The Daily Wire: Waiting for the Wong to Drop - The Daily Wire

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In December 2009 Bob Brown and the Greens combined their ranks with the Federal Opposition in an act of ideological purity which would see Kevin Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme voted down for the second time, thus paving the way for a potential Double Dissolution election. All in all it was a high stakes game being played by Brown, and one which would sound the deathknell for Rudd’s tenure as Labor leader when he was made to blink on the question of carbon pricing – so one might have hoped that he was going somewhere with this grand gesture of defiance.

The Greens had ostensibly cruelled this hard fought environmental mitigation policy in order to hold out for an even more strict and stringent solution.

Australia circa 2011 makes for a rather different picture. A fatally weakened Labor government desperately clings to its Ministries, while the Greens enjoy a privileged and wholly undeserved seat at the table as quasi-stakeholders in the current government enterprise, much to the chagrin of Labor backbenchers who have been frozen out of the conversation.

Under the new paradigm there are T-minus three days until Bob Brown adds his John-Hancock to the freshly inked compact drawn between the ALP, Greens and Independents (read: the government). Under the new paradigm it looks quite like the Greens have given their assent to supporting a policy which will curb the activity of half the number of polluters that the Rudd ETS stood to deliver, owing to its exclusion of petrol from the mix. The twenty-three dollar per ton carbon price on the table does appreciably exceed the ten dollar per ton figure preferred by the Business Council, yet to my mind it still falls significantly short of what I imagine to be Bob Brown’s preferred complexion for the carbon price to take.

So are we to assume that the Australian Greens held out for a tougher trading scheme, only to fold in support of a carbon tax of much more limited scope at a time when their political influence is soaring at its zenith? On the face of the situation that is certainly what the circumstances suggest – but I have a difficult time believing it.

I keep waiting for the penny to drop. For the sting in the tail to reveal itself. For the scene to pull back and frame the dramatic revelation as the mountains of gold the government has earmarked for gilding the pockets of ‘working families’ are seen to have been smelted into a cage from the outset.

That the carbon tax stands to be milder from the outset can only be a good thing, but it is not unreasonable to express scepticism and/or concern for what designs the Greens have built into the model for implementation further down the line (years three to five), because it seems vanishingly unlikely that the Greens made these important political concessions to the Gillard government without first extracting future pain from Australian families in recompense.


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