On ‘Q and A’ (Australian ABC TV) last night, Prime Minister Gillard admitted she did promise ‘...no carbon tax…’ before the last election. Fortunately, moderator Tony Jones (pic) gave her the opportunity to explain her ‘backflip’. In a nutshell, she would have preferred to go straight to a cap and trade system, but the political reality of working in a coalition with Independents and Greens offered her a choice of a compromise plan that included a temporary carbon tax, or no plan. I breathed a sigh of relief.
For an agonisingly long time, she didn’t admit a change of mind. Journalists are so fond of accusing politicians of ‘backflips’, that I wonder how we got to the position where to change direction in the light of more information or political reality is seen as weakness, gleefully pursued as such by sneering shock jocks like Alan Jones and ‘policy free zones’ like (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott!
However, it will be interesting to watch Oakshot and Windsor to see if they have the guts to risk the ire of their nominally anti-socialist electorates and continue to support what their consciences know must be done. There are some things, like the environment, that cannot be left to an unregulated (free) market. Surely that is the ‘take home message’ from the GEC and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, both direct results of a shonky corporate culture that demands ‘profits now; the future be damned!’
If we continue to treat nature as a ‘market’ and we continue to plunder environmental capital, we will eventually face the reality of a ‘market correction’. That correction can come in two ways and there are only two. We continue to pollute and let Nature adjust as it always has by forcing massive depopulation, sometimes to extinction, or we intervene to slow the process and perhaps, given time, reverse it.
We have the technology, but will we defer gratification to pay for it.