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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract

Australia is one of the largest coal exporting nations in the world and its economy is underpinned by the availability of cheap fossil fuels. It is well documented that it has failed to act on climate change, and that the conservative Howard government was particularly hostile to international action. It is also well documented that 2007 was an agenda-setting period when climate change was elevated to national prominence. This paper details and interrogates the ultimately successful Labor national governments' efforts to establish an Australian carbon pricing mechanism. It considers whether irresistible normative forces for climate policy change overcame the previously immovable object of economic and political self-interest, and the power of the carbon lobby. In explaining complex climate policy dynamics, temporal scales and politics, it finds great utility in John Kingdon's pragmatic “policy window”1 as an explanation for Australia's climate policy change.

Footnotes
  • 1

    Where problems, policies and politics come together at critical times and facilitate fundamental policy innovation and change. See John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies (Boston, 2011).

  • 2

    Kate Crowley, “The ‘Super-Politics’ of Climate Change: Whatever is to be Done?”, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, 4 (2013), forthcoming; Commonwealth of Australia, Securing a Clean Energy Future: The Australian Government's Climate Change Plan (Canberra, 2011).

  • 3

    Clive Hamilton, Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change (Melbourne, 2007); idem, Running from the Storm: The Development of Climate Change Policy in Australia (Sydney, 2001).

  • 4

    Guy Pearse, High and Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia's Future (Camberwell, Vic., 2007).

  • 5

    Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), “Implementation of an ‘Interim’ Greenhouse Response”, Media Release, 18 May, 1993; ANAO, The Administration of Major Programs: Australian Greenhouse Office, Audit Report No. 34 2003–04 (Canberra, 2003); ANAO, Administration of Climate Change Programs, Audit Report No. 26 2009–10 (Canberra, 2010).

  • 6

    Hamilton, Scorcher. See also Tranter, this issue, and Matt McDonald, “The Failed Securitization of Climate Change in Australia”, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 47, 4 (2012), p. 586.

  • 7

    Verity Burgmann and Hans A. Baer, Climate Politics and the Climate Movement in Australia (Melbourne, 2012), p.65; Kate Crowley, “Is Australia Faking It? The Kyoto Protocol and The Greenhouse Policy Challenge”, Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 7, 4 (2007), pp. 118139.

  • 8

    Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, p.165.

  • 9

    See Christoff, this issue.

  • 10

    Ben Eltham, “Will Rudd Pay the Price for Climate Policy Failure?”, New Matilda, 21 December, 2009, available at: <http://newmatilda.com/2009/12/21/will-rudd-pay-price-climate-failure> (accessed 2 October 2012); See also Beeson and McDonald, this issue.

  • 11

    Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, p.195.

  • 12

    Ibid.

  • 13

    Ros Taplin, “Greenhouse: An Overview of Policy and Environmental Management”, Australian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 1, 3, (1994), pp. 145153.

  • 14

    Industry Commission, Costs and Benefits of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Report No 15, (Canberra, 1991).

  • 15

    Mick Common, “Taxation and Sustainability”, Review of Marketing and Agricultural Economics, Vol. 60, 2 (1992, Part II), pp. 255267, at p.266.

  • 16

    Hamilton, Scorcher, p.33.

  • 17

    Joan Staples, “Our lost history of climate change”, Australian Policy Online, 11 November 2009, available at <http://apo.org.au/commentary/our-lost-history-climate-change>.

  • 18

    Hamilton, Scorcher, pp. 6, 50.

  • 19

    Antonia Cornwell, Johanna Travis and Don Gunasekera, Framework for Greenhouse Emissions Trading in Australia, Industry Commission Staff Research Paper, 1997, available at <http://www.pc.gov.au/ic/research/information/greenobj> (accessed 2 October 2012).

  • 20

    Rosemary Lyster, “Common But Differentiated? Australia's Response to Global Climate Change”, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, Vol. 16, 4 (2004), pp. 561591.

  • 21

    Commonwealth of Australia, The Heat is On: Australia's Greenhouse Future, Proceedings of an inquiry by the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and Arts Committee, (Canberra, 2000), pp.370, 437; Nick Minchin, Federal Government Guarantees No Premature Introduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading, Media Release, 4 September 2000.

  • 22

    Pearse, High and Dry, p.81.

  • 23

    Peter Hannan, “Turnbull gives tick to McKibbin carbon trading model”, Age, 19 February 2007.

  • 24

    Pearse, High and Dry, p.74.

  • 25
  • 26

    National Emissions Trading Taskforce, Possible Design for a National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme, A Discussion paper prepared by the National Emissions Trading Taskforce (Sydney, 2006). Available at <http://www.caf.gov.au/Documents/nett-discussion-paper.pdf>.

  • 27

    Nicholas Stern, S. Peters, V. Bakhshi, A. Bowen, C. Cameron, S. Catovsky, D. Crane, S. Cruickshank, S. Dietz, and N. Edmonson, Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change (London, 2006).

  • 28

    “We need our own Stern report: Rudd”, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April 2007.

  • 29

    Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, p.116.

  • 30

    Ross Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review (Cambridge, 2008).

  • 31

    Mark Beeson and Diane Stone, “The Changing Fortunes of a Policy Entrepreneur: The Case of Ross Garnaut”, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, 1 (2013), pp. 114.

  • 32

    Kate Crowley, “Climate Policy Failure: Was Australia's CPRS More Politics than Policy?” in Kate Crowley and Ken J. Walker, eds, Environmental Policy Failure: The Australian Story (Melbourne, 2012), pp.29–43

  • 33

    Hamilton, Scorcher, p. 212.

  • 34

    Simon Santow, “Task Force Recommends Carbon Trading”, Transcript of ABC Radio's PM Program, 1 June, 2007, available at <http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1940355.htm> accessed 2 October 2012); Peter Shergold, Report of the Task Group on Emissions Trading, The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Barton, ACT, 2007), available at <http://www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au/documents/PMs_emissions_trading_report.pdf>.

  • 35

    Nicola Durrant, Legal Responses to Climate Change (Annandale, NSW, 2010).

  • 36

    Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, p. 201.

  • 37

    See Rudd's 2007 address <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqZvpRjGtGM> accessed 2 October 2012).

  • 38

    Burgmann and Baer, Climate Politics, p.73.

  • 39

    Roger Wilkins, Strategic Review of Australian Government Climate Change Programs (Canberra, 2008), p.15.

  • 40

    Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review.

  • 41

    Department of Climate Change, Climate Pollution Reduction Scheme: Australia's Low Carbon Future: White Papers Volumes 1 and 2 (Canberra, 2008).

  • 42

    Christine Milne, A Different World: The Climate Nightmare is Upon Us, Address to the National Press Club, 17 June 2009, available at <http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/06/17/milne-the-climate-nightmare-is-upon-us/> accessed 2 October 2012, p.6.

  • 43

    Burgmann and Baer, Climate Politics and Crowley, Climate Policy Failure; Ross Garnaut, “Oiling the Squeaks”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2008; and Peter Van Onselen, “Politics Trumps a Moral Challenge”, Australian, 29 April 2010.

  • 44

    Dennis Woodward, “How Green Was My Policy: The Rudd Government and Climate Change”, Paper presented at the 2010 Annual Conference of the Australiasian Political Studies Association, Melbourne University, Melbourne <http://apsa2010.com.au/full-papers/pdf/APSA2010_0069.pdf> accessed 2 October 2012).

  • 45

    Van Onselen, “Politics Trumps a Moral Challenge”.

  • 46

    Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, pp.314–318.

  • 47

    Paul Kelly, “Government Caught in Carbon Crunch”, Australian, 16 July 2010, p.14.

  • 48

    Frank Stilwell, “Economists Speak Out Against Flawed Carbon Trading Scheme”, The Evatt Foundation <http://evatt.org.au/news/498.html> 22 February 2009.

  • 49

    Ross Garnaut, Speaking on ABC 1 Television “Four Corners”, available at <http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/09/2510417.htm> 9 March 2009.

  • 50

    Paul Kelly, “Government Caught in Carbon Crunch”, Australian, 16 July 2010.

  • 51

    Lenore Taylor, “Decision that Shattered Faith in the PM”, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2010.

  • 52

    Peter Coorey and Tim Lester, “Gillard Becomes Australia's First Female Prime Minister as Tearful Rudd Stands Aside”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June, 2010.

  • 53

    McDonald, “The Failed Securitization of Climate Change in Australia”, p.587.

  • 54

    Matthew Liddy, “Labor's Minority Government Explained”, ABC News, 8 September 2010, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-08/labors-minority-government-explained/2253236>.

  • 55

    Adam Morton and Tom Arup, “PM Pledges ‘People's Assembly’ on Climate”, Age, 23 July 2010.

  • 56
  • 57

    CWLTH, Securing a Clean Energy Future.

  • 58

    Ibid., pp.v, vii, xii and 21.

  • 59

    The Greens, “Find out about the Historic Pollution Package Direct from us”, 7 July 2011, available at <http://greens.org.au/content/find-out-about-historic-pollution-price-package-direct-us>.

  • 60

    Sid Maher, “Greens Urge Push for Renewable Energy Boost”, Australian, 27 July 2012.

  • 61

    Brendan Bateman, “Carbon Price, Carbon Copy? What's the Difference Between the Carbon Price Mechanism and the CPRS?”, Carbon Insights, 11 July 2011 available at <http://www.claytonutz.com/publications/newsletters/carbon_insights/20110711/carbon_price_carbon_copy_whats_the_difference_between_the_carbon_price_mechanism_and_the_cprs.page>.

  • 62

    Ibid.

  • 63

    David Bowman, “Christine Milne: The Economy Must Serve People and Nature, not Vice-Versa”, 23 August 2012, available at <http://theconversation.edu.au/christine-milne-the-economy-must-serve-people-and-nature-not-vice-versa-8854>.

  • 64

    Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, p.172.

  • 65
  • 66

    Ben Eltham, “Don't Cry Over Contracts for Closure”, New Matilda, 6 September 2012, available at <http://newmatilda.com/2012/09/06/dont-cry-over-contracts-closure>.

  • 67

    Barbara Norman, “Australia Feels the Heat, as Climate Planning Unravels”, The Conversation, 20 November 2012, <http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/australia-feels-the-heat-as-climate-planning-unravels-40544>.

  • 68

    Peter Hannam, “Carbon Contradiction Clouds Coal's Future”, Saturday Age, Business Day, 17 November 2012.

  • 69

    Peter Martin, “Cost of Carbon Tax Less than Estimated”, Age, 25 October 2012.

  • 70

    Marcus Priest, “Coalition Eyes $20bn Carbon Cuts”, Australian Financial Review, 9–10 March 2013.