Posts Tagged ‘Julia Gillard’

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Greens denounce Gillard Labor government

19 February 2013

The Greens have publicly distanced themselves from the Labor government in the leadup to the Australian federal election on 14 September.

Last month, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Liberal leader Tony Abbott each launched their party’s election campaign with a National Press Club speech. (Gillard discussed economic policy, hinted at more budget cuts, and announced the election date; Abbott reiterated past promises including a budget surplus.) Today, Greens leader Christine Milne similarly addressed the National Press Club. In a strong speech, Milne argued Labor has flouted the principles it agreed with the Greens in 2010: “transparency and accountable government”, “policies which promote the public interest”, and “policies which address climate change”.

The move is long overdue. As I’ve written before, the Greens’ support has given credibility to a government which has gotten away with: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Liberals Part 4: Australia has a legitimate government

27 January 2013

This is the fourth part of a series examining the Liberal Party of Australia. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 examine the party’s climate policies. This part debunks their allegations that the incumbent government is illegitimate.

Both sidesIllustration: Stephen Wight

There has been a persistent campaign by the conservative Coalition, led by Tony Abbott and his Liberals, assisted by most of the mainstream media, to create the perception that the incumbent Labor minority government, led by Julia Gillard, is illegitimate. Don’t get me wrong: I have a long list of disagreements with the government. But the implication it is somehow illegitimate is simply unjustified. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Climate deregulation still on agenda

6 December 2012

It’s called the COAG Taskforce on Regulatory and Competition Reform, and don’t be fooled by the boring name: it could be the gravestone of Australian climate policies and environmental regulation. Today Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the unelected Business Advisory Forum (BAF), and tomorrow with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), to advance this radical corporate-driven deregulation agenda.

I was going to write that the federal government intended to hand over its environmental approval powers to the states tomorrow. Fortunately that has been delayed following a campaign by the Greens and environmental groups, though it remains very much on the agenda. Instead this blog post will focus on another, even more important aspect of the COAG Taskforce program, which has received less attention but presumably rolls on inexorably toward an imminent conclusion: reviewing almost all climate policies with a view to axing them.

The process is completely opaque and undemocratic. Federal and state governments are advised by business lobbyists, with no comparable consultation of anyone else, and the public are not told what is happening apart from vague communiqués following decisions at BAF and COAG meetings.

It is not even clear why the BAF was created in the first place, though I can offer an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. Throughout 2011, business lobbyists campaigned against the Gillard government for daring to rock the boat even slightly by introducing a carbon price (never mind that it was full of holes). Some supported the Liberals’ campaign for an election and no carbon price, and I imagine behind the scenes some supported Kevin Rudd’s leadership plot in return for Rudd’s promise to weaken the carbon price. When Rudd was decisively defeated, the Business Council of Australia called for “a renewed commitment to make Australia more competitive and productive” including “a regulatory environment that encourages business to invest, adapt, and innovate”. Within a week, Gillard announced the formation of the Business Advisory Forum. The whole thing had a vibe of Gillard desperately trying to win the support of business. And what better way to atone for the carbon price than to dismantle all other climate and environment policies? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Is Tony Abbott a liar, or just plain stupid?

25 August 2012

It’s taken them two-and-a-half years, but it looks like the Australian media is finally beginning to cotton on to the blatant dishonesty of Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party and Opposition. His latest mistruths are debunked here. What better time than to recall some highlights from his ever-growing litany of false, misleading, and contradictory statements?

“Liar” is an inflammatory term which I used to get your attention. Of course, I have no way of knowing the motivations of Abbott or his party; they may believe themselves to be sincere. But if “liar” means “one who makes false statements”, then Abbott is a habitual liar. In fact, I can logically prove to you that Abbott is a liar. This is possible because if a politician promises one thing to one audience and a contradictory thing to another audience, it logically follows that one of those promises must be untrue.

Abbott claimed in July 2011 he had been consistent: “I once used some colorful language describing the so-called settled science of climate change but look, climate change is real, humanity does make a contribution to it and we’ve got to take effective action against it. I mean, that’s my position and that’s always been my position but I’ve never been in favor of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.” But in October 2009, he had said: “We don’t want to play games with the planet so we are taking this issue seriously and we would like to see an ETS.” And he is on video advocating a form of carbon tax immediately after denying climate change:

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Environmental deregulation agenda continues

26 July 2012

As NASA reports record ice melt in Greenland, Australian federal and state governments remain convinced we have too much environmental regulation. They reaffirmed this belief at yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). The communiqué gives very little detail, but it appears the environmental deregulation agenda outlined at April’s meeting is rolling onward behind the scenes:

COAG noted the progress report from its inter-jurisdictional Taskforce which was set up to advise COAG following the successful Business Advisory Forum meeting in April.  The Taskforce has been consulting with peak business bodies and other organisations interested in specific reforms, including conservation groups which have an interest in environmental regulation reforms.

I assume the latter consultations are for show. This agenda was dictated by business lobby groups at April’s Business Advisory Forum; it’s not about protecting the environment. Recall that Gillard told business groups in April: “We are determined to get this done.”

COAG reiterated its commitment to reducing duplication and double-handling of environmental assessment and approval processes while maintaining high environmental standards that are risk- and outcomes-based. In line with the timing agreed at the COAG meeting in April, consultations are underway and negotiations for bilateral agreements are about to commence.

Recall that business wants all federal environmental protection powers abolished to fast-track environmental approvals. Recall, too, that in Queensland the mining industry is planning mega-mines and infrastructure to extract a billion tonnes per year of coal and coal seam gas, and ship it through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Business declares war on environmental regulations

13 April 2012

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) today met to discuss the business lobby’s demand that the Government cut “green tape”.

Yesterday, Gillard chaired a Business Advisory Forum, at the end of which she announced this outcome:

For the first time in 112 years of federation, business representatives have been able to come face to face with leaders and talk about cutting red tape. […] We are determined to get this done. The six priority areas identified by today’s forum were: national environmental reform, the treatment of major development proposals, the rationalization of climate change mitigation programs, further energy market reform, development assessments, and best-practice approaches to risk-based regulation.

She didn’t leave much doubt about what the main focus of the cuts will be: environmental regulation and climate change policies. Talks are continuing, and it’s not clear exactly how much of the business agenda Gillard has yet agreed to, but it doesn’t look good at all. The Australian Labor Party’s website provides more details: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Rudd’s political tantrum must be opposed

25 February 2012

Yesterday in Australia, a politician I once believed in, Kevin Rudd, challenged our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. I responded by doing something I never thought I would do: I emailed every Labor MP and Senator urging them to oppose Rudd’s attempt to regain the Prime Ministership.

Although I was too young to vote in the 2007 election, if I had had a vote I probably would have voted Labor, because I misguidedly believed Rudd would take serious action on climate change. For the first two years of Rudd’s government, I felt reassured the Government knew what it was doing and had the problem under control. Rudd and the Labor Party accepted the science of climate change, while the opposing (conservative) Liberal Party, currently led by Tony Abbott, tended towards denial. I assumed the Rudd Government believed its rhetoric.

I was right about the Liberals, but I was wrong about Rudd. The more I learned about Rudd’s emissions trading scheme, the less I liked it. I realized Labor wanted to set weak targets diluted by dubious international offsets and unnecessary compensation to polluting industries. The scheme’s most fundamental flaw was that it would have locked in Rudd’s pathetic targets for at least five years, and a target range for fifteen years.

Rudd’s policy was repeatedly blocked by the Senate – by the Liberals because they generally oppose any action, and by the Greens because of the policy’s locked-in targets and numerous other flaws. Still Rudd refused to even talk to Greens leader Bob Brown during the last year of his Prime Ministership. For Rudd, emissions targets were non-negotiable. Finally, when he could have called an election to resolve the deadlock, in April 2010 (on Gillard’s advice) he chose to walk away from emissions trading. To me this was the last straw – Rudd was demonstrating he didn’t really believe in climate action or even his own policy. Read the rest of this entry ?