Leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton stated that the Coalition opposition would not vote for the 43% emissions reduction legislation put up by the Albanese government, despite agitation by the few remaining moderates in his party. As it turned out the opposition did vote against it1. However, Tasmanian Bridget Archer crossed the floor to vote with the government to pass the legislation, not that she needed to do so2.
In federal parliament on Thursday the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese listed the organisations calling for the Coalition to vote for the government’s emissions reduction legislation. They included: Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Business Council of Australia (BCA), Australian Industry Group (AIG), Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), Governance Institute of Australia (GIA), and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)3.
Ellen Fanning (on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s The Drum) also listed these same business organisations calling for the Coalition to support the legislation. One organisation, the ACCI was quoted as saying: “the government’s emissions reduction plan offers a pathway to achieve the economic and technological transition towards a more sustainable future. This is a missed opportunity for the opposition.” [3:08 minutes in on The Drum]4
However, the only thing this highlights is the hypocrisy of some of these organisations. Some of them supported the Coalition government in their climate change denial for most of the last nine years. For instance, in 2018, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) maintained that the Labor Party’s then proposal of a 45% emissions reduction target for 2030 would be “economy wrecking”5-9.
The Australian Industry Group (AIG), which represents some of Australia’s heavy emitters, argued Labor’s 45% target would represent a “heavy lift” for many parts of the economy and “would be workable only if they were delivered in tandem with commitments to avoid trade distortions, allow many sources of flexibility and facilitate major low-carbon investments” (this is code for give us some public funds and let us pay people less and sack them more easily)10. Indeed, The Australian Industry Group supported the “pathetically inadequate” Coalition emissions reduction target of 26% by 203011. In addition, the BCA, AIG, MCA welcomed the 2014 repeal of the carbon price, which they, of course, like then Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his keeper, Peta Credlin, called a “carbon tax”. Of course, these organisations maintained that the Coalition’s proposed Emissions Reduction Fund was the best way to reduce emissions12.
Firstly, the price on carbon wasn’t a tax, and if it had stayed in place it is possible Australia could have been in a much better position with emissions reduction than we now are. In the two years the price on carbon was in operation, carbon dioxide emissions fell in Australia by over 2%13. Secondly, the Emissions Reduction Fund the Coalition put in place was simply a way to stop their donors paying for pollution, and making the Australian public pay the donors to cut their pollution. It was not surprising that the BCA, AIG and MCA loved it14.
These are the rats finally leaving the sinking Liberal Party and the National Party pustule on the Liberal rump. It makes you wonder where Australia could have been with its emissions reduction program if these rats had had a quiet word with the deniers in the Coalition parties and threatened to withdraw their rhetorical and financial support. These rats are now saying that ‘things have changed’, but that is a furphy. We have known for well over thirty years that climate change was a threat to humanity15, but that doesn’t matter to these people when there is money to be made, or public funds to be extracted from the government.
It was only in late 2021 when it became clear that the Coalition was likely to lose the 2022 election that these people had an epiphany, and started shouting for a substantial 2030 target. Now that there is a new government in power they are all over them like a cheap suit; a very cheap, transparent suit.