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The independent MPs and newly elected Green, harbour ambitions to change the nature of parliamentary politics in Australia. The new ‘gang of four’—independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter, along with Green MP Adam Bandt—will decide which party forms the next government of Australia. They are using their leverage shake up the two-party system and to push for a more cooperative and consensus-based parliament.

Analysing their joint address at the National Press Club, Mark Davis points to the MPs’ divergent positions on climate change to illustrate the difficulty of reaching consensus on complex policy issues.

In the context of climate change, Davis’ analysis is interesting but limited. It conflates emissions trading with climate change policy. Disagreement on emissions trading doesn’t mean that consensus on effective climate policy is out of reach. It simply means that an ETS is unlikely to win the agreement from all parties. While emissions trading has dominated the climate policy discourse for years, there are alternative frameworks capable of winning the support of the public and parliament.

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Cross posted at Beyond Zero Emissions.

Last week’s federal budget was a bad one for all Australians wanting action on climate change. The Rudd government failed to include the renewable energy investments needed to drive the transition to a zero emissions economy.

The budget will be remembered as another missed opportunity to make a down payment on Australia’s renewable energy future.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

It’s no understatement that last week’s Federal budget was bad for climate change. The Rudd Government, fresh from its emissions trading backdown, once again failed to live up to its rhetoric. It failed to act on “the greatest scientific, moral and economic challenge of our time”. And it failed to deliver the scale of investment needed to drive our transition to a clean energy economy.

There was a belief that the 2010 budget would include some big investments to combat the climate crisis. Rudd’s decision to delay the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to 2013 coincided with a sharp decline in public support for the government. The Prime Minister’s own approval rating has collapsed in recent weeks, falling 14 points to 45 per cent – the lowest level since taking office in 2007. The budget was regarded as a way for Rudd to regain his edge on climate policy. He would have the opportunity to restore the confidence of voters suspicious of his government’s commitment to climate change.

As we now know, the government’s investment in renewable energy was markedly less than the year earlier. But should this come as a surprise? No. It shouldn’t.

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Published by the ABC, Australia’s national broadcaster.

Australia needs a Plan B for climate policy. We need a nation-building project on the scale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme to invest in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. This is the fresh approach needed to drive Australia’s transition towards a clean economy and protect the nation from dangerous climate change.

The Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that the government will delay its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme until 2013 is a tacit admission that pricing carbon is not viable in the current political environment.

Labor and proponents of emissions trading have been living a fantasy for too long. They have ignored the realities of politics to pursue a policy that had no reasonable chance of being implemented at a time when climate change experts agree we must act. Now, Australia is set for yet more inaction.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

CompassThe Senate’s rejection of the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in August presents the Australian climate community with the opportunity to reassess and recalibrate their messaging and advance an effective policy agenda. Regardless of whether the Senate approves the bill when it is reintroduced this November, the climate movement must be prepared for the next stage of climate and energy advocacy – one that will focus on renewable energy deployment.

A new and improved policy agenda must do several things: it must unite the nation’s climate movement that has been split by Labor’s flawed CRPS; it must be politically palatable for both the government and the public; it must exclude powerful fossil fuel interests intent on thwarting progress; it must be politically feasible to pass the senate; and all importantly, it must have a positive climate impact.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate, and The Wheeler Centre for books, writing and ideas.

Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the momentous Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act – the first step in a 25-year journey to modernise our nation. Unrivalled in its ambition, the Snowy Mountains Scheme would meet the dual objectives of providing reliable electricity for our cities and towns, and water supplies to sustain food production along the Murray River.

Australia’s largest-ever engineering project would spur social and economic development and benefit the cities and rural communities of Australia’s southeast for generations. Without fanfare or media attention, Australia forgot to acknowledge a significant moment in our nation’s history.

Today Australia faces new challenges: our climate is changing. And we must quickly transition to a clean energy economy to avoid the worst-case scenarios predicted by climate scientists. Alongside this comes the continued global economic change that is putting increased pressure on established industries. Our parliament must act to encourage the expansion of new industries and secure jobs for the future.

A new nation-building project on the scale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme is needed.

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Leigh Ewbank


Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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Creative Commons License All blogs presented on this site, therealewbank.wordpress.com, by Leigh Ewbank are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License
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