This week the Australian government tells us that we ought to pay more tax to prevent the increase in natural disasters that are dead-set bound-to-occur, yet the government itself is budgeting less for these events. Figure that. They’ve cut their expenditure projections for future natural disasters and apparently expect them to be less expensive than what the previous conservative government spent (way back in 2006), and far far less than recent bills.
LABOR has cut budget estimates to meet the cost of future natural disasters while simultaneously arguing that climate change is increasing the frequency of floods and cyclones.
Budget documents show Labor has allocated $80 million a year for the next three years — $23m less than in the last Howard budget and far less than the $524m spent last year.
So it appears that the Australian Labor Party can warn us that natural disasters are on the rise (due to man-made emissions) but they estimate the costs of dealing with those disasters are going to be quite a lot less at least for a while. So either (a) they don’t really think disasters are coming, but they are happy to deceive the people about the risk, or (b) they do think disasters are getting worse, but they are happy to deceive people about the budget. Or there’s (c) no one is competent or organized enough to notice how these two things are wildly at odds with each other.
Once again, watch Penny Wong absolve herself of any responsibility. Apparently, the Minister of Finance doesn’t have a role in this. The bureaucrats decide:
Senator Wong said natural disasters varied in frequency, intensity, impact and cost and that budget estimates were based on a “longer-run trend” determined by agencies, not politicians.
Why do we elect her, if it’s not her job to determine how much money we ought to spend? Can we elect the bureaucrats instead?
We all know this isn’t going to happen, but if it did, the Greens would lose believers, and the workers would return to the Labor Party that once stood for them. The Liberals would look silly for having pandered to something they don’t believe in, but didn’t quite find the courage to stand against. It would be a Labor Party reborn. They would steal the rug from both sides.
If she had appointed unbiased non-religious advisers who didn’t research science with a predetermined conclusion, they would have warned her long ago (as we skeptics knew) that the La Nina’s were coming, they would bring rains and cyclones, and that the government ought to pack away more funds for those type of events.
This incongruous budgeting action is part of the pattern emerging post Climategate — people are paying lip service to the “Climate Crisis” but at the same time, they are doing nothing or even unwinding previous positions. Think of Japan, even they don’t want Kyoto II.
It started not long after Climategate and Copenhagen. Everyone keeps saying how a bunch of emails didn’t change the core message at all, blahitty blah, but Kevin Rudd went from calling it the greatest moral threat in November 2009 to not being willing to call an election on it at all in February 2010 (as he had threatened to do).
Julia Gillard says climate change is a high priority, but the green programs that were supposed to fight it were the first to be cut once the floods rolled in and she needed some cash (and it was no minor turnaround, adding up to $1.5 billion dollars).
The big bankers keep telling us a carbon price is inevitable, but the traders and investors are abandoning ship. Meanwhile Kevin Rudd opines about fearful sea level rises, but spends $3 million buying a home on the coast.
In a way this is just what we’d expect if the skeptical message was seeping in. None of the committed parties can admit they were wrong, but they are quietly backing away from any commitment. That’s not possible for everyone of course. The scientists and figures who have no escape route have to play double or nothing. Rude names, brazen bluffs, and audacious threats. The players who can escape are gradually peeling out.
Wherefore art the carbon tax?
The part of the puzzle that doesn’t fit the theory above (indeed it could completely blow it away) is Gillard’s dedication to a carbon tax. But this is stuff of extreme-politics, all the normal rules are off, and she is being squeezed into a black hole on both sides, by the Greens and by the Unions.
The carbon tax may look like a safer way for her to appease the Greens, and possibly she hopes if she throws in enough concessions to the coal industry she can provide “certainty” while actually not hurting the industry too much. Though awkwardly, if the tax doesn’t hurt the industry, it won’t be trimming emissions either. It might be a kind of face saving action that is less awful than industry had been led to fear, but less useful than what the Greens want, and bound to employ a lot of lawyers, accountants, and auditors. A dogs breakfast of legislation.
In the end, Gillard may not be disappointed if the coal concessions mean the Greens ultimately reject the bill — so long as she looks “greener” than the coalition, the ALP won’t lose those green preference votes. The kicker is that the coal miner votes, regional swingers, and electricity consumers everywhere would punish any carbon tax that actually curtailed coal powered electricity and raised prices too much.
The simple answer the ALP don’t want to hear
There is a way for Gillard and company to escape the vice. Strangely, the best tactic to neutralize the green threat and the conservatives at the same time, would be to audit the BOM and CSIRO, independently, and to fully investigate the IPCC claims. They could show how there are far bigger environmental problems than our carbon emissions, and prove thus, that she was guarding Australians from corrupted claims and exaggerated threats at the same time as using the best science to protect the environment. Perfect. We all know this isn’t going to happen, but if it did, the Greens would lose believers, and the workers would return to the Labor Party that once stood for them. The Liberals would look silly for having pandered to something they don’t believe in, but didn’t quite find the courage to stand against. It would be a Labor Party reborn. They would steal the rug from both sides.