So this Sunday the PM will deliver on prime time TV (well on ABC at least) her much awaited Carbon Tax plan. You remember the one she said would not happen whilst she was Prime Minster.
That we have got this far is a miracle, as all the Government’s ‘partners’ have been heartily sick & tired of the governments constant dribbling of information in-order to gain some sort of vague superiority over the Oppositions quite effective negative campaign against the tax. Although the Greens finally managed to slide the knife in by organising a press conference themselves proclaiming their disappointment that petrol would not be included in the Carbon Tax, however their price for that will in all likelyhood mean that non-business fuel will be affected by a carbon tax/price within the next three years. So putting the boot into the PM’s claim that it will never happen (much like a carbon tax then eh Prime Minister)!
My problem is not with the fact that we will be having a Carbon Tax (some of you will note that I’ve supported such a tax for a while now). My problem is with how it is being orchestrated and how the Prime Minster has deported herself on the matter (I’m leaving the Opposition’s position out of this for the moment).
The PM can dissemble all she wants, but in the end she made a statement about the possibility of the Carbon Tax under a government she led. Added to the fact that it was she (along with our great world famous treasurer) who helped kill off the ETS, I cannot she why she and the ALP are surprised that outside of their few remaining strongholds there is now a groundswell of distrust about anything she says. Once the minority government was formed the PM should have made it crystal clear that part of her ability to form said government was an understanding with the Greens that she would seek to legislate for a carbon tax before the next election.
But she didn’t, so even if there is no negative aspects to the C-tax the voting public are unlikely to forgive & forget.
My other big problem with this policy is that it should be about changing how the public and business treat energy use. This should mean the following:
- Making electricity more expensive
- Making fuel more expensive & penalise larger non-business vehicles (yes urban 4WD & UTE owners I’m looking at you)
- Making it uneconomic to maintain brown coal based power stations and mines.
To offset this any policy should:
- Encourage R&D into renewable energy sources.
- Encourage (or enforce via the BCA) that all new buildings have solar panelling to help offset energy use. This would also provide enough demand for panels to be made once again onshore rather than importing from other countries.
- Encourage the use of power efficient appliances, along with making the costs of usage clear (in $ and cents).
- Utilise the majority carbon tax funds to develop a sovereign fund to help with the above along with water use (Murray-Darling basin anyone), and general sustainability programs.
- Encourage mass transport programmes (such as high speed links down the east coast).
- Subsidise the energy consumption of those who are not able to pay (but obviously base this on energy usage, so no using that 50” plasma grandma).
The government should not be claiming however (as they are at the moment) that we will not be significantly out of pocket by the new legislation. This is for the following reasons:
- Firstly we need to change how we act and so the stick of higher power & petrol bills hopefully will encourage us not to have big energy hogging appliances and cars. Also if the market bombs for these items then designers will look at more energy efficient models.
- Consumers do pollute (sometimes directly sometime indirectly) therefore the consumer should contribute as well as the primary polluters.
- It is naive in the extreme to assume that the primary polluters will not try and improve their margins when they have to start paying the C-Tax now the question is will the money the guvmnt is shoving our way cover those increases? I think we all know deep down that costs will continue to rise. So the electoral bandaid that are the tax offsets and direct bungs are unlikely to potential gaping wound.
In the end however we do need to see the reality of the policy and proposed legislation, which the PM will provide us on Sunday.
Unfortunately I feel it is already a failure.