Please make sure you're sitting down. You are? Okay, well, Tony Abbott's former chief of staff Peta Credlin has let slip that one of the most damaging political campaigns in recent Australian political history was based on bullshit.
Credlin, who became a Sky News commentator after leaving politics, made her comments during the final minutes of Sky's Sunday Agenda.
If you missed it, this is what she said:
Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.
"It wasn't a carbon tax, as you know."
Okay, okay, okay. Let's just provide some context. Australia has a complicated history in trying to do what many countries have already done – put a price on carbon emissions.
Emissions trading scheme proposals contributed to the demise of Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in 2009 and Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010. Julia Gillard finally introduced a carbon pricing scheme in 2011.
It was Tony Abbott who re-framed Gillard's scheme as a "carbon tax", even though after the first year the price on carbon emissions was no longer fixed, and was instead set by the market.
Abbott rode the anti-carbon tax movement all the way into The Lodge and eventually had everyone, including Labor and the media, calling it a carbon tax.
The scare resonates today, with opponents of emissions trading schemes and other market-based mechanisms still playing the "carbon tax" card.
Credlin also suggested it was time for prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to apply what Abbott did on the "carbon tax" to renewables.
That is, make the current argy bargy around renewables a "consumer" issue rather than an "environmental" one.
Is Malcolm going to be able to take something as complex as the RET (Renewable Energy Target) and break it down and argue it and hit the hustings and smash through all of that detail to have people come with him? That will be the political test.
Oh well. So that's that. Even though the government has been told by its own people it should consider some sort of carbon pricing scheme, it'll never, ever consider it because the Australian people are prone to scare campaigns about carbon taxes that aren't really carbon taxes.
UPDATE: A week later, writing in her News Corp column, Credlin went straight back to referring to Labor's plans to price emissions as a "carbon tax".
Labor leader Bill Shorten's office was not amused.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at email@example.com.
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