Before you read one word of this post, ask yourself this simple, and logical question, and then think about it for a minute.
“How does taxation lower Carbon Dioxide levels?”
Less than four hours ago, the Australian Senate rejected the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation, oddly, here in Australia called the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. (CPRS) This link has numerous other links under the image there and the video clips are well worth watching.
This was the second time this legislation has been placed before the Senate for ratification, and now, it is the second time it has been rejected.
Events of the last 48 hours have brought the matter to a head, and now, the vote was taken, and the Bill was rejected.
It was originally introduced in the House of Representatives, where after fierce debate and the Committee process, the Bill was passed, with the Labor Government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd easily controlling the numbers in that House.
The Bill then proceeded to the Senate where it underwent the same process of also fierce debate and Committee. The Rudd Government does not have control of the numbers in the Senate, and all non Government Senators voted against the Bill, rejecting it, and sending it back to the House of Representatives.
In the interim, between when that Bill was rejected a first time and now, the Labor Government entered negotiations with all other Parties to place amendments into the Bill to try and find approval so it might be passed through the Senate on a second occasion.
That process was long and involved. The Greens were going to oppose it no matter what, because no matter what, it was never going to go to the far extremes that they wanted it to be. So, the main negotiations were with the Conservative side of politics. Those negotiations were intense and after weeks, both parties came to some sort of agreement, and it looked likely that the Bill might actually be amenable to the vast majority of Senators ensuring its passage. It was not to be however.
In the last couple of weeks, the Climategate scandal has broken, and even though some commentators may say that this was instrumental in what has happened now, it really had only a small part.
The Party leader for the Conservative side of politics, the Liberal Party, (Malcolm Turnbull) and his chief negotiator said that it was now likely that the Bill would gain broad acceptance with what amounted to a hundred or so amendments. Both sides seemed happy to now pass the Bill.
A grassroots uprising within that Conservative side of politics disagreed, and disagreed vehemently that passage of the Bill should now proceed. The Conservative side of politics is a tight coalition of two parties, The Liberal Party (the same as U.S. Republicans) and the National Party. Those rural and regional National Party members led by Senator Barnaby Joyce were vocal that under no circumstances would they agree to pass this Bill. A group of Liberal Party Senators were also of the same impression, and they then threatened to go against the Party wishes to pass the Bill through the Senate, and to also vote against it. This feeling gained strength over the last week or ten days. The numbers in the Senate, (even with those from the Conservative side inclined to deny passage) was such that the Bill would have passed narrowly through the Senate.
Matters came to a head, and yesterday the Liberal Party changed its Leader from Turnbull to Tony Abbott, who was staunchly opposed to passage of the Bill. In what might have been a stroke of genius, the first thing he did before allowing any Party member to leave the room after the vote was to call for a secret ballot vote on whether or not the Bill should be allowed to proceed through the Senate. The result of that vote was a resounding will to vote the Bill down, and the vote was 54 to 29, and now the stage was set.
The Bill has been going through more fierce debate in the Senate over the last ten sitting days, mainly as those amendments are being discussed, and maybe obviously seen as a delaying tactic. 48 hours ago, the feeling was that the Bill would get approval, and the Bill was scheduled to stay in this debate period for a further three or four days before a final vote.
This morning Australian time, the debate was abruptly halted and the Bill proceeded to a vote. All non Government Senators bar two from the Liberal Party voted against passage of the Bill and it was rejected, for the second time.
The political machinations of this defeat of the Bill are still to be played out, on both sides of the political fence, but at least now there is some certainty.
The main thing that will happen now is that Australia will finally get the debate on Climate Change that has been missing for so long here. All the Government has said is that the time for debate is over and that this Bill was what was now needed. The Media fell in behind that, and public opinion was swayed both by what the Government was saying, and what the Media was telling them.
Now, what has happened is that the non Government Conservative side of politics will not be seen as just a Blue clone of the Labor Government, but as a definite opposing side for a debate that needs to be truthfully placed in front of the people.
NOW WE ACTUALLY CAN START TO HAVE THAT DEBATE.
Prime Minister Rudd desperately wanted passage of this Bill, and one small fact not really highlighted in this whole fiasco is this. Why would he want the Bill passed by the end of this week when, even if passed, it was not due to come into effect until mid 2011. With the Copenhagen Conference due to start on the following Monday, it now becomes plainly obvious why he especially wanted this Bill passed this week, so he can go to Copenhagen on Monday with this Legislation as his big prize, so he can strut the World stage with this fresh in everyone’s mind. Now, however, he goes there to that same meeting with everyone knowing his Country has rejected the legislation, and even more embarrassing, the fact that this is now the second time that Legislation has been rejected.
Is Australia the first domino in finally bringing this debate before the people?
It has been rightly pointed out by Tony Abbott, the new leader of the Liberal Party (The Conservatives, remember) that this CPRS Emissions Trading Legislation was nothing more than a huge new tax, and that nothing at all to do with those supposed emissions of CO2 Greenhouse Gas would change in the slightest, either here in Australia, or in the wider World.
Which brings me neatly back to that question at the top of the post.
“HOW DOES TAXATION LOWER CO2 LEVELS?”