Dec 15, 2008


The internets are revolting!

Larvatus Prodeo, John Quiggin, New Matilda, Rooted, Public Opinion, Public Polity.

And literally etc etc etc.

But please, some of us need to take a deep breath!

Over at New Matilda, Ben Eltham wrote:

The accepted wisdom is that Kevin Rudd is playing smart politics by wedging the Greens and not getting big business offside. This is wrong too. Rudd has now ruined any credibility Labor retained with environmentalists, scientists and Greens voters, who must now surely be expected to turn viciously against the Rudd Government. Not only will he not be able to get this Bill through the Senate, but he may have said goodbye to plenty of Greens preferences in the next election. That’s not particularly smart ballot box politics, whatever the principle at stake.

Follow the logic steps.

1. Rudd won’t get it through the Senate since it’s too low a target for the Greens (and apparently too high for the Coalition)

2. As a result the ALP will probably lose Greens preferences.


So Green voters are going to preference the party that thinks 5% is too high (the Coalition) over the party that thinks 5-15% is about right, purely as a protest against the party with the higher target because it wasn’t high enough?

I’m not picking on Ben particularly here (he’s a nice bloke worth reading), but honestly folks – remember to breathe! 😀

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)


Leave a comment

46 thoughts on “ETS – Why 5% in two charts

  1. Venise Alstergren

    And a Happy New Year …:)

  2. Venise Alstergren

    Steve Fielding is nothing more than a member of the Christian Taliban; with a smart writer. A sort of down- market- very, very down-market, version of Peter Costello, who is himself a v v down-market item.

    The theory of a D D is just that; a fun theory. No sane person would want the job.

    The planet is fu*ked. Mankind has proved to be clever with so many things. But never when he/she came to limiting our own re-productivity. I’m wondering if, in order to facilitate our reproduction, we were born with some fatal gene which short-circuited our logic about breeding. Logic dictates that we should learn what happens with other species when they over-breed; they run out of food.

    So how did humans cope when faced with this logic? We invented a God whose sole purpose was to tell us it was wrong to exercise birth-control.

    When our genes say multiply, our much vaunted brains are stonkered. So here we are, just like any other living thing; only as good as our hormones.

    Who dreamed up the words global warming? They did humanity no good at all. Over re-production is a much more honest concept. (Too many people = global disaster, aka Global Warming).

    Have a wonderful Christmas everyone. And keep up the good work!

  3. David Richards

    Let’s hope that the ETS legislation is a Trojan Horse, and Rudd does outdo its stated targets by other means, thus looking like a true hero of the environment. What’s done is done – but for this and other reasons – I stick by my Greens then Lib decision. Actually, I think all Greens voters should adopt it as a matter of policy to second preference against sitting members in safe seats of either hue.

  4. Possum

    Ben Eltham went:
    [Ah but Possum what about a concerted campaign to knock over vulnerable ALP candidates like Lindsay Tanner in the lower house?]

    All good and well, but that’s a primary vote issue, not preferences. In a hand full of seats, if the economy holds up, the anger about the ETS remains and the ALP doesnt do anything much on the MRET front and carbon abatement investment front than maybe the Greens are in with a chance. But the other 147 seats in the country, I’ll chew off my right arm if the Coalition picks up extra Greens preferences over this – that would require Green voters to ultimately vote for the environmental policy farthest from the Greens policy.

    [Thanks for calling me a ncie bloke!]


    feral sparrowhawk went:
    [I think you’ve underestimated the capacity to get Xenaphon to support a higher target]

    Xenophon was the hardest to draw because of his small vote history and not being a party means polling data is scarce. His curve might need to be shifted to the right by 5% or so.

    Labor Outsider went:
    […couldn’t the ALP also have introduced legislation for a tougher target, had it knocked back, and used it as an opportunity for a double dissolution?]

    Think of the risk of a DD in an economy not doing crash hot, where the ALP’s key platform in the election is effectively one of trying to increase the cost of living.


    On your a,b and c – it’s probably a good bit of all 3 plus a 4th: Going into Copenhagen with an appropriately low ambit claim to open negotiations with.

  5. Possum

    cyclosarin went:

    [Do you think this might be what sparks a few ‘Rudd Haters’ into life?]

    I think they’re already out there – just check out the comments on any News Ltd article!

    daiskmeliadorn went:
    [If Labor aimed for something stronger, and it was rejected by the Senate, those people would be angry with either/both of the Coalition and the independents; Labor could surely then try again with something weaker.]

    They could, but Fielding and the Greens arent ever going to find common ground – Fielding will always find an excuse. So after the ALP goes for 15%+ with an inviable coalition in the Senate, by the time they get to horsetrading a 5% figure with the COalition, the economy might not be in particularly good shape, so the Coalition would be banging on about how the country is lucky to have the Coalition making decisions or we’d all be rooned as Rudd wanted to reduce everyone’s disposable income in an economic downturn!

    The end result would still be a 5% target – but the ALP would have been damaged. So if the likely outcome is 5% – why not approach the Coalition first and get a political win rather than approach them second and get a political loss?

    The Senate is the reality for every piece of legislation at the moment.

  6. caf

    [email protected]: One might equally describe it as “A double dissolution in the midst of a environmental disaster where the argument was over how much more damage the environment should be purposely subjected to.”

  7. fredex

    The problem, and its a real dilemma, that the Coalition is the worst of them all.

  8. David Richards

    As I’m in a safe ALP seat – I’ll go Greens first, and as much as I despise them, Liberal second next time around, now that Howard is finally gone. The ALP don’t deserve my vote.

  9. Ron

    Enemy Marsupial

    i’ve just passed thru and seen your analysis shown from th charts , and I’m alittle surprised you didn’t state th logical “politcal” conclusion from them

    Its been mine contention stated on billbowe yesterday that politcaly Rudd should not hav declared yesterday any 5% fixed target at all and so no ETS starting in July 2010 (GFC oor Coppenhaggen whatever reason) Result would hav been no politcal backlash yesterday at all , and no future inevitable polls pain Th dreamers then would hav been silenced

    “”politicaly” , all Rudd could hav done yesterday is say Govt prefered targey is 15% , going to Coppenhaggen to lobby for that , and whatever Cppenhaggen decides we will implement…and then later do so WITH an ETS THEN legislated for , under threat of DD to Libs and Greens

    Only benefit of th announcement of 5% seems to be to get Libs Senate suport to pass th Bill to allow an ETS to start earlier (July 2010) , rather than th above alternative (July 2011) Whilst there is an econamic benefit to ‘oz’ in starting ETS in 2010 , th politcal cost seems out of proportion to reality

  10. Paul from Berwick

    Don’t forget the MRET (and similar) reviews that are underway. See the announcement yesterday as part of a package that will be fully published by Budget 2009

  11. Michael Cusack

    I find it hard to take seriously anybody who claims that the ALP should just ram through with legislation and threaten with a double dissolution if tthe coalition hold them up in the senate. Firstly, there is no if. A double dissolution in the midst of an economic meltdown where the arguement was over how much more damage the economy should be purposely subjected to would be a Liberal wet dream. The combination of the Liberals expertise in negative campaigning and the horror stories regularly dredged up in the tabloid press and TV would make the Tasmanian forests debate seem rational.

  12. caf

    I too think the ALP should’ve had the minerals to go to a double-dissolution on it. The only downside would be Fielding getting back in for another 6 years (due to the half-sized quota).

  13. Emissions Trading Scheme announced - Andrew Bartlett

    […] adequacy of the White Paper, Ben Eltham and Anna Rose at New Matilda stirs up a lively debate.  Possum at Pollytics tries to bring some hard political numbers into the analysis. Related PostsAnother kayak trip […]

  14. calyptorhynchus

    This is very weak of Rudd and amounts to doing absolutely nothing.

    It’s particualrly sad as the ALP holds all the cards at the moment. If Rudd had gone for a higher target he could easily have got it through the Senate by whispering the words “double dissolution”. The Coalition, terrified of getting slaughtered, would have voted it through in a couple of hours.

    It’s difficult to see that there will be an opportunity like this in the future.

  15. Thomas Paine

    If we were in a world where there were no economic issues the CC issue would be top billing and the one Political parties would have to dance well on. We have 12 months of economic turmoil coming in the domestic economy which is going to push this issue into the background and make the Greens current approach seem a little economically risky.

    People will be faithful to these things when they have the economic luxury. But when things tighten and look a bit threatening they expect the politicians to follow in their policy, this includes the Greens. Today’s indignation will be consumed by what the masses will feel are more pressing issues, keeping the house, keeping a job and their personal futures.

    The Greens wont be picking up anything I don’t think. If Labor manage the economy professionally from here on it is they that will be picking up the points.

  16. imacca

    to 29:

    I’m wondering if that is actually their agenda. Don’t frighten the Center and Right now by legislating big targets, and look to pick up support from the Left closer to the election by doing something real that everyone will support.

    It also deftly avoids giving the opposition much of a club to beat them with this far out from an election.

    Wish this legislation actually put more of the permit money into renewable development and investment though and didn’t just hand it out as compensation.

  17. Ben Raue

    The Liberals are not climate deniers, at least not Robb and Hunt and Turnbull (the ones that matter). They are a party that believes in climate change but doesn’t take it seriously. Which is now exactly where the ALP stands too.

    Arthur Sinodinos said on Sky News that this is exactly what Howard would have done, and he’s right. After all, the Howard government was planning to introduce an ETS in 2010, and 5% is just the sort of pissweak target Howard would’ve set. So tell me, what is the difference?

  18. David Richards

    imacca – If the ALP got really stuck into supporting alternative energy and public transport and other measures.. they could essentially ignore their own legislation… outperform it – and come out looking like heroes. Kind of like promising to get a C and swotting to get an A. (Although this legislation is more like an F)

  19. Ben Raue

    On the contrary, I think it is quite likely that the Greens will come second in Sydney and Melbourne on the primary vote. They came third on primary votes in Melbourne in 2007 but came second on preferences, and I would expect that a leakage of votes from Labor to Greens would be enough to put the Greens solidly ahead of the Liberals and within shot of winning. Lindsay Tanner is the only cabinet minister in a marginal seat.

    Sydney is slightly harder but if the Greens can destroy the ALP’s credibility on climate change it could also fall.

  20. imacca

    I think that the politics of climate change was always going to be risky and this demonstrates that. It was a BIG issue at the last election and was the iconic issue that was used to demonstrate and highlight how out of touch that Howard’s mob were.

    I don’t think this will cost the ALP in the Reps, unless the Greens pick up enough to come second on primaries in some seats (like almost happened in Freo at the last W.A. election) and then get liberal prefs. May happen i guess, but i’d be surprised. Greens voters pissed off by this are not going to preference the Fibs who would take an even worse position.

    Greens may pick up seats in the senate on this though.

    What could save the ALP from any overall backlash though is if they REALLY push industrial scale solar / geothermal over the next 2 years. If they support that and get real, large-ish scale pilot projects proved, then they will be able to point to actual real things working in the actual real world. If it generates some jobs as well, then they go to the 2010 election with runs on the board an obvious plan / vision thing, and will still be beating the Fibs over the head with the “deniers” tag.

  21. Ben Raue

    I don’t think Labor’s problem will be that Greens will preference the Liberals over Labor (although more likely the Liberal-Labor split will become less clear). I think their problem is that the Greens and much of the environment movement could become particularly vicious against Labor, to the extent that the conflict between Labor and the Greens devours the entire campaign, overshadowing the Rudd-Turnbull race, like in New Zealand 2002 when Labour spent most of its time fighting the Greens on GE, not National on everything else.

    I assumed that it would be extremely difficult for the Greens to win Sydney or Melbourne against the ALP after only one term, but amongst those left-leaning voters this decision will be very unpopular and will give the Greens a clear differential on an issue where they have a lot of cred, particularly in those types of electorates. I could easily see climate change putting the Greens over the top, and motivating environment groups to come down off the fence and decapitate Tanner and Plibersek.

  22. lefty e

    Clear-minded stuff, as always Possum: but there’s two other games. One is international.Frankly, they don’t give a crap whether it gets through the senate or not – they’re listening to the executive signals. This is really poor one to take to Copenhagen.

    I also think Rudd’s misplayed the politics in voter land – again, not particularly attuned to what the senate does with the detail, once the message is out.

    I suspect its poor politics on both scores: the latter because I cant see where it gets votes – though its pretty obvious where it loses them (Hi Lindsay – or is that “bye”?). You want a no-action govt, you have the outstanding choice of the coalition. I see a good chance of Greens winning three senate seats all up the east coast, and holding BOP come July 2011.

    I guess your graph suggests to me than 10% (up to 20% with international accord) was not only possible in Senate – it was also better politics

  23. scorge

    Sorry to just add one more point to the above post,

    If the costs of running the solar power stations became cheaper than running the coal/gas power stations, then economics, (with an ETS or not) would increase demand for the technology, here and overseas.

  24. scorge

    [quote]One of the MSM pundits pointed out a few weeks ago that so far there haven’t been any ‘Rudd Haters’ the same way there were ‘Howard Haters’ after the Hanson surfaced. Do you think this might be what sparks a few ‘Rudd Haters’ into life? [/quote]

    While i wouldnt say hater, I know atleast one person who is not impressed with what has been delivered and what was promised….. me. I’ve gotten more political with Rudd as PM, then Howard.

    And i never thought i’d say this, especially during the last parliament, but I’ve found one reason to be happy Howard had control over the senate last term. It means that Rudd didnt end up with control over both houses. If they did, I’d have the feeling that they’d be ready to push through this legislation, gag and guillotine in hand… and all the while saying “11 years of denial, finally action”…. Well there is one thing i think that is worse than denying the problem, and that is convincing the public your fixing it and doing little.

    If it was up to me, Id be building massive gigawatt scale solar thermal plants (focus light, create heat, pipe heat underground, store heat, and use heat to spin turbines ala geothermal) to allow the coal stations to reduce emissions by burning less rather than burning the same and piping it somewhere and crossing fingers it stays there.

    If you had enough in inland places, you could continually look at the 7 day forecast and maybe even turn off a couple of coal stations, paying them a retainer to remain commissioned so security of supply isnt in jeapordy.

    Sure its like two power stations for the price of one, but one of those power stations has zero fuel costs ( well someone cleans mirrors every now and then).

  25. scorge

    Poss, What about a split of opinion between coalition senators to show Liberal and National senators, they’ve recently voted a bit over the shop recently.

    Could the Nats / Labor strike up a deal….. ?

  26. Nick of McEwen

    I agree with Ben Eltham, Poss. Yes, the Greens aren’t about to change their preference deals across the board, and the majority of Green votes will still preference Labor, but I would very much like it if this cost Labor seats like Melbourne, Melbourne Ports etc…

  27. Thomas Paine

    Maybe the next poll should be about unemployment levels and carbon reduction targets.

    Any feeling that the a higher target means less jobs during a GFC will see that 59/41 sink quite quickly. At the end of next year when we end up with a 2% or more increase in unemployment and with the bleating of the LNP and friends that a 20%+ target will costs x thousands of jobs….and their promising to reduce, rescind or indefinately delay will win some strong support IMHO.

    I would not be taking any notice of pre GFC polls re support for climate change action.

    When the handwringing ends and the knickers are unknotted I suspect people will understand that this is not as bad as it first seems. It is easier to play with and increase something that is already in place.

    I think Fielding’s line should be replaced with a picture of two pennys.

  28. Labor Outsider

    By the way, I’ve had to laugh at the wailing and gnashing of teeth from certain elements of the blogosphere over this.

    Its like the left just woke up and realised that rhetoric isn’t action and that KR is a political pragmatist and not a climate change warrior.

    Take it from me, there is perhaps one person in KR’s office, and exactly zero members of his inner circle that is or has ever been committed to bold action on climate change policy. While in opposition, he and his staff made it a significant election issue because they sensed that Howard had misread the electoral mood – a rare opportunity to wedge Howard.

    Everything that has been done since has been squarely aimed at capturing and maintaining the centre ground on this issue. To try and convince the electorate that the coalition were deniers and the greens zealots.

    After the green paper came out earlier in the year and was clearly nearly identical to Howard’s PM’s Task Group report, how could anyone have thought that 15% or 20% targets were on the table?

    From their perspective, the risk of losing 1 or 2 seats in inner city Sydney or Melbourne is worth the price of giving the coalition nowhere to go on this issue.

  29. Labor Outsider

    Hi Possum

    Great graphs!!

    Quick question – while I agree with your analysis of the politics of pushing through a target given the current Senate alignment, couldn’t the ALP also have introduced legislation for a tougher target, had it knocked back, and used it as an opportunity for a double dissolution? On current polling, the ALP would have a good chance of increasing its majority in the lower house and getting a more favourable Senate alignment.

    The fact that the ALP are not going to do this, and would rather negotiate with the Libs suggests to me either:

    a) they think this target is the right one (which, when you take the size of the per-capita reductions is perfectly defendable)

    b) they are taking the path of least resistence

    c) they don’t want their electoral fortunes to be hostage to the debate about climate change.

    It would be great to get your opinion of what the pros and cons of Labor pushing for a harder target and then going to a double dissolution would be.

  30. feral sparrowhawk

    Minor nitpick: I think you’ve underestimated the capacity to get Xenaphon to support a higher target – reminding him of the effect of climate change on the Murray could be quite effective. It’s nitpicky because his vote doesn’t matter if Fielding can’t be brought on board, and you’re probably right about that.

    Major point: This the most important issue for 60 years at least, arguably forever. If the government doesn’t have the guts to pick a decent target and take it to a double dissolution when they’re on 59% in the polls then they deserve every bit of abuse thrown at them. 5-15% maybe smart politics, but its still bad policy.

    PS I do like the way you make your point though.

  31. Ben Eltham

    Ah but Possum what about a concerted campaign to knock over vulnerable ALP candidates like Lindsay Tanner in the lower house? There’s no love lost between Labor and the Greens in Victoria; a split preference how-to-vote could cause significant leakage away from the traditionally tight Greens-to_labor preference flows we’re used to seeing, especially if this was a coordinated Greens policy …

    Thanks for calling me a ncie bloke!

  32. David Richards

    yes dais – a smarter move would have been to go for 10% min 25% max package. If the Senate rejected it – double dissolution election – a referendum on climate change. Deal the Libs right out of the game, and wipe out Fielding and maybe the Nats to boot.

  33. daiskmeliadorn

    Michael Cusack might be right about Rudd’s tactics, and Possum you’re right that disillusioned environmentalists etc are unlikely to switch to the Coalition because of this.

    But I disagree with the argument that Rudd is right to choose a scheme primarily on the basis of how likely it is to pass the Senate.

    I don’t think it’s just the ‘extreme left’ that is disillusioned – and I’m not convinced that people worried about climate change don’t also exist on the right and among Coalition voters. At any rate, Labor now has a lot of people are very angry with them. Perhaps they won’t vote for the Coalition, but they will vote Greens, and that may have an impact in some lower house seats, and on the makeup of the next Senate.

    If Labor aimed for something stronger, and it was rejected by the Senate, those people would be angry with either/both of the Coalition and the independents; Labor could surely then try again with something weaker. To compromise this much, before the legislation is even written, is ridiculous, and not going to win them any friends anywhere. They have the opportunity to set the terms of the debate in parliament – one of the benefits of actually being in power, not in the opposition – and they have squandered it by starting so low.

    A little political bravery could actually pay off; people could be inspired by actions that matched the rhetoric. I don’t understand why so many of you are assuming that the majority of Australians (of all stripes) will be happy with this?

  34. cyclosarin

    One of the MSM pundits pointed out a few weeks ago that so far there haven’t been any ‘Rudd Haters’ the same way there were ‘Howard Haters’ after the Hanson surfaced. Do you think this might be what sparks a few ‘Rudd Haters’ into life?

  35. Jason Wilson

    the rampant idiocy of that tool Fielding

    Come back Brian Harradine – all is forgiven 😀

  36. Michael Rynn

    The good.
    Pending a ravaging in the Senate, here is at least a mechanism for emissions reduction. Even if the target is weak and enforcement of result not clear, it should be made so that target emissions can be reduced more in the future.
    The bad.
    There are large subsidies to coal mining. Payments to state of NSW include large grants for developing infrastructure, rail and port, for the coal mines. This is not conducive to a reduction in world carbon emissions. Carbon Capture fantasies cannot justify this.

    The perverse.
    The ongoing financial and trade imbalances causing depression might be expected to bring down global emissions by a great deal. We might not need the extra coal shipping infrastructure after all, and Australian emissions may drop without the ETS having any effect whatsoever. Mr Rudd might get 5% without trying. So whatever Mr Rudd tells you to do with your extra money, spend only on essentials. Starve the Economy. A great world depression is the only known event to cause world wide carbon emissions reduction.

  37. Possum

    It’s pretty much the same thing Jason – just replace the party lines with the spectrum of ETS support/opposition for each parties constituents.

    The ALP end up positioning themselves between the deniers and the hairshirts, and end up with a way of getting it through the Senate without having to deal with the rampant idiocy of that tool Fielding, nor the hyperactive idealism of the Greens.

  38. Jason Wilson

    This is very timely and astute. I thought the “positioning” between Greens and deniers was also a factor, but this is much more compelling.

  39. thewetmale

    It seems to me that the government has gone for a scheme that they think will be passed by the senate without too many amendments. The other option being a greener policy that would be watered down in the senate. I just hope this one doesn’t get watered down, it’s weaker than piss as it is.

  40. US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » ETS - Why 5% in two charts - Pollytics

    […] ETS – Why 5% in two charts – Pollytics Possum on It’s time to rethink political demographics – Part 2 · US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Newspoll Quarterly, Cookie Monster Edition. – Pollytics on Newspoll Quarterly, Cookie Monster Edition. … […]

  41. Dr Good

    Sorry Possum: although it is vaguely relevant here

  42. Possum

    Or alternatively Dr Good – Billbowe’s thread might be the best place for that:


    Dont you hate it when that happens! 😉

  43. Dr Good


    Re post 889 in previous thread.

    As well as the governments of China and India, I too am very happy for the eventual world-wide emissions trading scheme to be roughly based on a per capita basis.
    I can’t see why we Australians should be allowed to end up with a higher pollution allowance than anyone else.

    I also appreciate that we, along with residents of North America, are currently the worse emitters (per capita) in the world. So we have furthest to go in the end.

    But to be consistent we would have to applaud the government for announcing what I repeat is some of the highest unilateral per capita reductions 1990-2020 of any country in the world (34% below 1990 levels).

    Furthermore, these reductions have to counteract Howard’s 8% increase in pollution (nationally) with only 11 years to go while other countries have accomplished reductions already.

  44. Possum

    There’s actually a bit more to it than that Oz (apart from it being done in excel with that squiggly line tool rather than paint 😉 )

    Fielding is a Coalition sheep in sheeps clothing – with a bible.

    Xenophon seems to get his support from rightish-centre people that don’t like politicians.

    The Greens act for their base.

    Looking at the Essential Research and Newspoll polling data we’ve seen on climate change, those two charts are my reckoning of where those three minors sit with this in the Senate according to their constituents.

    Similarly, the Coalition results are pretty close to the mark of what Coalition voters have said on an ETS thus far.

    Moving this from my reckoning of the data to a more specifc analysis requires newer polling data and a fair bit more time than just a few hours since the release of the report (it might surprise a few folks how time consuming some of this stuff actually is). When some new data comes out I intend to take a larger look with some proper numbers attached.

    Michael – I share your view in its entirety!

  45. Michael Cusack

    There is a lot of selfrighteous piffle on the web from those who would be dead rather than impure on matters of emission reductions, but it all ignores the reality of Senate numbers. The perfect scheme (whatever that may be) is useless if it languishes awaiting possible realignment of Senate numbers at the next election, or the next or…
    Best to get what we can when we can, hopefully demonstrate to the punters (and the pollies) that economic and social damage is negligible, and then accelerate on from there. Rudd is a conservative, no Whitlamesque vainglorious gestures from him! He has things to do that will take several electoral cycles to complete.

  46. Oz

    Looks like you just had fun with the paintbrush tool in Paint.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details