Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013; Second Reading
This is a classic moment in the history of Australia. It illustrates the divide between the two parties who make up this great Westminster tradition. Australia is being asked to make a decision between advice being given by the devil on one shoulder and the advice of the angel on the other. The devil on one shoulder is saying loudly: 'Think of yourself. Every Australian should think of yourself. You don't have to worry about the collective. You don't have to worry about your children. You definitely don't have to worry about your grandchildren or the rest of the region'—even though we are surrounded by islands that are low-lying. The angel on other shoulder is saying to Australians: 'You should think of others. You must think of others. Not only should you think of others because it is the moral thing to do and the right thing to do; it makes economic sense to think of others. It makes sense because it will be cheaper to act now rather than to act later.' This is the classic moral divide.
Former Prime Minister Rudd did get it right: this is the greatest moral challenge of our time, where we are asking people either to be selfish, think of their wallets and themselves, or to think of the collective, their nation and the world. We will grapple with those two voices. The devil on one shoulder is saying, 'Think of yourself'—a voice taken up by those opposite and run with ever since 2 December 2009, when the then backbencher, the member for Warringah, by one vote became the Leader of the Opposition on an anti climate change action ticket. That was the classic moment when the future of Australia turned. Then, I think it was the very next day, we had the Senate vote on the ETS and we saw two brave Liberal senators cross the floor against the will of Tony Abbott. If the Greens had voted with Labor on that day we would have had an ETS on 3 December 2009.