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Shameless party politicking dressed with sufficient cover for the ABC to present it as "news"

Shameless barracking for Labor and The Greens from the ABC today.

The story's headline is sufficiently ambiguous to warrant rejection by a fair dinkum news organisation:

Australia's emissions reduction target inadequate: Climate Change Authority report

That target is inadequate in what respect?   Not enough for a "best and fairest" award at the next IPCC awards night - or not enough to destroy coal-fired power generation?  

Or not enough to meet the "Federal Government's policy objectives".

The ABC gives the Climate Change Authority the undeserved status of providing independent advice to the Federal Government.   But the Federal Government today has a poliycy of removing $7.5 billion of wasteful spending" linked to Labor/Greens policies.   Those Labor and Greens policies are accurately reported as "former Government policies", but that has escaped the ABC's attention.

The headline is just the start of an unforgivable piece of single-view, partisan barracking for one political side.   This story is dressed up as an ABC news report, ie as disinterested, balanced, unbiased news - but read it and let me know how you judge it.

Australia's emissions reduction target inadequate: Climate Change Authority report

The Federal Government's independent climate policy adviser has declared Australia's emissions reduction target inadequate and not credible.

In a draft report on emissions reduction targets, the Climate Change Authority says Australia's commitment to cutting emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 would leave Australia lagging behind other comparable countries like the United States.

It has not recommended a final, tougher target, but has canvassed two options for emissions reductions targets.

It says there could be a 15 per cent reduction by 2020, with a trajectory range of 35 to 50 per cent by 2030.

Alternatively, there could be a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, with a trajectory range of 40 to 50 per cent by 2030.

The report says a weaker 2020 target would require faster reductions later, if Australia is to play its fair role in contributing to the international goal of limiting global warming by 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

The ABC has the chutzpah to open this story with this sentence

"The Federal Government's independent climate policy adviser".   Any truth in that sentence is technical and readers aren't stupid.  The Labor/Greens administration appointed the Climate Change Authority - does anyone think its independent policy advice options included finding $7.5 billion in wasteful spending?

The now "Federal Government" will introduce on the first sitting day of the new parliament legislation to shut-down what the ABC refers to as the "Federal Government's independent climate policy adviser".   If it could shut it down now it would, as it did with Professor Flannery's Climate Change Commission.   But the Climate Change Authority has its own Act of Parliament and legislation is needed to wind it up.


In essence, the ABC tries to give this partisan body the cloak of legitimacy afforded by an undeserved status as a Federal Government Independent Policy Adviser, when the Federal Government is winding the body up.

The notion that this body gives "independent climate policy advice" is risible, given that one of the sections of the Act of Parliament that set it up binds it to the IPCC view of the world:

12  Authority must have regard to certain principles

                   In performing its functions, the Authority must have regard to the following principles:

                     (a)  the principle that any measures to respond to climate change should:

A number of clauses follow, which include this binding piece of law;

vi)  support the development of an effective global response to climate change

A more accurate way to describe the Climate Change Authority is that it was set up to provide specific advice to the former Labor/Greens Government to support then-current government policy.  It should have no current status as a provider of independent policy advice in relation to the Federal Government policies of today - it's being wound up as soon as possible by the Federal Government itself, hardly an endorsement of the ABC's report that this body currently provides independent advice to achieve government policy.

Current Federal Government climate change policies include:

Additional savings from the abolition of the Carbon Tax

The Coalition has been consistent from day one in our promise to abolish the Carbon Tax, and the measures linked to it, except for the personal income tax cuts and fortnightly pension benefit increases.

Abolishing the remaining spending linked to the carbon tax will deliver savings of $7.5 billion.

·Discontinuing the business compensation measures introduced to provide partial relief to selected sectors and industries for the hit from the carbon tax ($5.1 billion) – including:

oRemoval of the increase in the instant asset write-off threshold to $6,500 ($0.2 billion);

oDiscontinuing the Jobs and Competitiveness Program ($4.0 billion);

oDiscontinuing the Steel Transformation Plan ($0.1 billion);

oDiscontinuing the Clean Technology Program ($0.4 billion);

oDiscontinuing the Coal Sector Jobs Package ($0.3 billion); and

oDiscontinuing other small Clean Energy Future business compensation measures including the Energy Efficiency Information Grants, the Clean Energy Skills package, and the Clean Technology Focus for Supply Chain programs;

·Discontinuing energy market compensation measures which will no longer be needed once the carbon tax has been scrapped ($0.5 billion);

·Discontinuing various land sector initiatives which Labor has already slashed, as well as bureaucracies like the Climate Change Authority ($0.4 billion); and

·Abolishing other measures linked to the carbon tax that are wasteful or will no longer be required once the carbon tax is abolished ($1.5 billion).

Current Federal Government policy, in its own words, is to abolish measures linked to the carbon tax that are wasteful of money.   It has a specific target of $7.5 billion in savings.   The ABC's report that the Federal Government's independent climate policy adviser states that its measures are indequate to meet targets isn't near the ballpark in terms of reporting accurately and without misleading readers.

The "independent" Climate Change Authority CEO is Anthea Harris, here are her biographical details taken from http://climatechangeauthority.gov.au/board


Chief Executive Officer: Ms Anthea Harris

Prior to her appointment, Ms Harris was a Chief Adviser within the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, where she played a leading role in the development of the Australian Government's carbon pricing mechanism and associated climate change measures. Ms Harris contributed to both the government's Green and White Papers on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Serving in the National Emissions Trading Taskforce from October 2005 to December 2007, Ms Harris led the Secretariat for the taskforce to design a national emissions trading scheme to be implemented by all states and territories. Until October 2005, Ms Harris was a consultant with an economics consulting firm, where she worked on a range of greenhouse policy issues, including assisting the NSW Government to design and implement its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme. Prior to that Ms Harris held positions with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and at the Productivity Commission.

The soon to be wound up Climate Change Authority Board includes Professor David Karoly.    

But none of the partisanism of the Authority made it to the ABC's news report today.   The ABC uncritically presented these quotes from Anthea Harris as news:

Climate Change Authority CEO Anthea Harris says Australia is able to work towards a higher target than a 5 per cent reduction by 2020.

"Moving from a five to something like a 15 or a 25 per cent target is achievable," Ms Harris said.

"The government’s own conditions, which are bipartisan, for moving beyond 5 per cent have been met," she said.

Ms Harris says the costs of moving to stronger targets are relatively small and says a 5 per cent target would leave Australia lagging behind other comparable countries.

Ms Harris would not be drawn on the Federal Government's direct action policy, saying the Authority has tried not to "speculate on the design details of that arrangement".

The Authority will accept submissions on the draft report until November 29, with the final report due to be handed to the Government by the end of February.

Good luck handing your final report to the Government in February Climate Change Authority (in receivership).   And no comment from the uncritical ABC news team about a "Federal Government Policy Adviser" which tries not to provide advice on "Federal Government Policy".

Ms Harris would not be drawn on the Federal Government's direct action policy, saying the Authority has tried not to "speculate on the design details of that arrangement".

Labor and the Greens set this entity up to generate "news" reports like this - reports that say an independent expert authority has - surprise, surprise - supported Labor and Greens policy. Only the ABC, Labor and the Greens have the hide to pretend that it is independent.   But that pretence is exactly what the ABC puts forward in this bogus news report, right to the finish. 

Labor and Greens call for government to take report seriously

The Opposition's Environment spokesman Mark Butler has warned against shutting the authority down, and says he hopes the Government takes the report seriously.

"The United States is working to a reduction target of 17 per cent by 2020," he said.

"Europe other countries have similar targets.

"This is a debate we need to have and I'd like to see the independent voices maintained in the debate rather than shut down."

The Greens Leader Christine Milne says the Government should abandon the 5 per cent reduction target and agree to cut emissions by at least 25 per cent.

"Well, a 5 per cent reduction is woefully inadequate," she said.

"The Climate Change Authority has now confirmed that and this really puts the spotlight on Tony Abbott. He has tried to say that he accepts the climate science.

"Australia has signed up to constraining global warming to less than two degrees and five per cent will not do that task."

Australia will be expected to confirm its emissions reduction plans in the next few years in international climate talks.

Preliminary discussions are set to begin in Warsaw next month.


If the ABC values its credibility as an honest broker, it'd want to have a good debrief on reports like this.