« profile & posts archive

This author has written 591 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

65 responses to “Gillard’s carbon tax promise”

  1. faustusnotes

    I don’t get what you’re fussing about. She stated clearly in that Australian article that she would put a price on carbon, not a tax. Why fart-arse around with some video?

  2. Craig Mc

    Shorter version: It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

  3. faustusnotes

    No Craig, it depends on whether or not you understand what a “tax” “is”.

  4. jules

    Following on from fn – on friday August the 20th, under the headline “Julia Gillard’s carbon price promise.”


    JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.

    That is the first line of the article.

    She then goes on to say “I rule out a carbon tax”.

    The pre election carbon tax was a particular policy and the Gillard govt never implemented it, so technically she never lied, but the conservatives did by claiming one policy was in fact another. And I was under the impression that the fixed price period wasn’t just a greens demand, it was also something business wanted to ease the transition to a proper trading scheme with the inherent price uncertainty.

    Abbott’s got away with so much he recently called the ETS a carbon tax with a floating price, wearing that stupid grin, and no one in the media called him on it. If Abbott wins then every bushfire, flood and loss of iconic environmental assets should be greeted with “if you voted for Abbott this is your fault”.

    Its no less true than anything else in this sordid bullshitfest.

  5. faustusnotes

    I find it particularly enlightening that she announced this policy on the front page of The Australian but it was The Australian that ran hard with the “Gillard lied” lie. What a pack of transparently partisan hacks. Journalists in Australia really are profoundly stupid and pathetic.

  6. Nick Ferrett

    It seems to me that someone who watched the Channel Ten interview and not the mythical Channel Seven interview would have understood the former PM to be promising not to introduce a carbon tax. I think that most people would have thought the subsequent introduction of the carbon tax/price would constitute a breach of that promise.

    So much for a broken promise. A promise is only a lie if the person making it does so in bad faith; i.e., without any belief that she will make good on the promise. I haven’t bothered to trawl through the evidence about whether she made the promise despite intending to introduce a carbon tax, but if there is another interview out there in which she said she would not introduce a carbon tax, but may introduce a carbon price, that is some pretty good evidence. Many on this blog have been eager over time to draw some distinction between a carbon tax and a carbon price, but the distinction is meaningless. The only way that the market will price CO2 is if the government penalises firms financially for generating it. That is, at least colloquially, a tax.

    One thing that struck me at the time that Gillard did the deal with the Greens and announced she was introducing a carbon tax was that she failed to make anything of the fact that she was stuck in a minority government situation where she had to do deals. The make-up of the parliament gave her the perfect excuse for breaking election promises: “This is the best I can do given that we are in a minority and must rely on the support of others”.

    Essentially, she put up no fight about the “lie” allegation when she had about as much cover as a politician could ever get for breaking a promise.

  7. Craig Mc

    No Craig, it depends on whether or not you understand what a “tax” “is”.

    No, it depends on how desperate you are to post-modern-parse simple English to support a meaning that isn’t there.

  8. Fran Barlow

    Thanks Brian …

    As you know, this is a sore point with me, and for exactly that reason, I am going to suppress the impulse to recapitulate fully. I’ve written at some length on this subject and truth be told, the person with whom I’m most unhappy on all of this was Julia Gillard — largely because of her impact handling of the matter.

    An experienced political campaigner knows the press can and do take what suits them and run with it. That’s one of the reasons for three-word slogans — they are harder to chop up and mess with.

    On that day fairly early in the aftermath of the leadership change her “deep consensus” and “citizens’ assembly” thought bubble were extremely dispiriting because they implied a retreat from ALP policy that was even worse than (then ex-) PMKR’s kicking the CPRS down the road. Yet with hindsight, it was also the beginning of a much nastier problem and prefigured the tangle into which she gets herself here.

    Rationally, the subject of “a carbon tax” should never have arisen. The ALP (as had Howard) had expressly rejected that model in favour of an ETS. This was clear in 2009 when Abbott made plain his preference for a carbon tax — which sounds like the fee and dividend approach of James Hanson in the US and some advocates there — in preference to “a speculators’ picnic”. The structure of the 2009 CPRS was exactly the same as that of the 2011 CEF. The public was entitled to infer that the ALP, if elected might still seek to legislate and indeed, that was what the article in the OO made plain. All Gillard ought to have said was that ALP policy remained unchanged — that like Howard, the favoured an explicit price on emissions and would move to legislate one as soon as practicable — which took into account the possible composition of the senate post-July 2011. If pressed on the carbon “tax” she could simply have reminded the interrogator that that model had been rejected by both parties, notwithstanding Mr Abbott’s expressed preference for one and given that we had a better model, she saw no reason to return to the McKibben model now. Simple.

    The trouble is that Gillard was trying to pander to the right and delusional populists more generally, for whom “tax” is an existentially threatening word and so she over-egged it with her declarative there will be no carbon tax … claim, which was really a further iteration of her “deep consensus” and “citizens’ assembly” remarks. It’s that which is the best source of claims for her trickiness rather than the carbon tax promise per se. She was trying to curry favour with both those leaving the building and those coming in, with a slightly different pitch. The stupid thing is that nobody from the delusional populist denier demographic was a show of voting for her anyway. All she did was plant a timebomb which would go off after she was elected. Strangely, having done this, it never occurred to her that she needed to do some thinking in how she would defuse it later and in that fateful interview in February 2011 allowed the bomb to blow up in her face.

    In the end, that blunder, more than any other single blunder framed her as untrustworthy and eventually, give the determination of Murdoch to effect regime change led to her downfall and very probably, sealed the fate of the ALP at this election.

    She very probably could have fought back, had she swiftly repudiated the words and turned the tables on Murdoch and Abbott, pointing out that she had never repudiated ALP policy, and cited the new circumstances of her regime — but she lacked the courage and the acumen to do that. So as annoyed as I am about the Murdoch/delusional trolling, I really blame Gillard for this.

  9. Fran Barlow

    oops …

    largely because of her {the} impact {of her} handling of the matter.

  10. Casey

    1. She played with the words herself. That’s politics. She said “No carbon tax” but then softened her words re a carbon price introduction during the campaign by saying she wanted to reach ‘consensus’, and from that Q&A video above she said this:

    “I also said to the Australian people in the last election campaign that we needed to act on climate change, we needed to price carbon and I wanted to see an emissions trading scheme.”

    “we need” “I want to see” is not quite “I will introduce” is it?

    2. Brian said:

    Does all this matter?

    Well, to history it does, as it’s part of the story of how Gillard was treated after she became PM.

    No you have the wrong end of the stick. You see her playing with words explains nothing nothing nothing about how she was treated. Do you remember Howard’s core and non core promises? And how was he treated when he broke promises? It was accepted politicians do this, I believe. And is Rudd excoriated for his failures on his promises on climate change the way Gillard is for playing with the two words ‘tax’ and ‘price’?

    To history, the story will be how a male leader may break promises and get nothing like the excoriation and vile abuse Gillard got for doing what politicians have done since time immemorial.

    That’s the history bit people will be interested in Brian – that gender analysis thing that everyone wants to avoid like the plague.

  11. faustusnotes

    Craig Mc, what are you talking about? Brian has given you a link, and an extract, from an interview she gave directly to a newspaper, before the election, in which she said she would introduce a carbon price and not a tax. It’s there in black and white in the newspaper, the newspaper’s website, and here. Can you not read? Do you have some problem with the sentence “I will introduce a carbon price”? It’s as plain English as it gets.

    Some people are profoundly, regrettably mendacious on this simple fact: she said she would introduce a carbon price. She introduced a carbon price. Everyone voted knowing that she would introduce a carbon price. Get over it.

  12. faustusnotes

    I think Casey has a very good point there and her point stands in opposition to Fran’s claim that Gillard’s phrasing of tax vs. price was a “blunder.” It’s patently obvious that it doesn’t matter what Gillard did or said or how she addressed the “tax” vs. “Price” issue she was going to be accused of lying and that accusation was going to be carried by the media because the narrative of “lying b*tch” was fixed as soon as she won the election.

    Gillard is a woman from the left from a working class background. Such a person cannot possibly be elected to the highest office in Australia. Therefore, her presence in that office indicates she lied and cheated the Australian public (and most especially Abbott and News Limited). This narrative was fixed: they were always going to find a way to justify it, no matter how poor the rhetoric was, because that’s what their goal was. This also explains the continued focus on the AWU scandal, which was completely irrelevant.

    The biggest liar in parliament is Abbott but for 3 years all we heard about was JuLIAR. It’s like a political version of “no means yes.”

  13. Thrawn

    For me, a carbon price is introducing mechanisms that means carbon emissions can be valued.

    A carbon tax is extracting value out of a carbon price into government revenue.

    You can introduce a carbon price without it becoming a carbon tax (eg, ETS with no government revenue component).

    What Gillard did is clearly a carbon price coupled with a carbon tax.

  14. Craig Mc

    Craig Mc, what are you talking about? Brian has given you a link, and an extract, from an interview she gave directly to a newspaper, before the election, in which she said she would introduce a carbon price and not a tax.

    And I’ve given you a link where Gillard – herself – admits she broke her promise. Cling to that piece of flotsam all you like, it ain’t gonna float.

  15. Fran Barlow


    It’s patently obvious that it doesn’t matter what Gillard did or said or how she addressed the “tax” vs. “Price” issue she was going to be accused of lying and that accusation was going to be carried by the media because the narrative of “lying b*tch” was fixed as soon as she won the election.

    Very probably, but in that case at least, there would have been less ammunition to fire at her. You probably won’t be surprised at the number of times a journalist I would contact tried defending their trolling by citing her words that calling it a tax was OK …

    All I could say was that they had no business accepting any politician’s description of public policy beyond what they could objectively verify with their own analysis. The mere words of politicians can’t change what is — and they were failing in their professional duty.

  16. Nick Ferrett

    Thrawn, how do you have an ETS with no government revenue component? What is the incentive for anyone to pay anything for the right to emit unless there is some punishment (whether by way of a fine or a tax) for emitting? I’m not an economist and I’m fully prepared to admit I may be missing something.

  17. jules

    Nick you (and Fran) are right about Gillard’s response to the allegations – she didn’t challenge the allegation of introducing a tax and she failed to mention the minority government and the changed circumstances. So it is ultimately her own fault (despiter other people being jerks about it). It was a bad political decision and she could have saved herself alot of trouble, and probably the leadership and the next election had she handled it differently.

    She would still have copped alot of sexist rubbish, but I think that would have been easier to handle without the baggage of that decision.

    But you are wrong to say the carbon price due to an ETS is the same as a carbon tax.

    if you put a cap on emissions, then the right to use those emissions becomes a commodity in the same way water use rights can be a commodity.

    When you purchase the right to emit carbon you are buying a thing. There are only so many of these things available because for two elections now people have voted to limit the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

    If thats a tax then it isn’t too big a stretch to start claiming that paying for my groceries is a pernicious tax imposed on me by supermarkets or grocers.

  18. jules

    It’s patently obvious that it doesn’t matter what Gillard did or said or how she addressed the “tax” vs. “Price” issue she was going to be accused of lying and that accusation was going to be carried by the media because the narrative of “lying b*tch” was fixed as soon as she won the election.

    Maybe fn, but I think if you get accused of lying and react angrily and aggressively to that accusation then its harder for the people accusing you to maintain their position unchallenged. I think its something Gillard could have done if she’d been more staunch in her defense of that decision.

  19. Nick Ferrett

    Jules, as you can probably guess, I’m no fan of Gillard’s and I’ve never voted other than for the Libs, but I would readily recognise that Gillard copped more than her fair share of abuse and that a fair chunk of it was based in sexism, some of it of the most despicable kind.

    For all that she was a victim of some truly awful abuse, she was a truly hopeless politician, and a fairly dishonest one. For me, the point at which those two attributes were best demonstrated was the “Real Julia” statement in the 2007 election. It admitted her own fakery without any sense of the implications of doing so.

    As for whether a floating price and a tax are comparable, I don’t accept your comparison. Trade in an ETS involves buying and selling permits to generate carbon dioxide. A firm acquires a permit either to speculate in its value or to take advantage of the right it affords: the right to generate carbon dioxide. The permit is valuable because, without it, the firm holding it could be financially penalised by the government for producing the amount of carbon dioxide in question. The corollary is that there is always the threat of the government collecting money motivating the scheme, and the permits are originally generated by the government selling them.

    The better comparison is taxi operator licences. The government sells them and then they are traded in the market place. The reason they retain their value is that anyone who tries to operate a taxi without such a licence is punished.

  20. David Irving (no relation)

    faustusnotes, the only reason I can see for Craig Mc continuing to state something that is patently untrue is to reignite a stoush over the precise parsing of what Gillard said. He’s not arguing in good faith, so there’s no point in continuing to engage with him.

  21. jules

    Gillard was no where near as bad a politician as people make out. History will show this. She is no more dishonest than others, and less dishonest than the coalition, who have spewed more bullshit in the last 3 years than both sides of politics in the previous decade, including Howard’s lies about Iraq and asylum seekers. But i can’t see you agreeing to that and I certainly won’t agree with your assessment of her.

    All politics involves image manipulation these days, and that is be definition a form of lying, the real Julia thing is no different to “New Tony”, only he’s better at pulling it off cos he’s actually a better liar. But his comments about how sexy schoolgirls are, and how uncomfortable some subsection or other of the Australian population makes him show the new Tony is a lie made up to avoid serious questions about his character.

    I don’t see how your opinion about fining for CO2 production without permits adds up. By that logic if the government fines someone for dealing heroin is that some sort of tax now?

  22. Helen

    Dr Chris Hope, an economist from Cambridge University, was interviewed by Emma Alberici on Lateline. Here’s what he had to say about the relative merits of the Gillard carbon price, the proposed Rudd ETS, and the proposed Abbott “Direct Action” policy:

    EMMA ALBERICI: Now, this area of discussion is always of course contentious, but what I guess is no longer up for debate is the fact that we do need to mitigate the effects of climate change more generally. The Australian Government now wants to move earlier to an emissions trading scheme linked to the European system. What do you think of that?

    CHRIS HOPE: Yes. I think that the scheme that Australia has at the moment of a carbon tax is far better than an emissions trading scheme, particularly when you see the problems that there are with the emissions trading scheme in Europe at the moment. The price of the permits in Europe has fallen to below five euros, certainly below 10 Australian-US dollars per tonne. It’s at a much lower level than anybody who designed the scheme was thinking it would be at and politicians and policymakers in Europe are making desperate attempts to try and adjust the scheme in a way that will increase the price. Because if we want to have sensible and serious action on climate change, then we need a price on carbon dioxide emissions that is significantly higher than $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide.

    EMMA ALBERICI: Is price the only flaw in the European system?

    CHRIS HOPE: There are many ways in which a carbon tax is better than an emissions trading system. For instance, one obvious one is that if you have a carbon tax then everybody who is trying to make decisions knows what the price is and they can have some certainty in the planning that they’re doing. And as we’ve seen with the European emissions trading scheme, that’s a certainty that you don’t have if you have a cap and trade system. The price can go all over the place. And what that means is that people can’t plan effectively, they can’t change the types of electricity generation that they have, they can’t put in place infrastructure that might take years or decades to be fully put in place. And therefore we’ve seen things like in the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has now put in place a carbon floor price which means that the price of emissions of CO2 in the UK is £16 per tonne whatever the European emissions trading scheme price goes down at. So, US$25 or so per tonne, roughly the sort of levels that you’re seeing in Australia at the moment.

    EMMA ALBERICI: But specifically on the reason it was initially conceived, has the EU system actually worked, eight years after it was launched? Has it managed to reduce carbon emissions in the European region?

    CHRIS HOPE: It’s very hard to say because it’s very hard to work out what the emissions would’ve been without the emissions trading scheme, because as you know, we’ve been through in Europe quite a severe recession as a result of the financial crisis of 2007 onwards and so it’s very hard to see what the emissions would’ve been. But I think most people would say that it has been nowhere near as successful at reducing emissions as we would’ve hoped it would be and as a sensible carbon tax at a sensible level of maybe $100 per tonne of carbon dioxide would be.

    EMMA ALBERICI: And we’re running out of time, but I also wanted to ask you because our Opposition conservative Coalition favours a direct action plan involving the buying of emissions reductions through a series of government grants. Is that a system you’re familiar with anywhere else in the world and does it work?

    CHRIS HOPE: It’s a system effectively of giving subsidies to people not to emit pollution. It’s a very bad system. The last thing you want to be doing is subsidising people who are doing bad things. What you want to do is use the polluter-pays principle, make sure that anybody who is emitting pollution pays for the damage that that pollution is causing. And the best estimate that we have for the damage that’s being caused by carbon dioxide emissions is about $100 worth of damage for every tonne of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere. That’s the carbon price you should be setting and it should be set ideally as a carbon tax which is charged on every tonne of emissions and increases over time.

    [My bold]

  23. Helen

    (HTML substituted plain text for bold. My bad!]

  24. Tim Macknay

    How come we’re revisiting this ancient debate, which is now of purely historical (if any) interest?

  25. Mindy

    you get accused of lying and react angrily and aggressively

    And if you are a woman get called a bitch, witch, and a raft of other unflattering names reserved for women who get angry. Oh that’s right they called her all those things anyway.

  26. Helen

    Tim – because the factiod that “JuliAR lied about a carbon tax!!!1” is now Gospel among Herald Sun readers and commercial news watchers, who are the vast minority – Fairfax and blog readers are a tiny bubble, remember. And this will be handed down from parents to children… “”Julia” was a liar”… It really needs beating down. Of course, having said that this blog is relatively speaking a bubble, I guess I’ve defeated my own argument – but at least it’s something people can link to and which might come up on google searches – you know, just adding to the pile of wisdom rather than the ever increasing pile of bullshit? Something like that?

  27. Helen

    “Factoid”. Gah!

  28. jules

    Mindy – yes they did. But at the same time regardless of what bits you have you should be able to stand up for yourself. I’d say its compulsory in politics. Gillard does it, well did it brilliantly in parliament.

    I should probably have added that controlled aggression and anger is what works best, but again when Gillard did that in parliament she was an awesome speaker. And if she was on a hiding to nothing anyway as far as what people are gonna say and think at least go down fighting. I don’t think she did that when explaining the ETS and the fixed price period.

    Not arguing the point about calling the fixed price period a “tax” was her biggest mistake imo. It also struck me as out of character cos one the impressions I formed about Gillard was that she has tremendous fighting qualities, is tenacious, formidable and courageous. She didn’t express that when she first talked about the so called “tax” and perhaps that also cost her. Perhaps people sensed it was out of character and connected that to dishonesty.

  29. Helen

    Like Nick Ferrett, I was always bemused that JG never seemed to argue the case. Maybe she thought mentioning it herself would only fan the flames. But she did say “a government I lead”, implying a majority government, and it wasn’t a majority government. She led, but had to cut deals in doing so. I don’t know why she didn’t point that out.

  30. faustusnotes

    CraigMC, whatever Gillard did or didn’t say as post-election spin to deal with the liar accusations, the fact is that she didn’t lie. Before the election she said she would introduce a price on carbon, and after the election she introduced a price on carbon.

    Do you dispute either of these two facts? And if you do not, why do you claim she lied?

  31. Fran Barlow

    Nick Ferret:

    For all that {Gillard} was a victim of some truly awful abuse, she was a truly hopeless politician, and a fairly dishonest one.

    I would say that virtually all politicians who make it to parliament would fit the description of “fairly dishonest”. You don’t qualify for pre-selection unless you are good at intra-party chicanery, because large sums of money and much prestige attaches. It’s competitive. People are going to lie to get there and lie to stay there. If they make it to the top of the tree, then their need to lie effectively goes up. If Gillard was only “fairly dishonest” then she’s ahead of most who have made it to the top job.

    Dishonesty is hard to quantify of course. For me, it’s a boolean. One is either dishonest or one isn’t, and being “fairly dishonest” doesn’t make a lot of sense. It seems though that others think that honesty is scaleable but even if one allows that, are some types of political dishonesty worse than others? What if one only lies very occasionally but uses misdirection and half-truth to avoid being revealed as sneaky?

    I agree that Gillard lacked the political acumen she needed to protect her position or that of her party — that’s obvious, though to be fair, she had a higher level of technical difficulty than most PMs have had. Fraser and Hawke and Keating had the backing of Murdoch, and indeed, for a time, (until late 2008) PMKR did too. Gillard only got Murdoch’s support as challenger to PMKR, and as soon as she ousted him, Murdoch switched sides. She ought to have anticipated that and resisted doing the crazy thing of rolling a first term PM in the shadow of an election. That looked stupid even then and looks even worse with hindsight. Bad call.

    As to the ETS … the best way of seeing it is as a system of rationing emissions by price. In a sense, it doesn’t matter who gets the revenue as long as it isn’t people profiting from pollution. As a lefty, I’m going to prefer that revenue is used to either abate emissions or reduce inequity (preferably both).

    I prefer it to most of the things that could be called “a carbon tax” on the basis that it lends itself better to cross-jurisdictional arrangements and a range of carbon abatement options, but personally, I’d be happy enough if there were a carbon tax in some form. More important is the effective price that the tax/permit auction imposes on CO2e pollution.

  32. Mindy

    Good point Jules and Helen. I don’t know why Gillard didn’t defend herself more. Then again Rudd Mk1 did the same with the pink batts and BER. Both highly successful projects but no one ever defended them. I don’t know what the issue was but they are now all tainted with disaster when they were anything but.

  33. Thrawn


    Basically an ETS where all the permits are distributed at no cost to existing emitters. Total permits available is capped to the desired total emissions level. There’s a price because holders of emission permits will trade with each other. Because the permits are distributed at no cost, then from my point of view its not a tax since the government gets no money.

  34. Val

    Have to remember the filtering effect if media also as far as defence goes – may have been limited opportunities. Governments that defend themselves against allegations can be made to look defensive (!) and ridiculous. May be judged best to let things go – don’t know if that’s right in this case but speaking as former adviser, it’s sometimes thought that you just give things oxygen by responding to them.

  35. Val

    Though have to say I agree in this case – I think Gillard should have got stuck into more people particularly Alan jones et al.
    I’ve said it before (I think on a different blog though) and been jeered at, but I think JG was just too decent sometimes. (She was always really decent to me and other staff when she was John Brumby’s chief of staff in Victoria).

  36. faustusnotes

    I agree Val that JG should have been harder on the carbon tax lie thing. I think she even foolishly said on national tv something like “call it a tax if you like, I don’t care about semantics” and then spent the next few months being accused of agreeing it was a tax!

  37. jules

    Rudd Mk1 – not only did he fail to defend himself, he failed to defend one of his caucus from an unreasonable attack – and sold him down the river.

    That was terrible leadership on Rudd’s part. Really bad. The first rule of leading anything with integrity is you don’t sacrifice your people to cover your own arse.

    I dunno why neither defended themselves. I suspect Rudd just can’t handle intense stress and pressure (his campaign this election is evidence of that imo) and Gillard. maybe this:

    “And if you are a woman get called a bitch, witch, and a raft of other unflattering names reserved for women who get angry.”

    has something to do with it. Maybe Gillard thought it would be more productive putting her energy into other stuff for that reason.

  38. Chris

    No you have the wrong end of the stick. You see her playing with words explains nothing nothing nothing about how she was treated. Do you remember Howard’s core and non core promises? And how was he treated when he broke promises? It was accepted politicians do this, I believe

    That fact that so many people remember the core/non-core promises is an indication of how that excuse wasn’t accepted. Howard even still gets criticised for his “never never” comment re: the GST and breaking a promise even though he went to an election based on the promise of introducing a GST!

    The LNP is certainly not alone in distorting the truth or hypocrisy when it’s convenient. For example, look back at footage of the ALP MPs in parliament heckling Howard government ministers when refugee boats arrived.

  39. Val

    Yeah my feeling was that Rudd hung Garrett out to dry over pink batts – and apparently Garrett had written to Rudd warning about some of the possible risks! If so, not surprising Garrett resigned.

  40. jules

    Val – I wasn’t surprised either when Garrett resigned. I’d probably have done the same in his position.

    I dunno about Gillard being too decent… but you’ve had experience with her, so you’re in a much better position to make a valid judgement. It might be the case. The independents seem impressed with her, and Windsor mentioned that she came to see his retirement announcement despite the fact it may have cost her votes against Rudd. That counts in her favour in the decency stakes.

    She is head and shoulders above the two clowns competing for PM at the moment.

  41. Casey

    hat fact that so many people remember the core/non-core promises is an indication of how that excuse wasn’t accepted. Howard even still gets criticised for his “never never” comment re: the GST and breaking a promise even though he went to an election based on the promise of introducing a GST!

    Come on Chris. Did John Howard have Alan Jones morphing his name so that it became a hybrid of the word liar? There is a world of difference in the level of bile and vehemence that Gillard copped in comparison. I will show you a picture of a sign with the word ‘Juliar’ in it to remind you of the vehemence and misogyny, to remind you that the Opposition leader legitimised it, something Howard never, never faced.


  42. Chris

    Casey @ 41 – well Alan Jones is hardly going to go all out against a LNP right wing PM is he? And I think you have to take into account just how much more brutal politics is now – politicians from all sides admit this. However even then, transforming Howard into hoWARd was very popular amongst many lefty supporters with all that implies about his attitude to war and care for human life.

    But regardless I wasn’t disputing that Gillard faced a lot stronger criticism than previous PMs. It was the bit where you said:

    Do you remember Howard’s core and non core promises? And how was he treated when he broke promises? It was accepted politicians do this, I believe.

    It wasn’t. Howard’s broken promises were so controversial they led to the new lexicons of core and non-core promises which politicians even these days get questioned about. He had to work pretty hard to lose the “mean and tricky” tag.

  43. jules

    Gillard didn’t break a promise and was hounded.

    Howard did and was criticised.

    There is no equivilence Chris.

  44. Casey

    Nope, beg to differ. He didn’t get the extremist protests as a result of breaking a promise. In fact he went on to be one of the longest serving PMs. Not held to the same standard at all.

  45. Chris

    Casey @ 44 –

    Howard was almost a one term wonder, but his party didn’t bail on him and he managed to recover in his second term.

    Neither Rudd nor Gillard got thrown out of office by the people. They got thrown out by their own party. It is kind of ironic that the party that prides itself on solidarity managed to evict two consecutive PMs, whilst the party of independence decided to go down with the ship with their captain.

    jules @ 43 – I tend to agree, though once you get to arguing between the nuance of whether a fixed price per tonne is a “price” or a “tax” you’ve probably lost the argument for much of the population. They’re simply not that interested. Abbott has managed to be a very effective opposition leader in terms of bringing down a government. Remains to be seen whether he can be as effective in government. The ALP made the mistake of spending much of its 6 years forgetting that they were no longer in opposition. Do you remember that ALP MP who was quoted saying that the role of the government is to hold the opposition to account! I wonder if Abbott will be able to transform into government and still manage to keep up the popularity.

  46. John D

    The tragedy is that Gillard could have had a bigger effect on emissions with far less political pain by simply raising the RET target to a point that was compatible with the 2020 emission reduction target. The target could have been raised very early in Gillards time as prime minister since there was no need for the preparation of complex legislation to do so. (Rudd raised it early in his first term without causing any fuss.)
    Raising the RET target would have had little effect on power price since the RET is an offset credit trading scheme that does not generate government revenue.

  47. Martin B

    I have long suspected that one of the reasons that Gillard chose not to defend the position is because she knew that legislatively the ETS was being introduced as a tax for arcane constitutional reasons – she was being too much of a lawyer about it.

    Another option is the “We won’t discuss it and that will take the oxygen out of the debate” approach such as Bligh used over the privatisations backflip – and didn’t that (also) work out well?

  48. Martin B

    The other thing that I always bang on about is that the original CPRS legislation had a one year fixed price period and for all the millions of column centimetres expended on that, I cannot remember any criticism of the fixed price period as being a tax. It was just unremarkable. The concern about a “fixed price ETS is like a tax” was invent enter much later in the debate for the obvious reasons.

    In hindsight having a two year fixed-price period as a minimal change of the existing policy probably would have been better. (But that would still require the political decision to defend it.)

  49. jules

    Chris I dunno how successful Abbott would have been with a functioning media and a Ruddless ALP.

    Its Rudds own fault if Abbott wins on saturday – a form of Instant karma I spose – where did the leaks come from if not Rudd? Without them odds are Abbott would have lost, Gillard would have won a majority govt and Pyne, Hockey and Turnbull would have been fighting it out for the coalition leadership over the last 3 years.

    And the media – don’t get me started.

    I’m sure it used to be more intelligent. And its not just the Murdoch influence. Its like they have lost all critical thinking ability.

    Perhaps the media output today (and Abbott himself,) are symptoms of future shock. Cos I doubt Abbott would have been able to withstand any serious scrutiny. look at his interview with Leigh Sales last year. He just wasn’t up to it.

    I don’t think he’d be able to hide that easily as PM when the spotlight is on what his govt does.

  50. Tim Macknay

    Martin B – Abbott started banging on about the CPRS being a ‘great big new tax’ as soon as he knocked off Turnbull. Both sides of politics appeared to hold the view that carbon pricing policy was vulnerable to a ‘tax’ scare campaign. Unfortunately, Labor never bothered to defend it.

    Of course, the ‘great big new tax’ campaign on Rudd’s CPRS never became viciously personal as it did with the scheme Gillard authored.

    Yikes – I’ve got deja vu.

  51. John D

    Tim @50: The problem with all the carbon tax, CPRS and the proposed ETS is that they really are taxes in the sense that they divert large swags of money to government revenue. As a result, the price increases they generate are much higher than those produced by the RET and real direct action. (Not Abbott direct action.)
    For example, the $23 carbon tax pushed up the price of power by by 2.3 cents/kWh. Under the RET the price rise would have only reached this level after % renewables had got close to 60%.
    The carbon price is political suicide.

  52. Tim Macknay

    John D, you’ve been singing that tune for a long time now. I agree that beefing up the RET is a good idea, but apart from that I don’t agree with your views about carbon pricing schemes. I remember you and Labor Outsider having a lengthy stoush about it some years ago, but I have no interest in revisiting it – there’s enough nostalgia on this thread already! :)

  53. John D

    Tim: 31% of South Australian power consumption came from renewables in 2012/13. (Wind 27%, solar 3.7%.) The investment in wind was driven by the RET and the rooftop solar by the FIT. None of it was the result of the carbon tax or any other carbon price scheme. So why are Labor and the Greens so obsessed with the carbon price?

  54. TerjeP

    A bit of context that is often missed or skipped is that speculation about a minority government was already on the cards when Gillard said there would be no carbon tax under a government she leads. She was, in my mind at least, ruling out any deals with the Greens on this issue.

  55. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected] : becaus in the longer term that’s how we will drive the “other” category down. If we went zero carbon stationary energy today Australia would still have significant emissions (really!) Even if we went negative (by, say, exporting lots of solar-made aluminium) we’d still have actual emissions. An emissions regulation system of some sort is necessary to reduce that, and a carbon tax is the effective approach that least offends the RWDB banking and economist classes.

    The “do nothing” mob have a demonstrated willingness to support whichever option seems least effective at the time.

    I read “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Kahneman recently, it’s psychology+economics (and, as he says about 300 times in the book, he won a Nobel Prize for his work on that subject). The title comes from the fast-reacting, emotional etc part of your brain vs the rational, slow part. He also takes up the “Econs” vs “Humans” differences in some detail. Econs being the 21st century “rational economic actors” or “homo econimus” from last century. He does mention that AGW is the biggest, most dramatic failure of Econs to date – by their own opinion of themselves they should have panicked about AGW by the 1990s at the latest rather than steadfastly denying it even now.

    His take seemed to be that we should have locked in Kyoto for much longer, with delayed-but-savage penalties, because that’s the way humans work. AGW partly stems from devaluing the future, so using that human fallacy against itself seems appropriate. But then, a country faced with delayed-but-savage penalties would likely just reneg, as NZ has done with Kyoto. Ooops.

  56. Tim Macknay

    A bit of context that is often missed or skipped is that speculation about a minority government was already on the cards when Gillard said there would be no carbon tax under a government she leads. She was, in my mind at least, ruling out any deals with the Greens on this issue.

    I don’t know how you came to that conclusion, Terje. Gillard made that statement before the 2010 election. I suppose you could say that a minority government is always on the cards at an election, but in reality, no-one really expected one until the results came in.

    For my money, the remark by Gillard was poorly judged, since she didn’t take into account that the public couldn’t really distinguish between a carbon tax and some other type of carbon pricing policy. She also had ample warning, because Abbott had already branded the Rudd CPRS a “great big new tax”.

  57. Dave McRae

    This issue has astounded me – ta for coverage Brian. Like Fran, I wonder if Labor could not have killed this earlier.

    TAX, ETS, yes there is a difference – even Abbott knows (knew) the difference – see two recording of him doing so
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckcH0Wrmy74 , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12PN66IBoPs

    (I like prefer the tax too – British Columbia has a beauty – better still, some northern EU countries have both)

    everyone outside of Australia knows the difference, as we did too prior to 2011

    now, it’s a reporters badge of honour to be simple .. a keyword for please don’t accuse me of not supporting Murdoch, see I call a trading scheme a tax as we’re supposed to do?

    I’m stumped as to how this could have happened – I have so flogged that URL this http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/julia-gillards-carbon-price-promise/story-fn59niix-1225907522983 and the Abbott preferring a carbon tax vid.

  58. BilB

    So what is the consequence of this?

    I was musing over this as i came away from voting, considering what i should have said to Abbotts minion on the way in.

    Suddenly it became absolutely clear that everything Abbott is totally consistent with the concept and methodoligy of Nazism. Not that Abbott is a Nazi, he is his own breed of crazy which i now realise to be CARBONISM.

    Carbonism is the new Nazism.

    Go through it and analyse it, nearly every element is there in one form or another. It starts with the amplified lie which is then reinforced with endless ranting and chanting. Then all rational sources of opposition are denegrated and debased (all scientists [except one] are part of a global scam to coerce a living from the public in the form of research grants). There is an immense propaganda machine providing saturation missinformation. There is the army of denialist bloggers who i can visualise all wearing brown shorts as they tap at their terminals to misdirect all forms of useful debate.

    The only thing missing in all of this is a purpose. The one thing that comes through is the “golden budget surplus”, hardly a global domination like ambition. The difference between Abbott and Hitler i think is that where Hitler himself sought to dominate the world, Abbott is simply a means for other hidden forces seeking to dominate any part of the world that they can. In this case it is likely to be mining, oil,media and property magnates utilising the insanity of Abbott as a knife to cut through all organised reason providing furtile ground for maximum exploitation of resource rich Australia. [everyone should refresh their memory of the Bolivia water crisis to understand ruthless nature of this kind of exploitation. Then keep your attention on what Abbott does with Aboriginal lands in the next 6 years].

    But don’t be fooled to think that Abbott is benign. Sociopaths get the reward from the manipulation and domination of others. Abbott may not have a sub army of indoctrinated murderers, but he will still be killing many people only it will be on the high seas where it is out of sight, and it will be in the future as destructive climate change begins to decemate with ever increasing veracity and an ever increasing rate.

    I have engaged in a $5 bet that Abbott, should he be elected, will be still leader in four years time. Most believe that he will be quickly ousted. I’m not so sure. Hitler was able to dominate with brutal force, Abbott with a sufficiently large parliamentary surplus will be able to dominate with the brutality that we saw addressed at Peter Slipper.

    At the end of all of this, SBS aside, the ABC is now a defunct organisation that no longer has a legitimate place in Australia and may as well be cast out into the commercial field with the rest of the Murdoch dominated infotainment afronts to balanced society.

  59. Moz of Yarramulla

    Brian, I am starting to think that the consistent pattern with Gillard was that she was excellent face to face, but couldn’t get through to the wider population. I gather I’m at least a year behind most people in reaching that conclusion.

    The idea that it would be somehow bad to stand up and say “we support action to reduce emissions, and after discussions with the minor parties and independents we have decided to tax the shit out of you. Literally”, seems plausible but stupid. Australia is already used to (eg) Harradine yanking Howard around like a puppy, going for a bit of plain language might have worked.

    But of course, hindsight is always 20:20.

  60. BilB


    4 years minus 2 days.

    i’ve deleted the ABC tuning data from my TV. i’m pretty sure that i can live without that lot of bogus Journofakes. For quite some time now i have been getting my news from the foreign news stations on SBS, and slowly picking up some words in those other languages. Other times i have had the ABC on but muteded on the offchance that they covered something interesting, but it never happened. Click.

    So what happened tonight on some other channel as i flicked around for some interesting background noise while i “work”? i got a 3 second glimpse of the most appallingly stage managed “Abbott ‘action’ team” with the Phony saying [as convincingly as he is when kissing a baby] “what we have to do is work energetically and convincingly (or some such tripe)”…..Click.

    Yes, Australia’s average IQ went down at least 20 points last Saturday.

    Just as i predict above, you’re in for saturation ham Abbott brainwashing from wall to wall Murdoch,……and they are going to have the gall to call it “news”!!

    Gillard made a lot of mistakes, and one of them was talking too much, but she was really a victim of forces far greater than any politician. And Rudd looks as though he will slink off to take the role of Latham Lite.

    The election here in the Blue Mountains was held on a mid Summers day in the first week of Spring. Very appropriate i thought.

  61. Graham Bell

    Up in the Introduction, Brian said of a “fact(?)checking mob that

    they asked the wrong question

    That’s bog-standard political manipulation. Just like the Two Party Preferred swindle or the Referendum On A Republic fraud.

    Of course they lied about what Julia Gillard said and intended. Nothing new in that. More fool them anybody who was stupid enough to believe whatever that clique told them.

    Thanks Nick Ferret @ 6; Fran Barlow @ 8 and 31; JohnD @ 46 and Brian @Intro and 59. No, I’m not scoring; merely thanking for comments that made me do more thinking; the main reason I come to LP :-)

    BilB @ 58: I liked your passionate comment and I think you are reasonably close to the money there, imho. Surprised it didn’t attract every troll on the net screaming “conspiracy theory!” despite abundant evidence of international corporations getting their way wherever they can manipulate weak governments …. and despite all the ballyhoo about being tough, the Abbott government will be as weak as any in a banana republic, as was the Howard government (bullying their own citizens does not make for a “strong” government, only the shaky illusion of being semi-strong).

  62. delphi janmark

    Hi Brian,

    First, and to set the ‘tone’ of my post, let me quote Prof Ross Garnaut (the de facto designer of both Rudd/Turnbull ETS and the current one) from his interview just a couple of months ago:

    In the studio with Ross Garnaut, ABC The Business, 2 July 2013
    ( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-01/in-the-studio-with-ross-garnaut/4792710 )

    “We don’t actually have a Carbon Tax. What we have is an Emissions Trading Scheme with a fixed price for first three years. The original CPRS based on my recommendations back in 2008 had a fixed price for a shorter period”

    Now, I did an extensive research on the issue ( https://sites.google.com/site/carbontaxmyths ) – you can find a comprehensive list of 2010 election campaing interviews/speeches by Gillard here:

    There’s no doubt that Gillard intended to implement an ETS based on Rudd/Turnbull proposal which, contrary to the ‘carbon tax’ myths, she did:

    Rudd/Turnbul proposal:

    Fixed-price ($10) permits transitional phase ETS for 1 year followed by floating-price permits and a cap on number permits standard ETS.

    The current scheme:

    Fixed-price (~$24) permits transitional phase ETS for 3 years followed by floating-price permits and a cap on number of permits standard ETS.

    So yes, Gillard did compromise on the permits setting (price and the initial transitional period) of the ETS (note that was also changed a few times when Rudd negotiated with Turnbull on their final agreed version) with the Greens and the Independents, however it’s still very much the same *type* of an ETS as planned by Rudd/Turnbull and not, as Abbott managed to entrench in the public political discourse thru his relentness post-2010 election campaign, a Carbon Tax…

    Best regards,

  63. delphi janmark

    You’re welcome Brian. The bottom line is that not only the ‘cut’ version of the video was (ab)used (without the part where she talks about ‘cap on emissions’ ie. permits system aka ETS) but there were many many (as per carbontaxmyths reference) other and far more comprehensive speeches , eg. the Climate Change policy speech, or interviews where she talked about introducing an ETS (CPRS) – no-one ever mentions it… Gillard’s clearly made a blunder the way she tried to explain the policy to the public – as Prof Garnaut commented: “To be honest, I think the Prime Minister might have made a blue in letting other people call it a carbon tax and in accepting that, because I don’t think it was necessary.”

    The more relevant now, I think, is the issue of ‘mandate’ and the way Abbott continues to go on about not only misleading the public by calling the fixed-price phase of the scheme a Carbon Tax (and then Gillard, in the end, and Rudd doing the same as not to apear ‘tricky’ – in both cases a big mistake) but the floating-price phase (both, of course, already legislated as being integral part of the same scheme) as well…