Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited ACU’s Strathfield Campus in August to discuss the proposed carbon pricing plan and its implications.
The public forum was organised by the Inner West Courier newspaper, and attended by more than 230 inner west residents, and ACU staff and students.
Seven-year-old Luke Ringrose asked the first question of the night – whether the Prime Minister had the power to stop the factories from making so much pollution.
He was followed by an hour of questions from a cross-section of society – school children, university students, retirees and green-business owners.
Ms Gillard said she wanted to be both Prime Minister, and have the carbon tax in place after the next election. She also hit out at the heated anti-carbon tax rallies of the past few months.
“I think this sort of people’s revolt imagery, that’s not our way. I think that is an Americanisation of our politics and I don’t think it helps us as a nation deal with some complicated questions,” she said.
ACU environmental science lecturers Dr Cliff Seery and Associate Professor Vaughan Monamy attended the event, along with research student Nicola Pradella.
Dr Seery said the forum was a refreshing opportunity for the community to ask insightful questions and receive clear, well-reasoned answers.
“Too often the carbon price debate has been hijacked by misleading, emotional soundbites that fit neatly into 15-second news items,” he said.
“One of the more surprising aspects of the night, for an environmental scientist at least, was the focus on economic issues of carbon pricing rather than the environmental issues.
“I hope that this represents a shift in the carbon debate, with greater understanding in the community that there is no question amongst climate scientists as to whether climate change exists and is caused by man – there is clear scientific consensus on this. We can then focus on to how we best tackle climate change in an economically responsible manner.”