Is this the end for Labor's 'CarbonChoices'?

Just when we thought Labor leadership stories were over, briefings given to Business Spectator this week by Labor, Coalition and independent MPs and staffers suggest that a new stoush is brewing – and one that could turn the Labor policy platform on its head.

Labor MPs are mostly holding the line that they intend to win the September election, but the grammar of national commentators has shifted in recent months from ‘Abbott would...’ to ‘Abbott will’ – that is, the near certainty of a Labor defeat is being discussed everywhere except by Labor MPs in public.

In private, discussion of who would rebuild Labor after the election is whispered in the hallways and behind closed doors of Parliament House.

Most informed commentators think that if Julia Gillard loses the election (note I will continue to use ‘if’ – voters, not journalists, get to decide), Bill Shorten will be the man rebuilding the party.

The course that leadership would take should be on the mind of every Labor MP, every staffer, and will produce much speculation in the lead up to September 14.

I must stress that what follows, though told to Business Spectator as fact, must be treated as speculation.

However, the logic behind it is strong and one line in Tony Abbott’s budget reply speech on Thursday adds to the credibility of the argument – more on that below.

In essence, some strong proponents of climate change action believe Bill Shorten has begun lobbying members of Caucus to abandon carbon pricing as a Labor policy after the next election.

The argument follows the precedent set by the Coalition over WorkChoices – though many in the Liberal and National parties believed it was the right policy, they were required to disown it after the 2007 election so as to avoid spending years in the political wilderness.

After the 2013 election, Labor could be tempted to walk away from its own electoral poison – CarbonChoices, if you will.

When I put this to Shorten’s office, the standard response applied: he won’t speculate about hypotheticals that involve Labor losing the election. A spokeman told Business Spectator that Shorten was “strongly committed to carbon pricing and that hasn’t changed”.

Another Labor MP said Shorten was “quite capable” of such a policy backflip.

Left faction leader Senator Doug Cameron also refused to comment on “hypotheticals that involve Labor losing” but added that after the election he would have a “very strong view” on any such idea.

But there is more to this than tight-lipped ‘no-comments’. One senior Labor operative, admittedly no friend to Shorten’s Right faction, said the leadership spill precipitated by Simon Crean in March would have hinged on five votes offered by Shorten, via Crean, to get Rudd over the line.

However, it’s a widely held view that the votes were bait to draw Rudd out and that they would not have been delivered.

Had Rudd stood, his leadership ambitions would have been thwarted a second and final time. As it happened, this did not have to occur. By not standing, Rudd even more decisively ended his leadership push for all time.

A ‘CarbonChoices’ strategy would have two effects.

Firstly, it would allow a new leader (neither Rudd nor Gillard) to say about carbon pricing what the Coalition said about WorkChoices – it’s dead, buried and cremated – and focus on the more successful parts of Labor’s legacy. That is, ‘we had great economic numbers, got the NDIS and schools reform done, sorted out the Murray-Darling ... and only made one mistake, which is why we’ve buried carbon pricing’.

Secondly, it would eliminate the threat of a leadership challenge by anyone who was deeply involved in that unpopular policy. And who, besides Shorten, is in the frame as a potential leader if Labor loses the election? Why Greg Combet, of course, minister for climate change.

Shorten's only serious competition to be next Labor prime minister (after a term or two of Coalition government) would be knocked out.

Combet’s office also refused to speculate on post-election scenarios and unlike some other MPs offices said that such backgrounding is not appropriate.

Good point. But it has become a mainstay of how Labor gets its leadership dirty-work done.

Moreover, there are many in parliament house who want this conversation to happen now, well before the election.

The question, is: will Labor walk away from the signature policy of the Gillard government, and the one that has done most damage to their electoral propects?

At a media conference this week Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters that it was more important than ever for strong Greens representation in both houses of parliament to “shame” Labor into sticking to its carbon-pricing guns.

To walk away from the policy would mean no double-dissolution trigger early in an Abbott government’s first term.

Abbott confirmed in his Thursday speech that “the carbon tax repeal bill, should we be elected, will be the first legislation that a new parliament considers”.

If Abbott rides a wave of support into office, and can trigger a double dissolution in mid-2014 – the bill needs to be blocked twice, with a three month waiting period in between – he could maintain, or perhaps even increase, his majority.

Abbott would not risk a double dissolution in the later stages of a first term. With dramatic public service cuts planned, union-lead marches, rallies and industrial action that will no doubt follow could, alone, turn public support away from the Coalition.

So yet another reason for Labor to walk away from carbon pricing, is that a double dissolution in mid-2014 could even cede Abbott control of the senate – all seats would be up for grabs instead of only half the seats as usual.

Politically it would make sense for Shorten to be softening Caucus up now for a dramatic backflip after September.

But are these secret conversations taking place? Is Shorten working on Caucus members to bury ‘CarbonChoices’ in 2014?

I’m sure the Greens and fellow architects of the Clean Energy Future policy Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, not to mention the millions of Labor voters who still support carbon pricing, would like to hear him say that he’s not. 

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Once the main stream media wake up to the full facts of the AWU scandal (and they will sooner rather than later) the likes of Gillard, Shorten, Roxon and many others associated with the AWU, Slater & Gordon and Maurice Blackburn from that era, will have many questions to answer. I doubt very much whether any of them would be in a position to lead the party.

Yes, another good analysis of voter perceptions and politicians manufacturing consent.

Yes Rob, another good analysis of voter perceptions and politicians manufacturing consent....and Bill Shorten is pulling the ropes in the background.

Who is this imposter and what have you done with the real Rob Burgess?

An article which speculates about Labour election loss, leadership options, policy choices??

Very interesting... I agree with the conclusions you come to Rob. When (sorry.. extending on your vibe.. IF) Abbott gets in via a landslide/mandate, the new Shorten ALP opposition will take the most expedient political route to redemption...

Shorten is many things, including pragmatic...

The Greens are headed for obliteration, Bob Brown is a genius as it turns out.. who knew?? very well hidden...

Keyser the Greens are heading to what is happening already all around the world in other countries, a split of the movement in two parts, on one side the leftist greens, keeping the name of "Greens" looking for the elusive 30 hours week and other leftist fairies, and ecologist parties which have more votes today than the Greens themselves, because they only talk about ecology.

Francois, agreed... the Greens desperately seek credibility, however their policy platform does not stand up to any serious scrutiny. The best thing to happen to the movement in Australia (as clearly different to the best thing to happen to Australia) was for the Greens to form minority government, and in-so-doing have 'the light shone' on their policies for all to see... it was the beginning of the end...

To carify my previous comment on Bob Brown.. he was a genius, because he retired, right when the powers and popularity of the Greens peaked... he has shown his true colours (which he never really hid), and now spends his days captaining a boat shooting high power water hoses at Japanese whalers... the Greens, like the Democrats before them... will die a minority party death.. because rather than 'keeping the bastards honest'... they are simply adding to the number of bastards...

And how did Rob come to the view that the election was only about carbon ? Maybe some of the middle class would like some paid parental leave ...

Some time ago a comment was passed which said."the slickest rat deserting the sinking ship'

Im surprised Combet is even considered ***leadership material*** after he fronted the corruption enquiry in NSW and said he new nothing....didnt even understand what his mates were up to....we have to accept that as fact, we accept the words out of his own mouth that Combet was incompetent for not checking further..and not a crook.

And we don't want another incompetent as leader of the ALP.

Carbon pricing is dead for this election. Obviously, it is dead for the Coalition, since they won't have a bar of a carbon tax or the worse alternative, an EU-linked ETS. It is dead for Labor, since they have neutered their own scheme, having been frightened into the folly of prematurely linking their (flawed) scheme to the EU-ETS.

Contrary to expectations, it is likely that the Lib's Direct Action plan will have some benefits, and will probably see us through to meeting the 2020 target, if for no other reason that there will be a massive contribution to greenhouse gas reductions from the 20% renewable energy target.

However, eventually carbon pricing will be required, and will be widely adopted. It will not be an EU-style international ETS. Future carbon pricing schemes are more likely to be national schemes, and hopefully ones that do not put up the prices of goods and service unnecessarily.

For example, a fully-rebated carbon price of $40 tonne would only increase electricity prices by 10% in the long-term, and would have zero impact in the short term. http://australiancarbonprice.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/40-carbon-levy-shou... Where is the political pain in that?

Re: where is the political pain in $40 per tonne. Answer: greater than the political pain of $23 per tonne.

The counter-intuitive claim that a $40 tonne would not be politically painful was meant to inspire you to read the underlying analysis. Obviously, this was a pious hope, but here the fully explanation in a nutshell:

We could easily go to a phased-in fixed price on carbon emissions of around $40 tonne CO2e, provided it was implemented via a fully rebatable carbon levy.

In electricity generation, it would work like a carbon tax, but since it would be fully rebatable to electricity users it would NOT put up the price of electricity in short term. The price of electricity would only rise gradually, coincidentally with new means of electricity generation being adopted (if these new means of generation were actually more expensive). Modelling by US researchers has shown that a $40 rebatable carbon levy of this kind would only put up electricity prices by 10%

This kind of pricing mechanism would bring to the forefront the cheapest methods of carbon emission reduction, and would mean that we could consign the EU-ETS to the dustbin of history, at least for Australia.

Graham we have about 280 different taxes in australia. plus a few levies now on top of them You want more?

I would very happily see the end of the employment-destroying State payroll taxes. Perhaps both parties could look at doing that!

Rob here you are doing the Labor party spruiking again. Cast your mind back to when Shorten, Combet and Conroy along with the non elected Howe knifed Rudd. At that time it was widely known that these three saw Gillard as a short term stop gap but it would a fight as to who became the leader in due course. What has transpired since is that not only Gillard has been shown as inept so have the others. Shorten's name keeps coming up as being involved in the AWU affair and disappearance of documents. A little man with a big ego but no public image who is out of his depth. Conroy has openly displayed his incompetence with the NBN which is like a saddle bag on the Australian tax payer. Combet similarly has shown his lack of intelligence with the carbon tax. Also has appeared in despatches in the Obeid affair. All three have a chequered history and I would think as unelectable as Gillard. Of course she may be facing a list of charges resulting from the Vic police investigation into the AWU affair. Rob show some common sense and find a different hobby horse to peddle. As to the carbon tax people have to understand that the Greens are now not interested in the environment only socialist issues. The Greens have been infiltrated by the hard line socialist left who have used the old party to peddle their own ideology. Surely Brown has a lot to answer for in allowing a minority Government to be formed and destroy the Australian economy. However, he could see the writing on the wall and got out but will not be forgotten for his involvement.

"Surely Brown has a lot to answer for in allowing a minority Government to be formed and destroy the Australian economy." Destroying the economy? Low unemployment? Growth that is admired in the OCED. One of the few independent countries that is not trying to print money to improve its competitive. Me thinks you exaggerate. The economy at the moment is fine, particularly if one compares with our peers.
re: the NBN, Any large project, NBN included, will have teething problems. They are not ipso facto Conroy's fault, any more than the Pink Bats installations were the fault of Peter Garrett; after all the work was all done by private contractors.
However, I do agree with Rob, in as much as ...if Abbott is elected, not when.

Here's an alternative. The economy tanks when Abbott kills demand, the Libs fry Abbott, Turnbull gets the gig and returns to the Howard policy of pricing carbon. Shorten, too, gets fried, for his backflip, Combet takes over and a bipartisan carbon policy takes over.
Then, the country can stop chasing shadows, stop letting the media blow smoke up our collective clackers, and acknowledge that failure to act will hasten the demise of the species. Once that happens the political effort can concentrate on being effective on matters over which they have some control or influence.
This entire article is premised on the media and political class believing dealing with elevated temperatures is a "political issue", as if things aren't changing rapidly as they fiddle behind their gated communities. It ain't politics, it's physics (which will always win in the end).
Even the head of Exxon believes the temperature rises are real, and man made. Mind you, he thinks environmental and social engineering will fix it, so he's still an idiot.
As for the political and media whistlers - just vandals and pirates.
The hubris and arrogance of man never ceases to amaze. But, the planet will adjust - it just won't take us along for the ride.
Oh, for people of intellect and principle. Try Bill McKibben.

If the argument is so compelling for climate action why do not China, US, India, and Canada, today 17 May, have national carbon taxes/ETS and why is the Australian $23 per tonne so much higher than in Europe?

I think you miss the point, so I'll try again. On your first point, try this - their political and media classes are just as stupid and negligent as ours - maybe they think it's a "political issue", too.
On to your second point - it's irrelevant.

David, I admire your passion... very skilled at saying lots with very few words (quite hard skill to master)... the head of Exxon is talking his own book... he is 'long' on gas, and so its in his best interest for 'something to be done' about carbon, and that 'something' to be to use gas as a transition fuel.
At the end of the day - let's face it - they are all politicians, who are focussed on only one thing, obtaining and securing - power. Precisely which 'talking head' thinks they are running the country is not of that much relevance, ALP and LNP policy platforms can be differentiated by about 5%....

David it really tickles me, you hit it on the head in one, I give the back room boys who will slit Abbot's throat in six to nine months at best, they have yapped their merry brains off all the way and stopped this country from moving forward for far too long. If we get another hung parliament god help this country. The media moguls who are backing them should hang their collective heads in shame this country has so much potential to be out there in front of a the rest of the world. This goes for all parties concerned.

Labor should have stood up prior to the last election as a unified and meaningful party and put forward the cold hard facts on what they were doing instead of their backroom bickering, people would have "especially the fence sitters" voted their way and we all would have been better off.

The carbon pricing and energy efficiency targets or mandate, tax call it what you wish have had a significant impact and hopefully it will continue, it opens far more business, strengthens our approaches and hopefully we can tackle it collectively and unilaterally. This country can lead by example a bit of pain for a hell of a lot of gain.

I always say to my engineers think outside the square because that next thought or idea can be fantastic.

Rob if it only were so simple that the Labor party woes are down to one policy - the carbon tax - and Labor's complete disregard of the electorate on this issue.

These are other areas that have weakened Labor:

* Disastrous policy implementation - not just with the carbon tax.

* Very close association with the union movement. This is perhaps why Rudd was so popular and why Shorten may not be the right man to next lead the party.

* Perception of scandal and misuse of office. How possible is Thompson still running around after something like 4 years after serious allegations surface? Plus all sorts of abuse of power revealed by ICAC NSW yet no one charged there either. On a voter mind map Labor certainly has the strong position of "The Corrupt Party" compared to the Coalition, in my opinion, and there are union threads throughout this.

* Culture of attacking everyone, blaming everyone else and trying to divide rather than unify. Maybe Labor should have paid closer attention to the Obama approach and speeches.

So Labor sorted the Murray-Darling did they? This is just part of trying to rewrite history. The truth is closer to policy implementation debacle featuring billions spent to rebuy water but then no one knows where this water is that was repurchased.

One real good reason why Labor should drop the carbon tax - that you did not mention - is that it would then drive a wedge in the perception of the close association between Labor and the Greens where today a vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens - and is another reason not to vote Labor.

A key point you are missing is that who will be left in the Labor caucus to vote out the carbon tax? Is it going to be like the Queensland election where Labor is reduced to such small numbers that they will be able to car pool in a minivan?

The last prediction about the likely result of the next federal election by Malcolm Mackerras was a significant win for the Coalition, he rated Labor's chance of being returned to government at 10%. He is rarely wrong and has been crunching the numbers for many decades.

David as to climate change these so called scientific experts had the land occupied by a metre of water 5 years ago but no signs yet and they have recently revised their forecast. However, they say that it will occur but later. The facts are that they fail to recognise and except is that the environment in which this planet lives has changed many times over the millions of years well before man arrived. It will continue to do so irrespective of what man does to try and stop it. One way of avoiding excesses in anything is to reduce the worlds population by 200 million but it is not politically correct to say so. As to Abbott tanking and Turnbull rising again I think you should start with the thought again. Turnbull had his opportunity as leader and failed. He has not mauled Conroy and his dream of the NBN despite obvious reasons to do so. You could drive a truck through the litany of mistakes Conroy has made. As you appear to be a Greeny perhaps you might try and get your party back focussed on the environment and not meddling in socialist ideology

It is certainly a very tough time to be one of the "true believers" in Labor/Greens government and human induced climate change. I entirely understand how you feel when no one seems to realise how dire the situation we face is. You just don't understand how everyone else can be so blind that they cannot see how well the Labor Green government was doing in all areas. Particularly climate policy.

I don't agree with you but I understand how you must feel. It's probably the same way I have felt since the 2010 election. For such a long time it seemed no one could see how badly everything was being handled by this miserable excuse for a government that we have endured for nearly three years (many would argue it's six years). Fortunately, it now seems enough people have woken up and decided not to cop it any more. Only the "true believers" are still carrying the flag for this government.

I read this piece, Rob, and thought what did he have for lunch. Possibly, some pork belly wih a nice peppery shiraz from WA. Why bother dreaming on like this just; go home early and have a nap. Two major cyclones in a row on the eastern seaboard as with 1954 and 1974, and every parrot in the pet shop will be screeching: what do we want? Carbon pricing now! Even Tony Abbott will be forced to sing on chorus

That doesn’t sound like Climate Change. It sounds like Climate Repetition.

What killed the Gillard govt was not a specific policy error, but the overall theme - treason. The public has worked out that the govt is pursuing an agenda that is not for us. And it is the agenda of the Fabians.

Carbon pricing may be useful - one warmist commenting believes it is. But unilateral pricing just moves emissions and jobs to non Kyoto countries. The voters instinctively get this. (And I've put that proposition to global policy makers directly - they don't even attempt to refute it. It's a fact.)

The border protection fiasco was not designed to help us - it was to curry favour with elements in the UN.

The live exports fiasco - didn't help animals (most starved). Didn't help us. Destroyed Australians' lives.

Abbott gets traction with Everyman voters not because of detailed analysis of his policies but because they believe he wants to help them. The same reason the chattering class elitists hate him. And that goes back to when he stood up to Howard on WorkChoices and had the anti-detriment test reinserted.

I agree with Martin. When the AWU-WRA police investigations are completed and facts/charges become public knowledge despite media squibbing their duty to keep the electorate updated on the documented conduct by persons of police interest, there will be one or two unionist parliamentarians who the public will never ever accept as qualifying for the Labor leadership .

Many constituents have not forgotten Bill Shorten's filthy bullying language to a small business owner when she couldn't supply his child with a pie.

Depending on particular events, Julia Gillard will very likely exit the parliament either before or immediately after the election which makes her scorched earth departure all the more galling. Her colleagues can see the damage she is doing with rapid, irresponsible expenditure announcements, yet they are too busy plotting their leadership ambitions to step up and stop the damage.

Gillard will retire with many millions in her bag, and will receive a very high salary for life. courtesy of the robber barons in power in parliament.

The Labor party needs to face some very simple facts: their view of a unionised workplace and their socialist views of society are simply incompatible with what most people in Australia want today.
The Labor party is going to go through avery long period in the 'wilderness' until they recognise, just as the UK Labour party did, that they remain unelectable all the time they have the links with unions and continue with socialist policy.
Unions represent less than 13% of the workforce. They had their place once but are irrelevant now.

As for the climate issue, I think most people would agree that not poluting our environment is a sensible approach, not least for health issues. What the 'climate believers' don't seem to understand is that there is a separation between problems and solutions. We have a scientific problem which is trying to be solved with a political solution. Scientific problems cannot be resolved with political solutions - introducing punitive taxes has had no effect whatsoever. All it does is redistribute wealth - which, when we have socialist governments in office, people are very suspicious of.
Climate does change, always has done and always will do. What we need to do is learn how to deal with it when it does change (which it hasn't for the last 16 years), not continue with the veign, arrogant idea that we are bigger than the world's 'systems' and can somehow 'conquer' it.

Although the climate science may be real - you have to understand when is a good time to implement your policy. In 2007 when everyone was dancing around - it was the hot toipc. Then the GFC hit and it changed everything. The climate worry was replaced with people having jobs and feeding their families.
To a concept driven socialist - they will not understand this point. I mean why should we wait for the world - lets go it alone - its the right thing to do. Here's a better analogy - you have the g20 in a bus each leader has a brake pedal and its going 100km into a brick wall. Your brake pedal represents your countries percentage of global emissions. Australia hits the brake pedal - but its such so inconsequential that you hit the brick wall anyway. Do you feel good about yourself?

Kev was right to drop the policy - from then on Australia has been on a wrong path wasting time talking about our inconsequential impact of a world problem. We would've been far more productive trying to spend resources convincing the powers that be that cleaning up the environment is a good idea. If that was to no avail - then so be it. Negatively impacting Australian industry (no matter how small that may be) to make a few hangers on post 2007 happy was not smart policy.

I believe one of the other claims was that people would look upon Australia as a beacon for implementing an ETS. Last time I looked the world still has a few problems. Another claim - that renewable energy would attract some huge level of investment - its been one of if not the worst performing sector on the NYSE. Takes a pretty poor performance for a sector to continually lose money since 2008 while the broader market has rallied.

I just wonder how much more time we are going to bang on about a world problem for which a lot of the world demonstrates - they have little care for at present.

I didn't qualify my position above. I think they should leave the carbon tax in. Abbott should leave it in at a lower rate and ditch his silly version of it. Just basically saying that the govt was wrong to put it in, Abbott is wrong to change it and they should lower it to minimise Australias disadvantage in a world problem.

Adam,

I am in agreement with most of your points except the last one regarding keeping the carbon tax.
If it doesn't achieve anything, no-one else is doing anything about it and it is an insideous tax which gets in every nook and cranny and no-one can work out what its impact is (unlike the GST which you can reverse-engineer the calculation to work it out), then it should be got rid of - it is a bad implementation of a tax.

My view is that Tony Abbott should drop his policy completely as I suspect that the vast majority who are voting for him are doing so because they believe in his other policies and want to get rid of Gillard, not because they support his climate policy. In fact, I don't believe people care what Tony Abbots's climate policy is and they would still vote for him if he dropped it.

Personally, I think that once the current wave of socialist-leaning governments in the western world passes, climate will disappear off the radar until the next wave of socialist governments comes around. And given the damage done this time around, that is likely to be a couple of decades at least. With a bit of luck, even longer.

Yes Labor sorted out the Murray-Darling but that’s about all.

Any legacy of economic growth belongs to the mining industry coupled with the rise of China. Even the repair of flood damage via the insurance industry and government grants contributed to a GDP increase last financial year while the rest of us were hurting. Such is the joy of accumulated economic data.

But Labor legacy is an increased public service size (some 20000) since being in office. And government bureaucrats have helped themselves (via self assessment) to huge increases of pay while Australian small businesses went to the wall in record numbers. There’s been nothing for small business but disdain.

Don’t forget there was after all bipartisan support for NDIS but Gillard refused to work with the Coalition wanting to claim all the glory.

Under Labor’s watch, the Australian children education standard ranking has dropped against the rest of the world – and against much less rich economies. Too much pre-occupation things like the “my school website”, NAPLAN tests or attention given to dubious lobby groups. Labor has taken away more University funding. Unfortunately Gonski has every chance of merely funding more bureaucrats with dribs and drabs arriving at the coal face.

Under Labor’s watch the carbon and mining tax split the country in two, and for what practically no reason.

Yes under Coalition the public service will be reduced – but by natural attrition. And it is probably true that unions will rally up.

I hope something like Hawke’s ACOORD can be put into place – but this time not focussed at the workers but at industry to reform. Industry should look at reducing their middle and upper management salaries and not come across as lauding it over. That way the workers might respect industry more. But false and spurious claims by union heavy weights must be stopped.

Shorten is the wrong leader choice for Labor. Shorten has not been capable of desisting from lobbying like a union representative. And that’s about all he’s good for. He is simply not credible.

As Malcolm Turnbull once put it “I wouldn’t buy a used car from Bill Shorten”

Let me say it again:

As Malcolm Turnbull once put it “I wouldn’t buy a used car from Bill Shorten”

Ironical, that the carbon tax was the first step, that labour made, to guarantee their demise.

Interesting that the greens don't understand the difference, between collecting energy and infrastructure.

Yet carbon electrons, will save our world from global warming. Alas, if only some of our brilliant nuclear physicists, would tell these people about superconductivity and the fact that liquid CO2 (very cold) can be used as a large capacitor, confining energy.

Alas, if only an entrepreneur with good general knowledge, could explain, that the financial hole the world is in, is actually due to high cost energy.

If only governments, were able to pull their head out of the political trough and see that, global warming, low growth and low tax collection, can be solved, using the same parameters.

We need vision! instead we got a carbon tax, political diatribe and green people selling products they don't understand.

The underlying assumption seems to be that the carbon price is a political plaything rather than an initial response to the climate emergency.

Both political parties are so wedded to the concept of tradeoffs and negotiated settlements that they forget that you can't negotiate with the climate. If you put heat into the system by burning fossil fuels, it has consequences. The laws of physics are pretty simple and not negotiable.

It is interesting to see the penny starting to drop in Queensland, where authorities are starting to realise that rebuilding bridges only to lose them the following year in another flood isn't the answer.

Pricing carbon is only 1 element to a solution, but it is a pretty critical one and the rest of the world is moving towards carbon pricing, while we unconsciously drift into the past.

Totally agree with Keith Williams, everyone can hold their political theories and predict election winners and losers but the climate is oblivious and by the laws of physics will continue to rapidly change largely due to humans burning fossil fuels. I am so tired of reading the nonsense pedaled by climate skeptics on this site. Could one of them please nominate just one respected national or international scientific body (not individual scientists) who do no believe climate change is largely man made. I'll bet you can't so your views are ignorant of the facts.

You are completely right, Doug Gaze and Keith Williams. The silence - from the contrarians who 'contribute' to this forum - is deafening, when it comes to citing even one reputable body who might supports their views. Even the expression 'climate change debate' is misleading. It suggests you could put a bunch of politicians and captains of industry in the same room and whoever produced the best debating theatre would 'win' the argument about whether humans are driving climate change. As if the atmosphere knows or cares about the blather of a bunch of inconsequential humans, who in this case are rank amateurs with no understanding of the underlying physics or chemistry!

"You are completely right, Doug Gaze and Keith Williams. The silence - from the contrarians who 'contribute' to this forum - is deafening, when it comes to citing even one reputable body who might supports their views. Even the expression 'climate change debate' is misleading."
You're right about the 'climate change' debate being misleading when it's hard to pin down the shifting sands of Big Climate as they've shifted stance from global warming to climate change and now extreme weather. As for reputable bodies I would have thought there aren't too many left to argue with after the Climategate email revelations and the various IPCC Exxaggerationgates and the exposure of so much Green grey literature regurgitation. As for BOMs everywhere ceasing to be weathermen and becoming mouthpieces for Big Climate with their cooked up statistics and fiddling with the pitiful thermometer record, perhaps you'd like to take up the disappearing thermometers with Anthony Watts and Co, or Mann and Co's infamous hockey schtick with Steve McKintyre and Co. I'm sure there are many reputable scientists there that aren't controlled by the corrupt peer review process of so many of our once venerable institutions. Something Eisenhower warned us of some time ago.

While the catastrophists obfuscate and duck for cover with over 15 years of unpredicted warming hiatus and more research comes to light, true men of science are increasingly acknowledging that there is much greater uncertainty about climate than the alarmist industry has had us believe, based on the flimsiest of computer modelling and that we are only just beginning down the path to understanding it. Nevertheless for all the billions spent on chasing core drills down holes and the multiples of that spent on Green thought bubbles trying to reduce a colourless odourless plant food in our atmosphere, not one nation you could name has managed to do so to date, nor even looks like doing so in the forseeable future. What's there to debate?

Roger,

Three questions for you:

1. Do you have any qualifications in the physical sciences?
2. Why do you regurgitate lies about 'Climategate'? The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit was thoroughly exonerated by several independent inquiries. You should get out more.
3. Even if you don't think greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, how long do think Earth's fossil fuels will last at our increasing rates of consumption? 100, 200, 500 years? What then Roger?

Doug - surely as you begin to read the first 2 lines of someone’s comment you've got a pretty good idea where it’s going - so if you are sick of them then either just don't read on or ignore. But the sceptics are entitled to their opinion. One side has or will be proven absolutely correct - eventually. However it is important that opponents are not alienated. They must be persuaded. And the first step to persuasion is to understand why people (1) hold the beliefs they do, or (2) might not want to do anything even if they believe damage will occur if they don't do something.

I am no a climate sceptic but in relation to (2) above - the current policies (on one side or the other) simply do not convince me. So it is my view - to which I am entitled, that until we obtain (1) world consensus for climate action and or (2) staged implementation over 20-30 years of a fully costed plan for replacement of power generation in Australia, I'd rather the money be left in the private and household economy.

Also simply making statements that other countries are acting on climate change by implementing carbon taxes/similar is not evidence of world consensus. In reality there is scant truth to that statement, in the sense that the policies to which you refer are either not of the magnitude, or attached to the category, or are of a type that will reverse climate change. Infact it may be that such policies will cause more damage - by a false and destructive sense of security that something is being done.

Nonetheless I am greatly interested in the work of Professor Barry Brook - Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of Climate Science at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute and suggest all Google Barry Brook’s name sometime and get a read of some of his work.

The above is should have been addressed to Keith, Doug and Peter !

Rob, Labor could say "and only made one mistake, which is why we’ve buried carbon pricing’.

but that would be like everything else they have said - Pure spin and lies

Martin I thought I heard that Mr Abbott has a court case re his slush fund?? Funny no trial by media bit unusual or maybe not.
Media is normally falling over themselves for any bit of scandal or hypothetical maybe maybe not. Is there not enough great policy successes achieved by this hung parliament to discuss or would that be just too supportive of positive outcomes for the people.