She says she advised the dropping of the ETS because it didn’t have enough voter support (suspect that this line is at least partially code for “the legislation was a crock”).
“I was concerned that if you were going to do something as big to your economy as put a price on carbon, with the economic transfer that implies … you need a lasting and deep community consensus to do it,” she said.
“I don’t believe we had that last and deep community consensus.”
“I believe in climate change. I believe it’s caused by human activity and I believe we have an obligation to act,” she said.
“I will be making some statements about some further things we can do to address the challenge of climate change as we work to that lasting and deep community consensus.” [ABC News]
Combine that with her stand against a “Big Australia”:
“Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population,” she told Fairfax.
“I don’t support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia.
“I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our buses, our trains and our services can sustain.”
She made sure to say that this didn’t mean she was against immigration though, noting that skilled workers are vital for Australian businesses to grow.
That’s two of my bleeding heart green lefty boxes ticked. Which means that if the Gillard govt sorts out the rancid mess that is the mandatory internet filter then I might just vote for my Federal Labor candidate for MP this time around (my State vote is definitely going to the Greens).
Strategically, voting Greens in the Senate makes it more likely for these laws I like to be passed. If the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate, then the Labor Caucus knows that they will have to deal with them rather than shift further to the right to placate the LNP.
Labor had a consensus on climate change action and they blew it by trying to use the CPRS to bring down Turnbull. On top of that they only need a new consensus now because they have spent all their political capital elsewhere. I have little doubt that Julia Gillard will do better at communicating the CPRS, but if it is the same one as before, I’d rather she failed at that task.
“Sustainable population” has pretty much become a racist dog-whistle now, and totally avoids the real issues of decades of infrastructure neglect (under Howard) and centuries of water mismanagement. I’m not anticipating much will be said about these things either.
Sam, I too hope that she means “price on carbon” literally rather than just another emissions scheme that is basically just a rort system for polluters.
I know that sustainable population can be used as a dog-whistle, but if we hypothesise for a moment that she might mean it seriously and genuinely, then what other term would you suggest? She did specifically mention water management and infrastructure concerns in the linked article.
Deciding we can’t talk about sustainable population limits because some people have used it as a dog whistle is throwing out the baby (sorry) with the bathwater.
It’s a conversation we need to be having. Continuing to encourage population growth without looking at whether we’re going to have enough water – and food, given that climate change is going to make growing food in Australia more difficult and more of a gamble, not to mention the implications of peak oil – would be completely irresponsable.
The mention of water and infrastructure from the article was no more than boilerplate pablum.
I will be extremely surprised if there is any talk about how much of these and other resources are actually used to sustain our population, as opposed to sustaining export agri-business, export mines and other profit ventures. Very surprised if there is talk about waste management and inefficiencies inherent in a food supply chain that is entirely driven by competition.
This isn’t a question of semantics, the whole population debate is driven by political convenience. It hides the systemic problems behind a facade of environmental concern trolling. The added bonus is the racist undertone, which allows the debate to furiously focus on “how many people we let in to our country”.
If anyone in the prevailing political class was being honest or, to give them the benefit of the doubt, knew what was going on they would be talking about an “optimal” population that the environment will support whilst still maintaining entrenched economic and wealth biases. Contemporary environmental activism has not brought us this far however, and if substantial change can be realised in the interim then I’m pragmatic enough to accept it.
I wouldn’t drop this comment anywhere else but here mind you, as I generally expect the tone level of engagement to be quite a bit higher.
Damn, and I so wanted to believe. I’m hoping for something more substantive than that, but I’m not at all sure that we’re going to get it. I guess we wait and see what gaping flaws various groups find in the proposals when they come up with something more concrete, and whether they’re reparable or not. As you say, I want some sort of substantial change, but it doesn’t have to be immediately perfect, just not a retrograde step masked in positive spin.
If we do get something substantive ever, it won’t be until after the election is over, and we won’t know what direction it’s in until then either. In the meantime we’ll get this vague and disingenuous rhetorical balancing act. Past policy indiscretions will be acknowledged, a commitment to review and consultation will be affirmed and everything will be delayed. Labor are in political pragmatism overdrive right now, damage control and election mode at the same time, it’s not fertile ground for progressive breakthroughs on the environment or social justice.
The only thing I can see Labor actually moving on before the election is the RSPT, and that’s only because they are fighting a cashed up opponent. Anyone can tell where that’s going to end up. Every other election promise will amount to a commitment of “we’ll look into it”.
As some have pointed out elsewhere, Prime Minister Julia Gillard (just wanted to type it all out- I’ve been waiting to for years) didn’t actually mention a carbon tax– just a price on carbon. The proposed ETS would also have put a price on carbon.
We will have to wait and see what is put up.
Yes, it looks like the sub-editor at Auntie jumped the gun (and I didn’t read the actual quotes carefully enough).
With the minimal change line taken by Gillard in today’s cabinet reshuffle, I think we’ll be waiting quite a while until we see anything concrete.
The relationship between maintaining the environment and biodiversity and at the same time not falling prey to the tropes about immigration is an interesting one and one I’ve meant to write about for some time. I don’t think (Don’t THINK) that environmentalists like the ones I know in the Vic NAtional Parks association are anti-immigration but there are people like Australians Against Further Immigration dogwhistling behind, thank you Sam Bauers, “a facade of environmental concern trolling” in the AGE regularly. I do fear that the media will start to present a confected dichotomy of environmentalists versus immigration / asylum seekers, which will be really sad.
It would be great if both of those comments do result in progressive & sustainable policies. I have to admit to feeling deeply cynical though. I suspect that they have been carefully worded to mean all things to all people and thus represent a commitment on nothing (particularly when coupled with Gillard’s previous statements on asylum seekers, which are far from tolerant).
I’ll still be voting for the Greens at every level. But, then again, I’d still do that even if Labor did make concrete commitments to really tackle climate change and to deal with asylum seekers in a humane manner. I just don’t trust them and want another party to have more power to exert pressure on them to move to the Left.
Since the majors are moving ever further away from the Left we certinaly do need a properly Leftist presence, just to keep things anywhere near the centre, let alone as Left as you and I might like.
So Rudd is demonised for months for delaying the ETS and Gillard who advised him to do it … gets votes for doing the same thing for the same reasons. Eh.
My problem with the sustainable population thing is that there is as far as I can see no way to advocate a “sustainable population” for Australia without claiming Australia has some special right that the rest of the world shouldn’t have. Its the world in general that is at risk of environmental degredation due to climate change and Australia has no right to be a special oasis insulated from the suffering. The global population has to go somewhere, and having a “sustainable population” here just means keeping the global population in other countries, mostly less able to moderate the impacts than we. It might be a solution to Australia’s environmental degredation but why on earth is Australia so special it should be coddled from global problems? We have environmental challenges, so does every corner of the earth — who also have a large number of other health, resource, political problems on a scale we do not. So to this bleeding heart lefty its fundamentally the language of the selfishness of the richest people in the world no matter how carefully you tiptoe around the immigration issue. We should be part of the world and share its problems not act as if we have a special right to opt out of them.
In other words, bring on the intergalactic terraforming!
Oh yes! I agree with you Amanda. The population debate has always been based on blaming the poor for degrading the planet in an effort to take the spotlight off the unsustainable consumption patterns of the wealthy.
Consumption, not population, is the key cause of our sustainability problems and I would like to see a policy on sustainable consumption (energy production, resource use, etc) rather than population. That’s not going to come from Labor in a hurry is it? They are too wedded to the neoliberal model of growth, growth, growth…
[Shorter me: I agree with Amanda and Sam Bauers, plus a little extra flaming ideological lefty ranting]
Yeah, I feel the term “sustainable Australia” is crafted to appeal to the left and the right. Sustainable is used these days also to mean things like businesses-not-going-out-of-business and so forth, and of course appeals to anxiety about consumption and population pressures and multiculturalism. So you get people like my brother ranting about the Chinese (he means in China) “breeding like rabbits”, excuse me for repeating the racism, wanting to drive cars now and putting pollution in the atmosphere, and I am like, excuse me brother, when are WE going to put in a one-child policy? And when are YOU going to stop driving a car? Go blame the Pope for not advocating condoms, brother. And remember our government telling white women to stop being so selfish and to breed more at the same time as it turned away a few handfuls of refugees wanting to save their own lives?
Yeah, I need to see some pretty well-worded and well-thought-out policies before I stop being wary of anything that implies immigration is bad. We have to share the cake, and Australians are using way too many earths at the moment as it is.
And she still doesn’t support marriage equality. D:
I guess it was too much to hope.
Yes, I mentioned that on another Gillard thread here (we’ve not so many as the madness on LP, but probably a few too many for easy deciding which to post in).
“The population debate has always been based on blaming the poor for degrading the planet in an effort to take the spotlight off the unsustainable consumption patterns of the wealthy. ”
Parts of it obviously, but I dispute that it’s impossible to have a rational discussion about it without underlying racism and blaming of the poor. There are many people who believe that both consumption and population need to be looked at critically.
“Consumption, not population, is the key cause of our sustainability problems and I would like to see a policy on sustainable consumption (energy production, resource use, etc) rather than population.”
Up to a point. We could all stop buying new doo-dads tomorrow, and it’s still the case that the current world population – never mind the projected larger one – can’t be fed by growing food sustainably. And yes, I know that there are currently food surplases, and that it’s a matter of them not being distributed fairly, but we’re not growing that food sustainably. What we are currently doing is using a vast amount of increasingly scarce oil to grow our food, and depleting the soil of minerals.
“My problem with the sustainable population thing is that there is as far as I can see no way to advocate a “sustainable population” for Australia without claiming Australia has some special right that the rest of the world shouldn’t have. ”
Of course there is. Everyone advocates a sustainable population.
“Its the world in general that is at risk of environmental degredation due to climate change and Australia has no right to be a special oasis insulated from the suffering. ”
Hardly likely. The models mostly show Australia’s going to be ridiculously hot and dry. We’ll be struggling to feed ourselves if the models are correct, not living in a luxurious oasis. Which obviously makes the problem of how many people should be living here more problematic.
I also think that skilled migration is in some ways problematic – less wealthy countries spend precious resources educating their brightest kids, we wait til they’re qualified and then nab them? Doesn’t seem entirely fair to me.
The whole issue of population is incredibly complex, but ignoring it because of an assumption that if we talk about it’s because we’re racist anti-immigration types is not actually going to make very real problems go away.
Like I said, no political capital left, heading into an election and running scared. Expect to get half of nothing on progressive policy.
For anyone not keeping score:
* RSPT – caving/caved in
* CPRS (or replacement) – delayed
* Interim carbon tax – no consensus, so no
* Population – feeding the trolls but no actual commitment
* Refugees (via boat) – those trolls still look hungry
* NEW! – LGBTI marriage equality – no, and no debate either
I’m trying to give Gillard Labor the benefit of the doubt, really I am. It’s just not going to work out with stuff like this coming down the chute.
I’d like to see her pressed for her position on the internet filter and a few other less populist issues like the NT intervention and income quarentining. But right now I think any claim of her being “left” is baseless.
I’d like to know that as well. I’m very wary regarding the internet filter, although I’m sure that on most other issues the Gillard govt will be streets ahead of what an Abbott or even a Turnbull govt would be (Turnbull personally is not conservative, but nearly everybody else on that front bench would be).
Just remember that it’s other people making that claim for her, not she herself. Being on the Left faction of the ALP is to “left” only in reference to the party’s Right factions. She’s a centrist, which is better (for us lefties) than being of the Right.