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Departing Swan takes aim at Coalition “right wing thugs” over carbon price

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Retiring Labor MP and former Treasurer of Australia, Wayne Swan, has taken a parting shot at the former leader of the Coalition, Tony Abbott, and his band of “extreme right wing thugs”, for the role they played in overturning the Gillard government’s carbon pricing policy.

It was a Pyrrhic victory, Swan says, that has mostly resulted in today’s soaring electricity prices.

In response to a question about the biggest regrets of his political career, Swan told a press conference in Brisbane on Saturday that Labor’s defeat in the national carbon price debate topped the list, in terms of policy.

“As Treasurer, I did six Budgets, two stimulus packages, and with my colleagues put in place very significant economic and social reforms (including) carbon pricing,” Swan said.

“When we brought in the carbon price, in which Tony Abbott and a group of extreme right-wing thugs pushed the door open, labelled it effectively as a carbon tax and conducted one of the most vicious and destructive scare campaigns in modern history. Losing that debate is a regret,” Swan said.

“The substantial increase in power bills today we are seeing is a consequence of Labor’s policy being removed and of the conservatives engaging in denial of climate change and trying to destroy the renewable energy industry. That’s policy regret number one.”

Abbott’s infamous “axe the tax” campaign ultimately resulted in abolition of the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme, and the unravelling of its renewable energy support mechanisms in July 2014, when the federal Senate voted to pass the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill and seven related bills through the upper house without amendment, 39 to 32.

After the vote, Australia’s currently embattled deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, remarked thus: “You look at the weather today. Look at the way you’re dressed. No one thinks it’s too hot.”  

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  • Joe

    I watched the Swanny on my TV giving the presser. The ‘World’s Best Treasurer’, was being way to kind with that description of “extreme right wing thugs”. They are ‘Climate Criminals’ who lied to the Aussie public for base political motives and were ably supported by The MCA, The BCA, Rupert and his newsrags and of the course the radio shock jocks such as the Jones, the Hadley, the Smith etc. We never had a carbon tax, it was an ETS which is what Julia / Labor promised at the 2010 Election and that was what was delivered. The ETS worked, it reduced our CO2 emissions. The COALition repeal of the ETS has seen our CO2 emissions rise each year.The COALition need to held to account.

    • Yes. They will be prosecuted. We will setup trials and hold them to account.

      • Jonathan Milford

        ‘We will setup trials and hold them to account’.
        Who will and what are the damages?
        I know that the Pacific Islanders are gearing up to do it, but who else is? The Pacific Islanders have a stronger case because the Coalition government’s GHG emission reduction target taken to Paris were not only inadequate to meet the needs of the Paris Agreement but also broke Australia’s commitment made under the Majuro Declaration prior to Copenhagen.

        • mick

          id support a class action against lnp

          • Jonathan Milford

            Mick, I have been supporting the Pacific Islanders considerably, e.g. in their blockade of the port of Newcastle, and will support them in their court case, but I can afford to and I am not an Australian and long retired (untouchable).
            What class have you in mind? The first that comes to mind is tourism and fishing operators on the GBF. It is enormously expensive to sue in Oz, with little chance of success.

          • Jonathan Milford

            Sorry, should have been GBR.
            Cheers

          • mick

            financial that i can afford fronting up to protest but specifically court action

        • Future leaders, young people, the victims. I want retroactive legislation, crimes against humanity, criminal negligence, that sort of thing. Whatever, just cast a wide net and take down whoever is involved with the promotion of fossil fuels.

          • Joe

            Hi RobSa, see my note above in reply to Jonathan

        • Joe

          In 2015, The Urgenda Climate Case in The Netherlands and also The Sarah Tomson vs New Zealand Government Court Case are the precedents for holding governments to account. I am not legal eagle but I would have thought that The United Nations would be the ideal forum to launch a class action on behalf of the worlds citizens. I mean The UN holds The COP summits each year and The IPCC is the world’s authoritative body on climate change. Australia has signed up to be a part of it all. Time to prosecute our / Australia’s ‘Climate Criminals’.

      • Patrick Comerford

        Yes indeed. The victims of this criminal vandalism will have their day in court. It has already started in California were several plaintiffs are suing big energy for their complicity in delaying effective action on climate change and the extra costs that government and municipallies are now having to bear.
        Goal time will not be too good for these LNP grubs

    • Brunel

      I hate coal and voted against Abbott/Turnbull, but the problem is Swan did not give me a carbon compo cheque!

      How hard was it to give every poor voter a $500 cheque – labelled electricity bill rebate cheque – each quarter?

      • Joe

        When Julia / Labor brought in The ETS it was accompanied by a number of compensation measures. Pensions and Social Security payments were increased and indexed for future CPI increases. The Clean Energy Supplement was introduced as well. The big measure was Treasurer Wayne Swan announcing the increase in the tax free threshold from $6,000.00 to $18,200.00.

        • Brunel

          Do you know that inequality is increasing?

          Increasing the income tax free threshold helps the rich as well! The rich get their first $18k to be tax free too!

          The voters who have an income less than $6k got nothing.

          What is your objection to giving every poor voter $500 per quarter? And now that the income tax free threshold is $18k, income tax cuts have run their course. The next step is a repeat of Rudd’s $900 cheques. Especially considering the gig economy and a lack of full time jobs.

          • Joe

            My reply in relation to the ETS was to let you know that Labor / Julia G / Wayne S did implement compensation measures when bringing in the ETS. Inequality is always a problem and needs to made a priority. It doesn’t help when you had Labor / Julia G throwing single parents off the Parenting Payment onto the ‘below poverty line’ of Newstart …an act of bastardry and betrayal by Julia G / Labor. The Liberals in winding back penalty rates is another act of bastardry . None of those helps with inequality. A Universal Basic Income may indeed come to Australia. It is being triialled overseas in Finland.

  • Ian

    The scale of the crime is so large that heads should roll.
    The lies to millions of people by those who are supposed to represent our best interests….to ultimately cause environmental and economic havoc. Abbott first to the court

    • MaxG

      He will claom the insanity plea and go free 😀

      • Joe

        Max, they need not go the extreme of insanity plea. We see countless bigwig decision makers front up to Public Enquiries and they trot out gems like….”I can’t recall”, “It didn’t happen, have no memory of that”, ” I was never told”, I wasn’t part of that decision”….all well worn and successful defences for the ‘Indefensible’. You wonder how they achieve high office when seemingly they haven’t a clue of what goes on during their watch of affairs.

        • MaxG

          Or get indemnified, like Obama did with the GFC criminals.

  • Chris Fraser
    • Brunel

      ha ha ha

  • Malcolm M

    The “carrot” policies such as ARENA, CEFC, and the RET have had a much greater effect on lowering renewable prices than the “stick” policy of the carbon tax/ETS. The carbon tax was a big target, whereas the other policies were smaller and popular enough that they could maintain the support of the cross-bench.

  • Roger Franklin

    Time may very well judge some in the current Canberra FIFO team as having interests other than what is best for the National Interest at heart.

    Standard Australia’s attempt to introduce standards that would have effectively stopped RESU batteries was silly and Scotty walking into Parliament with a lump of coal was just plan stupid. Big Mal and Snowy 2.0 – build it but don’t use public money , oh and as for the NEG – I get the feeling the states are not sold on it!! Josh – buy some solar panels for your house and try to give an appearance of being mildly interested in the environment. Tony – retire and keep an eye on the sea levels at Manly. Barnaby – well you have some issues to work through!! Mat – keep flogging Coal for Gina and Co.
    Someone in the vehicle purchasing dept in Canberra, have a word to Elon and get Tesla for 6 months – run a few MP’s around Canberra to introduce them to the dark side!

    Between Barnaby doing a “I can explain” and a few more MP’s on both sides of the house needing to work out if they are Australian or not!, they shouldn’t be too much problem for a few months.

  • Ken Fabian

    Pity that from Gillard down – Swann included – Labor failed to fight for carbon pricing like they were deeply committed to it. My impression was that Labor was more interested in promoting or at least avoid contradicting the belief that it wasn’t their idea and if they had the numbers in the House of Reps they wouldn’t have done it. Which may well be true – on their own they would not have done it – but having done it they should have had the courage and determination to own it and fight for it.

    • Patrick Comerford

      I don’t think you should forget the role the Greens played in destroying the ETS. It wasn’t “All Labors Fault”

      • Ken Fabian

        Don’t neglect the consistent and persistent role of the LNP in opposing and obstructing; ultimately these issues are central, mainstream ones that must be faced up to by mainstream political parties – being conservative does not absolve them of their (ir)responsibility. If The Greens are at fault for failing to support early (and pretty dodgy IMO) attempts at carbon pricing, then more so for other parties and politicians that did not hold out for something better but fought tirelessly for worse or none at all.

        • Patrick Comerford

          I’ll leave you to ponder where Australia might be now in the rest of the worlds opinion on combating climate change if the Greens hadn’t played politics with the ETS ( Yes it may shatter an illusion they are a political party). Whatever faults the ETS may have had it was the result of a very wide and lengthy consultation process and thoroughly researched by Ross Garnot and could have been improved on over time as required. Instead we have this total abomination which turns out to be the worst possible situation for this country.

          • Ken Fabian

            No, you should be laying the blame squarely with the LNP and their pandering to climate science denial. They killed and keep on killing carbon pricing in every variation that has been proposed and they continue fighting tirelessly to prevent an orderly transition to low emissions energy.

            If solving these issues is dependent on the policy compromises of a fringe political party – ultimately they aren’t and can’t be – then we really aren’t going to find a path out of the deep trouble we are in. Yes, things would have gone differently had The Greens supported Rudd’s carbon pricing scheme but the opposition led by the LNP would likely have been as intense and destructive as it was with Gillard’s.

            You should acknowledge where – and who – the real impediments are.

  • Brunel

    I hate coal and voted against Abbott/Turnbull, but the problem is Swan did not give me a carbon compo cheque!

    How hard was it to give every poor voter a $500 cheque each quarter?

    He could have even labelled the cheques “electricity bill rebate” and declared that electricity is free for households!