Australia’s carbon bill passes House

The Australian House of Representatives has passed the government’s carbon tax bill by a vote of 74-72. To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a B.F.D.

The measure still must pass the Senate, but there the Labor government and Greens combine for a large majority, so it is not in doubt. The House, where Labor has a minority and there is only one Green MP, was where the result was uncertain.

The Green leader, Bob Brown, has claimed that his party was right to block the previous Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme, because the now-passed measures offer “so much more” than the previous proposal.

On the other side, opposition leader Tony Abbot has made a “pledge in blood” to repeal it if his Coalition wins the next election. Brown, the Green, does not think the threat is credible. “We’ll be winning more lower house seats, and we’ll be winning a stronger hold in the Senate,” he predicted.

14 thoughts on “Australia’s carbon bill passes House

  1. This is a much better bill than the Rudd bill.

    The Rudd strategy was to pass the bill with the support of the Opposition and accordingly the bill contained literally dozens of special interest exemptions and subsidies to business demanded by the Opposition. The Liberal Party, at the last stage of negotiations, suddenly deposed its leader and then voted against the Rudd bill.

    The Gillard version is a much cleaner (in the sense of not containing special deals) because it was negotiated only with the Greens and independents. Also unlike the Rudd bill, this one is guaranteed passage in the Senate where the Labor Party and the Greens now have a majority in their own right.

    Sadly the carbon tax has become a running sore in the government’s electoral standing. The prime minister promised there would be no carbon tax before the election and has not succeeded in convincing the electorate on her reasons for proceeding with a carbon tax. She is also in some difficulties because she opposed the Rudd bill in the cabinet and then used the consequent collapse in Rudd’s electoral standing to depose him. John Quiggin writes:

    Last but not least, Julia Gillard, having almost succeeded in killing the whole idea in 2010 demonstrated her skills in getting an exceptionally contentious piece of legislation through, despite disastrous polls and the most fragile conceivable majority.

  2. So it seems from that quote that Gillard’s political skills with narrow majorities makes her the (G.W.) Bush of the Australian left. And I mean that in the most respectful way possible.

  3. That is actually a very good analogy. When GW visited Australia after Keating deposed Hawke as prime minister he commented that he was glad of a fixed term.

    I suspect that Gillard will be contributing to the Australian exception before too much longer. Strangely enough her most likely successor seems to be Kevin Rudd.

  4. GW is the Bush George Clooney hates for toppling Saddam Hussein. GHW is the Bush George Clooney hates for not toppling Saddam Hussein. Simple really.

    Now to find an equally easy way to tell Richard Crossman from Anthony Crossland…

  5. Today, the bills passed the Senate, amid much verbal sniping from the opposition Coalition.

    And I was there to watch the final day of debate and voting!

    • Given today’s news that the Australian government has secured legislative passage of its bills to repeal the carbon tax that was passed by the previous government just over 30 months ago, I thought I would revise this old planting.

      Time permitting, I may put up a new post later today.

  6. I’m guessing it’s not every year that MSS can afford to take the first Tuesday after the first Monday off to visit Australia.

  7. The Senate vote, while not in doubt going in, was also close (36-32); not as close or as in doubt as in the House (74-72).

  8. Oh, that’d be because of the Complicated System Of Proportional Representation that we use to elect the House of Representatives in Australia, MSS. Makes it very hard for any one party to win a clear-cut majority in the lower chamber. No wonder the big parties want to replace it with the Senate system…

  9. So has any two-house federal system (where different seat allocation methods are used for the two houses) resulted in both houses being hung (in modern times)?

  10. Depending how you define “hung” (broadly: no one party has a majority. Narrowly: a government cannot be formed), Switzerland?

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