Former emissions trading and carbon tax sceptic Julia Gillard will be pressed hard by the extremist majority of MP’s on her Climate Change Committee, which meets on Wednesday, to put a high price on carbon – and quickly.
The Greens MP’s, leader Bob Brown and deputy leader Christine Milne, along with independent members Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, all want massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They make up a simple majority of the seven parliamentarians on the committee.
The remaining MP’s are Prime Minister Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan, and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. Senator Boswell said hope for moderation of the extremist majority on the committee rested with the Climate Change Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan, who must surely now recognise the game’s up.
“Surely these two men now realise that with President Obama’s decision to drop any hope of carbon trading in the United States, and given where the dollar, and the Budget sit, that to impose a carbon cost on Australia now would be economic suicide – for nigh on nil impact on global emissions.”
The Greens climate change policy calls for a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, with binding annual targets by 2012. This is a target eight times as tough as the government’s. The Greens also want the target of 20% of energy from renewables by 2020 expanded to 30%.
Tony Windsor, the Independent MP for New England did not support the former Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in either the June 2009 or February 2010 votes because he didn’t think it went far enough. Like the Greens, he wants it tougher. As early as November 2008 Mr Windsor introduced a Private Member’s Bill for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020.
Mr Oakeshott did support the then Rudd government’s emission trading scheme, but also wanted it to be stronger, repeatedly calling on the parliament to “let the market rip,” and “let the science fly” – but only via an independent authority that would divorce parliamentarians from voter backlash over the inevitably unpopular impacts on consumers.
Senator Boswell said it was clear from the Prime Minister’s massive policy back-flip on a carbon price she was interested in political, not planetary, survival. “During the recent election campaign the Prime Minister stuck with the former Rudd Government’s commitment to not reintroduce plans for a carbon pollution reduction scheme until at least 2012, and explicitly ruled out a carbon tax.
“The only plausible explanation for her total about-face on the issue quickly after the election is that she needs the support of the independents in the House now, and the Greens in the Senate from next July. The PM has turned her attitude towards a carbon price upside down to stay in power. The extremists know they have her measure, and the outcome could be far worse than Labor’s chronic preference for indecision.”