climate change by legislative attrition

And so we go into the first long night of the CPRS bill. The deal has been done, with enough Liberal Senators giving the Government the numbers to extend sitting hours late into tonight and all the way into next week if necessary.
From here on it becomes legislated climate change by force of attrition. A massive transfer of wealth from Australian householders to heavy industry has been agreed between the ALP and Malcolm Turnbull’s shell-shocked core of supporters.

Without the normal ritual of senate committee review and public submissions, the process has gone directly into the “committee of the whole” stage of detailed consideration by a handful of people who have already made up their minds.

For what it’s worth, this is the only avenue left to test the assumptions, the rhetoric, and the uniquely Australian form of madness underlying the deal that’s just hit the table. During the coming long hours, the Greens will get the opportunity to forensically pull apart the busted logic underlying this package and lay it bare: for the historical record yes, but also for the next stage of the campaign.

There is no theoretical limit on how long this process can take. With a thick stack of Government amendments agreed in advance with what’s left of the opposition, and a series of Greens amendments pointed in exactly the opposite direction, the outcome is clear and only the duration remains a mystery.

The Government and a sullen batch of liberals will combine to dice any proposals to lift the targets or introduce a hint of scientific or economic integrity into the scheme when Senator Milne moves the Greens amendments.

In return, a handful of us will put our firm and lasting opposition on the record when the weariness sets in and the various pieces of the Rudd/Turnbull deal go to the vote. Then we move to the next amendment.

Repeat, for as long as necessary, until people have just had enough. Barring a meteorite or some random tectonic shift in the coalition party room, that’s how this rotten package of legislation is going to pass.

We keep going in here because there are times when things come together and you pull an unexpected win out of this brittle and archaic decision-making machine. This is probably not going to be one of those times.

Next year there’s going to be an election. If you’re reading this from outside Parliament house then chances are you’re not going to get a vote on this bill. But in 2010 we’ll all get the collective opportunity to tell the fossil-fired major parties exactly what we think of this whole shambles, and that is going to be a campaign worth joining. See you there 🙂