voted for an economic disaster. Without a mandate - and against the wishes of the people they represent - the government voted to bring in a "carbon tax". What they really brought in was a tax on carbon dioxide. They did it - so they say - in the belief that the tax will reduce the sort of pollution that is said to affect climate change. We are also being told that it will make us world leaders in pollution reduction - and give us the right to dictate to the rest of the world the way in which they should be handling climate change.
The Opposition has claimed that it will repeal the legislation. This may also be more difficult than it appears. By the time we have an election there will be a raft of measures in place that may be very difficult, if not impossible, to undo.
It is economic vandalism of the worst kind.
The really sad thing is that it was all unnecessary. Almost all Australians would support honest, realistic efforts to do something positive about the environment. This was not. It was old style, Robin Hood tax tactics - and it is also an illusion. The government says it is planning to "compensate" nine out of ten households for the increased cost of living brought on by taxing the companies which will pay the "carbon tax". They are shifting money around. They are not changing behaviour. Big polluters will continue to pollute. They will take business off-shore to where the costs are less. Jobs will go in Australia and the money will not be there to compensate people for the increased costs of living.
All that would seem to be basic, low level economics. I am not an economist but all that seems pretty obvious to me.
People who know me know I want to see something very different. It would have been possible. It could have been done. There might have been real benefits.
I wanted to see any tax on pollution used to directly improve the environment by planting trees. Trees can provide food, shelter, clothing, fuel and employment. Trees can prevent erosion. They can take in carbon dioxide. They are a potentially immense resource.
I have had politicians tell me that tree planting is "not the answer" and is "not possible". I have had scientists say "it would take time but yes it is possible". It seems that "time" is the problem. Politics is about winning the next election. It is about having and retaining power. It is not about the environment.
It is about the Robin Hood illusion that you can simply tax the rich, who will then charge the poor, so that nobody needs to make an effort to change their behaviour.
Planting trees could have provided employment to change all of that.