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Gillard: duplicity is only the start of her shortcomings

By Mirko Bagaric - posted Monday, 30 January 2012

Julia Gillard betrayed her boss (Kevin Rudd), double-crossed her king-maker (Andrew Wilkie) and lied to the Australia people regarding the carbon tax. Yet, her utter lack of commitment to anything but her self-interest is not the main reason that she should be ditched as Prime Minister.

For over a year she has been the most powerful person in the country. She has had virtually unchecked power. Her performance and suitability for the job is to be judged by one single criterion. It is not her intentions; nor her work ethic and not even her debating skills or loyalty; it is the consequences that she brought about for the country.

She has been an abject failure. Australia is a less humane and wealthy nation than it was 12 month ago (cost of living, mortgage defaults and government debt are all up; house values, full-time jobs and retail sales are all dropping).


The failings of her government evince an incorrigible policy vacuum. Gillard holds her own when debating in Parliament, but what she lacks is practical problem solving skills. Identifying a problem is easy. The hard part is what separates the creator from the spruiker.

The mark of intelligence is the ability to anticipate the likely obstacles to achieving a desirable outcome, developing a plan to overcome them and then effecting constructive change. It is a three stage process of identifying a problem; creating a solution and them implementing it. Critical to success is an acute understanding of the cause and effect systems of the world.

Labor under the Gillard government can't do the last two stages. Its three main policy 'initiatives' have come in the form of three new taxes (the flood levy, the mining tax and the carbon tax), which is simply a concession to archaic Labor ideology – 'got a problem, tax the rich'.

The now doomed 'Malaysia solution' (coming off the back of the East Timor sham) is probably the worst policy ever developed by a sober paid group of people. And that is saying something, given the set-top boxes debacle, the 'Cash for Clunkers' fiasco and the decision to spend $30 billion dollars giving Australians faster internet when 100,000 Australians are still homeless.

The carbon tax is the high water mark of political incompetence. Whatever the truth in relation to climate change (and on balance I agree the evidence supports the fact that humans are causing warming), the tax is a grossly disproportionate response to our capacity to fix the problem. Australia produces 1.4% of the world's total greenhouse emissions. If we closed down all of our industries, this would result in a non-measurable temperature reduction. This cannot justify the biggest economic and social reform in Australia's history.

The best argument in support of the carbon tax is that it will set an example for other high emitting countries, such as the United States, China, Russia and India.


There is flawed. Australia has negligible international power and authority. We have never in the history driven world economic change. It won't happen now.

The developing world in particular will not put a price or limit on carbon. Global warning has been caused solely by Western nations, which on the back of cheap energy massively increased the prosperity of their people. At the same time they refused to share their largesse with the largely hungry Third World. Now it is time for the developing work to prosper. It will do so with the assistance of fossil fuels.

Thus, no good consequences will come from a carbon tax, but the downside in the form of perpetually higher prices and less competitive industries will be profound.

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About the Author

Mirko Bagaric, BA LLB(Hons) LLM PhD (Monash), is a Croatian born Australian based author and lawyer who writes on law and moral and political philosophy. He is dean of law at Swinburne University and author of Australian Human Rights Law.

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