Eee by gum, is that Our Tony down pit, ma?

Seems it was, at least in Helensburgh yesterday, according to The Illawarra Mercury:

1277687The Illawarra’s bustling coal industry would expire if a carbon tax was to be introduced in Australia, leading to thousands of job losses locally, Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott insisted yesterday.

Mr Abbott’s visit to Helensburgh’s Peabody Metropolitan Mine was an extremely pertinent one, according to workers, who hold similar uncertainties about what impact a price on carbon would have on the industry if introduced.

The Liberal leader toured the coking coal facility, travelling 10km underground to the face of the mine’s long wall.

Veterans of the industry, including a third-generation coalminer, expressed their concern during the 90-minute visit.

Metropolitan mine manager Andrew Hyslop said most workers accepted the science behind climate change and supported cleaner energy but remained doubtful about the validity of the Government’s carbon tax.

"It’s an issue often discussed here, because it’s something that workers are worried about," he said…

Of course there is room for concern, but Tony really was there as an UNDERminer. Whatever he may or may not think about climate change and carbon pricing — and he has in the recent past thought many often contradictory things — Tony does know he has the government on the ropes. As an ex-boxer he thinks he knows how to achieve a knock-out punch, and this is what all his scare-mongering is about: unseating the government and bringing on an election.

I think it is tragic that an issue so important should be reduced on both sides to politics as usual. I was therefore drawn to Justine McGill in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

…One serious problem with allowing the debate to divide into opposing camps of believers and nonbelievers is that it distorts our understanding of what responsibility for climate change entails. Sceptics and card-carrying believers tend to share a view of climate change that equates it to a charge of personal and cultural culpability which must be either denied or admitted…

I doubt that many people question the truth of climate change because they truly find the science inconclusive. It seems more likely that it is the moralising and the excessive, punitive form of responsibility that climate change sometimes seems to entail, that causes some, understandably, to baulk, and others to produce arguments that are dense with emotional appeals.

The passion of the debate has risen to a pitch that indicates there are more than material interests in play here. The energy and urgency with which proverbially laid-back Australians are approaching this issue suggest that we recognise that fundamental values, even metaphysical commitments, are at stake here.

But there is an alternative to rejecting excessive responsibility for climate change, or masochistically accepting it. We don’t need to go down the right-wing path of denying any connection between personal responsibility and collective problems: "I am in no way responsible for climate change." Nor do we need to follow the left-wing tendency to merge the two and make the individual personally responsible for collective harms: "I am responsible for climate change, and so are you."

Instead, we could acknowledge that climate change is an issue that clearly calls for co-operation and collective responsibility. While the personal and the collective are connected, they must not be conflated if we wish to avoid scapegoating and the splintering of our community into self-defensive interest groups as individuals seek to avoid a form of responsibility they cannot accept.

On the other hand, if the difference as well as the connection between the personal and the collective is respected, then collective responsibility for climate change can be seen as a positive opportunity to participate in powerful co-operative action.

There has been a lot of talk about the fact that Australia is a small nation, and cannot afford to act in advance of the larger nations. From an economic and political perspective, and as a human population, we may be small, but from a natural perspective, we are vast: Australia is a nation that corresponds to a whole continent and its surrounding waters.

Without neglecting the real vulnerabilities of individuals, it is time we as a nation stopped seeing ourselves as a weak player in the disoriented and disorienting world of international economics, and focused on the significance and substance of being caretakers of a large measure of the Earth. Let’s show some faith in ourselves.

Today too the Productivity Commission released its report Carbon Emission Policies in Key Economies. My initial reading – and I have downloaded it – is that it is exemplary and goes beyond partisanship. Anyone serious about the issue should look at what this report says, and tune out the sound bites from either side of politics.


Paul Kelly is worth reading on the Productivity Commission Report.

On another issue where our politicians are failing us in a big way on BOTH SIDES see Rampant untruths kill asylum debate by Peter van Onselen.

You will have gathered I am singularly unimpressed with the denizens of Parliament House these days …