Shock-jock tick-tock on carbon pricing
POLL POSITION: Conservative shock-jock Alan Jones is unhappy. He invited the PM onto his radio program and she rocked up late. But time is running out to tax carbon against climate change.
WHO’S LATE?: Oddly, Alan Jones was more interested in questioning the PM’s tardiness than her carbon pricing policy. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt)
It is Friday morning, the day after the announcement of a controversial new environmental policy – a fixed price on carbon. Or as Julia Gillard puts it, a "market mechanism" to combat climate change and create jobs for Australia’s clean energy future.
"Prime Minister, can I just make a minor point?" Jones waits for no answer before continuing:
"I’ve got my job to do; you’ve got your job to do.
“Your people rang here yesterday, it was agreed this interview would take place at ten past seven.
“We accommodated and cancelled someone who was to be here, who had made various significant personal arrangements as well.
“Ten past seven is ten past seven, isn’t it?"
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Outside of prime-ministerial duties, it is unclear what "significant personal arrangements" would require consideration at such an hour. To hit snooze or not? To have muesli or toast? To catch the bus or the train? But that pondering is an aside.
Jones can’t seem to understand why Gillard has denied previous requests to speak on his program. Though he says he understands, his continuing rant seems to imply otherwise.
Gillard apologises and tells him that if he has "a question in the nation’s interest" to please "feel free to put it".
Jones spends the rest of the interview, well, in much the same way as he begun, interrupting Gillard and throwing his toys out of the pram.
The story that Jones probably should have outlined and grilled Prime Minister Gillard was her announcement that her government would be pricing carbon; that is, pollution in the form of carbon dioxide emissions would attract a cost.
This, in theory, would discourage high polluting industries from polluting as much (because it would cost them more money) and encourage sustainable innovation (because clean energy production means less emissions and thus lower, or no price to pay for carbon pollution). The policy will take effect from July 1 next year.
This type of action on climate change makes sense to most of the centrist political crowd.
But there certainly are many unhappy with the policy, such as the political left who believe the market can’t fix the climate; given that the system is capitalism, calling for continual growth, which they believe to be the underlying cause of environmental degradation.
And then there is the political right, many of whom are certain climate change is some hysterical conspiracy created to cost them money.
Admittedly, we exist in a world where talk of organic foods is considered radical hippie fodder, and foods like fruit that one finds in the supermarket are injected with any number of chemicals and they are what is considered "normal".
It should be unsurprising that the best answer we have to addressing our ill climate is to let the market decide, and that this idea elicits a response of outrage, or what Jones described as "white hot anger".
Tony Abbott has been quick to respond too, labelling the policy "an utter betrayal of the Australian people". Though many would argue that allowing for human extinction, due to extreme changing climate, in order to allow big business to achieve short term profits would possibly be considered a greater betrayal.
Radical concept? About as radical as organic fruit being the better alternative. And yes, on this issue the clock is most definitely ticking, Mr Jones.
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