Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Labor puts profits before the environment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Labor Party’s approach to climate change is about pretending to do something while in reality protecting the big polluters. It is a policy of spin instead of substance. At least the climate change deniers in the Coalition are honest!

Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is, at best, a policy of allowing big business to buy the right to pollute, with the aim of pricing pollution higher and thereby discouraging it. However there are too many ‘get out of jail free cards’ available for polluters, as well as the ability for them to gain carbon credits by dodgy ‘green’ initiatives.

A new report from the Australia Institute shows Treasury figures proving: “that when the CPRS comes in there is a slight reduction in the amount of electricity generated from black coal between 2010 and 2020 and virtually no reduction in brown coal electricity — the dirtiest form of electricity generation — over the same period. After 2020 emissions from black coal-fired power stations are actually forecast to rise slightly before stabilising until about 2033. It’s only after 2033 – that is, in 24 years – that emissions from black and brown coal both begin to fall rapidly. Not only that. The decline in electricity generation from black coal is actually driven solely by the introduction of the government’s 20per cent renewable energy target, an entirely different policy instrument from the CPRS. The bigger polluting brown coal power stations will be virtually unaffected.”

The Labor Party are close to the coal industry and loyally protect its interests. The Liberal Premier of Western Australia commented last month: “Why are our natural gas resources so undeveloped? Even now, on proven reserves, there is 100 years of gas. You’ve really got to think, why doesn’t Australia do more with its natural gas. I agree an ETS is part of the solution, but surely it is more logical to take direct measures to reduce greenhouse emissions. The simplest direct measure Australia can take is to use natural gas in power generation. Australia on the east coast has got coal. It’s a powerful industry, a powerful lobby, it’s a major part of the economy.”

The Greens correctly want to scale down the coal industry and replace it with renewable sources of energy. However they have little or no solution for the displaced workers and communities in the coal industry.

The Socialist Party calls for the nationalisation under workers’ control and management of energy production, so that combined profits from the sector can be used to guarantee jobs and/or the full income of displaced workers. Anything less will see job losses and the destruction of communities.

On water, Labor Party policy also puts the interests of big business ahead of the community. Their latest solution to the water shortage in Victoria, for example, is to build a massive $3 billion desalination plant that will generate 150,000 megalitres of water.

This massive plant will create some short-term jobs in construction, but after that there will be few jobs during its lifespan. Average water bills will rise from $400 a year now to $2000 by 2012 according to The Age.

Instead of looking at other options and forcing big business to save water, the government decides to waste billions of dollars on a desalination plant. For example the installation of low flow showerheads in Melbourne households alone would save 50,000 megalitres of water – a third of what will come from the desalination plant.

Massive investment in better infrastructure to capture run-off water, better irrigation and farming and the ending of subsidised water to big companies like Coke Cola would save water in a much cheaper way than a carbon-emitting desalination plant.

Massive investment in gas, solar, wind and tidal power could create jobs, provide renewable energy and cut emissions. Capitalism and parties that support the system will always but profit interests before the environment. That’s why socialist solutions are key to addressing both climate change and drought.

By SP reporters


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