Turmoil in Australia over Climate Change Bill

by: Daniel De Groot

Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 22:35

After a revolt by his own caucus for supporting PM Rudd's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the Opposition leader has been replaced with one (Tony Abbott) who opposes the bill.  

Due to the undemocratic nature of their Senate (sound familiar?) the governing Labor party does not have even a plurality of Senators and needed some of the Opposition to support the bill in the Senate.  Now that won't happen, as the new leader will use strict party discipline to defeat the bill in the Upper chamber.

Rudd can call a snap "double dissolution" election where both chambers of Parliament go up for re-election.  Assuming he wins (BBC says polling favours him), and the Senate defeats the bill again, he can call a joint session of Parliament, where they vote on the bill as a combined chamber (and the House's numerical advantage will mean it passes easily).

This has happened only once before.  It was what Labor had to do to get universal health care passed the conservatives in the Senate in 1974.

Down under, Senates, and conservatives, suck too.  At least the Aussies built in some kind of Lower house trump card to override them on major issues.  Oh, and they pass bills by majority vote too.

Australia passing a Cap and Trade system ahead of Copenhagen would have added useful momentum and credibility to the effort.  It would also have bolstered efforts to get the US emissions bill passed its House of Lords.  Australian tea baggers have succeeded in hurting the chances of something meaningful coming out of Copenhagen.  

Daniel De Groot :: Turmoil in Australia over Climate Change Bill

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Coda (4.00 / 1)
From Newsweek, offered without comment:

In August, Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was voted on for the first time in the Senate. It failed because, surprisingly, the Green Party joined with a conservative coalition to reject it. The alliance was a strange one: pro-business conservatives worried about the cost impact of carbon trading on the private sector, while Greens thought the bill's reduction targets weren't ambitious enough. "The Rudd government's bill to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by only 5 percent by 2020 would help lock in dangerous climate change and accelerate the melting of the world's glaciers," Green leader Sen. Bob Brown said at the time. In a scenario reminiscent of the U.S. health-care debate, Rudd steamed that the opposition was blocking his legislation without offering an alternative, or even attempting to amend it.

"targets weren't ambitious enough"? Yeah, sounds familiar... (0.00 / 0)
Thx for the ineresting info, David! I think something can be learned from this. But I'm sure some will disagree...

[ Parent ]
replying to kc (0.00 / 0)
the previous link said:


Labor has 32 senators, seven short of a majority in its own right. The five Greens oppose the legislation because they want larger cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, and the two independent and minor party senators oppose the bills for different reasons.

will the new legislation be the same, better, worse?

I'm trying to find the result of the green's strategy

at least something will pass now?

From an Aussie (4.00 / 1)
Daniel, what you say in the article is not necessarily true. Abbott won the leadership 42 votes to 41, with 1 informal, 1 absent sick and 2 seats vacant. The sick and vacant votes probably would not go his way next week (when they're healthy and elected respectively), so the turmoil in the party is set to continue. Sentiment on the left of
Australian politics is that Abbott is unelectable - his dogmatic Catholic views are too well-known, and he's not popular with women at all.

If the bill is not passed, Rudd has a golden opportunity for a double dissolution election, the important part of which is that ALL senators have to be re-elected. With the Liberals led by someone unpopular, it should be a disaster for them. Consequently, there is considerable motivation for Abbott to avoid a DD by letting the bill pass. The
Liberals do not maintain strict party discipline (but they are stricter than the US Senate), and it may be best for the party for a few dissidents to cross the floor and let the bill pass (i.e. vote against their party's wishes) to avoid annihilation in an election.

In summary, Abbott cannot win. He cannot win an election himself, if he defeats the bill he dooms his party. It's very very good news for Kevin Rudd, the leftish Prime Minister.

The news this morning is that the government has announced that the bill as amended by the Liberals is now government policy, i.e. even if they have the votes they won't propose a more green bill.

The debate over this issue infuriates me, actually. I was listening to talkback on the national radio station (you know, the left-biased elitist ones) last night and the caller said "you know all these rich energy companies are gonna do if they make electricity cost more is pass the costs onto the consumer" and the host of the show agreed that that was the sort of low-down act we could expect. Yes, OF COURSE it is. That's EXACTLY the point - make polluting energy more expensive so that consumers choose some other source of energy. Can we blame the political parties for nonsensical positions if this is the electorate they need to appeal to?

the bill has been defeated in the Senate (0.00 / 0)
Only two senators, Judith Troeth and Suzanne Boyce had the cojones to cross the floor to vote for the bill. The Greens voted against. Australia has nothing to take to Copenhagen, and when we do get something it will be a disgraceful corporate hand-out because that's what the prime minister wants.


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