Be interesting to see if Julia can be convincing tonight.*
Down here in Carbon Central The Illawarra Mercury has come out in favour of the carbon tax package revealed yesterday.
With thousands of jobs in the steel and coal industries and tens of thousands of jobs hanging off those ones, the Illawarra had everything to lose from a carbon tax.
But, as we forecast last week, the Federal Government yesterday granted significant concessions to manufacturing and mining – and on the basis of that we now give the reforms our tentative and cautious support.
Among the pledges yesterday was for a $300 million steel transformation fund, which combined with other shielding, means BlueScope Steel will not face a bill for its emissions for four years.
Similarly, "gassy" coal producers will receive assistance, which should allay many of the concerns of the Illawarra community.
That BlueScope boss Paul O’Malley endorsed the package in principle, and made a personal commitment to the steelmaker remaining in Australia, convinces us it is time to put the argy-bargy aside and look to the future.
Mr O’Malley sounded relieved and almost relaxed. Certainly, taking this matter off the table lessens his worries – which are still considerable given the high Australian dollar and the company’s trade-exposed position.
BlueScope should use its stay of execution to pursue a greener future, one we hope involves reigniting its proposed $1 billion Port Kembla co-generation plant.
With millions of dollars kicking around in concessions, we believe major public and private funds could be channelled into this project, which would dramatically reduce carbon dioxide…
I have no expert opinion on these matters. Over the past weeks and years I have been concerned to rebut at every turn the gross dishonesty and stupidity that has surrounded the so-called skeptics who, with a handful of exceptions, are generally politically motivated windbags with very poor scientific credentials and too often with pockets filled from obvious sources. But what is the best approach to dealing with the problem: that’s a very complex matter.
I fear however that the Opposition under Tony Abbott have not been serious enough, being too concerned to accommodate the idiots who say there isn’t a problem and focussing far too much on playing power games with the issue. Their own approach was labelled not credible by one of their own, Malcolm Turnbull, back in 2009 and it hasn’t changed much since then.
This guy was right on QandA last week – and he’s a Liberal Party person!
JOE DORE: Penny Wong said a moment ago that it’s important to price pollution across the economy. In light of this is the decision to exempt petrol from the carbon tax a purely political response to Tony Abbot’s effective scare campaigning on price pressures, rather than a substantive policy response to climate change?
TONY JONES: Let’s hear from Stephen O’Doherty on this first.
STEPHEN O’DOHERTY: It is undeniably. I mean the problem that the Prime Minister has now is that because of the previous problem that Mathias referred to, no one will believe her when she talks about petrol. She has now lost the position of credibility on the issue and that’s not just a problem for the Labor Party, it’s a problem for the country. I mean what we’re just witnessed, Tony, is a perfect example of why this questioner over here is worried about his business, because we’ve been in a policy stall for several years. We know that Penny and Kevin Rudd worked hard at Copenhagen. We know that that didn’t work. We know that this is an issue that won’t go away. If Mathias is elected with his colleagues, it won’t go away. I mean, I think reasonable people are convinced…
TONY JONES: So given it won’t go away in your view, are you happy with the way Tony Abbott has been handling this?
STEPHEN O’DOHERTY: No, I’m not happy with the way either side is handling it at the moment and I actually think, you know, with due respect to my former Liberal colleagues that the political role being played by the Opposition at the moment, the spoiling role, is not making it easier to settle something that has to be settled in due course. It’s making the environment, the economy for business much, much worse. It’s causing this massive slow down in confidence. It’s the reason we won’t have an interest rate rise, which is a good thing, by the way, but it’s actually stalled reform. It’s stalled confidence. It’s stalled the economy. That’s what’s causing the trouble and surely just to have seen a demonstration of how it is, we need to get two sides together to find a reasonable position that we can all agree on as people to take the country forward.
TONY JONES: Why do you think that’s not happening though? Because, I mean, it’s pretty clear, isn’t it, that Tony Abbott has decided to stake his future on opposing this tax.
STEPHEN O’DOHERTY: Yeah, it is. Yeah. Well, I tell you (indistinct)…
MATHIAS CORMANN: Which is a responsible way, for our record. It’s not a spoiling way. It’s a responsible way.
STEPHEN O’DOHERTY: Okay. Well, I mean, I was a shadow minister for seven years and I just know the discussions that go around the shadow cabinet table. Will we engage in the debate and find a way through and assist in a good policy process or will we just say no and promise to repeal it. Now, clearly the shadow cabinet said the latter.
We know that several people within the Liberal Party federally, including Malcolm Turnbull, had a different way of approaching it that would have eventually led Australia to a point where we had a solution for this problem. It’s not a problem that’s going to go away and sticking your head in the sand is not going to help. So the political process itself, Tony, has let us down.
* Well we know how she handled Q&A now: brilliantly. It was often a hard audience and they asked all the hard questions. Julia was very clear, very dignified. I’ve bagged the woman a lot lately. I stand corrected.