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116 responses to “Gillard always wanted a price on carbon”

  1. paul walter

    The next time abbott has an actual policy on something will be the first time, unless its to do with this mania for stickybeaking and control, as to others lives. What you see in America with the Republicans is what you get with Abbott and there is, in the end, a tenuous thread all the way to Norway, in the valorising of fantasy, cuteness with the truth and misanthropy. A rational individual, let alone a statesman as opposition leader would be a challenge for Gillard to do better. We caught a brief glimpse of how that could work last week, with Turnbull challenging Abbott on his ecological superstitions, to raise a real world issue of importance to the future of our nation.
    But when does Abbott ever offer a constructive critique orpossible solution on anything that relates to real time and events: refugees, enviro ( his comments on this furtive deal involving Tassie rainforests? ) the carbon tax and transnationals, Afghanistan, objective understanding of foreign affairs, trade, finance..
    When/ where Gillard should be criticised, she’s not, when she does right she’s caned by tabloid media and politics.
    Stupidity upon stupidity accumulates with Abbott over time, like a hill of bull sh-t. Must we all deteriorate to the medieval level of a Breivak before he is happy?

  2. billie

    It has been suggested that the US Congress failure to increase the Debt ceiling is one of the tactics described in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine to make American society a country where government pays subcontractors for provision of services without accountability or control, there are no social services like health or education and a vast pool of poor – think Venezuela.

    I think News Corp has the same agenda for Australia and Abbott is their tool and they will do anything to destablise this government like CIA used Malcolm Fraser oust Gough Whitlam in 1974 as mentioned in the British book “Why do People Hate America” by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies

  3. Tyro Rex

    But is it all that important if she did suggest that strategy? If so it doesn’t add up to an endorsement of Abbott’s policies.

    Of course not, and it’s just politics. IIRC she was proposing this in the either the aftermath of, or the discussions leading to, Rudd delaying the CPRS. Anyway if we want X but are stymied, what’s the matter with proposing Y? It doesn’t mean we still don’t want X. The idea that it means Gillard is not committed to a carbon pricing mechanism given “Gillard’s Carbon Price Promise” of August 2010 is just fucking sophistry.

    Another curious report I heard is that Bitar wanted Rudd to go to a double dissolution over it!

  4. PinkyOz

    Well, that’s nice, I guess. But I doubt it will do much to quell the calls of ‘Juliar’ and ‘carbon tax mandate’. I don’t think you could sell the line ‘I did tell you what I was going to do, you just weren’t listening to the right bits of what I was saying’, so maybe refuting the claim is a better strategy (still makes you look tricky though).

    It’s still a matter of poor tactics and communication. Labor shouldn’t be making policy decisions based on who the opposition leader is, or be outrightly rejecting policies because of how they will look in the public domain. Possibly it might just be better to wait it out, let the tax come into effect and reinforce the lived experience of its impact against the hysteria that will no doubt follow in the papers. They can’t talk their way out of trouble right now, but actions might be persuasive.

  5. Incurious and Unread

    Brian,

    Thanks for putting the record straight, and also for disinterring that link from the pre-election Australian. I was searching for that again recently, trying to demolish (on another blog) the myth that Gillard’s “no carbon tax” really meant “no carbon price”.

    The AFR article doesn’t say when exactly this putative Gillard paper was written. Certainly Abbott had no carbon policy, beyond the “direct action” slogan, in his early months as opposition leader and I don’t think it really crystallised (if you can call it that) until the election campaign.

  6. Wantok

    The Prime Minister made herself available to Q&A a couple of weeks ago and, like it or not, she answered questions candidly about the carbon pricing policy and her change in direction post election. Mr Abbott, who would normally be crying out for equal time on the ABC, was offered the opportunity to expound his climate policies (and costings) on Q&A but so far his minders have not responded.
    If he does eventually appear it could be quite illuminating as he has to date avoided any scrutiny of his alternative policies by serious media. The exception being his weekly appearances with Lisa Wilkinson on Channel Nine mornings which his minders probably though would be ‘soft’ media but, to the credit of Lisa Wilkinson she has proved to be a shrewd and incisive interviewer.

    [moderator note: if you want your comments to stop being auto-moderated, please remove the broken/nonsense URL you keep submitting in the “website” field before you comment so that we don’t have to]

  7. Chris

    It seems to me that Gillard’s statement that “those matters reported today have no veracity or truthfulness to them” leaves little wriggle room. But is it all that important if she did suggest that strategy?

    I hope for her sake (and the ETS) that this is true and no actual real documents end up coming out which contradict her. Makes you kind of wonder if someone in the ALP is leaking against her though.

  8. Chookie Inthebackyard

    Possibly, Chris, that’s what the article is for. Alternatively, Kitney & Crowe are being Greched.

  9. Robert Merkel

    Frankly, I don’t care all that much what Gillard’s private views are. She has now very publicly committed to a policy. It’s hard to see how she could credibly abandon that policy without resigning the leadership, and thus very probably bringing down the government. Furthermore, we all know that there are a variety of privately-held views on all manner of issues within the parliamentary caucuses of all the parties. I will bet London to a brick that Greg Hunt hates every minute of defending the current coalition policy on carbon pricing. But he has done so to the best of his ability.

    Were I to guess, I suspect Gillard accepts the science on one level, but probably doesn’t really think that the apocalyptic consequences of not acting could actually happen. Furthermore, I suspect she regards climate change as something of a nuisance that’s usurped her chance to implement the things that she got into politics for in the first place.

  10. jane

    …………he has to date avoided any scrutiny of his alternative policies by serious media.

    I would challenge the idea that there is such a thing as serious media in this country. Fiction writhing seems to be their default position.

    And as rightly pointed out above, is it important if she suggested that strategy? A suggestion is not a statement and may not be a strongly held conviction.

    Makes you kind of wonder if someone in the ALP is leaking against her though.

    I think Ltd News hacking department has that sewn up.

  11. Incurious and Unread

    Brian @11,

    Only a scientific pedant would quibble on whether CO2 is genuinely weightless. Since it neither sinks to the ground nor rises off into the upper atmosphere, it is, to all intents and purposes, weightless.

    I agree with your substantive point, but I think that this is a poor example.

  12. Fran Barlow

    I & U said:

    Only a scientific pedant would quibble on whether CO2 is genuinely weightless. Since it neither sinks to the ground nor rises off into the upper atmosphere, it is, to all intents and purposes, weightless.

    I must be a scientific pedant then. Just remind me again — how are the elements ordered in the classic table? How do we work out how much 1cubic metre of carbon dioxide at 120 bar pressure weighs? How is it that a weightless thing doesn’t simply float out into space? Is it not the case that CO2 is more concentrated in the lower troposphere than at the tropopause? How could that be, if it’s weightless?

    It’s an excellent example of the recklles way that Abbott propagandises. Calling CO2 invisible and weightless is code for saying CO2 is innocuous, and that this measure amounts to a price on “nothing”. If you can’t see it, or touch it or feel its weight, and if its odourless, the line runs, it doesn’t exist, or is innocuous.

    We ought not to entertain such ignorant dissembling here.

  13. Fran Barlow

    {reckless}

  14. Incurious and Unread

    Fran @16,

    You are just confirming your pedantry.

    Abbot was speaking (AIUI) to a community meeting in South Dandenong, not at a scientific symposium (of course, there may be scientists living in South Dandenong, but probably not many).

    Is a hot air balloon “weightless” Fran? I think most people would say it is, although of course technically it isn’t.

    Obviously, by “weightless” he meant, colloquially, that the stuff floats around in the air and doesn’t sink into containers waiting to be measured.

    A bit imprecise, I agree, but hardly “reckless”.

  15. Fran Barlow

    I & U said:

    Abbot was speaking {dissembling} (AIUI) to a community meeting in South Dandenong, not at a scientific symposium (of course, there may be scientists living in South Dandenong, but probably not many). {My edit}

    So whenever Abbott is not in front of a scientific audience (i.e in front of an audience who’d know that he was dissembling, or were they feeling generous, might allow that he was speaking loosely rather than trying to mislead, and where he’d get no political advantage) he can choose words that invite people to see the issue as trivial?

    Is a hot air balloon “weightless” Fran?

    As weightless as a jumbo jet, at least in net terms. 😉 I’m reminded of that Monty Python skit — “interesting facts”. The whale isn’t a fish at all. It’s an insect and lives on bananas.

    What most people think isn’t as salient as what is — at least if we are discussing that part of public policy that is driven by insights into atmospheric physics, or chemistry or some other brance(es) of science.

    Abbott was appealing to hoi polloi against the boffins with their ivory tower ideas. He doesn’t trust scientists, or economists or treasury officials with all their big words and abstruse concepts. He invites people to look out iof the window and ask themselves — Hey punks — do you feel warmer? If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it.

    This is clearly snake oil as public advocacy.

  16. Incurious and Unread

    Brian,

    Well, I’m not sure it’s dumb, so much as deliberately misleading. I would agree with Fran to that extent.

    My point was confined to the misuse of the term “weightless” to mean “well mixed” (as you point out). That was just Abbott talking off the top of his head and being slightly imprecise. I don’t think he should be condemned for that. That’s all.

  17. John D

    For a very long term project like emissions trading it is desirable that there is enough consensus for the program to keep going despite changes in government. To my mind the cabinet should have seriously discussed the possibility of seeking a bipartisan approach. If Gillard did raise this possibility it should be a cause for praise rather than a justification for more personal vilification.
    The cabinet should also have considered strategies other than those involving a carbon price for meeting 2020 targets. (The target could have been achieved by doing nothing more than partial clean-up of electricity.) Specific possibilities that should have been considered include:
    1. An include by exception approach. (Concentrate on a reducing a few specific emissions.)
    2. Putting a price on clean instead of dirty.
    3. A case specific approach that allows different strategies for dealing with different sources of emissions.
    The country may have been better of if Abbott had not been so dismissive with Julia’s offers of a bipartisanship approach. It would have helped too if Abbott had been seriously offering an alternative instead of concentrating on his simplistic attack dog approach.
    It might have helped too if the carbon price committee had included Greg Hunt and been allowed to consider alternatives that did no include a carbon price.

  18. Tyro Rex

    Abbott talking off the top of his head and being slightly imprecise

    Only if by “talking off the top of his head” you mean “talking through his arse” and “slightly imprecise” means “completely wrong”.

    CO2 is most certainly not weightless; either by the measure of a “hot air balloon” (which most certainly has mass) or actual masslessness (which applies to what … photons, neutrinos, a few other elementary particles only).

    It is also most certainly not immeasurable.

    To use the Rabbott terminology, it’s just another denier’s tactic, like referring to CO2 as “colourless and odourless”, which is denialist shorthand to reach the query “so how can it be a pollutant?” … again which overlooks the fact that “colourless and odourless” is a description that can apply also to VX nerve agent, which is about as far from harmless as a fluid compound can be.

    If CO2 is “weightless”, that description must also apply to O2, which has less mass, and to N2 which is even less. N2 is 78% of the atmosphere and has a molecular weight of 28.01, O2 is 32.00 and Argon is 39.95 and CO2 is 44.1, so of all those gases, a molecule of carbon dioxide is the heaviest.

  19. Ootz

    I agree agree with John D, it is TA’s stubbornness in combative opposition and recalcitrant attitude to scientific and economic principles that is making reasonable and cost-effective solution for this diabolical problem impossible for our nation. Why?

    Give him the benefit of doubt, he is actually not that stupid. As he easily could have answered the question above quite differently, if it would have suited him so. That is the craftiness of the ‘People Person’, and the tragedy of Tony Abbott the politician.

    Since at least the time of ‘Children Overboard’ it became clear to me that our National History in the long run will not treat John Winston Howard kindly. So it comes to no surprise to me that his name is cropping up in a mass murderers manifesto in a good light.

    Well one Tony Abbott has done the Faustian pact too and put his soul at stake for that glowing prize. He is way down the track of no return and probably in hope that one day he can even outfox Mephistopheles and nullify the deed. The black stain that will be left in the annals of the Australian Nation and the consequences of missed opportunities which could have benefited ALL of us.

  20. paul walter

    Yes, this is the problem with carbon dioxide, when it reaches the edge of the world, it won’t fall off cos its “weightless”. Yet, if gravity hasn’t been invented, how can it be “weightless”, either?
    More witless than weightless, methinks.

  21. Incurious and Unread

    Thanks for the physics lessons guys. I agree that what Abbott should have said is that the intensive weight of CO2 minus its intensive buoyancy is small compared to the viscosity of air multiplied by the average wind speed, thus ensuring that CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere.

    I agree that it really is pretty poor that Abbott did not spell it out in those terms, which would undoubtedly have ensured that the South Dandenong audience returned home much the wiser and in no doubt of the feasibility of measuring CO2 emissions.

  22. jumpnmcar

    I and U.
    I remember when Gillard said the word ” petrol ” and FranB said it was quite reasonable for that to mean everything from LNG to kerosene.
    Pedantry only work one way for some.

  23. Incurious and Unread

    Brian,

    there are two separate points being made I think. The first is that Abbott is so scientifically illiterate that he doesn’t even realise that CO2 has mass/weight. I don’t think that point is tenable.

    The second point is that Abbott is being devious and misleading when he argues that CO2’s properties make it difficult to measure emissions. I don’t doubt the validity of that point.

  24. Tyro Rex

    jumpy, that’s because “petrol” IS used, in common english, to mean liquid transportation fuels, such as can be bought from a “petrol station”, which also sells other sorts of petroleum-oil derived fuels, such as diesel, petrol, and LPG.

    On the other hand, I don’t fully appreciate that there is any meaning of “weightless” that’s applicable here which is not cognate with “massless”. Abbott is speaking pure bullshit.

    As to the defence of the rabid rabbott’s ignorance of such facts (i.e. is the bullshit explainable by ignorance or mendacity?), remember he’s “no Bill Gates”, so I would not rule out his complete ignorance of either basic scientific principle or essential fact — the alternative is that he does understand the concept of mass but chooses to lie about it. However it doesn’t matter which; either is enough to make him unfit for prime minister or to have an opinion in the matter of climate change.

  25. Tyro Rex

    I also point out, that if CO2 was “weightless”, it would not be a problem for the atmosphere. When it went up a power station’s smokestack and out the top, it would simply keep on going forever in a practically straight line … probably at something like the speed of light. Just like a photon. The earth’s (and sun’s) gravity would have next to no effect on it. It wouldn’t hang about in the atmosphere wafting about and trapping and re-emitting radiant energy, warming the planet up.

    Or is Abbott about to publish a revolutionary paper in Nature about the quantum states of Carbon-Oxygen compounds which is about to blow all our physics off the planet and earn him a Nobel Prize?

    I wonder which of these two possibilities is true?

  26. jumpnmcar

    Firstly Tyro Rex.
    “”””tigtog
    July 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink
    Ok, I’ve just trashed every recent comment on this thread that misspelt another commentor’s name.

    That’s snide and very definitely uncivil. Cut it out.””””

    Secondly,
    Do you condemn ” as weightless as a cloud “( it not), “as free as a bird( if it were, it could fly to the moon or to the bottom of the sea) or “decarboning Australia”(???)?

  27. tigtog

    @jumpnmcar has a point, Tyro. If you don’t want to type his consonant-salad out in full every time, you could always just refer to the comment number instead of using the condescending abbreviation.

  28. jumpnmcar

    “”” consonant-salad “””
    Hahaha, nice one.
    Would ” Incurious and Unread” be a vowel-salad ?
    No offence @29. 🙂

  29. Ootz

    @32, if you want me to jump into your car,consider the gravity of the issue, please explain what difference your question makes to Tony Abbotts ignorance or mendacity (your choice), as an alternative leader of this Nation?

  30. Ootz

    Argh, and considering the gravity of the issue, then please explain …

  31. jumpnmcar

    Ootz.
    Thus far, the ” gravity of the issue ” IMO is more ” moon like” than “black hole like”.
    As for politics, PMs loose elections, alternative PMs only win by default.
    Except for Rudd, what a bugger up that was.
    My point;- Scrutinisers seams to choose their targets.

  32. Adrien

    “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.”

    Yet she always wanted a price on carbon… mmmm ‘kay. I’m sorry but expeletives are warranted; how the FUCK do you price carbon without a tax? C’arn she lied.

    ‘S okay. Everybody always does. 🙂

  33. jumpnmcar

    @38
    She said it was a “carbon tax ” to the old lady in the supermarket and Peter Garret said it was on Agenda. Education ministers both.

  34. Ootz

    “Thus far, the ” gravity of the issue ” IMO is more ” moon like” than “black hole like”@37,

    So the increasing possibility that the earth post 2050 could be a rather difficult place to live for the majority of humanity is a joke to you?

    BTW ever heard of dry ice?

  35. Grigory M

    Brian @39

    To tell a lie is to tell an intentional untruth. She never did.

    C’mon Brian, what was this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApCwoj35d3M

  36. jumpy

    Im not sensitive about ” Jumpy ” Brian, in fact I like it.
    Tigtog only seamed upset when I truncated and added a “y”.
    If she makes a rule, it should be observed by ALL, ” our blog ..etc”fair enough.

    Anyway, 4am start, gnight

  37. tigtog

    Why am I unsurprised to find you being a sea-lawyer, jumpy?

    Anyway, the new nym is much easier to type out in full, so thanks for that.

  38. Fran Barlow

    GrigoryM said:

    C’mon Brian, what was this?

    Cherrypicking, I’d say.

  39. Grigory M

    What’s to cherry-pick, Fran?

    Even David Williamson says it was a lie.

    And it was intentional.

  40. Fran Barlow

    As you well know, GrigoryM, Gillard expressly distinguished support for a carbon tax from “a CPRS, a market-based mechanism” You are picking the formulation you think serves you best, and constructing it as if it is a reference to the scheme proposed, and then defining that as an unfulfilled promise, and then declaring that an unfulfilled promise is the same as a lie. Then in case that doesn’t work, you cite some writer of middle-brow entertainment as an authority on lying in general and Gillard in particular.

    I snort in derision.

    Really, as a rightwing commentator, you’re scracely more impressive than Abbott himself.

  41. Fran Barlow

    {scarcely}

  42. jusme

    oh man, i can’t believe this ‘lie’ business is still around.

    the pm was hounded to make an absolute answer, once that i saw. it wasn’t that ‘no carbon tax’ was a policy platform, she wasn’t touring the country declaring it to all and sundry, she was backed into an answer and answered truthfully at that time as far as i can see.

    as to weightless co2? considering that the whole debate is about a price per TONNE (a measure of weight) tony should really have known better, it’s just another cremated and buried tony-ism, and won’t be the last inanity we hear him imo. the really disturbing thing is that the leader of our opposition appears to have a very low iq, scores high on meaness, yet looks like he’ll be running our country in 2 years.

  43. Grigory M

    Good morning Fran.

    some writer of middle-brow entertainment

    And sometime guest writer for The Age.

    In light of your fantasy-laden 1st and last paras, perhaps Stephen Donaldson is more to your liking.

    As to snorting ……. hmm.

    Bon apres midi.

  44. Fran Barlow

    GrigoryM

    You started with Good Morning and finished with Good Afternoon (absent the grave). Did you start and finish in different time zones?

  45. Grigory M

    Bonjour Fran.

    Have a nice day.

  46. Adrien

    Brian – it’s pretty simple, really. You price carbon without a tax by installing an emissions trading scheme., which Gillard has consistently favoured.

    But ETS work by government creating an apparatus that charges people to produce carbon, that creates an artificial marketplace wherein people trade in carbon credits. This is, functionally, indistinguishable from a tax. After all it’s mandated by law, it consists of the state drawing revenue.

    It’s distinguishable from ordinary confiscatory taxation structurally. In a bad way. It blurs the distinction between the public sector, public space and the enterprises that conduct trade in the marketplace. And it does so, typically, at a level too complex for most of us to keep track of. This fashion for public/private partnership is a rotten merger between corporate commerce and the public service. If don’t like the commercialization of state libraries you shouldn’t like ETS either.

  47. Fran Barlow

    À vous aussi, GrigoryM. Amusez-vous bien aujourd’hui.

    Adrien said:

    But the ETS works by government creating an apparatus that charges people to produce carbon {emit CO2e) that creates an artificial marketplace wherein people {businesses emitting more than 25ktCo2e at a single site}trade in carbon credits. This is, functionally, indistinguishable from a tax. {my emendments}

    Hardly. Taxes do not create privately tradeable securities. Goods or services for the payer are not the result of taxation, nor yet are the quanta of revenues affected by trade in the credits. Functionally, its only similarity to taxation is that revenue goes from a class of private entity to the state.

    It blurs the distinction between the public sector, public space and the enterprises that conduct trade in the marketplace.

    That has been blurred by the tendency of polluters to convert {the value of the commons} by wrongful user, to quote the trespass tort formulation. The polluters are embezzling the commons and pretending that attempts by the state to cap this practice or at least charge for the imposition are taxation. The ETS is an attempt to dispel this blurring of public and private, and make the costs of this imposition explicit.

  48. Chris

    jusme said:

    as to weightless co2? considering that the whole debate is about a price per TONNE (a measure of weight) tony should really have known better,

    well actually its a measure of mass, not weight. Quite different things – an object can be of huge mass, but very low weight 🙂

  49. Fran Barlow

    Just so Chris. Technically, weight is the expression of the force of gravity on an object. So technically, a tonne of CO2 at the surface of the Earth has a weight of 9800N (newtons). It would weigh a lot less out in space somewhere just past Pluto, but its mass would be the same.

    Of course, since most of the things we think meaningful are on the surface of the Earth, and gravity is fairly similar on the Earth’s surface, we have become used to using measures of weight and mass interchangeably.

    Of course gravity is only a theory, and it’s invisible and odourless and weightless and thus very hard to measure, and we should keep our skepticism about it in order to avoid joining a new religion and to preserve the integrity of science etc … 😉

  50. Fran Barlow

    Ugh! {Of course, since most of }

    [Fixed, Fran – B]

  51. John D

    Fran: The governments version of ETS might be described as “a complicated scheme that uses market forces to set the carbon tax rate.” For Barnaby Joyce had it right when he described the CPRS as a “great big tax.” My inclination is describe any scheme that generates government revenue as a defacto tax.
    On the other hand, alternative ETS schemes based on offset credit trading cannot be described on taxes taxes because they generate no government revenue. They might be described as schemes that use market forces to set the extent to which above target polluters subsidize lower than target polluters. The irony is that the example most often quoted in support of an ETS is the the US acid rain reduction program which has an offset credit trading scheme at its core, not a CPRS style defacto tax.

  52. Tim Macknay

    The irony is that the example most often quoted in support of an ETS is the the US acid rain reduction program which has an offset credit trading scheme at its core, not a CPRS style defacto tax.

    No, the example most often quoted is the EU scheme, which is a cap and trade ETS.

  53. Adrien

    Fran – I would appreciate it if you rephrase your response in plain English. I’m not certain why the word ‘quanta’ is necessary, why can’t you just say quantities?

    Your strikethru riff may be witty and somewhat accurate but it does not rebutt my point. First, businesses are not substantially distinguishable from people. Business are the results of people’s actions. Just because we’re only hitting big businesses doesn’t mean that other people have nothing to do with it. How will you prevent these big businesses passing on the cost? And producing carbon gases is functionally different from emitting them, how?

    Likewise your attempt to reiterate the demonization of ‘polluters’ (we are all polluters, we are polluting right now) as a way of sidestepping my criticisms of the ETS sounds good but avoids the point. You think carbon emmisions are a destructive by-product of industrial activity that, for public policy reasons, should no longer be treated as an externality. I agree. I do not agree that the blurring of private/public spheres of modern life is entirely the fault of ‘polluters’. It’s the consequence of rent-seeking, cronyism and eroded ethics viz what that dividing line entails and why it’s there.

    Functionally, its only similarity to taxation is that revenue goes from a class of private entity to the state.

    Which makes it functionally the same thing. Structurally an ETS is distinguishable from a conventional tax but the fact that it bears resemblance to a market does not make it a true market. It’s a clusterfuck attempt by dumb-arse’d bureaucrats to capitulate to free market fundamentalism sans all understanding of the salient points that underlie the ideology. There would be no ‘market’ if the government did not impose one.

    Moreover rather than the free trade of goods what we have here is a credential system that allows developing nations to bribe underdeveloped ones to stay that way. It’s a bureaucrats solutions. Bureaucrats say: why use one website when four will do, why have one person do it when we can form a committee, why walk straight there when we can go by way of Yemen.

    Your hi-falutin’ terms only intimidate those who don’t own dictionaries. It makes my case for me. An ETS is a technocrat’s dream. Make something so complicated no-one understands it well enough to know what’s really going on.

  54. Fran Barlow

    Adrien asked:

    Fran – I would appreciate it if you rephrase your response in plain English.

    Petitio principii. It is plain English, though I grant, perhaps not plain to you.

    I’m not certain why the word ‘quanta’ is necessary, why can’t you just say quantities?

    Context. I used quanta to make the point that revenues to the state come from a wide range of functionally quite different sources — interest, dividends, profits on trade, fines, asset sales, levies and yes taxes too. Quantities would imply that they were all the same, and if I had thought that I’d have said quantity rather than the plural.

    First, businesses are not substantially distinguishable from people. Business are the results of people’s actions.

    That’s just silly. Waste is the result of human consumption (“people’s actions” if you prefer), but we normally distinguish the two. People author states and crime and sporting events, but again, we can distinguish them.

    Businesses are networks of direct and indirect relationships framed and constrained by the available technical and physical resources and the built and natural environment. Those of us who are less concerend with fetishising “business” and more concerned with the production and delivery of valuable goods and services want to analyse these relationships in order to ensure that they meet basic tests of utility, equity, maintainability and so forth. Saying that it’s all about people is simply vacuous.

    How will you prevent these big businesses passing on the cost?

    If you’re right, perhaps the question is idle. If they are just the result of our actions, then perhaps they should pass it on, one way or another. I assume they will try, and perhaps they will be partially successful. Certainly, the household compensation model implies that the state thinks they will, at least in part. It’s also possible that the equity holders or indeed other stakeholders will bear some of this cost, if price proves somewhat inelastic, or less elastic than demand. It’s said that this is how markets work.

    And producing carbon gases (sic) is functionally different from emitting them, how?

    Your original phrase was “produc{e} carbon”. Carbon is an element. Businesses don’t produce it. They oxidise it, releasing energy and CO2 as a byproduct, or they emit other long-lived GHGs listed as CO2 equivalents that have no carbon in them at all. That’s functionally very different. Then again, given your views on tax and trading, I can see that you have some problems with functional differences.

    I do not agree that the blurring of private/public spheres of modern life is entirely the fault of ‘polluters’.

    I don’t assert it. They are one of a number of actors doing that, but they are most germane to this topic.

    Structurally an ETS is distinguishable from a conventional tax but the fact that it bears resemblance to a market does not make it a true market.

    Your special pleading betrays your ideological pedigree. “Conventional tax”? “True market”? What can one do but laugh at such semantic logic chopping? All markets are in substantial part the result of the acts of commission or omission of states. All of them are flawed to a greater or lesser extent. They are at best a rough approximation of the intentions of the stakeholders. They are not divided up into true/untrue or flawed/economically robust and coherent. We saw that reality play out dramatically post September 15 2008. If the state does not supervise markets, applying firm rules and ensuring that they are followed in real time, they collapse. Your comment: There would be no ‘market’ if the government did not impose one is fair comment, though not in the narrow way that you intended.

    Similarly there are no conventional or unconventional taxes. There are compulsory exactions by states on individuals and organisations for general purposes. We call these taxes. Compulsory exactions for specific purposes are called levies. Fees or charges are exactions in return for a good or service. If a private business charges for its service, its acquisition by the state will not convert the charges to taxes. I can see why your lot want to debauch the language, to dissemble, to special plead and to speak of “clusterf*cks” and “dumb-arsed bureaucrats”. It serves your ignorant rightwing populist agenda, and floats well towards the top in your usual pond, but it just won’t float here.

  55. Adrien

    Brian – When Gillard said there would be no carbon tax, I think she meant a fixed price. That was her intention and she didn’t lie.

    I don’t really care. I’ve expressed the opinion elsewhere that it’s a bit tired as a riff. If a politician didn’t lie it’d be news to me.

    Firstly, as a former public servant who took pride in his work I object to your stereotyping and denigration of ‘bureaucrats’.

    I make a distinction between a public servant and a bureaucrat. They are intersecting sets. There are private sector bureaucrats aplenty. I worked in the public sector for a year, I had nothing I’d call ‘work’ to be proud of. This was largely due to the perplexing predominance of people who seemed to do nothing but attend meetings.

    I mean no personal offense but any institution, role, profession etc is liable for criticism. Bureaucrats have a certain way solving problems: management. Many of us are a little tired of being managed.

    Secondly, John Quiggin and other economists make a distinction between carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes which conform remarkably to the common language meaning of the words.

    Indeed, they favour a managed solution. I don’t. I think it’s a really bad idea, a potential scam and perhaps even a way of making ecological sustainability a political pariah issue for some time. But that’s just me.

  56. Adrien

    That’s just silly. Waste is the result of human consumption (“people’s actions” if you prefer), but we normally distinguish the two. People author states and crime and sporting events, but again, we can distinguish them.

    Nice try. But the distinction you are making is absolute. You are inferring that businesses are something entirely other than people. That this is not about people emitting carbon but big businesses emitting carbon as if the one had nothing to do with the other.

    Businesses are networks of direct and indirect relationships framed and constrained by the available technical and physical resources and the built and natural environment.

    Well that put Emerson to shame as a model of rhetorical eloquence. Its simplicity perfectly complements the salience. Anyone who didn’t know what a business was before would certainly be able to recognize any such after reading that.

    Your special pleading betrays your ideological pedigree.

    It’s hardly a secret. I endorse the libertarian policy on this matter. Those whose heads aren’t stuck in the sand.

    “Conventional tax”? “True market”? What can one do but laugh at such semantic logic chopping?

    This from someone who made a deal out of the difference between ‘produce’ and ’emit’. Moreover, unlike that little bit of high school marking banter, my distinctions are significant. The ETS is a government mandated charge on something no-one would sell or buy otherwise? Yes or no?

    All markets are in substantial part the result of the acts of commission or omission of states.

    Fran, I do believe your education leans to the hard numbers part of the Arts-Science divide. Your history is not accurate. Markets precede states by thousands of years. States, in fact, are the results of markets.

  57. Fran Barlow

    Adrien said:

    You are inferring that businesses are something entirely other than people.

    Hardly. The use of the term “relationships” in this context specifies people. They are a subset of people whose interests are distinct and contrary to those of other stakeholders in the value chain. In any event, the ETS is going to attach to the activity not of all people or even all businesses but only a very small subset of all emitters. That last is one of my objections. One may argue, as you seem to, that businesses that emit do so on behalf of end users, but of course the end users ask for the products rather than the emissions, and as long as the cheapest way of getting them involves reliance on the externality of polluting, we have market failure or perverse incentives or a collective action problem. What is in the ostensible interest of every individual in isolation is not in their interests when every individual does it.

    The ETS is a government mandated charge on something no-one would sell or buy otherwise?

    Yes. It attaches value to something that is only of value to most people collectively and some not yet even born whose interest is currently not heard — the integrity of the biosphere. That is why the state must craft it.

    Markets precede states by thousands of years. States, in fact, are the results of markets.

    True but misleading. Before there were states, there was indeed trade, which one can call “a market”. Yet theese were not markets in any sense that we would recognise them, any more than that piracy and hostage-taking on the high seas was “shipping”. The rise of states with professional bureaucracies massively strengthened the effectiveness and efficiency of markets and their capacity to deliver quality goods and services reliably. Markets perform very badly when states fail.

  58. John D

    The “who lied?” and arguing about what is a tax simply falls into the trap that Abbott has set.
    The real issues are “who is most committed to climate action?” and “who has the best policy for progressing climate action?”
    While I prefer something more direct than the carbon price one would have to say at the moment that Julia is miles ahead of Abbott at the moment.
    Abbott has long passed the point where he could regain any credibility re commitment to climate action. He has cuddled up to too many climate skeptics and declared climate science crap when it suits him.
    The coalition could, however, come up with a credible climate action plan that did not depend on a carbon price. Might be dangerous for Labor if it was being presented by someone other than Abbott.

  59. Fran Barlow

    JohnD

    The “who lied?” and arguing about what is a tax simply falls into the trap that Abbott has set.

    As Gillard is expressly inviting people to question her integrity by conceding the point, it’s hard to agree. If she had pushed back hard, we’d be able to make a judgement, but she is of course too inept and craven to do that.

    The coalition could, however, come up with a credible climate action plan that did not depend on a carbon price. Might be dangerous for Labor if it was being presented by someone other than Abbott.

    And if my aunt were a man, she’d be my uncle. There is no credible climate action plan that doesn’t depend on an explicit carbon price — no country or any part of any country has devised such a plan — but this is old ground.

  60. Helen

    The ETS is a government mandated charge on something no-one would sell or buy otherwise? Yes or no?

    The ETS is a government mandated charge on something that was previously thought of as free – dumping emissions into the environment – which was in fact not free, but the cost of which was actually pushed off onto the community.

  61. Helen

    Fran explains it better in her last para @56.

  62. Adrien

    True but misleading.

    I’m not attempting to mislead you. I merely make the point that makrets precede states. It’s when they get to a certain level of complexity that ‘the state’ comes into play.

    Yet these were not markets in any sense that we would recognise them, any more than that piracy and hostage-taking on the high seas was “shipping”.

    No I’d wager that our markets since c. 1960 would be mostly unrecognizable as such by all of our ancestors. The complexity of markets has mushroom clouded. However what goes on down under the iron sheds at the Victoria Markets Sunday morning would be recognizable as such by pre-urban Mesopotamians etc. The common essence is that people trade.

    Interesting, btw, that you compare the state to piracy. 🙂

    The rise of states with professional bureaucracies massively strengthened the effectiveness and efficiency of markets and their capacity to deliver quality goods and services reliably.

    That is true up to the point where it is no longer true. The state has a way of intruding in trade to the point where they are less effective and less efficient. Remember the Tunisian Revolution? That was set off by a dude who set himself on fire because of frustration with govt intervention in his attempts to establish a fruit stand.

    Markets perform very badly when states fail.

    Because of violence yes. So?

    They are a subset of people whose interests are distinct and contrary to those of other stakeholders in the value chain.

    The basic notion that carbon emission is an externality is not something I have a disagreement with. My argument is that a simple tax is a much better idea than an ETS system. Just because markets function better with the state then without doesn’t make such a cumbersome, rort-prone farrago any more desirable than it was before we began this exchange.

  63. Adrien

    Helen – The ETS is a government mandated charge on something that was previously thought of as free – dumping emissions into the environment – which was in fact not free, but the cost of which was actually pushed off onto the community.

    The economic term externality applies.

    Rather than a smaller scale situation where a company dumps toxic waste upriver of a town the AGW situation is where the human race’s economy has grown to the extent where it alters the climate. The externality is not a simple as the government claims it is.

    The ‘us’ and ‘them’ in this case is not Big Coal v the People but people who live in the modern world v the people who don’t but would like to v. the people who do and hate its guts.

  64. Fran Barlow

    Adrien said:

    It’s when {markets} get to a certain level of complexity that ‘the state’ comes into play.

    i.e as they are now — highly complex, featuring stakeholders that know little about each others’ interests or the contexts bearing upon their decisions.

    Interesting, btw, that you compare the state to piracy.

    I did no such thing. Re-read the passage. I contrasted contemporary shipping practice with piracy. The intervention of states in shipping has been key in making it another thing entirely, despite the superficial similarities. Of course, the absence of a functional state in Somalia has meant the rise of piracy, near Somalia.

    Markets perform very badly when states fail.
    … Adrien continued …

    Because of violence yes. So?

    Not merely because of violence but as a result of fraud, or passing off, or insider trading, or industrial espionage and a great many other things. When rules for the issue of shares were first proposed in the US in the 1930s, some traders asserted that this would be the death-knell of such trading, but the reverse proved true. having to issue a prspoectus, and the imposition of enforceable rules was an absolute boon to raising funds by this route. The rescission of Glass-Steagall in the late 1990s at the behest of the Republican Congress was the opening stanza of the collapse of world financial markets nearly a decade later.

    My argument is that a simple tax is a much better idea than an ETS system.

    We heard that argument a lot from the right in 2008-9 (I note that you are now implicitly distinguishing a tax from an ETS — I suppose that’s progress) but the rationale is not that it is more effective but rather, that precisely because it creates no enduring property interest in mitigation, and is thus easier than an ETS to rescind, or whiteant. It’s also, as we have seen, a good deal easier to take aim at politically. A lot of RW energy went into persuading the ALP to shoot itself in the foot this way. As is often their wont, the ALP opted for the worst of both worlds. The adopted an ETS, enraging the right, who could see the wedge, and allowed them to call it a tax, allowing them to raise populist ire against it.

  65. John D

    Brian: Abbott certainly has no credibility both in terms of commitment and a credible plan for meeting his 2020 targets.
    Not sure that Gillard has a credible plan for meeting her targets either. It is a bit hard to wade through the complexity. The carbon tax would have to increase considerably before you could be confident that it will have the necessary impact.
    Fran: Abbott would have a credible direct action plan if he had a program based wholly on partial clean-up of the power industry. The required targets could be met by using competitive tendering to set up long term contracts for the supply of cleaner electricity. This is not the only credible plan for meeting 2020 targets without putting a price on carbon.

  66. Adrien

    I did no such thing. Re-read the passage. I contrasted contemporary shipping practice with piracy.

    Yes and made them analogous to pre-political markets blah blah blah. It was a joke.

    The rescission of Glass-Steagall in the late 1990s at the behest of the Republican Congress was the opening stanza of the collapse of world financial markets nearly a decade later.

    It was one stanza, I’m not sure it was the opening one.

    The rest of your argument says that an ETS is better because more politically expedient and much harder to remove once in place. This is true. That doesn’t refute my arguments as to the superiority of a carbon tax. Nor is it quite accurate. The way things are going now I’d be unsurprised if the electorate decided that anything to do with sustainability is outré for about the next two thousand years.

  67. Adrien

    those taking a 40-year investment view will realise that with an 80% reduction target these permits will become very scarce indeed.

    Provided the scheme stays in place, is not significantly altered and the power needs of the populations are provided for from other sources.

  68. Fran Barlow

    Adrien said:

    The rest of your argument says that an ETS is better because more politically expedient and much harder to remove once in place.

    That’s an important element of feasibility. Certainty that the price will be a factor in long term investment decisions and not easily reversible discourages short-term decision making.

    The way things are going now I’d be unsurprised if the electorate decided that anything to do with sustainability is outré for about the next two thousand years.

    When someone does hyperbole, you know they are running out of arguments. It doesn’t matter what the electorate decides. By 2013, rescission simply won’t be practicable due to the long delays required, and the compensation. If the state is smart, it will ensure that the sunk cost losses from trying to do so are crippling.

    FTR though, I doubt that this issue will be raised in 2013. There will be some cheap shots but neither this, nor the NBN nor the MRRT will be for the chop. I’m unconvinced Abbott will be leader. The LNP campaign is 100% FUD. Once the light of day reveals that and the LNP admits they can’t repeal it anyway, they’ll have to find something else to run on to stay competitive.

    Of course, if they did run on this, that would only mean a new wedge against them and the threat of more uncertainty after, which the LNPs business mates would hate.

  69. John D

    I give in Brian. Lets just call systems like the CPRS that generate government revenue as a “great big money grab” (GBMG) They will still have the same effect as a tax but it allows you to avoid using the evil TAX word. We could then use “no money grab” (NMG) to cover systems like the MRET, regulations and contracts for supply which dont generate government revenue.
    A carefully crafted carbon tax or CPRS will be very difficult to remove while the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate. However, it would be difficult to stop the schemes being emasculated by the issuing of too many permits, changing the nature of compensation schemes etc.
    I would be inclined to agree that an ETS would work as long as the government of the day continued to ramp down the target held its nerve when there weren’t enough permits available to avoid power shortages.
    I also agree that it is easier to stop direct action than some of the more complicated alternatives. However, if Gillard had committed to direct action before the last election we could be confident that contracts would have been let for clean power generation and other climate action by the next election. (Cancelling contracts is much harder than emasculating schemes you don’t like.) by contrast, it is not clear what tangible outcomes will be achieved by the carbon tax before the election.

  70. Incurious and Unread

    Brian/John D,

    It is heartening to see the three of us converging around some sort of consensus about the efficacy of an ETS. I agree absolutely with John that institutional weakness is the achilles heel of any ETS. On the other hand, I think that the government (ie those despised “bureaucrats”) has done a pretty good job on the institutional architecture of the CEF scheme.

    Nevertheless, it is vitally important that the institutions are given time to bed down and earn everybody’s trust and respect. So I think the slow start embodied in the initial carbon price is sensible and prudent.

    The “tax grab” design of the scheme, if anything, gives it more political stability, since it is very hard for future governments to voluntarily give up a major revenue source. I hope to see a future ratcheting up of other green taxes as governments realise how lucrative they can be.

  71. Fran Barlow

    I & U said:

    The “tax grab” design of the scheme, if anything, gives it more political stability, since it is very hard for future governments to voluntarily give up a major revenue source.

    Actually, this sceme is revenue negative, since up front household compensation is being given, and of course the adjustement to LITO and the ongoing rebates mean that the state is roughly $4bn behind in cash flow terms. Not a cash grab by government — rather a cash return to the less advantaged sections of the public.

    That might of course buttress the schem for the opposite reason — abolishing transfer payments to poor people is politically much harder. Winding back industry assistance won’t be all that easy either.

  72. Incurious and Unread

    Fran,

    Yes, that’s what I meant really. “Tax grab” is John D’s phrase, to mean that revenue is recycled through government, as opposed to schemes where there are just payments between polluters. I realise that the carbon tax revenue is not simply being stashed in the Treasury.

    Analogously, it would be very hard for any government to rescind the GST, because there would need to be a hike in income tax to replace the lost revenue.

  73. Incurious and Unread

    John D,

    Whoops, sorry John. You didn’t call it a “tax grab”. You called it a “great big money grab”. My mistake.

  74. Fran Barlow

    Not only that I & U, but since the G&ST revenues are the basis for distribution to the states, there would be an almighty bunfight at any attempt to axe it.

  75. Adrien

    It doesn’t matter what the electorate decides.

    Oh doesn’t it? Mmmmmph.

  76. Adrien

    When someone does hyperbole, you know they are running out of arguments.

    On the other hand when someone uses sarcasm….

  77. Fran Barlow

    Adrien quoted me:

    It doesn’t matter what the electorate decides.

    …. then continued:
    Oh doesn’t it? Mmmmmph.

    That’s right, at least in some cases. There’s no evidence for example that the electorate ever approved of sending troops into Iraq or Afghanistan, and there’s no evidence that most want the latter cohort to remain. These matters were swept aside by tribal connection to the major parties, their connection to the US alliance and the absence of any third party with a plausible prospect of ruling.

    People consistently favour higher taxes, budget deficits and better services, but governments favour lower taxes, budget surpluses, and worse services. The electorate really is something of a passive bystander, save in cases where one of the majors decides to run with something else.

    Of course, they tend not to run with things they can’t sell, and dismantling the ETS just as it has kicked in would be hard to justify, because even if the electorate wanted it, business would not, and would have a strong case.

    Adrien continued:

    When someone does hyperbole, you know they are running out of arguments.

    On the other hand when someone uses sarcasm…

    It means in this case that I’m wryly noting your lack of argument, along with your growing frustration that your libertarian dogma is not being affirmed here.

  78. Tim Macknay

    I’m surprised Adrien doesn’t just go the whole libertarian hog and embrace the view that the “environment” is just a leftist conspiracy. Come on Adrien, you know you want to.

  79. Adrien

    Fran. I am well aware of the paradox of capitalist democracy thank you. In The Long Goodbye a bitter old media baron has a soliloquy about it. It starts the voter chooses but the party nominates and the party needs dosh etc.

    However your statement drips with cold technocracy. Who cares what they think? This is a democracy madame and I’ll use violence if necessary to keep it that way. 🙂

    That said you have not engaged with my primary argument. You and Brian both avidly support the ETS because it is an entrenched bureaucracy. Brian appears to believe Abbott will PM next time ’round and doesn’t care because he will not be able to remove it. Neither of you seems to have considered the possibility of a electoral mandate, it is a possibility.

    Also you don’t ask yourself if it will work. Let’s say the ETS gets installed and it stays. Do you seriously think the politicians of this country will not rig it in the interests of the resource companies which have much better access to them than any citizen? An ETS might be well intentioned but a large, complex system involving energy interests trading artificial credit one wit the other has, with the assistance of the wiz kids of financial capitalism…

  80. Adrien

    Tim – I’m surprised Adrien doesn’t just go the whole libertarian hog and embrace the view that the “environment” is just a leftist conspiracy. Come on Adrien, you know you want to.

    Actually I don’t. Nature, see. I deeply love the shit. The trees and frogs; mountains, desert nights. Lakes and the deep blue sea. I like mornings when a magpie sings to me. I’ve spent upwards of 10% of my little life livin’ in a tent laddy. So yer barkin’ in the wrong forest.

    Come on over here next to the fire, it’s warm here..

    The problem I have with an ETS is it’s a machine. A machine that’s designed to make a new monkey. As a model of revolution it’s, like, soooooo 19th century. Let the sunshine in…..

  81. Fine

    Adrien, any system devised by people is open to rorting. That, in itself, isn’t an argument against an ETS. Out of interest, what system would you favour to mitigate climate change?

  82. adrian

    It means in this case that I’m wryly noting your lack of argument

    Your wryness will be in overload, as the half-baked nature of Adrien’s assertions will continue to rise before eventually falling flat when faced with the heat of logic.

  83. Adrien

    Fine – Adrien, any system devised by people is open to rorting. That, in itself, isn’t an argument against an ETS. Out of interest, what system would you favour to mitigate climate change?

    The ETS is designed to be rorted 🙂

    I don’t favour a system. I think the best things the government can do are:

    a. Introduce a substantial carbon tax offset by the elimination of other taxations that impede economic movement: the payroll tax for example. The idea is revenue neutrality with a hike in the price of fossil fuel power.

    b. Establish openess in the energy market so that different players can compete and consumers can choose.

    c. Create incentives for firms that undertake sustainable technology research to work here and eliminate taxation on technology that cuts down on carbon production, sorry, emission. GST on LED lights, for example, could be eliminated.

    d. Audit public sector energy expenditure with a view to making the public service and government apparatus a paragon of sustainability, the do-as-I-do school of leadership.

    That’s off the top-of-my-head. But something like that.

    The solution to the problem is mostly ethical and technological. We need better clean sources of energy, more energy efficiency etc. That is best produced by innovation and the market is very good at precipitating that.

    It’s also ethical. And you cannot dictate an ethos by law, you need to persuade people. That’s my view anyhow.

  84. Adrien

    Adrian – You seem to have trouble understanding that saying something doesn’t make it so. I gave up on yer education years ago, seems that schoolin’s in the way.

    You might, if you wish to persist in making me an object of derision because I may think and feel differently from yourself on certain matters, undertake some cultivation of your wits. Your snarking’s a little weak.

  85. adrian

    Hey, you make yourself an object of derision at times, kind sir – I have nothing to do with it.
    But your other comments have been noted with thanks.

  86. adrian

    Back to the topic, does anyone else have the feeling that the opposition’s redundant posturing is starting to wear thin?

    The government’s proposal while far from perfect is a significant first step, and people of good faith and reasonable intelligence can probably see this, despite the increasingly desperate howling from vested interest groups and ideological loonies.
    You only have to look to the US to see where ideological lunacy gets you.

  87. Fine

    Adrien, has anyone done any work to see if your ideas actually mitigate climate change? They are, after all, just off the top of your head. Not very convincing arguments, I think.

    Saying the ETS is designed to be rorted is just smart-arsery.

  88. Tim Macknay

    Actually I don’t. Nature, see. I deeply love the shit. The trees and frogs; mountains, desert nights. Lakes and the deep blue sea. I like mornings when a magpie sings to me. I’ve spent upwards of 10% of my little life livin’ in a tent laddy. So yer barkin’ in the wrong forest.

    You must confuse the hell out of the other libertarians.

  89. John D

    I&U @84: There are a number of approaches that will allow 2020 targets to be met as long as certain requirements are met. For example, a $60/tonne CO2 tax would certainly do it while a $10/tonne tax would not. Various emission trading schemes would do it as long as the cap or target average were appropriate and future governments kept their nerve. Long term contracts for the supply of cleaner electricity would do it as long as the combined contract size was big enough.
    My personal view is that we will get the best result if we look at the alternatives for dealing with specific emissions.
    Fran: I like the wealth redistribution aspects of the government’s scheme as well as diversion of part of the tax to . However, some of the money raised by the GBMG is going to be consumed by admin costs so, overall, the carbon tax is not revenue neutral.

  90. John D

    I am cautious about schemes that are hard to change. The first reason is that it is not very democratic. Think for example how a Senate that did not reflect the 2007 views of the electorate was able to block the ETS that Rudd clearly had a mandate for.
    The second reason is that it makes it harder to take advantage of good ideas that have been developed after the scheme has been set up.
    These are good reasons to be wary of complex systems that are supposed to be the answer to everything.

  91. John D

    By the way, my wife thinks that Abbott is providing brilliant support for climate action. She thinks all the dishonest the demonizing of the carbon tax is making people think harder about reducing their emissions!

  92. Fran Barlow

    JohnD

    However, some of the money raised by the GBMG is going to be consumed by admin costs so, overall, the carbon tax is not revenue neutral.

    I’m not much bothered about revenue neutrality anyway. While, ceteris paribus having zero admin costs would be fabulous, that’s not realistic. Every program costs something to administer. Providing that the program is running effectively and administration is not excessuively burdensome in relation to benefits or program goals, and doesn’t become unmaintainable, I’m not fussed. The key question is — does the administaration help enough to warrant the cost? If so, then it’s like every other form of useful economic activity.

  93. Incurious and Unread

    John D,

    “I am cautious about schemes that are hard to change. The first reason is that it is not very democratic. ”

    But I thought that you saw that one of the main benefits of direct contracting was that contracts are hard to change.

  94. Tim Macknay

    Brian @77:

    In today’s AFR Robert Jeremenko, senior tax counsel for the Tax Institute, said:

    While many, including the government, describe the CPM as a “carbon tax”, it is not, in the legal sense, a tax. Carbon permits are a form of assignable personal property

    Nonetheless, it appears that the Commonwealth Office of Parliamentary Counsel is sufficiently uncertain about it to have drafted the legislation in the manner and form required for a tax.

  95. John D

    I&U: I didn’t see the contracts being forever – but yes there is a balance between room for future to decide and the need for investors to have reasonable certainer. You can still decide to stop setting up more contracts for whatever but they are costly to cancel. But killing an ETS? Bit harder?

  96. Adrien

    Fine – Partially my ideas are based on John Humphreys carbon tax proposal. I’ve added things. But whatever. You say they aren’t convincing yet you don’t say why. I’ve expressed views as to the problems with the ETS and they have not been addressed.

    Tim – You must confuse the hell out of the other libertarians.

    Of yes indeed. All libertarians want to turn the world into a giant carpark..

    There’s a lot more to people than political worldview y’know.

  97. Adrien

    I’m not much bothered about revenue neutrality anyway.

    Yes maybe you aren’t. You seem to blend a certain excessive self-righteousness with a desire for compulsory utopia. It’s, um, not attractive.

  98. Fran Barlow

    Adrien’s comment about libertarians wanting to uild carparks put me in mind of that famous line from Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi ..

    They took all the trees
    And put them in a tree museum
    And they charged all the people
    A dollar and a half to see ’em
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    Till it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And they put up a parking lot

    I digress. Adrien quoted me:

    I’m not much bothered about revenue neutrality anyway.

    … then continued …

    Yes maybe you aren’t. You seem to blend a certain excessive self-righteousness with a desire for compulsory utopia. It’s, um, not attractive.

    Translation, you suspect many will share my desire not to fetishise revenue neutrality, and liekwise my preference for a world in which equity plays a more prominent part in policy, but it offends you on cultural/ideological grounds.

    Thanks for sharing.

  99. Fran Barlow

    oops, Mods … close blockquotes after “attractive”

    TIA

  100. Tim Macknay

    Of yes indeed. All libertarians want to turn the world into a giant carpark..

    There’s a lot more to people than political worldview y’know.

    Adrien, I was joking.

  101. Adrien

    Tim, I was joking too. Our jokes meant something.

  102. Adrien

    Fran’s translation:

    Translation, you suspect many will share my desire not to fetishise revenue neutrality, and liekwise my preference for a world in which equity plays a more prominent part in policy, but it offends you on cultural/ideological grounds.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    You got admire those folks who make the CRM-114. And industry so strong after all these years.

    Fran your aspersions are so entirely other. Socialism does not offend me. True, I am not one valuing liberty more so. However I am not a rigid adherent of liberalism or any other ism. I won’t explain. Socialism still suffers from illusions about the extent to which the law is transformative; minds who enjoy making plans for everyone.