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Clive Palmer's carbon plan makes sense

Date

The Palmer proposals go some way towards a workable compromise between the Abbott government's clear mandate to end the carbon tax and the need to replace it with something better than the Coalition's expensive and deeply flawed Direct Action plan.

EDITORIAL

Clive Palmer: "The world is constantly changing and it is the ability to adapt that really matters."

Clive Palmer: "The world is constantly changing and it is the ability to adapt that really matters." Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

At last welcome signs of a positive  approach to climate change, given the reality that the carbon tax was rejected by the people.

The key proposals put on the table by Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer on Wednesday evening are based on a rationale the Herald has pushed  since last October and repeated this week. They include measures the Herald has proposed to break the cycle of cynical politics that has delayed and derailed an effective approach to one of the nation’s biggest challenges.

Standing beside  global warming pin-up boy and former US vice-president Al Gore, Mr Palmer revealed the three incoming PUP senators who in effect hold the balance of power would vote to scrap the carbon tax, due to rise to $25.40 next week.

Crucially, PUP will only do so if it is replaced with a dormant emissions trading scheme with the carbon price set at zero – as the Herald has suggested – until Australia’s trading partners implement a similar scheme.

  As Mr Gore wrote in the latest Rolling Stone magazine: ‘‘I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build in September and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.’’

While a two-year freeze on a floating carbon price may be more reasonable, the Palmer plan at least gives Australia flexibility and has some chance of winning Coalition approval.

The Palmer proposals go some way towards a workable compromise between the  government’s  mandate  to end the carbon tax and the need to replace it with something better than the Coalition’s expensive and deeply flawed Direct Action plan.

The Palmer plan is a game-changer that recognises, as the Herald has argued, the world is moving quickly towards combined action on global warming. ‘‘The world is constantly changing and it is the ability to adapt that really matters,’’ Mr Palmer said.

The Palmer proposal gives the Parliament – be it this one or the next – the power to determine the details of a new emissions trading scheme. This is designed to allow examination of how Direct Action can work better and potentially morph into a cheap baseline and credit scheme that has the support of other key senators.

Mr Palmer has also vowed to save the successful and taxpayer-friendly Clean Energy Finance Corporation – the sort of ‘‘green bank’’ Mr Gore has said is crucial to tackling global warming.

The onus is now on the Abbott government to be pragmatic and negotiate. Talk of pulling the double dissolution trigger it has been given through rejection twice of the CEFC repeal bill is premature and misguided. The government knows it can end the carbon tax without having to keep arguing for  Direct Action  and without risking total defeat.

The Palmer proposals are not extreme. They also demand the present 20 per cent renewable energy target – which some in the Coalition are urging the government to scrap – remains in place and that the government ensures all of the savings from lower energy costs are passed on to households.

The Abbott government must face reality that its all-or-nothing approach will end in tears. On the $7 GP co-payment, Mr Abbott is reportedly open to alternative models. That is a positive development. As the Herald has argued, the current plan is deeply unfair and threatens to create a two-tier health system. But a staggered co-payment with greater safeguards for the poor could have benefits.

Some evidence-based compromise is needed from all sides, especially given the way in which the Greens shunned negotiation and back-flipped on one of the few budget measures that make sense.

In deciding to join  Labor to stop the reintroduction of six-monthly indexation of the fuel excise, Greens leader Christine Milne in effect avoided a fight with potential leadership rivals in a move that placed her personal future – and ideological disdain for miners and business – ahead of budget security. The return of indexation would have delivered a net gain of $2.2 billion over the forward estimates and much more further into the future. Yet in a brain explosion, Senator Milne has decided against sending a price signal to reduce motor vehicle emissions.

She  argued it was pointless to debate indexation because the government would not have budged. But now the rules of engagement in the Senate are about to change. Every side of politics should do all they can to engage and actually get something done. 

20 comments

  • If Howard had won the 2007 election this issue would never become the issue it has,
    the LNP's present course is against the tide of international opinion and is ultimately
    unsustainable given both our major trading partners are clearly heading to an agreement.

    A sensible solution is the best way forward.

    Commenter
    SteveH.
    Date and time
    June 26, 2014, 7:36AM
    • John Howard? Seriously??? Now if Al Gore had won the 2000 U.S. election, THEN we would never have got to this point! Since then fossil fuel interests have developed a stranglehold over conservative political parties in the Western world.

      As 'Honest' John Howard recently confessed, his support of an ETS was purely lip service, designed to appease a concerned electorate and ensure he kept his hands on the reins of power. He never had any real commitment to climate action. He even denies that mankind is responsible for global warming.

      But you are right that the LNP's present course is against the tide of international opinion. More importantly, it runs totally counter to the facts of what is happening to our planet. History will record those hanging chads of the Florida poll as being the moment in time that changed the future of our planet.

      Commenter
      Cee Bee
      Location
      Election Now!!
      Date and time
      June 26, 2014, 12:00PM
  • Fine, go ahead and dump the carbon tax, then move immediately to the emissions tax.

    All the same, just words on paper. As long as Abbott swallows his indigestible Direct Farce Plan, and a suppressant on wildly burning coal and exuberantly creating pollution is implemented, I'm happy

    And the SMH is right, it has to come from a 3rd party. Maybe Clive can civilise Abbott the Barbarian.

    Commenter
    Axis
    Date and time
    June 26, 2014, 8:02AM
    • Clive Palmer is showing Tony how to do it.

      Commenter
      mary
      Date and time
      June 26, 2014, 8:11AM
      • "...given the reality that the carbon tax was rejected by the people."
        Ahhh... no... the 'reality' is that the LNP's deceitful scare campaign of misinformation surrounding the Emissions Trading Scheme was swallowed hook, line & sinker by the majority of people.
        It was more that a a pack of lies was accepted that lead to the rejection of the ETS.

        Commenter
        Rex
        Location
        Turramurra
        Date and time
        June 26, 2014, 8:12AM
        • Really Rex, fancy I thought Tony Abbott told us before the election " Scrap the carbon tax" I must have been mistaken . How silly of me, and how sensible of you to twist it to the way you want it, makes you feel better Im sure. Have a good day.

          Commenter
          Bob Young
          Location
          Gold Coast
          Date and time
          June 26, 2014, 10:08AM
      • The trouble with Clive Palmer's 'plan' is that it would take it's natural effect anyway, as it is written into the current carbon price legistation for the price on carbon to move to an emissions trading scheme anyway, and faster. Well done Clive on pretending to actually do something though.

        Commenter
        Bloke
        Date and time
        June 26, 2014, 8:14AM
        • Carbon dioxide is a product of the cheapest and the established energy source. Decreasing carbon pollution will increase the cost of energy, at least until the investment to convert to another source is payed back. This will decrease a countries industrial competitiveness. This creates a game of chicken as the last and the least country to act has the greatest benefit. Any action needs to be global and equal.

          The Greens must see this as a slap on the face. Their inability to negotiate and compromise along with their preoccupation with a radical social agenda hinders action being taken of climate change. Now one of the most prominent champions for climate action has snubbed them, the real power to break the stalemate and enact anything meaningful lies with Palmer.

          Commenter
          Aaran
          Date and time
          June 26, 2014, 10:18AM
      • Fancy we have both the Herald and Clive Palmer in agreement. Did the Herald help pay Als expenses? Just asking. I wonder how long this happy relationship with the Herald will continue. Then again they do have one thing in common,( they share with the ABC) a hatred of Tony Abbott. Your enemy is my friend arrangement. I cant help but wonder who Clive will sue next. I do hope Fairfax is aware of Clive"s mood swings and his love of court action. Must say it is nearly ( I did say nearly) as amusing as some of Julia's announcements, it has put some theatre back into politics. I look forward to July 1st when the real amusement will begin.

        Commenter
        Bob Young
        Location
        Gold Coast...
        Date and time
        June 26, 2014, 8:28AM
        • An excellent plan but to work, Turnbull will have to move on leadership as Abbott will never agree.

          Commenter
          RGG
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 26, 2014, 8:34AM

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