Monday, 11 July 2011

Yesterday our Prime Minister

announced the long awaited details of the so-called "carbon tax" and the "price on carbon". I know there are certain readers of my blog who will be expecting me to comment so I will make an effort.
First up? The Prime Minister, politicians of all persuasions and the media have the name wrong. It is a tax on carbon dioxide. It is not a tax on carbon.
Second? It will not make one bit of difference to the problem of pollution. It may even add to pollution.
Third? It will make a difference to the economy and the difference will be a negative one.
The whole thing reminds me of "Mixed Biscuits" - a dog which appears in one of Elizabeth Goudge's novels. "...he was not a tidy eater". The tax is gobbling down money and spraying small amounts over the side of the plate for the tax payer to clean up.
It is a desperate attempt to look as if the government is doing something about the environment because they are dependent on the support of the Greens in order to stay in power. The Greens now say they have a "good deal" but that it "could be better". The reality is that they have less than they wanted or could have had if the government had been honest with the electorate and said they were going to introduce the tax at the last election - except of course they may not have won the election. Most of the so-called "independents" are so frightened of losing their seats at an election that they are clinging to power for as long as they can and will do whatever the government asks of them while pretending to negotiate good deals for their electorates.
Now, I am all for looking after the environment. My father and I do not own a car and we try not to use other people's cars or even public transport unless it is really necessary. We try to buy locally and responsibly. We recycle. Our house was built to maximise the use of the natural environment. We try to be responsible in our use of water (including our own rainwater) and electricity. We do not go overboard with any of these things but we are conscious of our impact on the environment and we will put an extra pullover before we think about using heating. No, we do not make ourselves uncomfortable but we do think about what we are doing.
I think that may be the problem. The so-called "carbon" tax has started at the wrong end. It has started with "500 big polluters" - it was to be a thousand but that had to change under pressure. There are all sorts of "exemptions" and "compensation". It is going to be extraordinarily complex. It is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to administer. There are already indications that there will be economic consequences and that many people who already try to be environmentally responsible will be hit while those who make no effort to be will be rewarded.
The reality is that this tax is nothing more than a means of shifting money around and trying to con people into the belief that the government is being "environmentally responsible". I doubt the Opposition would have done any better either.
The problem is that, if we really want to do something about the environment, then everyone has to change. We have to change the way we live. We need to use motor vehicles less. We need to grow more of our own food. We need to shop locally. We need to turn off the heating or the cooling unless it is extremely cold or hot. We need to dress according to the weather. New housing has to be built in accordance with the climate and not the fashion.
Those sort of things could set an example to the rest of the world. We still would not make a huge impact on the world's carbon dioxide levels but we might be able to say, "We think this is the way we can do it."
As it is now the rest of the world is going to laugh at us. We cannot even get the name right.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I understand we are only going to borrow about $2bn to get this thing moving. It's cheap if we come out as world leaders in pollution reduction. I know it hasn't worked in Europe but we aren't corrupt like them and we can alwats move the polluting stuff off-shore. It's a great idea. You are crazy if you don't support it.

Donna Hosie said...

The whole thing makes me want to stick my head in an oven! Tax the polluters - they pass it onto the consumer in full - not everyone gets a rebate (including my family) - I am worse off and the polluters continue polluting.

How the HELL is this supposed to save the environment? All I know is that I am going to be poorer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (whoever you are) I think someone must have been feeding you misinformation. Donna Hosie is right. This is a totally lousy idea that needs to be thrown out before it does any more damage. It will do absolutely nothing to help the environment. It is going to cause job losses, higher prices and endless headaches. If we really want to do something about the environment then everyone has to pay but we have to do it in an affordable and sustainable way. Getting 500 companies to bear the burden is not the answer. Chris

Frances said...

Cat: I am not sure that other countries will be laughing at us: see, eg,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/10/gillard-emisson-cut-australia
Yes, I know that the Guardian is regarded as left wing...but, The Australian is regarded as right wing. Maybe both viewpoints are worth considering.
The media is always suggesting to us that "other" people are profligate and wasteful: from the people that I come across, I'm just not sure that this is at all true.
Listening to the radio today, I hear that industries associated with creating renewable energy are jubilant.

Anonymous said...

Frances - that's the press - do you realise that officialdom in the EU admits that their ETS has not cut emissions, has cost jobs and is generally considered to be an economic failure - but it sounds good politically. As for the Australian being right wing - well it is the first time I have heard that said. It has some right wing columnists but the overall lean is left (unless it suits Murdoch to be right). Chris

Frances said...

Chris: I was reacting to Cat's comment that other countries would be laughing at us. The Guardian article suggested otherwise. That's all.
As for whether or not The Australian is right wing: I would regard that as a common assumption wherever there is a fairfax press. That you have never heard that is both interesting and astonishing. I will take that on board.

catdownunder said...

Hi Frances - Murdoch owns the Australian - not Fairfax

Frances said...

Hi Cat: Yes, I know that. I didn't make myself at all clear. What I meant was that (many) readers of the Fairfax newspapers regard the Murdoch papers such as The Australian, as right wing.

Anonymous said...

Oh right Frances - although I am amused that the Murdoch press should be considereed "right" leaning! The Advertiser is very definitely left leaning - with the exception of Andrew Bolt (syndicated) and Alexander Downer (who is often neutral anyway). One or two of the columnists are actually considered far left.
I think it would be fair to say the same of the Australian.
The ABC has made no secret of the fact that it is left leaning. (e.g The report on the "carbon tax" announcement contained no critical comments from the public at all and only a brief comment from Abbott.)
It has also been a problem in Canberra for years - the Press Gallery is left leaning. No paper sends a right leaning journalist because they get frozen out.
My own view is that journalists should remain politically neutral and columnists should provide balanced comment or be balanced by an opposing view.
Cat, you write plenty of letters to the editor - agree or disagree? Chris