Tim Winton and other notables appear in an advertising blitz in support of the government's proposed "carbon tax".
I am opposed to the tax, strongly opposed. At the same time I believe we should be doing much more to conserve the planet on which we live. No, the two things are not a contradiction.
Why? The carbon tax our Federal Government is hoping to get off the ground is not going to change our behaviour. We are not being asked to make changes to our lifestyle. Indeed, the government is planning on compensating individuals for the increased cost of living under a carbon tax. In other words it is a "tax the rich and pay the poor" proposal rather than anything to do with the environment.
The proposals will apparently cut our share of the world's emissions by less than one per cent but, so the government tells us, "it is important to lead by example" - if we are leading by example.
If the government had done something quite simple like require the big polluters to fund the replanting of forests I doubt there would have been a debate. It would be an excellent use of an additional tax. It is something that would have had enormous benefits for everyone. If they had also said to the rest of us "You need to change your lifestyle a little" then people may have felt they were actually contributing something. As it is we are not being asked to use less of the world's resources, indeed the "compensation" being offered will encourage people to continue as before. A government campaign to get people to leave the car at home and take public transport. walk or pedal to work might make more sense. A government campaign to encourage people to engage in leisure activities that do not depend on the use of a car might also help. Requirements to insulate our houses at our expense and not through a failed government scheme (which rewarded those who had not done the right thing) might also help.
My brother-in-law came yesterday. He spent the entire day cleaning our roof ready for the installation of solar panels. We debated long and hard over this. In the end we decided they will be an environmentally sound investment - just. We have taken into account the cost of making them, transporting them and installing them. My father may not see the benefit in his life time but someone else will continue to use them and they will eventually be a bonus to the environment.
And that, I think, may be the problem. The government wants to see a benefit in its lifetime. Assisted by Cate Blanchett, Tim Winton and others it is working towards re-election not restoring the environment.