Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

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Liberals Part 5: Are they hiding a radical agenda?

31 January 2013

This is the fifth part of a series examining the Liberal Party of Australia. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 examine the party’s climate policies. Part 4 debunks their allegations that the incumbent government is illegitimate. This part argues they are hiding a radical agenda of deregulation and austerity.

The countdown has begun: 226 days until an Australian federal election in which the Liberals look likely to sweep into office. Yet we still have very little idea what the Liberals would do in government. Leader Tony Abbott contradicts himself from day to day, apparently depending on who he’s speaking to, and even his party’s official policies are not very clearly explained. At this stage, a vote for the Liberals is a blank cheque. In this vacuum of confirmed information, I am forced to resort to informed speculation. You’ll know whether I’m right when the Liberals finally announce their fully detailed policies (which looks like it will be about 5pm on 14 September).

The deregulation agenda

I fear an Abbott government would be a wrecker government. We already know the Liberals would repeal the carbon and mining taxes, axe most other climate change policies, and delegate environmental approval powers to the states. These policies should be disturbing enough for anybody, but increasingly appear to be only part of a broader agenda of deregulation and austerity which should trouble even those unconcerned about climate change. It would follow the precedent set by the Newman government in Queensland, which blindsided the state last year by sneaking into power under cover of opposing a long-lived incumbent then proceeding to implement massive cuts. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Liberals Part 3: False crimes of a climate crook

16 January 2013

This is the third part of a series examining the Liberal Party of Australia. Part 1 covers the party’s climate change denial and intention to abolish various existing climate policies. Part 2 examines the climate policies they promise to introduce. This part defends them against incorrect criticisms of their climate policies.

To use language which Liberal leader Tony Abbott might outside of a family program, the Liberals’ climate policy is complete crap. Having said that, its problems do not include some of the things for which it is most often criticized: fiscal impact, directness, and reliance on domestic action.

Fiscal impact

Some commentators (eg. Alan Kohler) claim the Liberals’ policy would have a massive impact on the government’s budget. But there is nothing wrong with the government spending money on addressing the greatest threat facing humanity. Indeed, we should be spending far more than either major party is currently prepared to. The real problem, as I explained in Part 2, is the Liberals would not spend enough. The Emissions Reduction Fund is capped at $10.5 billion by 2020, making it impossible to make sure it meets its target (let alone a more ambitious target). Because the Fund’s current costings depend on achieving 60% of its abatement through buying soil carbon offsets, it is difficult to see how it could make genuine absolute emissions cuts with such a limited budget. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Climate ignored in Australian federal budget

10 May 2012

“Global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

US paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson

“Madam Deputy Speaker, in coming years no first‑world, first‑rate economy will succeed without cleaner sources of energy. So part of the broader transformation of our economy involves moving to a clean energy future, and helping Australian businesses and households make the change. The price on carbon pollution that begins this year will only be paid by Australia’s biggest emitters. It will not be levied on families. But to help with any price increases, we’re cutting income tax and increasing payments to pensioners, families and recipients of allowances beginning this month.”

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan’s only significant mention of climate change in Tuesday’s budget speech

I don’t agree with the focus of the budget unveiled on Tuesday by the Gillard Labor Government. So instead of dissecting the headline decisions, I’ll compare it to my advice to the Government a month ago, much of which could have been achieved through the budget:

  1. Stop obsessing over the mirage of a budget surplus. If the Government continues to insist on spending cuts, it can start by cutting the billions of dollars it spends annually on perverse fossil fuel subsidies, which are many times greater than the amount it spends on renewable energy. If Labor stops dreaming of a surplus, that money could be spent on climate change.
  2. Stop playing a destructive role in international negotiations. At the very least, agree to be legally bound and stop trying to distort the accounting rules. Or to be positively constructive: raise Australia’s emissions target, cough up climate funding for developing countries, and support a global goal of reducing atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm.
  3. Rewrite the Energy White Paper to plan for a 100% renewable energy future, and to phase out fossil fuel exports. Establish a federal feed-in tariff. Prioritize the CEFC and fund the construction of a solar power plant.
  4. Stop cutting climate policies.
  5. Acknowledge the climate crisis is serious, urgent, and necessitates radical change. Read the rest of this entry ?