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Daily Archives: March 8th, 2011

Aussie carbon tax revolt ‘bizarre’: expert

March 8, 2011 – 1:29PM

A European Union climate expert has described Australian opposition to a carbon tax as bizarre, diplomatically pointing out Britain’s Conservatives were more co-operative in opposition.

Jill Duggan, who managed Britain’s initial emissions trading scheme (ETS), said there was an incorrect perception that Australia would be going it alone if it put a price on carbon.

“The thing that struck me is how the debate has changed here and also that wide perception that I keep hearing that Australia shouldn’t go first,” she told reporters in Canberra today.

“Coming from Europe, that sounds slightly bizarre because there are 30 countries in Europe that have had a carbon price … since the beginning of 2005.”

While reluctant to comment on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s campaign against a carbon tax, Ms Duggan pointed out how the British Conservative Party was enthusiastic about an ETS when in opposition.

“During the last Labour government, it wasn’t Conservatives saying, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this,'” she said.

“They said, ‘You should be doing more, you should be doing it faster.'”

Ms Duggan also dismissed suggestions that a carbon price would push up electricity prices dramatically, arguing higher oil and commodity prices accounted for three-quarters of the 40 per cent increase in power bills during the first year of an ETS in Britain.

Job losses were also minimal, with the European ETS creating service-sector jobs in Britain.

“I don’t think we can think of any jobs losses that are the direct result of carbon policy,” Ms Duggan said.

Ms Duggan not only headed Britain’s work on international emissions trading and linking but has advised other governments on the European experience. She pointed to some design flaws in Europe’s initial emissions scheme.

She is expected to share her insights with federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet in a telephone hook-up today.

The European Union’s emissions trading scheme began in 2005, but a year later pollution permit prices collapsed because of over allocation.

“It demonstrated very clearly to politicians and industry that the target could be set tougher,” Ms Duggan said.

“The hardest thing to get into a trading system at the beginning is demand, because nobody wants to sell into a system, nobody wants to buy out of it.”

The first phase with a lower carbon price ran until 2008.

From 2013, 50 per cent of permits to be auctioned will be for the power sector.

Other sectors will continue to have free allocations, but they will have to comply with tougher emission-reduction standards based on the average of the 10 per cent most efficient players in any sector.

The EU’s ETS aims to reduce emissions by 21 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020.

Federal independent MP Rob Oakeshott, a member of the government’s multi-party climate change committee, is also expected to speak to Ms Duggan, along with Oliver Woldring, a climate change adviser from the Australian Greens.

It is understood independent MP Tony Windsor was unable to find time for Ms Duggan.

The Coalition’s climate action spokesman Greg Hunt and Nationals leader Warren Truss did not reply to an invitation.

Ms Duggan will also be speaking to the government’s key climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut.

Record Labor low on carbon fury: Newspoll

  • UPDATED Dennis Shanahan, Political editor
  • From: The Australian
  • March 08, 2011 2:57AM

JULIA Gillard’s carbon tax plan has reversed public support for action on global warming, damaged her leadership and delivered Labor its lowest primary support on record.

Tony Abbott is now the closest he has been to Ms Gillard as preferred prime minister.

And, as satisfaction with the Prime Minister slumps just nine months after she agreed to challenge Kevin Rudd, she remains behind the Foreign Minister as the preferred Labor leader.

In just two weeks, Ms Gillard’s personal support has gone from its best since she became Prime Minister in June last year to her worst. It is now the same as Mr Rudd’s failing personal support when he began campaigning for the mining tax in May last year.

Since Ms Gillard announced her intention to introduce a carbon tax from July next year, overall positive public support for action on global warming, even if it meant rising prices for electricity and petrol, has turned negative. A majority of people, or 53 per cent, are now against Labor’s plan, with 42 per cent in favour.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary vote crashed six percentage points to just 30 per cent, the lowest primary vote in Newspoll survey history. Previously, the lowest primary vote was 31 per cent, in 1993, when Paul Keating was prime minister and Australia was in recession.

The Coalition’s primary vote, after falling sharply two weeks ago because of internal divisions, bounced back to 45 per cent. This is the Coalition’s highest primary vote since March 2006, when John Howard was prime minister and nine months before Kim Beazley was replaced by Mr Rudd as opposition leader.

Primary support for the Australian Greens rose slightly to a near-record high of 15 per cent – exactly half of Labor’s primary vote – during a period when Bob Brown and his deputy, Christine Milne, claimed authorship of the carbon price plan and called for petrol to be included in the tax.

Ms Gillard, speaking from Washington this morning ahead of her meeting with US President Barack Obama, said she would not comment on the Newspoll but had always expected that putting a price on carbon would be “a tough fight”.

“I will continue to press to price carbon and we will get the done from the 1st of July, 2012,” Ms Gillard told reporters.

“It is fairly easy to stoke fears and Tony Abbott is a master at it.

“And he will continue to stoke fears.”

“But Australians, I believe, will come to see that pricing carbon is the right way to deal with climate change and the challenge of transforming our economy.”

The Opposition Leader has accused Ms Gillard of lying about the carbon tax and being too close to the Greens. He has pledged to repeal the tax if the Coalition is elected at the next election.

Ms Gillard said that every day Mr Abbott sought to stoke fears she would respond with facts and reason.

“I know that ultimately Australians will be confident enough to take this step of pricing carbon.”

“The Labor caucus believes in pricing carbon and when we embarked on this debate we knew it was going to be tough.”

Based on a distribution of preferences at last year’s election, the Coalition has surged in front of Labor, with a four-point rise to 54 per cent compared with the government’s 46 per cent.

It is the Coalition’s highest two-party-preferred vote since March 2005 and compares with the August election result of Labor on 50.1 per cent to the Coalition’s 49.9 per cent.

In the two weeks since Ms Gillard announced her intention to introduce a carbon tax, voter satisfaction with her has dropped 11 percentage points to 39 per cent – her lowest satisfaction rating since becoming prime minister and only three points above Mr Rudd’s rating the weekend before he was removed. Asked last weekend who was the preferred Labor leader between Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd, the Foreign Minister secured 44 per cent support to Ms Gillard’s 37 per cent. This is similar to the result last May – before the leadership change – of 45 per cent for Mr Rudd and 40 per cent for Ms Gillard.

Dissatisfaction with Ms Gillard also spiked 12 points, taking her dissatisfaction level to 51 per cent, the first time she has been above 50 per cent.

After a complete reversal of her personal standing, Ms Gillard now has a negative satisfaction rating – the difference between positive support and dissatisfaction – of 12 percentage points compared with Mr Rudd’s negative 19 points when he was sacked by the Labor caucus.

Ms Gillard also dramatically lost ground as preferred prime minister to Mr Abbott, more than halving her 22-point lead two weeks ago to just nine points. She now leads Mr Abbott 45 per cent to 36 per cent, but two weeks ago held a 53 per cent to 31 per cent lead.

The personal standing of the Opposition Leader was little changed, with satisfaction on 39 per cent and dissatisfaction rising from 49 per cent to 51 per cent.

The previous overall support for action on climate change has shifted into majority opposition to the government’s plan for the first time.

According to the Newspoll survey last weekend, 53 per cent of voters say they are against the government’s plan to combat global warming with a carbon price that puts up the cost of gas, electricity and petrol.

Last December, voters were evenly split – 49 per cent against and 47 per cent in favour – over whether they were prepared to pay more for climate change action to slow global warming.

It appears the government’s announcement has crystallised opposition to the introduction of a carbon price that would push up the cost of living.

With Ms Gillard in Washington, Mr Abbott yesterday continued to campaign against the carbon scheme.

“This tax, whether it’s a straight tax or an emissions trading scheme, will hit people’s cost of living. It won’t clean up the environment but it will clean out your wallet.

“That’s the problem with Labor’s carbon tax,” he said.

Additional reporting: Matthew Franklin

Equal opportunity still a way off because ‘men don’t get it’

  • By Susie O’Brien
  • From: Herald Sun
  • March 08, 2011 1:42AM


WOMEN have not achieved equality because “some men just don’t get it”, Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner says.

“We are not seeing enough changes in action,” Dr Helen Szoke said.

“What we need are a range of strategies to break down stereotypical views of women, whether it is hiring a woman in a male-dominated occupation or a female AFL umpire.

“Most men have an unconscious filter, and we need them to see the world through another lens that breaks down barriers for women.”

Speaking in honour of the centenary of International Women’s Day, Dr Szoke urged men to think of their wives and daughters when making decisions, the Herald Sun reported.

“What would your wife say if she was sitting in your chair? Or your daughter?” she said.

“We need more men to confront their own views that stereotype women.

“A lot of men have done that and we need a lot more to do that.”

Her comments come as new figures show:

WOMEN earn 16 per cent less than men on average for the same work.

In some sectors, such as finance, they earn 32 per cent less.

WOMEN have half as much superannuation as men.

THE commission received 160 complaints of sexual harassment and 126 sex discrimination complaints from women in the last year.

A new Equal Opportunity Act takes effect in Victoria on August 1.

The Act will give employers, service providers, schools and landlords a duty to “eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation as far as possible”.

Dr Szoke said the Act required only “reasonable and proportionate measures” to combat inequality.

She said progress was best achieved through “cultural change led from within organisations”.

“Some people are getting it, and they are seeing that gender inequality is bad for business, and that they are missing out by not having enough women workers, or for being a sport that doesn’t have a code that respects women,” she said.

Alexandra Marriott, Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry manager of workplace relations said “cultural change was slow but we are seeing it happen”.

“It’s happening with a new generation coming through the workforce, especially in small business,” she said.

“Businesses are increasingly acknowledging that it is in their favour to increase opportunities for women.”

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