Gillard’s tax still to be debated

Still not asking the right questions

We are still not hearing hard questions from the media to challenge the effectiveness of a CO2 tax or a trading system.

After the disgraceful ignorance displayed by Jill Duggan, the visiting EU emissions trading expert, there is still a complete unwillingness from almost everyone who wants us to rush into doing SOMETHING, ANYTHING to stop global warming to face a self evident reality; that whatever we do, however much it costs, doing something will amount to doing NOTHING anyway.

In addition, Henry Ergas explained why it will not only not encourage other countries to follow, it will have the unintended consequence of discouraging others from following our example.

The … claim defenders of the tax make is that by acting now, we increase the prospects of global agreement. That claim is also implausible. It accords Australia an influence at odds with the experience of international negotiations, not least at Copenhagen. Additionally and importantly, it ignores the fact that by undermining our own exports we make preventing agreement even more profitable for our rivals.

That the government has no plan for repealing the tax should international agreement not eventuate in a set time frame makes our rivals’ incentive to delay even greater. To believe altruism will trump self-interest in determining their negotiating stance involves a considerable leap of faith.

So, the question to be answered, please, by anyone reading this blog and being indignant at the views expressed here, is why should we do things that will damage the economy and our living standard, if what we do will have no measurable effect on the climate and will not encourage others to do anything effective either?

Last weekend, Terry McCrann again pointed out in detail why the system advocated by Julia Gillard cannot work, and will not work. Has McCrann missed something?

Today in The Australian was a long-winded piece by David Hetherington bravely arguing that Julia Gillard can win the policy debate on the carbon dioxide tax. Heatherington makes the empty assertions that:

Since the underlying economic argument for a carbon tax is a strong one, the government should eventually win the political debate.

The funny thing is that, in his whole piece, he does not explain how a costly tax that does nothing can be a strong argument. He then blames the media, but then so do those who disagree with him.

A further factor is the role of the media in shaping the reform debate. The tabloid media and talkback radio create a perception that all government initiatives are destructive. They cultivate a politics of fear, invoking a crisis in quality of life in Australia that just doesn’t exist.

The irony is that this statement is half true and half false, but for exactly symmetrical and mirror opposite reasons.  The government initiatives are indeed destructive and demonstrably so. It is not just the media’s perceptions. However, the cultivation of the politics of fear is exactly what the government and its well paid agents Tim Flannery and Ross Garnaut are energetically spreading— generously endorsed by a compliant media.

Beyond any effort made by Australia to reduce emissions, it is also true that if we, the whole of Europe, and all the ‘goodie two shoes’ went flat out — not forgetting the ever increasing growth of emission by India and China and the emerging economies — there is no way that this will slow down global warming. Far better to adopt the pragmatic and rational approach of adaptation and wealth generation.

The real divide in our society, and again, the failure of our media however, is that there is little engagement with the debate. For the Green/ALP coalition to promulgate its case, it must answer the increasing voices of the critics, not to ignore them or turn away from them in silence.


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