WHAT would you conclude about the success of a public campaign by interest groups that saw support for its cause decline?
Take the case of the coalition of nine organisations — including the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, the ACTU, the Climate Institute, GetUp! and the World Wildlife Fund — which last year funded the Saying Yes to a Price on Pollution campaign. If you remember it at all, it may be for Cate Blanchett’s involvement (more of which later). According to a “strictly private and confidential” review and evaluation study commissioned by the Say Yes coalition, the campaign was a raging success. “Now is the time to declare victory,” the leaked report says of the campaign. On what grounds? Australia put a price on carbon pollution.
The only problem is that this was going to happen, whether or not these groups mounted their $2 million plus campaign.
“They said we will say yes to any sort of carbon pricing — whatever it is, we will support it.”
You’ll recall that, in the tussle for victory that followed the stalemated 2010 federal election, the Greens insisted on legislation to price carbon as a condition for guaranteeing support for a minority Labor government. Those involved in Say Yes argue they played an important role in keeping the parties to the agreement. But for the politicians, the alternative was too awful to contemplate: the possible loss of government for Labor, the loss of seats for Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, the two independents who supported the minority government, and the loss of influence for the Greens.