Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Politics 2 - Federal

Last night the PM graced Q&A. As the transcript shows she did a remarkable job on handling the climate change/carbon tax question.

I'm actually glad you asked me that question because it gives me an opportunity to explain and I do want to talk to the Australian people about what I said in the last election. Now, I did say during the last election campaign - I promised that there would be no carbon tax. That's true and I've walked away from that commitment and I'm not going to try and pretend anything else. I also said to the Australian people in the last election campaign that we needed to act on climate change. We needed to price carbon and I wanted to see an emissions trading scheme. Then we had the election and the 17 days that were and we formed this minority government. Now, if I'd been leading a majority government I would have been getting on with an emissions trading scheme. It's what I promised the Australian people. As it is, in this minority parliament, the only way I can act on climate change by pricing carbon it to work with others and so I had a really start choice. Do I act or not act? Well, I've chosen to act and we will have a fixed price, like a carbon tax, for a period and then get to exactly what I promised the Australian people, an emissions trading scheme. Now, when I said during the election campaign there would be no carbon tax I didn't intend to mislead people. What I believed then is an emissions trading scheme is right for this country. I believe that now and we will get to that emissions trading scheme.

I think technically though she didn't lie! When she said there wouldn't be a carbon tax under the government she led she really meant "if I have an absolute majority". I think it is perfectly reasonable for her to say "my interpretation is this is the what the Parliament will support, and the Parliament is the expression of the wishes of the Australian people".

She also did an admirable job of explaining that the point of a carbon tax is to change relative prices not to increase costs.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Prime Minister, isn't the whole point of having a carbon tax to affect the prices that consumers pay? If there's no change in consumer behaviour, you're not going to achieve what you're trying to achieve to reduce carbon pollution. So if it's compensating households, aren't you simply undermining the effect that your tax is going to have and ultimately make no change?

JULIA GILLARD: That's a very perceptive question and I think a lot of people are thinking about his, about how does it work? If I'm getting compensation, what's actually changing? Let me just explain that. The carbon price affects the big polluters. Yes, they will cause some price impacts for consumers. That's true. We will then assist consumers and I can understand why people then intuitively go, well, how does all of this work? Isn't, you know, sort of money going in and money going out? What's the effect? Well, the effect is that in the shops when you come to buy things, products that are made with relatively less carbon pollution will be cheaper than products that are made with more carbon pollution. So you're standing there with your household assistance in your hand. You could still keep buying the high carbon pollution products if you want to or what you're far more likely to do is to buy the cheaper, lower carbon pollution products. That means that the people who make those things will get the consumer signal, gee, we will sell more, we will make more money if we make lower pollution products. That drives the innovation. So I want you to have that household assistance in your hand but I also want you to see price effects which make cleaner, greener things cheaper than high pollution commodities. That's why it works.

Meanwhile Tony Abbott seems to get off still saying carbon dioxide isn't the enemy, but having a policy of direct intervention to reduce it.

His policy is to incur massive Government expenditure on these programs - but not to raise taxes. Presumably he will just cut expenditure on other things.

But also, you and I don't get the choice. It is not then determined by how we are prepared to modify our behaviour but what young Tony and his guys decide.

It is mighty odd that it is the ALP that is promoting market mechanisms and the coalition that is promoting centralist planning. It is mighty odd that it is the ALP promoting a budget neutral approach and the coalition proposing massive public expenditure.

Meanwhile the Assange question was just pure unadulterated nonsense. Yes, the Australian government does share information with other Governments about potential security risks that might involve Australian citizens. We WANT IT TO DO THAT.

Meanwhile Dennis Atkins has dreamt up Labor's ten time bombs. They are:

1. Selling the carbon tax.
2. Selling/finalising the mining tax.
3. The tax summit promised to Oakshot.
4. The May Budget.
5. Finalising the Feb 13 health agreement.
6. Offshore processing centre.
7. Managing the onshore detention problem.
8. Same sex marriage.
9. Debating taking back cacus' power to appoint Ministers.
10. Managing/controlling K Rudd.

Actually written like that without the prose they aren't much at all. The PM in the first term rolled back work choices and ran education - including national testing and my school.

For Julia that is simply a "To Do List" - not a list of "time bombs."

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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