A notable absence of truth in the climate change debate has come from the Opposition’s Greg Hunt all year, and his latest misrepresentations are true to form.
No personal offence to Greg, but it does pay to do your homework occasionally. I have represented Australia at many of this year’s international climate change negotiations, so attending Doha on behalf of the Climate Change Minister is fairly logical and not so remarkable.
We understand your motives. You don’t have much to hang your hat on. First, let’s deal with the Opposition’s pretence – or is it ignorance? - that there is no international action.
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A notable absence from the climate change talks in Doha this week is Minister Greg Combet.
No personal offence to Mark Dreyfus, who as Parliamentary Secretary is standing in, but the absence of a Minister is a clear signal that despite the domestic rhetoric, the Government has low expectations of any outcome.
At a time when the Government is vehemently arguing that Australia is in line with the rest of the world with its carbon tax, the reality is quite different.
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OK, so not many people are in love with the carbon tax. But then who likes taxes? Find me a mug who enjoys paying income tax and I’ll show you proof of intelligent life on other planets. Ask your friends whether they now suddenly enjoy paying GST. And ring the men in white coats if they say yes.
Taxes are evil. But we learn to live with them. The question hanging over the carbon tax is whether the same sense of institutionalised submission will eventually apply to it.
This is the political conundrum for Abbott; a person who likes paying tax is as rare a creature as a government ready to repeal one and very few people believe that he will actually do as he says and dump it.
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So after months of tensions and simmering resentment, the ALP at the weekend indicated it needed some time apart to consider the future of its relationship with the Greens.
In a battle between its head and its heart, Labor’s head started calling the shots, finally admitting what outsiders have been able to see for ages, that entanglement with the Greens is not good for Labor. It’s an emotionally abusive relationship where the Greens have exerted more influence than should have been allowed.
But as divorces go, this one could turn out to be very messy. No dignified exit for this departing party. Labor is determined to air more dirty laundry than one of Charlie Sheen’s exes.
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Sophie Mirabella is copping it this morning because unlike Greg Combet (Clark Kent anybody?) she didn’t rush to the aid of Simon Sheikh when he collapsed next to her on the Q and A desk last night.
Visually it didn’t look great. As the Get Up! director slumped forward unconscious the Shadow Industry Minister appeared to recoil. It was certainly an odd moment. Climate Change Minister Combet, who was mid-sentence, expressed the confusion everyone would have felt when Sheikh (who is ok, thankfully) first connected head with desk. “I’m not quite sure what Simon’s doing there. Is he okay? I think… he’s not okay. Simon is not okay,” Combet said, before going to Sheikh’s aid.
Mirabella’s inaction was for a just a few short seconds, but from the reaction you would think the woman had poisoned the political activist’s glass of water.
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Greg Combet has more policy hounds on his tail than any other minister. He is in charge of the introduction of a “carbon tax”, and the arguments against him have been outnumbering those for.
So the Climate Change Minister went to the National Press Club to highlight—and he hoped erase—some of those policy problems which are dogging this attempt to get up a pricing mechanism for carbon pollution.
He all but ticked them off, one by one, in front of the audience.
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It’s easy to attack politicians.
No better evidence perhaps than the bitchy list we compiled yesterday of MPs we think disappointed or just disappeared. But we’re not just a bunch of naysayers here at The Punch. Indeed we appreciate politics and politicians are great deal, otherwise we wouldn’t bother writing about it.
So here’s a list, in no particular order, of MPs who have tried and triumphed in 2010.
Well it’s been one hell of an effort by Tony Abbott:
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Twelve months ago today I released a video blog warning of the dangers of the Home Insulation Program.
Back then, Peter Garrett’s office had been denying a link between his program and house fires. Astonishing to believe, given the some 200 fires we have now. It was when there had been only one tragic loss of a young installer. Three more would follow.
But by then, the avalanche of problems of safety hazards, rorting and waste were being made very clear to my office. Which is why, 12 months ago, I warned in the video: “You also have a risk of fires … Pink batts on down-lights equal fires …you have the risk of electrocution for people who aren’t trained … There are risks of further tragedies.”
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Mark Dreyfus must have been a wonderful lawyer. The 54-year-old Victorian QC is now the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency - the man who answers questions on the Federal Government’s bungling of its multi-billion dollar home insulation program.
At a press conference this morning journalists quizzing Mr Dreyfus over the latest scathing report into the $2.45 billion scheme were privileged to an impressive display of Mr Dreyfus’s lawyer skills, as we were delivered so many non-answers to questions.
Not only that, but journalists weren’t able to get their hands on a copy of the full report until 11am - the exact time Mr Dreyfus did his press conference.
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The Government’s new climate change committee has made a definitive decision after its first meeting: dump Julia Gillard’s proposed Citizens Assembly on climate change.
Think of it as a bureaucratic take on scissors, paper, rock: multi-party climate change committee beats citizens assembly everytime. So while the Gillard Government may have no climate change policy, it has managed to kill off the last one with the help of its brand new committee.
This is no surprise given the Citizens Assembly was a dog from day one and was treated as such by the media and the public. It was possibly the worst policy bungle of the Gillard’s in the entire election campaign (although the Indonesian judge awarded that honour to the East Timor solution).
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Big retailers are scared, it was reported this morning, to say what they think about the checkout-counter effects of the Federal Government’s plan to help save the planet with its emissions trading scheme.
The supermarkets are worried they will enrage environmentally-conscious customers if they dare to so much as suggest there might be some unpleasant side-effects to the ETS.
In case you’ve missed it, The Australian reported retailers are worried the cost of groceries will go up, by about 5 per cent, under the Rudd Government’s plan.
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