Alan Kohler shows he doesn't know about politics

February 4, 2010

Alan Kohler, of Business Spectator fame, wrote yesterday in Crikey:

Against all expectations, Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt have actually come up with a clever climate change policy, and certainly one that will change the debate in Australia.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will now have to quickly do a deal with the Greens to get a government scheme through parliament, or else simply give up and blame everyone else.

With the failure at Copenhagen having pulled the rug out from under him, and a global agreement on emissions trading now impossible this year, Kevin Rudd must avoid a 2010 election on his current CPRS at all costs. To do that by dealing with the Greens now would mean a two-year carbon tax eventually turning into an emissions trading scheme – a big risk.

(My emphasis.)

Unfortunately, this kind of commentary is completely misleading, unhelpful and uninformed. For a business analyst, it shows a concerning naivete in the political process and the dynamics of the Australian Senate.

For the record, the Labor Government needs seven (that’s seven) additional votes in the Senate to pass legislation.

Seven votes.

The Greens Party has five (that’s five) votes in the Senate.

There are two (that’s two) cross-bench, independent senators, Senator Xenophon and Senator Fielding.

To pass any legislation through the Senate, Labor needs both (that’s both) cross-bench Senators and all (that’s all) of the Greens Party Senators.

There is simply no possible way for a “deal with the Greens” to deliver a carbon tax or anything else. A “deal with the Greens” would deliver an extra five (that’s five) votes in the Senate, falling two (that’s two) short of a majority. Even if Senator Xenophon voted with Labor and the Greens Party, Senator Fielding is an avowed climate denier (and so wouldn’t vote for a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme).

“Dealing with the Greens” would not deliver a two-year carbon tax. It would deliver precisely nothing at all.


Comments

  1. Tim Andrews - February 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm -

    You discount the possibility that certain coalition Senators would cross the floor…which some have indicated they may do…

  2. Alexander White - February 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm -

    Where have they indicated that?

    One supporter of the amended ETS, Gary Humphries has now said he made a mistake: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/03/2

    Now that the Coalition has a (terrible) policy on climate change, it would be very unusual for any Liberal Senators (even wets) to cross the floor. Especially in an election year.

  3. Tim Andrews - February 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm -

    Boyce and Troeth both did about 2 days ago – http://www.smh.com.au/national/two-liberals-cou

  4. Tim Andrews - February 8, 2010 at 8:50 am -

    “TWO Liberal senators are reserving their right to cross the floor and vote for the emissions trading scheme next month, leaving the fate of the scheme at the mercy of the Greens.
    Sue Boyce, from Queensland, and Judith Troeth, from Victoria, crossed the floor to vote for the ETS in the Senate last year in defiance of their new leader, Tony Abbott.

    They said yesterday they were reserving their right to do the same again.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/two-liberals-cou

  5. Alexander White - February 11, 2010 at 9:20 am -

    There is a big difference between “reserving the right” to cross the floor, and actually doing it or even saying you'll actually do it.

  6. Tim Andrews - February 11, 2010 at 9:22 am -

    Oh sure, I don't dispute that. It's just that you said “There is simply no possible way for a “deal with the Greens” to deliver a carbon tax or anything else”, whereas there _is_ a possible way, which would involve getting Troeth and Boyce onside.
    Likely? Probably not. But it is possible.

  7. Alexander White - February 15, 2010 at 9:48 am -

    Ok, I concede that saying “no possible way” was an overstatement. How about “the likelihood is less than 1%.”

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