I am not an environmental scientist, nor do I pretend to have any detailed understanding of the intricacies of global warming and the various solutions to combat it, however the recent position taken by the Federal Government on a “carbon tax” as a solution is to me a step forward in the right direction of public policy regardless of its merits in the larger environmental debate. This is because it firstly takes some form of stance in the environmental debate, thereby necessitating actual debate on what should be done to deal with the protection of the environment. Whereas previously the issue was in the “to be decided at a later date” category, enabling debate to remain largely academic, the impending imposition of the carbon tax requires politicians, experts and the population at large to consider the issues and make a decision.
Secondly, it is unpopular politics, something which always warms my heart given the populist nature of some many political decisions and the unrelenting nature of the electoral cycle in Australian politics. Unpopular policy decisions hint at a certain fortitude of mind and strength of principle, a determination to take a stance for the good of the nation no matter what its electoral ramifications. Of course this is pure idealism but it gives hope that some of our leaders actually have the conviction and principles to tackle the hard questions on behalf of us all, popular or not!