn’t presenting himself to the electorate to be Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd is. Rudd isn’t Latham. As each day passes, he puts more and more policy daylight between himself and the Greens. Some might try to paint Rudd as Bob Brown’s handpuppet, but the electorate won’t buy it. Garrett is irrelevant.

    And further in any case, the electorate does care about climate change. There’s a reason the Liberal Party is falling over itself to be seen as doing something about it, and it’s not because they’ve all just read David Suzuki’s web site. In about a month’s time, Howard’s task force will report and recommend emissions trading as a least cost way of cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, and will say at the front of their report that the science unequivocally says that greenhouse gases are causing climate change in general and global warming in particular. Howard will accept their recommendations, as he hinted the other day.

    The next election will see each major party competing to see who can cut greenhouse gases the most, and they will both do it within the framework of the economy as it is. Rudd will ostentatiously support the coal industry, just to reinforce the point. The major parties will cancel each other out, and the Greens will scream loud and long that Labor is selling out on climate change, which will suit Rudd just fine. The election will be decided on other issues.

  42. Christine Keeler says:

    Kim, and Christine would like to distract attention from the issue by once again (it never gets tedious for them) shooting the messenger.

    Oh dear, patrickm has tumbled onto our little counter-revolutionary ruse. Look! Over that way people! Gaze not upon patrickm’s revelations lest you discover our cunning plot to have the workers wallowing in pig slop as the rest of us jet to Hawaii.

    In other words, dickhead, your pathetic whining about shooting the messenger doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously as long as you deride anybody who doesn’t agree with your far-right arguments as a “pseudo-leftist.”

    Can’t speak for the pirate queen of course, but as for me I reserve the right to keep sending you up mercilessly. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Tres fun.

  43. Paul Norton says:

    Further to the “Paul wants you to pay more” mantra.

    Firstly, if one accepts the scientific consensus on projections of climate change, people will be paying more than the current market price for fossil fuel usage regardless of whether or not measures such as carbon taxes or an emissions trading scheme are introduced. The argument is about who pays, and in what currency: do we make consumers of fossil fuels pay an amount which incorporates the external social and environmental cost of their consumption (and therefore brings it down to a level where the marginal external cost of consumption does not exceed the marginal benefit), or do we persist with fossil fuel, etc., prices which allow emissions to continue at a level which will result in negative externalities whose costs will fall on, amongst others, poor people in developing countries whose access to water will suffer, whose crops will fail and who will be most at risk from increased environmental health risks, natural disasters, etc.

    Secondly, the Australian working class consumers for whom patrickm presumes to speak are not interesting in purchasing quantities of factors of production (such as fossil fuels). They are interested in purchasing the goods and services which are produced using those factors of production, and the utility which comes from those goods and services. The family which drives from Brisbane to the Scenic Rim on the weekend does so because they want to see the Scenic Rim, not because they want to consume the X litres of petrol the car will use on the trip. If the price of petrol per litre increases due to a price being placed on carbon, the family will look for ways to travel to the Scenic Rim using proportionately less petrol and paying no more than before for the trip. The whole point of pricing carbon is to stimulate a myriad of micro-economic adjustments like this which will result in the population as a whole finding ways to enjoy much the same level of economic activity and quality of life whilst burning a lot less carbon.

  44. Paul Norton says:

    And furthermore…

    A carbon tax scheme can be designed to be revenue-neutral so that the proceeds of the tax can be redistributed to the taxpayers in the form of, amongst other things, incentives and subsidies for people and firms to adjust to low-carbon behaviour, or abolition of taxes such as payroll tax which discourage employment.

  45. Spiros says:

    And from a story just in

    ” The Australian Greens said that by putting coal ahead of renewable energy, the opposition leader – like Prime Minister John Howard – remained stuck in the past.

    “Every time he mentions climate change, he finds it necessary to reassure the coal industry that they will continue to be protected even while the world changes around them,” Greens senator Christine Milne said. ”

    Exactly as I predicted 2 hours ago.

  46. Phil McKracken says:

    And who knows? Maybe if we focus our efforts on reducing carbon emissions we may stumble across the next wheel or electricity. It’s amazing what you can find if you actually put your preconceptions to one side and look for solutions rather than roadblocks.

  47. Brian says:

    Rudd starts from the position that he knows that emissions need to be cut quite drastically by 2050 and has nominated 60% as it seems to be what those who take the matter seriously are saying. He’s not dumb, so he’ll know that it might need to be more. But he couldn’t justify more to the electorate on the basis of current knowledge.

    He’s promised an Australian equivalent of the Stern report so we can find the best strategies for achieving the necessary cuts. Such a report would also examine the cost of doing nothing, or doing very little.

    Howard has discovered that the electorate cares about climate change and, even worse, that the opposition has a reasonably coherent approach to doing something about it. So he is casting about for stuff to do. But at base he believes that if we do nothing then the economy will sail along at about 3% growth, which means we’ll double our wealth every 25 years or so. He’ll do some carbon trading, but since the polluters are in on the design it won’t be enough to make renewable energy competitive.

    Stern has told us that if we don’t take the whole thing seriously the economy will most likely go pear-shaped. And that’s speaking only about the economy.

    It seems to me we have a clear choice. If you are looking at both from a position where they both look the same, I’d suggest you are a long way from where the action is.

  48. patrickm says:

    Most comments to this thread, have come from a group of like minded Howard haters (that probably all campaigned last election for Latham to be PM!). These are people who have never voted for the Coalition, just like my good self, but unlike myself are so consumed by their Howard hatred that they are unable to look at the electoral issues involved this time round in anything like an all sided manner. They reject my slow turn around in the polls for Howard thesis, on the, (IMV wishful thinking), basis that, no one is now listening to Howard.

    Well you all may be right; Tweedledum might get elected. But I believe that the masses just listened to Howard on ‘Work Choices’ and by election time it will not swing votes to the ALP. Howard spoke loud and clear and early and is now moving on to the Budget.

    Brian however detects a slight problem from the ignorant working classes and general battlers and is trying to face in both directions at once, loosing all face in the process.

    Brian wants carbon ‘price signals’ from the government (for the sake of the planet no less we just have to be fed the medicine) and Brian believes that the ALP will deliver more of them than the ‘denialist’ Howard Government would. No doubt not as much medicine as the Greens would force feed us but nevertheless more than the alternative Tweedles.

    In another thread he yells ‘Act now’. What action other than put a price on Carbon. Brian means push up the price of petrol and electricity and water and food etc Force people to use less then sooner or later their living standards will improve again. But first the medicine!

    Then in another comment Brian complains that Howard will try to scare the swinging voters with the thought idea that the ALP would do just that!

    The big issue of global warming and the carbon taxing (read living standard cutting) ALP is going to start to bite in the face of the twaddle about pricing signals that Paul and Brian are trying to flog.

    The battlers will be heading your way with the baseball bat once they twig to what putting a price on carbon will mean for their ability to aspire and struggle to use ‘more for less’ as history has shown humans continuously capable of.

    The ALP will be widely seen to be right of the Coalition and left of the Greens after this election. Nevertheless they are only marginally so (accept on the important issue of fighting the revolutionary war against the enemy of all humanity that are conducting their sectarian / racist bombing in ever diminishing circles in Iraq etc.)

  49. anthony says:

    So which medicine are you taking patrickm? [cough]

  50. Brian says:

    Naturally petrol, electricity, and air-fares etc are at issue – or these ‘price signals’ mean nothing and as this is very easy to understand if one is battling, I say that swingers ought to be able to be convinced that the best bet is currently to do nothing that would put their living standards at risk. When in doubt doing nothing is often best.

    Can we just be clear about what you think we should do, patrickm?

    Nothing, is that it?

  51. patrickm says:

    Bright Future

    is the sort of thing I would have in mind!

    You will note that unlike Flannery’s books you may read it free on the net.

  52. Brian says:

    Environmental catastrophes will continue to not happen. Nature is remarkably resilient. Furthermore, as we get richer and smarter we will get better at remedying or adapting to natural adversity. [Emphasis added]

    But you will note, patrickm, that “remedying and adapting” when the planetary climate system is out of whack is not a walk in the park.

    BTW who is saying that we are going to become poor through fixing the planet? Apart John Howard, that is.

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