“ELECTRICITY BILL,” as Prime Minister Tony Abbott has started calling him, today sold most of the Australian public down the river, offering — well, nothing — on abolishing the carbon tax. The “new” ALP stance sees Shorten take the Greens’ bait, and shows Labor has learnt nothing from its defeat.
Earlier this week, we covered the unspectacular rant that
Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne aimed at new Labor leader Bill Shorten; I honestly thought that just this once the ALP might have had enough brains and smarts, in short, to tell her to get stuffed.
It seems I gave Labor more credit than it deserved.
Showbag Bill today nailed his colours to the mast for all to see as a stooge and a patsy for the Greens; far from arriving at any sensible or principled response to an unmistakable message from Australian voters on 7 September, Labor has repackaged the same half-baked “policy” it took to the election under Kevin Rudd, and called it an “offer.”
As the first key policy announcement since assuming the role of opposition leader, and especially on an issue that has been so politically fraught over the past decade, this very much carries Shorten’s imprimatur.
In the face of taunts and emotive blackmail from the Greens, it is a pathetic surrender; as a political statement, it is an abject failure; and in relation to most of the two-thirds of voters who gave their primary votes to non-Labor candidates last month, it’s a sellout.
Labor’s “offer” to “terminate” the carbon tax on the condition that Tony Abbott introduces an emissions trading scheme is absolutely nothing, and stinks of the sleight of hand with which Rudd attempted to hoodwink voters in his desperate bid to neutralise the carbon tax as a negative.
Under that fork-tongued utterance, the fixed carbon price was indeed to be abandoned: in favour of the floating European price as part of an emissions trading scheme.
The European price, in turn, is today a fraction of the $24.15 per tonne at which the carbon tax is presently fixed, but is projected to rise within a few years to a level in the vicinity of $40 per tonne.
In other words, the Greens’ strategy of being prepared to give a little ground in order to slug businesses and consumers a whole hell of a lot more in a few years’ time is — and remains — official ALP policy.
Shorten is at least honest enough to acknowledge that today’s announcement and the Rudd policy are effectively one and the same.
But the statement reveals an utter contempt for the wishes of the people as expressed through the ballot box, and is a hamfisted attempt indeed to present a credible stance on a difficult issue.
It fails to reconcile those elements within the ALP who support allowing the Abbott government’s bills to pass to clear the air with those calling for the party to stand firm behind its “principles.”
It leaves the Labor Party open in perpetuity to a continuation of the attack from the Coalition that the Greens really control the ALP — a contention which, based on today’s developments, appears very near the mark.
At the very least, it renders the ALP unable to ever again cast the “WorkChoices” stone at the Coalition with any authority — not that it had any authority and credibility in the first place to do so.
There goes the 2016 ALP election strategy — at a stroke.
The irony is that having purchased a whole lot of additional grief today, Shorten’s announcement of Labor’s “new” climate change policy is likely to change very little indeed, with the Coalition seeming able to command the numbers in the Senate from July next year to enact its intended repeal of the carbon tax.
But the real damage to be inflicted — and inflicted upon Labor, no less — will come if the peculiarities and petulance of Clive Palmer see the Abbott legislation voted down in the upper house after the new Senate is constituted.
Should that occur — and a double dissolution eventuate — far from venting their fury on Abbott for taking them back to the polls so quickly, Labor is likely to face voters’ wrath for putting the government in the position to have to do so in the first place.
It is then that Labor — under the alleged leadership of its frontman, Electricity Bill — will face the full consequences of yet another pathetic surrender to the Greens in defiance of the popular verdict articulated at an election not two months ago.
It seems Showbag Bill will need to find new tricks with which to wow and dupe the Australian public; the present repertoire is one that’s not only a dud, but which everyone in Australia can see right through the punchline of.
Everyone, that is, except Shorten and his masters over at the Greens.