Saturday, March 26, 2011

Malcolm Turnbull on the Coalition's Climate Change Policy



John Clarke and Bryan Dawe talk carbon tax. Some satirical humour on the carbon tax on the Seven thirty report last night with a dig at Malcolm Turnbull having to support the Coalition Climate policy he opposes and knows is wrong to preserve shadow cabinet solidarity.

Are you Con Fused? Maybe you should ask Malcolm Turbull, former Opposition leader and now shadow cabinet minister, about the merits of the opposition's stance on reducing carbon pollution.


While the Government is proposing a fixed carbon price (carbon tax) on carbon pollution from July 1st 2012 leading into a market based emissions trading scheme, the burden of the Coalition's Direct Action plan for reducing carbon emissions would fall directly on taxpayers.

Malcom Turnbull was interviewed on ABC 24 yesterday and said:
The Coalition actually, in its current policy, that is to the say the policy that's described as direct action, does involve putting a price on carbon - it's just that the price is paid with taxpayers' dollars rather than paid in the marketplace by people who are needing to buy permits in order to get the right to pollute, which is how an emissions trading scheme works.

The Government alledges that the "Direct Action" plan will cause $30 billion payout in business subsidies from the budget and general revenue, costing the average family $720 per year to achieve a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020.

The Treasury Department advised the Coalition in 2010:
Direct Action measures alone cannot do the job without imposing significant economic and budget costs...Moreover, many of the direct action measures cannot be scaled up to achieve significant levels of abatement, and for those that can be scaled up, the cost per tonne of abatement would rise rapidly.

In September 2010 Malcolm Turnbull said:
"Coalition's policy is, rather than having polluters... you know, the industry pay those costs and passing them on to consumers, to have the cost of abatement paid for out of taxpayers' dollars."

Scientists and economists have been highly critical of the Coalition plan and whether it could even achieve it's stated objective of 5% carbon emissions cuts by 2020. The Coalition Policy has been called just tinkering at the edges of climate action.

Turnbull highlights lack of political leadership on climate in June 2010


Here is Malcolm Turnbull, as an opposition backbencher, delivering the Alfred Deakin Lecture in July 2010 (Excerpt on climate change and ETS) He started his speech:

"We live in a continent that is uniquely challenged by climate change. We live in a dry continent that is becoming drier, and hotter, in the Southern part where most of the population lives – and we have witnessed that. We have seen the last decade, the hottest decade on record; the next hottest was the one before that, the next hottest, the one before that. Climate change is real, it is affecting us now, and it is having a particularly severe impact on Australia. And yet, right now, we have every resource available to us to meet the challenge of climate change except for one: and that is leadership.

Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice the like of which I have never seen in my lifetime before. The abandonment of the Emissions Trading Scheme by the Prime Minister [Kevin Rudd] surely must be one of the most remarkable political acts, self-destructive political acts, I might say – there is some justice – that we've ever seen. Here was a man who came to office with a policy that he said was the answer to the greatest moral challenge of our times. Ultimately, he could not secure the support of the Senate."



Read the full transcript

Malcolm Turnbull: Tony Abbott's climate policy is 'bullshit' December 2009


But don't take my word for it. Here is Malcolm Turnbull in his own words in a blog post from December 07, 2009: Time for some straight talking on climate change.

While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy.

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, “bullshit.” Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words, electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions.

The term you will see used for this is “least cost abatement”.

It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for.

Second, as we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.

Now politics is about conviction and a commitment to carry out those convictions. The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is “crap” and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all. I disagree with that assessment, but many people in the community will be excused for thinking the leadership ballot proved him right.

Remember Nick Minchin’s defense of the Howard Government’s ETS was that the Government was panicked by the polls and therefore didn’t really mean it.

Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it.

His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, but…..”

Third, there is a major issue of integrity at stake here and Liberals should reflect very deeply on it. We have an Opposition whose current leadership dismisses the Howard Government’s ETS policy as being just a political ploy. We have an Opposition Leader who has in the space of a few months held every possible position on the issue, each one contradicting the position he expressed earlier. And finally we have an Opposition which negotiated amendments to the Rudd Government’s ETS, then reached agreement on those amendments and then, a week later, reneged on the agreement.

Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now open to the charge that we are also without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted to keep our word or maintain a consistent position on the issue of climate change.

Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well. If the legislation is passed, incorporating as it does the amendments Ian MacFarlane negotiated with Penny Wong, then the issue will be settled. It is manifestly in the national interest and in the interest of the Liberal Party that it be so.

Malcolm Turnbull is one of the few Liberal and National politicians who comes out smelling more of roses than bullshit when it comes to climate change policy.