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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thousands gather in Melbourne to support Pricing Pollution

Getup!, AYCC and other organisations held a rally on Saturday morning 12 March 2011, in support of the Gillard Government's announcement for pricing carbon from July 1st 2012, The rally was held outside the Prime Ministerial offices in Treasury Place and was organised in response to a rally by climate deniers and those opposed to a carbon price outside Julia Gillard's Altona electoral office.

I didn't arrive till about halfway through the rally and Treasury place was packed to the rafters by then. See a few of my photos on Flickr.

Price the Polluters Rally - Make Polluters payTalkbalk radio hosts, with a few exceptions on ABC radio and public broadcasting seem to push conservative agendas - they are even called the right wing shock jocks. And so it is with climate denialism and getting behind Tony Abbott's 'peoples revolt' on the Government's proposed 'pollution tax'. Anna Rose, writing in New Matilda (We'll Keep Polluting The Air (Waves)) has written an excellent piece on the influence of the powerful talk back radio hosts in opposing action on climate change.

The numbers at the rally last week also tell the story: an estimated 8000 in support of a carbon price in Treasury Place and just 200 against in Altona. Treasury Place was full of people with many spilling in to the Treasury Gardens with some street theatre.

Tony Abbott has appealed for a tax revolt, but the one thing we need in Australia to move forward on acting on climate change is a carbon price to be set. This will provide the certainty to drive business investment in carbon pollution reduction.

A carbon price can start relatively low - in the range of $20-$30 per tonne - and progressively increase to drive the change in business investment required. (For more information see Frank Jotzo from the Centre for Clate Economics and Policy, March 2011, CCEP working paper 1104 (PDF)) .

Price the Polluters Rally - Libs 4 Famine Fire and Flood attacking future generationsThe irony is that the Labor Government is proposing a transitional fixed price (carbon tax) mechanism leading into a market based mechanism to ultimately set the carbon price while the opposition policies for carbon reduction involve huge subsidies from general revenue as incentives to reduce the worst polluters to change behaviour. Opposition policies can not easily ramp up to increase carbon pollution reduction.

The carbon pricing mechanism is being worked out by the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee set up by the Government after the last election. All parties and Independent members were invited to participate, but the Liberal and National Parties chose to not have any input into the process.

It is a sad reflection on the party system when prominent Liberals like Malcolm Turbull who is personally in favour of a carbon price to tackle climate change is forced to tow the party line with non-market ineffective policies that pander to the small minority of people who deny human activities are exacerbating climate change.

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