THE EXPLOSIVE REVELATION — leaked in detail yesterday to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph — that the ALP is readying to reimpose a carbon tax if it wins office should surprise nobody; this politically lethal concept has killed off a slew of Prime Ministers and party leaders, and will kill Shorten too. There is reason to believe the measure will be introduced even if, as seems likely, it is not presented as a commitment at any increasingly likely early election.
I am on the hop today, and between that and the lengthy piece I published yesterday on who is and is not to blame for the LNP’s disastrous election defeat in Queensland in January, this morning’s article will be comparatively short.
But the news — leaked in extensive detail to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, and contemporaneously and dutifully reported yesterday by that august tome — that Labor is preparing to reimpose not just one carbon tax but two if it wins the next election will increase the likelihood of an early election later this year, and almost guarantee that Labor loses it.
“Leader” Bill Shorten, when confronted by the revelation, tried to dismiss the policy as “complete rubbish,” an assurance that will presumably carry no weight with the electorate in the aftermath of his recent confession that he lied publicly about his role in the ALP’s internecine leadership brawling and in the wake of his testimony to the Royal Commission into the trade union movement that at best portrayed him as glib, smug, dishonest, and less than credible.
Simply, people can’t trust a syllable of Shorten’s utterances and now, that realisation is spreading through the electorate like wildfire.
One of his frontbenchers tried to dismiss the policy as “a discussion paper,” whilst another — obviously annoyed that someone had let the mangy cat out of the bag — labelled whoever leaked it “an idiot.”
But I would suggest that any “discussion paper” that runs to the degree of explicit and apparently highly considered detail that this features is nothing of the sort.
And anyone on the ALP frontbench with the presence of mind to brief a journalist is actually blessed with some quotient of political acumen, for this policy — and anything that resembles a “carbon tax” or “emissions trading scheme” — is, to put it bluntly, unsaleable in Australia.
The politics of carbon pricing are lethal in Australia; the political death toll includes two Prime Ministers — Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard — as well as a possible third in John Howard, whose lukewarm support for carbon pricing probably helped seal his defeat in 2007 as a minor contributing issue to the broader case for change; it has killed off Liberal leaders in Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull; and it helped cost the federal
Communists Greens a quarter of their vote in 2013, partially in retribution for their handiwork in helping to inflict such a policy in cahoots with Labor.
It seems the ALP is cognisant of the risks, too, for as the Tele is reporting today in a follow-up piece, the policy was to be kept from voters if an election were to be called before a climate change conference in Paris in December.
I would assert that given the death spiral into which Shorten’s “leadership” has plunged, the toxic revelations at the Royal Commission, the likely bloodshed at the ALP national conference next week and the imperative for the Prime Minister to get to the polls before Labor replaces Shorten with someone who might actually know what they hell they’re doing (or at least, carries some broad appeal), the high likelihood of an early election means the policy was meant to be dishonestly sprung on the public in the same way Julia Gillard did it after the 2010 election.
The fact the Labor frontbench has explicitly canvassed concealing the policy will, rightly, now be used against the ALP.
It is impossible to believe this policy is a mere whim, or some indulgent discussion item; there is far too much detail in it for that excuse, now the party has been caught out, to wash.
This is not one carbon tax, but two; one for the electricity industry and one for everything else, and the inescapable conclusion is that electricity bills — already punitively high for most Australians even without a carbon tax — would skyrocket.
The measure to mandate tough new emissions control standards on new vehicles, raising the price of a new car by some $1,500, is unlikely to impress most voters: and the mooted fuel savings this policy brandishes of $830 per year, or $16 per week (a quarter of the average motorist’s weekly fuel spend at today’s prices) is so suspiciously bloated as to invite dismissal by voters as lying Labor bullshit — which it probably is.
And whilst I could go on — but will leave my readers to peruse the articles from the Tele owing to time constraints, as well as this additional piece from The Australian — the fact this policy has been developed at all and readied for introduction shows that at the very least, the ALP still hasn’t understood why it was so violently ejected from office two years ago.
There is an irony in the fact that for the fourth consecutive election, Labor is gearing up to fight over WorkChoices, despite no indication whatsoever from the Coalition parties of any intention to revisit the controversial Howard government laws.
Yet at the same time, for the fourth consecutive election, Labor is in fact standing on a carbon tax: the political history of both the Coalition and the ALP bluntly shows policies like this are pure poison, and of the two packages, I would even go so far as to suggest that carbon taxes are the bigger vote loser than WorkChoices: irrespective of your views on climate change, there is too much evidence to conclude anything other than a refusal of a majority of Australian electors to vote for carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes, or anything resembling them.
I don’t propose to get into any arguments about climate change today, and nor should commenters — this is a political problem Shorten has apparently decided Labor should be saddled with, and as I said, whether you believe in climate change or not or have your views about what causes it, it is the political consequences I am concerned with today.
Chief among them is the fact that this revelation will make an election this year likelier, perhaps certain: and for mine, a tenner on an election date being announced as soon as the ALP national conference is out of the way — with Shorten’s Royal Commission fresh in people’s minds, and the stench of blood from the Labor conference pungent in their nostrils — would probably be an astutely placed wager indeed.