Worlds biggest Carbon Tax starts in Australia
So – it’s happened. Australia has put a price on carbon emissions, and depending on who you are, you’ll be marking this first business day of costlier CO2 by doing anything from panic-stockpiling distilled water and beef jerky to ignoring the event completely.
Tony Abbott will be “crossing the length and breadth of Australia” – whether he will be doing this in the orthodox Abbott style, on a bike, or projecting a suitably carbon-defiant vibe by engaging a fleet of Hummers, none can yet say – to empathise loudly with widget-makers and fizzy-drink vendors, and speak sombrely of their imminent pauperisation.
Julia Gillard will be reminding constituents, especially the poorer ones, of what this is all about – extra cash, right now, in their bank accounts.
They couldn’t be further apart, as Mr Abbott sought to reassure Sunday newspaper readers yesterday with his cut-out-and-keep, signed voucher entitling the bearer – assuming a happy electoral event for the Opposition Leader sometime in the next year or so – to a full abolition of the carbon tax. Thus opens a new era of political push and shove.
But before we plough into it, it’s worth one last look at what’s gone before for these parties. Only by carbon-dating their attitudes can the true madness of this debate be appreciated.
Let’s start the tale in 1997, when the new Howard government’s environment minister Robert Hill went to the Kyoto summit, and was borne home triumphantly on the shoulders of colleagues when he negotiated for Australia a deal that allowed us actually to raise our emissions over time – one of just three countries so favoured under the agreement.
Said John Howard, in the Financial Review on December 12 that year, while delightedly ruffling the hair of the then-boyish Hill (okay, I made that up):
“It’s an outcome that will protect tens of thousands of Australian jobs, and it’s also an outcome that will put the world on a firmer path towards controlling greenhouse gas emissions.”
Elsewhere, he described the outcome as “an absolutely stunning diplomatic success”.
Labor, then led by Kim Beazley, griped that Australia had got off a bit too lightly under the Kyoto deal.
Four years later, Mr Howard had soured considerably on Kyoto, and he and his cabinet determined not to ratify the thing. His determination to repudiate the document in this way went undimmed to the end of his prime ministership, although he did undertake to stick to the Kyoto targets, and in 2007 promised to introduce an emissions trading scheme in order to price carbon appropriately.
This is what Kevin Rudd promised at the 2007 election too, although Mr Rudd – in a demonstration that the Labor Party had long outgrown its initial snippiness about the protocol itself – promised that he would enthusiastically sign and ratify it if elected, possibly attended by a youth orchestra and troupes of dancing penguins, and that this would definitively prove his modernity and in-touch-ness, as opposed to grouchy old John Howard.
And indeed, upon his election, Mr Rudd did sign the Kyoto Protocol. He also made immediate moves to develop the carbon emissions trading scheme he had promised, and spoke at length about the environmental urgency of such an enterprise.
There was no doubt that Mr Rudd’s motivation was environmental; long lectures were delivered about the fate of the Great Barrier Reef and other key Australian treasures; the spread of disease through northern Australia and the likely deaths of the very young and the very old thanks to the ravages of extreme temperatures, wildfire, flood and super-hurricanes were also mentioned in dispatches.
The Coalition, meanwhile, flopped about miserably in a puddle of indecision; should it support an emissions trading scheme, as it had promised to do at the 2007 election? Three different answers to this question were recommended by the three different leaders with whom the Liberal Party experimented over the course of just two years. Brendan “Maybe” Nelson was supplanted by Malcolm “Yes” Turnbull, who in turn was ousted by Tony “No” Abbott, who leads the party still and remains very firmly of the negative view.
His election – by one vote – to the Liberal leadership in November 2009 derailed the agreement his predecessor Mr Turnbull had forged with the Rudd government to support its emissions trading scheme.
Within months, Mr Rudd too had deferred the scheme, and a few months after that, his own party dismantled his prime ministership.
And thus, not even three years after the 2007 election – at which both parties had promised emissions trading schemes – we encountered the 2010 election, in which neither did.
The new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, promised a sensitive ear, no carbon tax, and a special convention of ordinary Australians to get together and discuss the whole thing like grownups. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, offered Herculean tree-plantings and payments to select industries to clean themselves up.
And there we were, until some months after the election, at which time Ms Gillard, having been reconfirmed as prime minister by the breadth of a hummingbird’s proboscis, announced she would be introducing a temporary carbon tax followed by a full-fledged emissions trading scheme.
I will not here insult the reader’s intelligence by pointing out the political difficulties engendered by Ms Gillard’s change of heart. Obviously, they were profound, and continue to be so.
What is interesting is that the carbon pricing scheme that started yesterday – the haggard survivor of Australian politics’ dizzying, hallucinatory “yes-no-yes-no” routine on this issue for the best part of the last 15 years – no longer seems to have very much to do with the environment.
The ads don’t mention it, and neither – as a general rule – does the Prime Minister, who tends to pitch her “Clean Energy Future” package more as a bold, principled, possibly-towering economic reform, leavened with extra money for the cash-strapped.
Much mention was made of the cash payments in Question Time last week, as the Prime Minister and her colleagues staggered gratefully toward yesterday’s implementation date.
But not so much talk, any more, of the polar bears or the biodiversity of the reef, or the owners of beachside property whose sandy promontories face the relentless jaws of rising sea levels.
That sort of talk is so two governments ago. And talk changes pretty fast around here.
YESTERDAY the world started to cool – thanks to Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. Billions of grateful foreigners are thanking Australia.
That’s the idea of this tax that started yesterday, on Carbon Sunday, isn’t it?
The whole point is to cut the predicted temperature of the world by paying more for our coal-fired electricity, closing gassy businesses and spending $10 billion on “clean energy”.
So the basic question must be: what difference will this tax make to the world’s temperature? What is the gain for the pain?
But here is the most astonishing fact of the whole global warming debate. Not once has the Government told us this most fundamental fact.
Yesterday I tried again to prise out this information when Anthony Albanese became the first Labor minister to come on my TV show in a year.
I asked the question every which way and never once did Mr Albanese give a direct answer.
Example: “You know you can’t do that kind of calculation … That’s a nonsense question … That’s the wrong question.”
You see, Labor has no intention of admitting the truth: that its tax and colossal spending on global warming programs will make about zero difference.
Despite Mr Albanese’s claim, you can calculate the effect on the temperature of cutting our emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, as the Government intends.
Professor Roger Jones, a warmist and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, puts it at a minuscule .0038 of a degree – and that is the most generous assessment I’ve seen anywhere.
The peer-reviewed formula devised by Professor Damon Matthews, of Concordia University, suggests the difference would actually be less than a 10th of that – just 0.00024 degree.
Mathematician Lord Monckton says it’s even less still – just 0.00005 degree. Essentially zero.
If there are better figures, not one government adviser will release them. The best I got from chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery after much badgering was: “Look, it will be a very, very small increment.”
The Government may deflect the question by insisting that once the world follows our lead, together we’ll make a difference.
Well, the world isn’t following us, but even if it did, the same question applies: how much would this cut the world’s temperature?
Has the Gillard Government even told us that?
No. And the reason is simple: if you knew what little difference we’d make, even with everyone else playing ball, you’d be shocked.
And you’d ask: are we mad? Who conned us into doing something so vastly expensive for no result?
the worlds biggest tax..which will do nothing to lower world temperatures..is being fully compensated we a re told so people dont change habits.and industries the greens regard as dirty geting millions to stay in business..which completely negates what they are tryting to do.. election now!