Climate Change Policy in Australia: Contexts and Consultation on the Clean Energy Legislative Package (2011)

Griffiths, Mary
January 2012
Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Government;2012, p320
Conference Proceeding
On November 8, 2011, a minority Australian Labor government, with the help of Green and Independent MPs, successfully passed a Clean Energy Legislative Package through the Federal Senate. The substance of the individual bills - ranging from levy impositions on greenhouse gas to fuel tax legislation - had ignited stormy public controversy. Advocates on both sides of the climate change debate emerged, as the Australian legislation proposed a carbon levy for the first time. The proposed legislation was acknowledged as globally significant, although similar environment policy had been enacted in Switzerland and Sweden. The department responsible for running the public consultations, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE), was newly established as an agency in its own right in 2010, as part of 'Machinery of Government' changes: responsible for a broad portfolio of climate change policies and implementation, including community, household and business sector climate action, and a remit to contribute to a global climate change solution. Its role is educative as well as instrumental. DCCEE meets freedom of information legislation and transparency expectations, and supports public consultations through rich information provided in an ongoing context of lobbying and misinformation. Using public domain material, the paper assesses the management of the complex online consultation, beginning by contextualizing the international and local policy contexts. It notes significant characteristics in DCCEE's stewardship: achieving transparency and equity, and setting parameters for citizen input. It assesses why seemingly more conservative means were deployed to engage citizens in consultations over a multi-segmented and contentious piece of legislation, designed to effect radical social and economic change.


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