It seems to me that the government is on the horns of a dilemma.
On one hand, they need to appease the Greens, securing their votes, by introducing a carbon tax, a course of action that seems very sensible in the long run when you consider the weight of scientific evidence.
However, in so doing, Gillard will break what honest John Howard would call a “core promise” not to introduce one, hamstringing her ability to sell such a substantial change, at least without an election where the intention is on the table.
We have a two pace economy, digging stuff up and flogging it is the foundation of current prosperity, but we are no longer making anything, and the current “skills shortage” has little to do with employment levels, but everything to do with the gutting of education, particularly trade skills, over the last 25 years.
Now we are going to gut manufacturing, or what is left of it, with a tax that will do nothing to abate worldwide carbon levels, although it may make those who do not have to produce anything to make a living feel good.
There is some merit in the argument that a tax will stimulate innovation in the development of alternatives, and Australia should be in a good position to leverage the innovation, particularly as regards solar, but that is long term, the pain to manufacturing will be immediate, and I wonder if it is worth the pain, even if a miracle happens, and Gillard et al can sell it, and get re-elected at the same time.
This is what strategy is all about, choices, weighing the relative merits of a range of seemingly mutually exclusive options, determining where the best long term use of limited resources lies, whilst maintaining the current P&L. Posturing will not stand up to scrutiny, it takes intellectual honesty and transparency to make tough decisions and have the stakeholders prepared to support a course of action. Pity there is little of either evident in Canberra, or in the states.
Now we have sorted the carbon management issue, consideration needs to be given to a whole range of other strategic choices in health, education, taxation, Australia’s relationships, immigration, defense, and so on.
We seem to be a bit short on the vision thing!.