Climate rally in Brisbane for a price on pollution

People gathered in King George Square in Brisbane's CBD on Saturday calling for a price on pollution and in support of the Gillard Government's proposed carbon tax. The protest was organised by Getup! and follows similar protests in Melbourne and Sydney. The rally featured face painting and music for children and was advertised as a family friendly event.

Photos: Skeptical Science - Brisbane Rally for Climate Action

In response to the abrasive slogans of the anti-carbon tax rally in Canberra, Getup National director Simon Sheikh told the Sydney Morning Herald "We can answer their angry slogans and misinformation with a positive, family friendly gathering to stand up for our vision for clean energy and preserving a safe climate for our kids."

Federal Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and his family attended the rally which was estimated widely at about 4000 to 5000 people.

"This is a moral and economic question which can't be put in the too hard basket, we can't just stick our heads in the sand," Wayne Swan said, "We've got to deal with it so we've got a prosperous economy in the future, and we've got to deal with it because we've got to have an environment in which people can live." he was reported as saying in this ABC report.

The Socialist Alliance said in a media release prior to the rally "Queensland has the most to gain from taxing pollution and the most to lose if we fail to act. We risk more extreme weather, loss of our Great Barrier Reef, agricultural productivity and lost jobs. By acting now we can stay healthy, secure our environment, protect jobs and build new clean industries. Queenslanders aren't buying the bile, vitriol and spin of the big polluters."

An anti-carbon tax rally was held on Saturday at the Blacktown Showgrounds attracting an estimated 1000 people according to rally organisers, the Consumers and Taxpayers Association.

The details of the carbon tax (fixed carbon price) are still to be finalised with Climate change Minister Greg Combet consulting with business leaders on Friday in regard to the possible initial price on carbon and the compensation package to households and trade exposed industries.

He told reporters afterwards: "We talked about the broad carbon price mechanism that the Government has put forward, and we talked about many of the issues that are important to the business community within any carbon pricing approach. Those include, in particular, change in the energy sector, how we provide support for jobs and competiveness in the trade exposed part of the economy, and the discussions that will continue from here in important areas of the economy including the trade exposed sector, energy sector, the coal industry, the steel industry and the LNG industry. So we've got a good pathway ahead in coming weeks to get into further detailed discussions about the issues."

Finance Minister Penny Wong said that details would not be announced prior to this year's budget and told Barrie Cassidy on the ABC Insiders program, "This is not a tax that people pay. This is a tax that polluters pay, probably levied on around 1000 large polluters. Now what we do with that revenue is to make sure we assist Australian households as well as industry through the transition, but particularly Australian households with a focus on those who need it most."

A Grattan Institute report released on April 22, 2010 - Restructuring the Australian Economy to Emit Less Carbon - was the final nail in the coffin of Kevin Rudd's CPRS scheme in part due to the large extent of the business compensation package. "The assistance package under the Government's proposed carbon trading legislation for emissions intensive industries is a $20 billion waste of taxpayers' money", said the CEO of Grattan Institute Professor John Daley on the release of the report. "Concerns that a carbon price will devastate industry and households are misplaced and exaggerated. They are no basis for delaying adapting the Australian economy to its carbon constrained future." (The Rudd retreat on climate policy: scientists and conservationists react)

Christine Milne Deputy leader of the Greens downplayed the differences between the Government and the Greens on the compensation package saying "There are plenty of options for a middle ground between the over-generous CPRS package and the principled approach to industry compensation that we are all aiming to get to as soon as possible,"

"There are many competing claims on the very limited revenue from the carbon price, all of which need to be balanced with a clear eye to the national interest and the future economy." she said in a media release.

Photo: by Glenn Walker (@wildriverstweet) via twitpic