Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Editorial Mill July 6, 1895.


The Editorial Mill.

Our Motto: “Socialism in our time.”

The cartoon in last week's WORKER has fallen in for some adverse criticism at the hands of the COURIER. The cartoon in the left-hand top corner depicted the Premier riding towards the Estimates on a donkey, labelled “Queensland Political Association.” In the right-hand top corner appeared an unemployed man and his wife tramping in the rain along a muddy road. The lower portion of the cartoon showed Queensland as a woman pointing to the distressed with one hand and with the other hand to a number of stone blocks, labelled “Electoral Reform.” the cartoon was entitled “What to Do,” and Queensland was represented as saying to the figure of a man, called the Labour Party: “Now then, Labour Party, erect your stonewall. Block everything until you get electoral reform. It's the only way you will help the poor who are workless, hopeless, and voteless.” The COURIER considers that the Labour Party should help the Government to pass a programme which is of general interest to the country; that to stonewall everything would bring the Labour Party into discredit with the majority of the electors.

* * *

After due consideration of the objections that have been raised to the stonewall, the WORKER is still of opinion that the advice contained in last week's cartoon is the best that could be offered to the Labour Party. The function of Parliament is to legislate in accordance with the wishes of a majority of the citizens. The present Parliament, as a whole, does not represent the majority of the people in Queensland, and has no moral right to remain a Parliament. Most of the members were elected by misrepresentation and property votes. The members of the present Ministry largely won their seats by raising “the red spectre,” and threatening that the banks would break if the Labour Party were returned to Parliament. The people have since discovered that the banks were only waiting until the election was over to close their doors no matter what party was elected. And, as a matter of fact, the Government and their supporters have themselves been doing a prolonged stonewall against the many reforms which the majority of the Queensland nation are ready for, and which were made law a generation ago in other lands.

* * *

Presuming that the Government did intend to pass a liberal programme – which we have the very best of reasons for not believing – the WORKER denies the right of the Government to hold the reins of power any longer. There are some 50,000 white men in the colony who are not on the electoral roll, in a small degree owing to negligence; in the large majority of cases owing to what is rightly called “ an iniquitous electoral system,” and an electoral system which has been abandoned in all the colonies excepting chain-gang Tasmania and Forrest Family West Australia. Add to this 50,000 male adults the 70,000 female adults in the colony we have 120,000 grown persons expected to obey the laws although they have no voice in the selection of the representatives who make the laws. It is the WORKER'S belief that the majority of these 120,000 disfranchised citizens, together with the majority of the 70,000 electors (not including plural voters) on the Roll, would be in favour of the Labour Party stonewalling all business until Electoral Reform is granted by the present Ministry or an appeal is made to the country; and we believe if public meetings were held throughout the colony the same unanimous approval would meet the suggestion of a stonewall as was the case when Mr. Daniell's M.L.A., and another speaker in the Centennial Hall on July 16th, 1894, declared, amid ringing cheers, that the labour Party should block all business until electoral reform was obtained.

* * *

Why should the Government receive support? What have they done to to deserve it? Are they not the same who, in 1891, sent to gaol for three years, under a vile old-world conspiracy law, thirteen union men who merely acted as the committee of a union out on strike against the soulless and accursed so-called freedom of contract? Are they not the same who objected to the reduction of Sir Samuel Griffith's huge salary of over £65 per week, or £3500 per year, but reduced the lower-paid Civil servants who were receiving less than £3 per week? Are they not the same gang who patronise the Q. N. Bank more than any other bank? Are they not of land-grab fame? Did they not, when they found the land-grab swindle would not work, attempt to introduce a Land Bill with a provision for selling the people's estate at the figure of 5s. per acre? - a bill, by-the-way, which they dropped when the Labour Party were likely to stonewall it. Are the present Ministry not the same band of hypocrites who agreed to a resolution by labour Member Fisher as to the necessity of conciliation and arbitration, and immediately afterwards talked and voted against a practical resolution by labour Member Glassey to settle the big bush strike that was then taking place? Did not the Ministry impose on the workers an increased burden in the shape of a £15,000 extra tobacco tax, and fail to tax the absentee land-lord and capitalist? Are they not the Coercion gang who abused their trust by thrusting from the Assembly seven of the people's representatives while they and their boodle friends passed a consolidation of the Irish coercion laws?

* * *

Again we ask what has occurred that the COURIER'S advice to support the Government be taken in preference to the WORKER'S? A liberal programme, says the COURIER. Now in what respect is the Government programme likely to benefit the wage-earners in a manner that is worth growing enthusiastic about? There is a factories bill, an early closing bill, and a lien bill in the Government programme. But, as remarked last week, does anybody believe, knowing the record of the Government as above quoted, that the Government will allow real progressive measures to pass the Assembly. And if, through the nearness of a general election, progressive measures do pass the Assembly how can anyone hope for a moment that those measures will pass the Legislative Council?

* * *

Of course the WORKER doesn't pretend to be infallible. We all make mistakes sometimes, and no doubt there will be differences of opinion to the end of the chapter. In fact, one of the chief causes of the slowness of reform is that while numbers of men can be found to be unanimous on a principle those very men are certain to have differences of opinion as soon as it is proposed to put the principle into practice. But this is how the question of policy presents itself to us: The Nelson Ministry have lately found on a tour through the country that the people are against them. The general election is near at hand, and to protect themselves from the wrath to come they must concede something. Acting under pressure, they have lately reduced the railway freights, although a year ago the Premier told deputation after deputation of farmers that the Ministry would not lower rates. The Government now think that if they make a pretence of passing one or two labour measures all their past sins will be forgiven and they will succeed in “dishing” the Labour Party at the next elections. We think that the all-important question of Electoral Reform – a reform which it was unanimously agreed should occupy first place in our platform, and a reform without which it is agreed the people are almost powerless – should be fought for during the current session. When Electoral Reform is obtained it will be an easy matter to get factory and other reforms of real benefit to the people. Therefore, we think the Government should be given no quarter whatever, and we were the more convinced that the measures of reform promised by the Government are only in view of the coming elections when only last week the Premier wolf threw off the sheep's clothing and in reply to Mr. Glassey said:
To be a little more explicit, I would say that as far as the faction that is known as the Labour Party is concerned I would not work with them under any circumstances. I do not hide that fact. I do not hide my sentiments at all. I consider that men who stand up and advocate this innovation – this spurious Socialism – and principles such as are advocated by the Labour members are enemies to the commonwealth, and I would not upon any terms or under any consideration work with them.”

This speech, we consider, more than justifies the WORKER cartoon of last week, and more than justifies the Labour Party in blocking all legislation until sufficient electoral reform is granted to enable the people to elect something like a Parliament representative of public opinion. 

Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for the Environment Radio Interview, Labor's Climate Change Action Plan





GERALDINE DOOGUE: Mark Butler is the Shadow Minister for the Environment and he joins us from our studio in Brisbane. Welcome back to the program Mark Butler.
DOOGUE: Last November in an address to the Lowy Institute, Bill Shorten outlined the ALP’s climate change action plan. How is this policy different? 
BUTLER: Well this is a much more detailed plan building on the principles that Bill Shorten outlined last year which we’ve been developing really since the election in 2013. Particularly over the summer period. Over the last few months I’ve engaged in about 50 very deep consultations with business, particularly industry and regions that really are at the front line of some of these transitions that are already happening. So in the La Trobe Valley, the Illawarra, the Hunter Valley, The Collie River Valley over in WA.
The announcements that we are making today are very much a product of those deep consultations to ensure that we can have a strong sensible plan that cuts our pollution and gets us back on the path to a clean energy future. We were on that path in the past.
DOOGUE: And how, could you give me one example of how all those consultations affected your own thinking?
BUTLER: Well I think particularly managing the transition out of coal fired power into clean renewable energy was a big feature of those consultations. The electricity industry are very focused on this question, many regions that have relied heavily on those power stations are very focused on this question because they know this is a reality, it’s already happening.
It’s happening in Port Augusta in South Australia pretty much as we speak but it’s not happening in a way that supports those communities, that supports them through the transition and opens up the enormous jobs and investment opportunities that exist in renewable energy. We were there a couple of years ago but because of Tony Abbott’s attacks on the renewable energy industry, we’ve been taken off that path and we want to get back on it.
DOOGUE: So your aim is to organise, you say in your announcement, an orderly transition from polluting coal fired power. This has long been a vexed issue though hasn’t it? Labor’s contracts for closure scheme didn’t really get out of the starting blocks when you were last in government. How and when will dirty coal fired power stations be closed under your new plan?
BUTLER: Well they are closing now, as I said in Port Augusta  two have closed in only recent weeks. We want to make sure this is done in an orderly way that ensures that the interests of consumers are protected in terms of power prices and the reliability of supply.
DOOGUE: Does that mean more money to be paid out by government?
BUTLER: Well what we’ve said as I think the Liberal Government has said, there will not be payments from governments for electricity generators to close their plant. As you said, we had a negotiation with them when we were last in government and that didn’t work and we’ve taken a decision that governments will not pay generators to close their plants. There have been proposals raised from the Australian National University and very much in the industry to find other mechanisms to allow the industry to pay for an orderly closure. To pay for it in a way that ensures that the local communities are supported through that closure, where Port Augusta for example in South Australia was not over recent weeks.
DOOGUE: So I just want to clarify this, are you saying that there will be more, given that we are talking about the deficit and this is what all the various commentators are saying we’re still talking as if we’ve got money to hand out and that government, even though Australians like it, we just can’t afford it. Is there more money, net more money, likely to come out to help these orderly transitions that you’re proposing?
BUTLER: The model that we are proposing that was really developed by the ANU last year is a model that would see industry pay for those closures.
DOOGUE: So it’s (inaudible) industry pay?
BUTLER: It’s an industry payment plan rather than the tax payer paying. We’ve taken that decision after frankly a lot of discussion with the industry itself. We just want to make sure that it’s an orderly process that ensures that electricity consumers are protected but importantly as well that the regions that have developed their economies on the basis of coal fired power are helped through that transition. Because the experience we have seen in Port Augusta as I said in recent weeks has been anything but orderly. Malcolm Turnbull came to the party very, very late. It took a few months after the announcement of that closure for him to announce anything by way of support and in the end the support was really not much more than helping their workers update their CVs and perhaps do some job interview techniques. Well, we need a much more robust system of support for communities that right now are experiencing that transition.
DOOGUE: Ok so let’s get onto renewables – how do you ensure that 50 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from renewables by 2030 without subsidy, without a hit on power prices too I might add.
BUTLER: Well Tony Abbott tried the old scare campaign that expanding renewable energy lifted power prices and his own handpicked panel – which was a reasonably sceptical panel about climate change I might say - his panel confirmed that expanding renewable energy actually puts downward pressure on power prices and since that panel’s report you haven’t heard much from Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull about the tired old power prices scare campaign. We’re confident that will still be the case through the 2020s.
This attracts enormous investment and huge numbers of jobs. People are very supportive in Australia of us using the enormous renewable energy resources we have in this country, great solar radiation, great wind power, wave energy and such like. We want to get back to being a renewable energy superpower. Which is what we were in 2013. We were the fourth most attractive place on Earth to invest in renewables and after Tony Abbott’s attacks, unsurprisingly, we’ve plummeted to 13th on the table of investment destinations and we’ve lost thousands of jobs in the process.
DOOGUE: So you say you’ll expand the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation but the Government has effectively gutted ARENA stripping most of its $1.3 billion funding guaranteed under its act  so are you promising to fully restore that funding.
BUTLER: Well firstly in relation to the CEFC – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – the Government has been trying to abolish that for a couple of years and because that’s been unsuccessful they’ve imposed some really very silly restrictions on its investment mandate so that, for example, it could only invest in offshore wind farms which frankly are not a realistic prospect for Australia, given how much land we have available – it might be in England – but certainly not in Australia. The attacks on ARENA have been underway for at least a couple of years. Now we’ve decided that we would put in place $200 million for ARENA to manage a targeted competitive round for concentrated solar thermal power in Australia. This really I think is the next frontier in large scale renewable energy, it’s something that a number of communities, including the community in Port Augusta, have been very focussed on achieving. So that will be a round that ARENA runs for an incoming Shorten Labor Government.
DOOGUE: Now very quickly, I’m sorry to do this, land clearing still very much an issue in Queensland – the Labor Government having trouble tightening land clearing rules that were wound back under Campbell Newman’s government. You’re promising consistent reporting of land and tree clearing across Australia - how does this solve the existing problem of native vegetation clearing in Queensland?
BUTLER: We’ll do much more than consistent reporting, we will legislate to restore the restrictions that were in place before Campbell Newman’s vandalism. These were extraordinarily important reforms that Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh put in place, I must say with the support of John Howard because he understood the importance of those reforms in achieving the Kyoto protocol commitments. So we will restore the position using Commonwealth powers. We know the Palaszczuk Government  has been trying to do that in the Queensland parliament, we will use the Commonwealth’s powers to do that and also to prevent Mike Baird from unpicking Bob Carr’s reforms which we understand he is now doing under the pressure from the NSW National Party.
DOOGUE: Mark Butler thank you very much indeed

BUTLER:  Thank you Geraldine.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The paradox of Turnbull and the budget

Updated about 6 hours ago

Nothing about this time in politics makes much sense. We have a budget that could not be more politically important, but no one wants to sell it. And we've got a Prime Minister who loves the grey when everything we know about elections calls for black and white. Barrie Cassidy writes.
There's a real paradox around next week's federal budget.
While it is the most important politically - if not economically - for many years, the build up is both sanguine and low key, the opposite to what you would expect.

Typical budgets are preceded by a softening up process; the laying down of markers; the development of a clear narrative; and the odd officially-sanctioned leak.
This one - the one that precedes a formal election campaign and that has to achieve so much - has none of that.
Unlike Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey before him, Scott Morrison decided not to go to the meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in the United States, which conveniently happen just before the budget every year. The events help the treasurer to frame economic strategy against a global background.
But neither is Morrison locked away in treasury, beavering away and eschewing public appearances.
Morrison is both active on social media and in the marginal seats.
But for all that he's not saying much at all.
Typically, his Twitter message is this:
Well it's a week to go until we hand down the budget. This is a critical time for our economy. We are moving from that mining boom through to a more diversified economy.
And this:
We are focussed on a plan for jobs and growth for your future and the future of your family and I look forward to updating you more as we go through the week.
Well not so far he hasn't. The messages are just as vague and general as they've always been.
If that is because there really is nothing particularly earth shattering about the budget - that it really will be modest and free of political risks - then that in itself is a risk, especially now with expectations so high.
As Niki Savva wrote in The Australian on Thursday, this budget:
...has to fulfil the Liberal credo of lower spending, lowering taxes and lowering or eliminating the deficit; it has to be economically credible and politically appealing ... and cement the Coalition's standing as superior economic managers.
So little time, so little money, so few options. Everything about this budget promises to be modest, except what it is expected to achieve.
It will certainly need to go beyond the rhetoric and the promises of every budget since the country went into deficit eight years ago. All of them promised improvements in the bottom line and so far none of them have delivered. Cynicism on that front is building faster the deficit itself.
On a second front, the Government's tactics are unusual, turning political orthodoxy on its head.
All week - with a break for the submarines announcement - the Government has been running dual scare campaigns against the Opposition. Usually it's the other way around.
Of course ministers should attack the policies of their opponents if they disagree with them. But is that the priority with the budget just days away? And with the submarine decision still to be further exploited?

Doubtless over time the Government will pressure Labor on climate change and negative gearing. But the scare campaign won't be quite the "horror show" that the Daily Telegraph suggests it might be, for several reasons.
The negative gearing campaign lost some of its momentum when the Prime Minister and the Treasurer handpicked the Mignacca family as the best example of "mum and dad" investors. It turned out they had negatively geared a property for their daughter, Adison, who is not yet one.
And to compound their problems, the Grattan Institute has forcefully put the case for a dilution of concessions around negative gearing.
The Liberal Party's Victorian president, Michael Kroger, hit back saying the institute "is not an intellectually independent organisation ... it comes from a left political bent ... and always argues for higher taxes."
And - he neglected to mention - the Prime Minister's wife is on the board!
The scare campaign around climate change got off to a more promising start when Bill Shorten used words similar to Julia Gillard's "there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead."
That was - and is - the stuff of instant internet advertisements.
Despite that, however, Labor's new policy is vastly different from Gillard's.
Her government put a fixed price on big emitters - initially $23 a tonne. Shorten's model returns to a market mechanism, but it has no carbon price, and therefore, semantics or not, no carbon tax.

Video: Interview: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (7.30)

It is closer to Turnbull 2009 than Gillard 2012.
The fact is Malcolm Turnbull cannot scare like Tony Abbott can scare - or the Telegraph can scare. He doesn't have it in him.
He appears to constantly wrestle with his conscience, as if there's an invisible Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder. In his exchange with Leigh Sales on 7.30, he didn't embrace discredited modelling, preferring instead to argue "commonsense".
"So you have to trust my analysis on this?" Sales suggested.
And that's pretty much where he left it.
Here's Turnbull's character trait/problem - call it what you will.
Most politicians are wired to see just black or white. Cabinet can sit around for hours arguing the merits, for example, of ridding negative gearing of the "excesses". It might narrowly decide - after robust discussion - to leave the thing alone. Then, politics being what it is, ministers go out with a hard line that ignores the nuances of their previous discussions. They go on the attack, warning that anybody who goes down that track will ruin the economy. That's how it always works. It's either black or white.
Once a decision is taken, there is no longer a middle ground; no room for compromise. Any argument to the contrary is lost in that "take no prisoners" approach.
Some politicians are shameless; they carry that off ruthlessly and often convincingly. Others, like Turnbull, find it hard to conceal their discomfort.
That's because his natural home is in the grey area.
He knows - he's demonstrated this in the past - that on some issues - many issues in fact - the strength of the arguments on both sides demand a mature debate.
But politics as we have come to know it doesn't allow for that anymore.
Barrie Cassidy is the presenter of the ABC TV program Insiders

Bill Shorten, SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Medicare and cuts to pathology; Malcolm Turnbull’s approval of tax avoidance; Infrastructure; Manus Island Detention Centre; Penalty rates





LIESEL WETT, CEO OF PATHOLOGY AUSTRALIA: Welcome everybody, my name is Liesel Wett, and I am the CEO of Pathology Australia, and I am  here today with the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Health. Welcome to Melbourne Pathology. Melbourne Pathology has been providing services to the Victorian community for more than 80 years. Pathology, you would know, Australian pathology is world class. 70 per cent of all medical diagnosis, and 100 per cent of all cancer diagnosis, requires the skills of a pathologist. Yesterday we launched a major report that showed the contribution that the pathology sector has made to health care to Australian citizens in this country. That $2 billion in 2014-2015, includes up to half a billion dollars in free pathology tests. That's half a billion dollars in free pathology tests every year. That's why we think the cuts to the bulk billing initiative are a nonsense and need to go. Eight weeks ago we launched a campaign to ask the community, the broader Australian community, to help us to stop these cuts to pathology. We have now, half a million signatures to that policy. We're soon, if we keep going the way we're going, we are soon to reach over a million signatures trying to stop those cuts. That'll happen just before 1 July. We know half a billion, half a million, people can't be wrong. They can't be wrong. They want their pathology tests, their life saving pathology tests where they need them, when they need them, without fear of cost. That's why we're asking the Government today to overturn this decision and to keep petitioning, and to running our petition right up until the election. I'd now like to ask the Leader of the Opposition to say a few words.

Thanks Liesel It's great to be here at this pathology lab with my shadow health spokesperson, Catherine King. Labor is absolutely committed to defending Medicare against Mr Turnbull's cuts. We've now seen half a million Australians sign a petition opposing the cuts to bulk billing that the Turnbull Government are effectively putting in place for diabetics seeking blood tests, for people dealing with the battle of cancer getting the necessary treatment and identification they need so they can be helped on their journey to recovery. This Government, Mr Turnbull, on Tuesday night has a last opportunity to reverse the dreadful cuts to Medicare which are happening here with pathology testing and x-rays. The consequences of the Turnbull Government arrogantly continuing with their war against Medicare, past the Budget, are dreadful to contemplate for people who are battling with chronic diseases and life-threatening diseases. This election will be a referendum about the privatisation and slashing of Medicare. The Labor Party is absolutely committed to a sensible policy which ensures that patients who need treatment, pathology tests and x-rays, don't have to pay a large upfront fee in order to get the vital tests they need. The consequence of Mr Turnbull's anti-Medicare policies is that sick people will get sicker and the taxpayer will end up paying more tax because we all know that people who don't get early treatment will require more expensive treatment the longer that their diseases and medical challenges remain unsupported. But this just goes to show how out of touch Mr Turnbull's priorities are. When it comes to defending the big end of town, Mr Turnbull is very strong. He doesn't want a Banking Royal Commission. He doesn't make multinationals pay their fair share. He's proposing in the Budget to give the biggest tax cuts to the people who are already the most well off. And this morning on Melbourne radio, he gave Prime Ministerial blessing to tax avoidance in Australia. Mr Turnbull is the best friend that people who seek to avoid their tax have in Canberra. The very wealthy who are able to access the most favourable tax concessions, who are able to engage in tax avoidance, the people who are avoiding tax in Australia, couldn't ask for a better friend in Canberra than Malcolm Turnbull. It's all about priorities. At the next election, Labor will defend bulk billing, we will defend the ability of people to get timely medical care and the blood tests they need so they can cope with the biggest challenges in their life. By contrast, Mr Turnbull will defend the banks against a Royal Commission, he'll defend multinationals against paying their fair share and he seems intent upon using Prime Ministerial office to encourage tax avoidance in Australia. Happy to take questions.

 Mr Shorten, do you support Malcolm Turnbull's idea to go (inaudible) loans to build infrastructure?
SHORTEN: We have seen Mr Turnbull today propose a plan that favours bankers but just not builders. Six months ago, Anthony Albanese, my transport spokesperson, and myself outlined a $10 billion concrete bank with firm proposals to help reinvest in public transport in our big cities, to help reinvest in necessary roads to clear congestion so that people can have better productivity and better quality of life. But all we've seen today from Mr Turnbull is a $50 million inquiry and we don't see any detail of what his priorities are. Mr Turnbull has a plan for bankers but not for building the projects that Australia needs.
JOURNALIST: Would you cave into the demands of the Left and let asylum seekers come to Australia if you were PM?
SHORTEN: I think it is absolutely outrageous that Mr Turnbull and Minister Dutton, arguably the worst Minister in the Coalition although there's strong competition for that, it is outrageous that Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton have allowed this train wreck to occur in terms of offshore processing and Papua New Guinea. It was amazing yesterday morning when Minister Dutton said that he and Prime Minister Turnbull had known that this problem had been coming for months. Well what have they been doing about it? A Labor Government is supportive of regional processing. We will not allow the people smugglers to get back into business. On that, both Mr Turnbull and I are on a unity ticket. But what we won't do is allow a situation, if we're elected on July 2, of indefinite detention of people on Manus and Nauru. The Government of the day needs to make sure that we're actively negotiating agreements in our region so that those people in those facilities are given a real path to be able to be resettled in a third country. Labor's policy is settled.
JOURNALIST: Would you send them to New Zealand? They've offered to take refugees from us.
SHORTEN: We are open to the question of resettlement countries. The issue here is that what on earth has Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton been doing for the last number of months when they have known that PNG and the situation there is going to arise and the sort of situation we've seen this week? It is not good enough for the Government to simply focus on turning back boats and not have a plan to regionally resettle people. It's not good enough for them to leave people in indefinite detention. I understand the frustration and concerns of many Australians who don't want to see indefinite detention. But also, I am equally committed to making sure that the people smugglers, the criminal syndicates who prey upon vulnerable people who merely seek to come to this country, offering them expensive tickets in dangerous boats and we see thousands of people drown. Australia needs to pursue a path which defeats the people smugglers but doesn't see people kept in indefinite detention.
JOURNALIST: Do you have anything to say to the MPs, including people like Melissa Clarke (sic), who are calling on you and everyone to settle people in Australia?
SHORTEN: We settled this matter at the ALP National Conference. See, unlike Mr Turnbull, I'm able to persuade my party to be able move in a particular direction. We know he can't persuade them to do anything on climate change, anything on marriage equality, anything in terms of a whole range of policies that he used to believe. I know it's a difficult issue and I understand that a lot of Australians, not just members of parliament, want to see an end to indefinite detention but I also understand that all Australians don't want to see mass drownings at sea. I'm committed to beating the people smugglers and I must take this opportunity to make it clear to the criminal syndicates who watch what happens in Australian politics, after July 2, whether or not it's another term with the Liberals or whether or not Labor wins, we're all equally committed and all Australians are too, in defeating people smugglers and putting people on unsafe boats and seeing people drown at sea. We're not going to go back to that.
JOURNALIST: Just back on health, we read a story today about the size of the health bureaucracy saying it was bigger than the army reserve. Are you worried about that flowing out, that non-core health worker population blowing out and have impacts on patient care?
SHORTEN: I'm going to get Catherine to go to the detail of that but let me state again, the number one priority for Labor is to make sure that it is your Medicare card not your credit card that determines the level of health care you get in this country. There is no more important issue than health care, that's why we are fighting so hard against the ridiculous and savage cuts which will discourage sick people from getting the blood tests they need, which will in fact help them more speedily to recovery or indeed in some cases, it becomes a matter of life and death. But I'll get Catherine to go to your specific matter.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks for that Bill and I saw those reports as well, so thanks for the question. I find it pretty extraordinary for a Government that said they were going to get rid of the bureaucracy when it came to health care that we've seen this happen on their watch and in particular, the Commonwealth bureaucracy. We are absolutely committed to making sure that we pursue efficiencies across the health system and making sure that dollars go into Medicare. What we've seen from this Government is substantial cuts and more bureaucracy and I think the report today points to that.
JOURNALIST: Minister, can I just get you on higher education as well? There's a story out today that the Government would look at going ahead with deregulation of university fees. Putting a cap on how much they can charge per degree. What are your thoughts on that?
SHORTEN: I don't trust the Liberals when it comes to providing opportunities for middle class and working class kids to go to university. They're very out of touch. The idea that you make slashing cuts to higher education, such as the Liberals are proposing. So, you put universities under incredible pressure and then what they do is they deregulate the fees so that you force universities to increase their fees. What that means is that this nation goes backwards in higher education. It's important that the kids in the regions of Australia get a chance to go to university. It's important that mature-age students who might be seeking to retrain and reskill for the jobs of the future in a changing job market aren’t discouraged from going back to university because of $100,000 degrees. Labor's already outlined our policies on higher education. We would make multinationals pay their fair share, we would make reform to unsustainable tax concessions and superannuation at the top end and using some of that money we would be able to then fund a minimum guarantee for every student going to university. In Australia, it should be how hard you work which determines whether or not you get to university not what school you went to or how rich your parents are. My concern is that if Mr Turnbull and the Liberals get another 1,000 days to be in power they're going to turn higher education into the bastion of the elite and lot of other people are going to be locked out and that's not good for the economic growth of the nation.
JOURNALIST: Just on Martin Ferguson, what's your view about the (inaudible). Has Dave Oliver gone too far for the tough and tumble of the (inaudible).
SHORTEN: I haven't seen the comments, Rick. What I do know is that the Labor Party has learned a lot of the lessons of the previous six years of government. I think it's fair to say we pass the test for being a united Opposition. You can't make everyone in your political party like each other, that's a fact, but today we see Tony Abbott saying he doesn't think he could get the votes to be leader. What's interesting about that is that he didn't say he doesn’t want to be leader. What we've got is real dysfunction in the Liberal Party. I was in Tasmania yesterday and one of the things I noticed is that Malcolm Turnbull's key backer and most senior Tasmanian Minister, Senator Colbeck, is number five on the Senate ticket. Another thing which I have to say about some aspects of Mr Turnbull's Liberal Party is why are the top five positions in Tasmania all gone to men? You know, this Liberal Party is out of touch. They don't have as many women running for parliament as the Labor Party, they don't have as many women in senior positions running, they certainly aren't as united. We know after the next election that whatever happens in the election, the Liberal Party is itching for a real civil war and a dust-up in their own ranks. This election is just a skirmish for the Liberal Party that takes them off what they see to be the main game which is either the Abbott forces squaring off with the Turnbull forces of the Turnbull forces squaring off with the Abbott forces. So when we talk about unity I can guarantee the Australian people that the Labor Party is a united team. That's why I think we're putting our policies out so positively whereas Mr Turnbull, in the last eight months, he's had to totally turn his personality inside out and be all the things now he said he would never be before he became Prime Minister and I use climate change as the perfect example of that. One more question, thanks.
JOURNALIST: So one of his comments was that he flies business class and he's lost sight of the (inaudible) - penalty rates saying he shouldn't oppose penalty rates (inaudible).
SHORTEN: Well, I'm not going to get into the gossip and the chatter but what I will say about penalty rates, only a Labor Government can be trusted to protect people's penalty rates. The Liberal Party, through the Productivity Commission, put a submission in to the current penalty rates case by the Independent tribunal which recommended really cutting penalty rates. I, from Opposition, for the first time in the history of Federation, put forward a submission supporting our penalty rates structure. The truth of the matter is that people who work the inconvenient hours, the unsocial hours, the hours which rob you of time with your family do deserve extra loading and extra support. Only Labor can be trusted - we get their penalty rates. For them it's not a matter of a whim or a thought bubble, for them it's the difference between being able to afford the decencies of life, be able to afford to pay the bills or not. That's why the Labor Party is on the side of penalty rates and I might just say in closing the Labor Party is going to back in the rights of kids from modest backgrounds to go to university and we will oppose rampant deregulation of higher education. The Labor Party is on the side of the half a million Australians who've already signed the very important petition in the matter of eight weeks to defend the right to be able to access quality pathology tests without having to pay an upfront fee. When it comes to standing up for people who are sick, for people who are down on their luck, for people who are working hard every day to raise their family and need penalty rates, for parents who dream of their kids going to university and also importantly for parents who want to see their adult children be able to buy their first home in the housing market without competing unfairly with people buying their 10th property subsidised by taxpayers, that's who the Labor Party stand for. Look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Media Release 

Mark Butler MP.

Shadow Minister for Environment

 Climate Change and Water

Date:  27 April 2016

In the summer of 2009, it was easy to feel despondent about global action on climate change. The Copenhagen Conference had ended in division and profound disappointment. Opponents of climate action were on the march around the world – and in the Liberal Party room.
Only six years later – the blink of an eye in most multilateral processes – we are still basking in the warm afterglow of a remarkably successful climate change Conference in Paris.
An agreement that all nations, not just developed nations, would take action to keep global warming well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, as well as a more qualified commitment around a 1.5 degree threshold.
The fact that we find ourselves globally in a position that I think most people six years ago would not have imagined possible is a reflection not just of clever Conference management. Instead, the Paris Agreement reflects the fact that, across the world, nations are moving to harness the opportunities of a clean energy future. 
Last year, investment in renewable energy was greater than the combined investment in coal, nuclear, gas and hydro power.  China invested considerably more in renewable energy than the combined investment from the United States and the European Union.  India also has very ambitious investment targets, particularly in solar power.  In the United States, 200 of their 500 or so coal fired power stations have either closed in the last five years or have had a target date set for that closure.  And in the United Kingdom, the Cameron Government only recently announced that their last coal fired power station will close by 2023. 
These are all hard-headed decisions by national Governments that are aimed at positioning their economies and their people for the largest share possible of the enormous jobs and investment opportunities that flow from a clean energy future.  They also reflect a hard-headed recognition that, as the Governor of the Bank of England said in September, ‘climate change will threaten financial resilience and long term prosperity. And while there is time to act, the window is finite and it’s shrinking’. 
The time for debating whether we should take action is past. The debate around the world, and in most corporate boardrooms, has shifted instead to asking –
What do we need to do, and how fast do we need to do it?
Labor’s Record
During Labor’s last term in office, wind power in Australia tripled.  We went from a position in 2007, where only 7400 Australian households had rooftop solar panels, to 1.3 million installations six years later - and it’s continued to climb.  With the support of the CEFC and ARENA, we were able to approve the largest windfarm in the Southern hemisphere in Victoria, and the largest PV solar farm in the Southern hemisphere in New South Wales.  Jobs in the renewable energy industry tripled.
By the end of the last Labor Government, Australia was rated as one of the four most attractive places in the world to invest in renewable energy projects – along with China, the US and Germany. And our carbon pollution levels had come down by 8%.
That progress has all been wound back by Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.
·         Australia has plunged from the 4th most attractive destination for renewable energy investment to 13th.
·         In 2014, investment in large-scale renewables plummeted by 88%, with hundreds of jobs lost.
For the first time in a decade, Australia’s carbon pollution levels rose in 2014/15. Carbon pollution from the electricity sector has jumped by 5.5% in less than two years. And in December 2015, the Turnbull Government released data confirming that pollution levels will continue to rise under Mr Turnbull’s Direct Action policy. The Government projects that Australia’s pollution levels in 2020 will be 6% above 2000 levels – nowhere near the 5% below 2000 levels committed by both major parties.
And the change in Prime Minister from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull has meant nothing in this area. In order to win the Liberal leadership last year, Malcolm Turnbull committed to his Party room that Tony Abbott’s policies would be left untouched – completely contradicting his assessment in 2009 that Mr Abbott’s policy was nothing more than a “figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing”.
Challenges and Opportunities for Australia
The transition to a clean energy future presents huge challenges for a country like Australia, as well as very significant opportunities.  The challenges largely flow from our highly emissions intensive economy.  In large part this reflects an economy that has been built on coal fired power, as well as the energy intensive manufacturing operations that tend to be attracted to the abundant and cheap power produced by coal. Of course, our emissions profile is also impacted by other sectors of the economy; land use, transport, the mining sector and the like.
The transition to clean energy around the world is already presenting a deep challenge to our economy, particularly as a major coal exporter.  As the world shifts to renewable energy and other low emissions sources of power such as nuclear and gas, the coal market is in steep decline.  The Queensland Resources Council reports that more than half of the thermal coal mines in Queensland operate at a loss. Thousands of jobs have been lost. 
But in the domestic market, coal is still king, powering more than three quarters of Australia’s electricity.  As a result, our electricity sector produces more carbon pollution per megawatt hour than China’s and about 87% more than the OECD average.  Electricity generation in Australia is the single biggest source of carbon pollution, accounting for one third of our national total.
It simply must get cleaner. 
And herein lies the opportunity. Because in electricity, unlike many other sectors of the economy, cleaner technology to produce power already exists; and it’s constantly getting better and it’s constantly getting cheaper. 
Australia is also blessed by the fact we don’t just have lots of coal, gas and uranium. We also have some of the best renewable energy resources on the face of the earth.  We have great solar radiation, extraordinary wind resources and, especially in the Southern ocean, some of the best wave energy.  And, over many years, we’ve consistently demonstrated we have some of the best minds and most innovative businesses - hungry to drive this transition to a clean energy future. 
Labor’s Consultations about Climate and Energy Policy
Over the past few months, I’ve been sitting down with industry, unions, community and environment groups, and local councils – to talk about Labor’s policies on climate change and energy. I’ve held around 50 sessions with different sectors, visiting a number of the regions of Australia that are on the frontline in this transition – the Collie Valley in WA, Latrobe Valley in Victoria, and the Illawarra and Hunter in NSW.
The Labor Opposition was completely excluded by Mr Abbott last year from his Government’s development of a 2030 emissions reduction target – a target that purported to cover future Coalition and Labor Governments. When we were in government, by contrast, we engaged the then Liberal Opposition about the Kyoto Protocol targets in order to reach a bipartisan position.  As a result, we decided last year that it was proper for us to undertake our own deliberative process. And we decided it was appropriate to use the expert Climate Change Authority’s recommendations as the basis of our consultations. As people broadly know, the Authority undertook a long, public process to reach those final recommendations, including the publication of a draft report.
My recent consultations have confirmed that all stakeholders broadly accept the central element of the Paris Agreement – that global warming must be kept to well below two degrees Celsius. And they agree that Australia has a responsibility to do its fair share to discharge that commitment.
It’s fair to say that there are different views about what Australia’s emissions reduction target in 2030 should be. Environment groups argue that our target should be for a 65-85% emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Some other stakeholders – mainly in business – argue instead that we should be more cautious than ambitious; and that we should keep a sharp eye on what nations that compete with Australia in heavy industry are doing. Most stakeholders, though, wanted to spend the time we had in our sessions talking – not about targets – but about how we’d get there. Those discussions and debates about the design of effective climate change and energy policy have been enormously influential in the policies we’ve announced today.
Sharing the Task Fairly with other Generations – Emission Reduction Targets
Labor is committed to ensuring that Australia fulfills the promise made to future generations that we will do our fair share of work to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius. That means putting in place long-term policies that ensure that Australia produces net zero emissions by 2050.
It also means setting a credible – but sufficiently ambitious – medium term target that ensures we don’t simply hand all of the hard work to our children and grandchildren.
Australia’s action to cut pollution should be consistent with other developed countries to which we usually compare ourselves – like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the like. Many sectors of the Australian economy trade in global markets against competitors in the developing world. That fact doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compare our overall action with similar OECD nations, but it does reinforce the need for intelligent policy design to support the competitiveness of our emissions-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) sector.
Climate Change Authority advice demonstrates that the Turnbull commitment  to a 26-28% reduction on 2005 levels falls short of those made by the US, UK, Canada, Germany and a number of other European nations – in some cases, by a considerable margin. The Climate Change Authority’s recommendation for a minimum 45% reduction over that period is consistent with Germany and Norway, lower than the UK, and higher than the US and Canada – although those two nations are likely to increase their 2030 commitments. The Authority’s proposed target would also see Australia’s per capita emissions in 2030 either the highest or second highest among OECD nations, depending on the scale of action ultimately pledged by Canada.
A Fair Share of Australia’s “Carbon Budget” Between Generations
Another – frankly more compelling – way of expressing the link between future rates of carbon pollution and the “two degree” threshold is the “carbon budget”. The world’s scientists advise us that a likely chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming depends on limiting the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere between 2000 and 2050 to no more than 1.7 trillion tonnes – the global “carbon budget”.
The Climate Change Authority advises about 9 billion tonnes remains in Australia’s share of that “carbon budget” for the period 2015 to 2050.
If Australia adopts the Climate Change Authority’s minimum position for 2030, and that reduction starts immediately, Australia by 2030 will have used about three quarters of the 35 year “carbon budget” in just 15 years.
The position is even more pronounced with the Turnbull target.  In that case, Australia will have exhausted almost 85% of the 2050 budget - reinforcing the point that this decision is ultimately one of burden-sharing between generations. 
The less we do, the more we expect of our children!
Labor accepts the considered advice of the Climate Change Authority that Australia’s emissions reduction target for 2030 should be 45% below 2005 levels; a reduction equivalent to 40% on 2015 levels. That medium term target is consistent with scientific advice, comparable to other relevant nations and a fair contribution by our generation towards the longer term target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
We understand that our decision to adopt a target different to Malcolm Turnbull presents some challenges. Unlike Labor’s approach in relation to the 2020 target under the Kyoto Protocol, Malcolm Turnbull made no attempt to engage the Labor Opposition before lodging his target as the Australian position at the Paris Conference.
The Paris Agreement establishes a “facilitative dialogue” between 2018 and 2020 to review and update the national targets. If elected, Labor will commission formal advice to allow Australia’s 2030 target within the Paris Agreement to be increased as part of that review process.
Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan
Today, Labor released a comprehensive plan to combat climate change by getting Australia’s pollution levels back under control and ensuring that Australian business and workers are in the best position possible to benefit from the huge investment and job opportunities that come from a renewable energy and clean technology future.  Labor’s policy is underpinned by our fundamental commitment to fairness, ensuring that Australians are supported through this transition and no one is left behind.
Our Climate Action Plan provides an ambitious pathway for an orderly transition to a low pollution economy through six key elements:
1.    Making Australia a leading renewable energy economy - ensuring that at least 50% of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, expanding the investment mandate of the CEFC, and developing new community energy projects.
2.    Cleaner power generation - ensuring that the transition in Australia’s electricity generation from old heavily polluting coal fired power stations to modern clean energy is an orderly transition, with meaningful support for workers and communities.
3.    Building on Jobs and Industry - maximising the job opportunities from clean energy and clean technology, while also securing the future of critical Australian industries through a Strategic Industries Task Force.
4.    Cutting Pollution – through an Emission Trading Scheme, placing a legal cap on the emissions of the largest polluters through a “cap and offsets” scheme, while supporting industry by ensuring access to international carbon offsets.
5.    Carbon Capture on the Land - reinvigorating the Carbon Farming Initiative to encourage carbon storage on the lend and in agriculture, and taking decisive action to deal with broad-scale land clearing.
6.    Higher Energy Productivity and Efficiency – doubling Australia’s national energy productivity by 2030 and introducing new emission standards for motor vehicles to cut pollution on our roads.
A Renewable Energy Superpower Again
Labor’s commitment to ensure that at least 50% of the nation’s electricity is renewable by 2030 is central to our ambition for Australia to reclaim its place among the top 5 renewable energy nations in the world. We’ll consider international developments in this policy area in detail before deciding on a mechanism for the coming decade.  For some time, I’ve been clear that we’re open to mechanisms other than the retailer obligation that underpins the 2020 Renewable Energy Target.  Legislation governing post-2020 arrangements will be introduced to Parliament in late 2017. It will obviously be designed in a way that does not disturb investor sentiment around the delivery of the existing RET.

After failing in its attempts simply to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Government has sought to hamper the Corporation’s work by imposing ridiculous restrictions on its Mandate.  Labor will remove those restrictions, returning the CEFC to its original Mandate and lock it in for the full course of the next term of Parliament. Labor will also continue the Clean Energy Innovation Fund announced recently by Mr Turnbull.
In addition to the work allocated to ARENA under the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Labor will inject $200 million for ARENA to undertake a specific Concentrated Solar Thermal round of funding. This will obviously be of particular interest to the Re-Power campaign in Port Augusta. But Solar Thermal is more broadly an important emerging technology which allows storage of solar power for dispatch at later, peak demand times. It is critically important that Australia develop a capacity in this technology that allows the cost to come down to a point that is economic without grant funding. Labor’s commitment will allow that to happen in a way that Mr Turnbull’s Innovation Fund will not.
While Australia has led the world in the adoption of small-scale renewables – particularly rooftop PV solar panels.  There are real barriers to being a part of the solar revolution for Australians in rental accommodation, social housing or apartment-style living. It’s a basic question of equity for Labor that we start to break down those barriers.
To that end, Labor in Government will create a Community Power Network. The Network will oversee the development of Community Power Hubs that will work in communities to support the development of local projects to address local needs. Labor in Government will also provide start-up funding to help kick-start clean energy projects across Australia. Those projects could include ‘solar gardens’ for renters, community renewable energy projects, energy efficiency programs in social housing – and more.
And to directly drive investment in renewable energy, a Labor Government will negotiate Power Purchase Agreements to bring Commonwealth energy use up to 50% renewable energy by 2030.
Cleaning up the Power Sector
Electricity policy has been driven historically by two overarching objectives; the reliability of supply and affordability. But climate change and local pollution concerns have now added a third public policy imperative – the carbon footprint. At the same time, the traditional business model of large generators dominating the system is being disrupted by innovations like rooftop generation, as well as emerging storage options.
Most of Australia is covered by the National Electricity Market (NEM) which was introduced through the 1990s. At the time, there were only a couple of thousand households with PV solar panels on their roof (compared to 1.5 million today) and negligible generation from wind power in Australia. The long-standing dynamics of the Australian market– growing demand and price stability - were still in place. Understandably in those circumstances, the NEM architecture and rules were built on the traditional drivers and assumptions of electricity policy.
The NEM rules and operations are all driven by the National Electricity Objective. And neither the overarching Objective of the NEM, nor its rules, reflect in any way that third driver of modern electricity policy – the imperative to cut carbon pollution.
Accordingly, Labor in Government will initiate a broad review of the NEM – the “Electricity Modernisation Review” - to ensure that its Objective, rules and operations are consistent with the needs of Australian consumers in the 21st Century. In particular, that Review will ensure that the system takes proper account of the need to decarbonise electricity generation - and of modern trends in electricity, including distribution and storage. The Review will also advise the Government on a longer-term framework for the orderly transition from heavily polluting coal-fired power.
Labor will consult with the COAG Energy Council, NEM agencies, the industry, unions and users about the conduct of the Electricity Modernisation Review. The Review will commence by the end of 2016 with its Report to be finalised within 12 months.
Labor has also decided that electricity generators should be subject to arrangements separate from the rest of the large emitters that will be covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Labor intends to implement the model proposed last year by the Australian Energy Market Commission. Under the AEMC model, each generator will be allocated a pollution “cap” that is calculated according to a sector-wide emissions intensity baseline – effectively reflecting an industry average. Cleaner generators will be able to sell credits to those generators that operate above the baseline. The scheme establishes a fully internalised market in carbon which, according to the AEMC, will operate “without a significant effect on absolute price levels faced by consumers”.  That scheme will commence on July 1 2018.
A “Just Transition” from Coal Fired Power
If Australia is to achieve its international commitments to cut carbon pollution levels – and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – it is essential to develop an orderly process to decarbonise the electricity sector.  This process requires an orderly transition from heavily polluting coal-fired power to modern, clean power sources – particularly renewable energy.
Labor will introduce a framework to kickstart the closure of the older, heaviest polluting generators consistent with the principles set out in our policy documents.  Labor will also develop a longer term framework to drive that transition, based on advice from the Electricity Modernisation Review.
Labor will not use taxpayers money to pay electricity companies to close their generators. 
Labor will develop a market based mechanism to kickstart the closure of some of the oldest, most heavily polluting plant.  Such a mechanism was proposed last year by the ANU and has been the subject of considerable attention within the industry.
A central principle of the Paris Agreement is that Government must ensure that the transition to a clean energy future is a “Just Transition” for impacted workers and communities. The “Just Transition” commitment is consistent with Labor’s longstanding approach to dealing with the impact of economic change on workers and communities, exemplified by the Hawke and Keating Governments. The Labor mission has always been – not just about breaking down the structural inequalities in society – but also ensuring that the big transitions that inevitably emerge are managed in a way that doesn’t leave particular groups behind; and ensures that everyone gets a chance at the opportunities that come with change. This transition will impact some communities deeply; just ask the people of Port Augusta and Leigh Creek. Labor will stand by those communities and workers.
Labor will establish a Just Transition Unit in Government to co-ordinate the work of different Commonwealth agencies around the implementation of that element of the Paris Agreement. The Unit’s work will focus initially on transition in the electricity sector, and will draw on advice from a tripartite Council that brings together governments (including local government), industry and unions.
Our policy document set out some principles that will guide Labor’s approach to employment impacts from this transition.
“Just Transition” also demands a proactive program of economic diversification for impacted regions and communities. Labor will work with relevant State and Local Governments and business to develop these programs – which will be factored in to the market-based approach to orderly closure proposed by the ANU.
Labor’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)
Perhaps the central problem with Malcolm Turnbull’s Direct Action policy is its failure to provide any control or discipline on Australia’s largest polluters. Around the world, country after country has demonstrated that the most efficient and effective way to achieve those cuts in pollution is through an ETS that caps emission levels – and then lets business work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate within that cap.
Consistent with our long-standing policy position, Labor will introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme with two distinct phases. The first phase is designed to get Australia’s pollution levels back under control and to establish the architecture for an enduring ETS. The second phase will then drive the long-term transition in our economy. As I explained earlier, the electricity generation sector will be subject to a separate, ongoing scheme developed by the AEMC.
The first phase of the ETS will impose a “cap” on carbon pollution produced by entities emitting more than 25,000 tonnes per year. This “cap” will reflect an appropriate proportion of the limits on pollution required to achieve the bipartisan commitment to ensure that carbon pollution levels in 2020 are 5% lower than 2000. These arrangements will be finalised in Government and implemented by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).
Phase one of Labor’s ETS will reflect a “cap and offsets” model.  No price will be imposed by Government on carbon pollution under this phase. Liable entities will not be required to purchase or receive permits to operate. But, where a liable entity breaches or exceeds its “cap”, it will be required to provide the CER with an equivalent number of “carbon offsets” for that year. The CER will publish rules governing the types of offsets that are eligible under phase one, including access to international offsets approved under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism as well as Australian offsets approved through mechanisms like a reinvigorated Carbon Farming Initiative.
Given that Australia’s emissions intensive, trade-exposed – or EITE - sector competes in vigorous global markets, those companies will be allowed unlimited access to approved international offsets under phase one of the ETS.  This “cap and offsets” model will limit any effective carbon price for EITE businesses that breach their cap to a small fraction of a dollar per tonne of pollution.
Labor will introduce an ongoing Emissions Trading Scheme from 1 July 2020. Under phase two of Labor’s ETS, pollution levels will be capped and cut over the course of the decade in line with Australia’s international commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The design of the 2020 ETS will be finalised during the 2016-2019 Parliament, to commence after the 2019 election. Those details will include rules governing the allocation of caps to liable entities, access to international markets (including the possibility of formal linkage to other schemes), the operation of the domestic offsets market and the like. The design process will also include advice from the Strategic Industries Taskforce.
Securing Jobs in a Clean Energy Future
There are important strategic reasons for Australia continuing to have a domestic capability in industries like steel-making, cement, aluminium and others. These industries are highly trade-exposed – competing in the main with developing countries like China. And many don’t have a technological change on the horizon that will substantially reduce their inherent emissions intensity.  No global environmental purpose is served by those operations simply closing in Australia and being picked up by another nation.
Labor will establish a Strategic Industries Taskforce to undertake in-depth engagement with those industries to identify options to support their future competitiveness. The Taskforce will provide advice to government grounded in practical industry thinking and tailored to the unique needs of each sector - seeking to blend the objectives of maintaining a vibrant industry base in Australia with our national emissions reduction task.  The recommendations of the Taskforce will then help inform the design and rules for the Emissions Trading Scheme commencing in 2020.
Responsible Management of our Land Sector
Australia only achieved our first commitment under the Kyoto Protocol because of a huge reduction in land sector emissions.  Australia’s land sector emissions were around 135 million tonnes in 1990 or around one quarter of the national total.  By 2014, they had plummeted to just 14mt. That huge reduction was overwhelmingly due to land clearing restrictions introduced in Queensland by Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh (supported by John Howard who understood the benefits in achieving the Kyoto commitment).
While Campbell Newman had promised to retain those land clearing laws, he reneged on that promise shortly after taking office.  Following the Newman Government’s repeal of Labor’s reforms, clearing in Queensland jumped more than threefold.  The Queensland Auditor-General has reported that clearing in the Great Barrier Reef catchment areas increased by 230%, with obvious implications for run-off onto the Reef as well as carbon emissions.
Those reductions in land sector emissions in Queensland underpinned a substantial part of Australia’s international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The unpicking of those reforms by the Newman Government had a direct impact on the treaty obligations the Commonwealth undertook on behalf of the nation.
Labor will introduce a “climate trigger” in federal legislation to allow the Commonwealth to regulate broad-scale land clearing across the nation.  In relation to Queensland, our intention is to restore the land-clearing laws that were in place before the election of the Newman Government – reflecting the policy of the Palaszczuk Government.
Labor will also explore other ways of ensuring that State land clearing laws are consistent with Australia’s international obligations and commitments; including by re-invigorating COAG’s National Vegetation Management Framework. That will require the adoption of consistent reporting of land and tree clearing across States, in line with best practice in this area – which has traditionally been the Queensland SLATS Scheme verified by field reporting.
Doubling Australia’s Energy Productivity and Efficiency
Energy Efficiency - or Productivity - is often described as the “fifth fuel” - after coal, gas, nuclear and renewable energy. Strong performance in this area has multiple benefits; cutting pollution, reducing costs for households and business, and improving the overall productivity of the nation’s economy.
Australia’s energy productivity improvements in recent years have been poor, against both OECD and G20 averages. Over the past two decades, for example, China has improved its energy productivity twice as fast as Australia. We currently sit in the bottom quartile of OECD nations on this important economic measure.
In December, the Turnbull Government announced a weak plan to improve Australia’s national energy productivity by just 40% from 2015 to 2030. Such a target would see Australia slip even further behind our global competitors.  President Obama, by contrast, has introduced a plan for the United States to double its energy productivity between 2010 and 2030. And an Alliance of business groups and NGOs has called for Australia to match that ambition - an Alliance that includes some of Australia’s most important business voices, such as the BCA, ACCI, AIG, AGL, Lend Lease and others.
Labor will introduce a comprehensive strategy to double Australia’s energy productivity by 2030 on 2010 levels.  This Strategy will build on the COAG Energy Council’s National Energy Productivity Plan and draw on the work of the Alliance, Local Government and other groups.
Cutting Pollution on our Roads with Cleaner Cars
An important part of improving energy productivity is found on our roads.
Australia is now one of the last developed nations without mandatory emissions standards on light vehicles. Car companies are able to sell dirtier versions of their global brands in Australia than they can in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. That needs to change.
Labor will introduce mandatory light vehicle emission standards, consistent with advice from the Climate Change Authority. Those standards will be phased-in from 2018 and will cut the emissions intensity for all light vehicles by almost one half - by 2025. The Authority’s advice is contained in a 2014 Report and aligns with standards being introduced by President Obama in the United States. In my consultations with industry and automobile associations, a consensus view was put that the American standards were more appropriate to the nature of the Australian vehicle fleet than the European standards. We have accepted that view.
The Authority predicts that these changes would:
·         Deliver fuel savings of $830 in the first year
·         Save $8,500 in fuel costs over the life of the car, with a net lifetime saving of $7000
In addition to introducing light vehicle standards, Labor will put in place policies to encourage the growth of low emissions vehicles such as those powered by electricity or Hydrogen.
And to drive better energy productivity in large infrastructure, Anthony Albanese announced in March that a Shorten Labor government would toughen assessment of proposed major infrastructure projects by requiring the incorporation of smart infrastructure technology and sustainability measures before projects qualify for Commonwealth funding.
Labor has thought deeply about this policy – and we’ve consulted deeply, with all stakeholders, across a broad range of industries, viewpoints and regions. We’ve obviously also reflected on our previous two attempts to introduce reform in this area. Our first attempt – the CPRS – was stymied by a leadership coup in the Liberal Party room, followed by an unusual alliance between Tony Abbott and Bob Brown in the Senate. Our second attempt got through the Parliament, only to be repealed by Mr Abbott within two years. We’ve reflected on mistakes Labor made in the design and the presentation of those reforms.
An almost universal plea from business in our consultations was for there to be greater consensus and investor certainty in this policy space. Many climate and environmental organisations have made the same plea.  There is, I think, a quiet recognition that the consensus that existed until Mr Turnbull was replaced as Liberal leader in 2009 was not just broken in the Parliament – that business, the media and others played a role too.
There is almost no democracy in the world which has a strong climate policy, where it is not underpinned by broad bipartisan support.  The scale of change required by the commitments our nation has made in the Paris Agreement demands a greater level of consensus than has existed in the past three Parliaments. Investors will not put money on the table to drive those changes if they think that legislative reform is a swinging pendulum.
Labor is putting a Climate Change Action Plan before the Australian people that will get Australia back on to the path to a clean energy future; but it’s also the type of Plan that Malcolm Turnbull should embrace – forging the consensus for change we need in this country instead of kow-towing to the Abbott-right in the Liberal Party. In his heart, Mr Turnbull knows that Direct Action isn’t working, that he needs a plan for renewable energy to grow beyond 2020, and that we need to get broad-scale land clearing back under control.

Ultimately, though, that’s a matter for Mr Turnbull to work through. Whatever he decides to do – Labor will make our case loudly and consistently for a strong Climate Change Action Plan for Australia.
© Mark Butler. Authorised by Mark Butler 15 Semaphore Road, Semaphore SA 5019 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Changes for Queensland voters: New seats, compulsory preferential voting, and fixed terms

Updated 25 minutes ago

So what happens next?

More seats by next election

A redistribution was already due to be carried out this year by a three-person Redistribution Commission, made up of:
  • the electoral commissioner;
  • a judge or former judge (chairperson); and
  • a chief executive of a department (or the equivalent)
The appointment of the Redistribution Commission had been held up because the LNP Opposition originally proposed a revamp.
That is no longer the case, so Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has formally notified the other parties of the two people the Government intends to appoint.
Ms D'Ath wants work on the new boundaries to begin as soon as possible and to be finished within a year.
According to the Electoral Commission Queensland, outcomes of a state redistribution include:
  • adjustment of voters within electoral districts;
  • extension or reduction of boundary areas to alter the balance of electors;
  • amalgamation of smaller electoral districts into one larger area; and
  • creation of entirely new districts
Now that the task involves setting boundaries for 93 seats instead of 89, the redistribution could mean that the current 89 seats are retained (although with new boundaries) and four new seats added.

Or some current seats could be abolished, requiring the creation of more than four new seats.
ABC's election analyst Antony Green said increasing the size of Parliament to 93 would give remote electorates a better chance of surviving the shift of population to the south-east.
That would benefit the LNP, he said, because it "would protect conservative seats in the north of the state from abolition, while new seats are likely to be created on the conservative voting Gold and Sunshine coasts".
Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker, who introduced the bill, said in a sense the boundary changes would be a brand new distribution, not just a redistribution of the existing electorates.
The Redistribution Commission would divide the total number of Queensland voters by 93 to get the average number required for each seat, taking into account a 2 per cent weighting for sparsely populated districts.
But it was difficult to predict how either side would be affected politically until the new electoral map was drawn, Mr Walker said.

Compulsory preferential voting

Compulsory preferential voting will be in force in time for the Toowoomba South by-election, which will be held in the next few months on a date to be set after LNP member John McVeigh formally resigns on Friday.
It will be the first time since the early 1990s that voters in a Queensland election will be required to fill in every box on the ballot paper.
It may not be enough to help Labor take Toowoomba South from the LNP, but could have a big impact at the next general election.
Mr Green calculated that the Palaszczuk Government could be enjoying a majority in Parliament now if full preferential voting had been required in last year's election.
Labor could have gained eight seats on preference flows: Albert, Burdekin, Gaven, Glasshouse, Mansfield, Mount Ommaney, Redlands and Whitsunday, he wrote.

Fixed four-year parliamentary terms

The other major electoral reform - already brought in this year - is fixed four-year terms.
That does not apply until after the current term, which means the Premier is not obliged to wait until 2018 to call the next election.
However, QUT academic and former Labor speaker John Mickel said the outcome of last week's extraordinary vote meant Annastacia Palaszczuk was no longer likely to consider going back to the polls much earlier than that.
Mr Mickel said the next election would therefore be contested on the new boundaries.
"No matter how untidy from a policy sense the end of last week was, it was settled in a political sense in that the Government by the end of the week was able to demonstrate that it had won control of the agenda," Mr Mickel said.
"Having asserted herself, the Premier can now feel confident that she can bring down a budget and continue to govern.
"At the same time the impartial redistribution of electoral boundaries - with more seats - will proceed."