By Darryl Mason
Chris Ulhmann writes on ABC's The Drum that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott knows he has only one shot at becoming prime minister, so this is it, he's going in hard...or so it would
The Coalition is not going to win a war for the votes of climate change purists or the devotees of detail. What it wants is to set up a position that it can defend while it seeks to win a war of attrition against the Government's emissions trading scheme.Climate Change Minister Penny Wong was almost, almost, worn down by Tony Jones on Lateline last night, when he refused to stop asking her how much pricing carbon will eventually cost the average family. She avoided answering at least twelve questions on the subject. It was gruesome, like watching John Howard in late 2002 trying to deny we were about to go to War On Iraq, when Australian soldiers had already been deployed, knowing they were going there to fight.
It is reminiscent of what has happened to United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given its domination of the sky, no conventional army can stop an America invasion. But as Machiavelli knew, taking a country and holding it are two very different things. The way to beat America is to get its soldiers out of their planes and tanks and into a prolonged street-by-street battle.The Coalition doesn't want to engage in lofty debates that it knows almost no one understands. It wants hand-to-hand combat on the cost of living increases that come with putting a price on carbon.
The Rudd government for now has not much to counter the opposition's claims that the GBNT (Great Big New Tax) will cost everybody. It will.
But Abbott already appears suspicious is his mind-numbing repetitive use of "Great Big New Tax" by not calling the GBNT what it really is, will eventually become, was always going to be. A Carbon Tax.
Abbott is reluctant to call it a carbon tax because he knows that if he becomes prime minister, it will be all but impossible for Australia to function in the New Global Economy without one.
Labor and The Greens want a carbon tax, the Liberals will accept one, and Barnaby Joyce will be told to hold back from shouting about '"Carbon Tax!!" in public, too often. Entertaining his own dreams of one day becoming prime minister himself, Joyce will also, reluctantly, play along.
The Carbon Tax was always going to be the end result of either the introduction of an ETS, or the abandonment of an ETS. It doesn't matter which reality unfolds between now and election day. The introduction of a carbon tax was the mission from at least 2006 onwards for Labor, the Liberals and The Greens, irrespective of how oppposed they appeared to be of each other's plans.
To really whip up the growing tide of climate change skeptics in Australia, to get on side a new Liberal conservative base, Abbott needs to go to the election pledging 'No Carbon Tax!' if he really wants to win.
But he won't do it.
No matter how much he wants to win.