Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Plan So Cunning... Or Courageous

By Simon Grose

The government’s backflip on a carbon price was politically opportunistic, but public support could suffer if global emissions keep rising.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Labor Senator and eminence grise John Faulkner has observed that his party has come to be seen as “cunning rather than courageous”. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s policy reversal on a carbon price could be seen to be either – or even both – depending on your view on dealing with climate change.

It was also boldly duplicitous, a fact that failed to anger the general polity, indicating that soon after an election win is probably the best time for you to change your tune.

In the election campaign Gillard ruled out imposing a price on carbon during this term of government unless it was part of an international effort to do so.

Yet soon after the election she started ruling it in, regardless of international developments, arguing that the game had changed because now Labor was in a kind of coalition with the Greens.
The reality is that she ruled out a carbon price before the election because she didn’t want to bleed votes to the Coalition. She has since ruled it in because she doesn’t want to bleed votes to the Greens.

This is more cunning than courageous, and sets the scene for a difficult compromise with her coalition partners.

In June the Greens put forward a plan for a carbon price as “a basis for open and constructive negotiation”.  They proposed that within 3 months of a Labor victory they would support legislation for a carbon tax...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Simon Grose is a Director of Science Media (