Gillard Government Ministers are about to mingle with the people and explain to us why the carbon tax is such a good thing. I’m not expecting one in our street today, but when he or she comes I’ll engage him or her in a discussion of my new energy bill. Our energy supplier sent us an educative message telling us that on average our gas bill in the new financial year will be on average 11.5 per cent higher, and our electricity bill 17.7 per cent higher. In the same mail I received a nice letter from my pension fund telling me that my pension will go up by 0.1 per cent in the next financial year. Great news: that’s about $2 a week, and of course it will all go to offset the new energy prices.
How is the 17.7 per cent increase made up? Well, there are pluses and minuses. The cost in generating power is going down slightly, as is the cost to us of subsidising people who have put solar cells on their roofs. But the carbon tax is causing 14.2 per cent of the increase. There’s been no sign that the ACCC is going to crack down on our supplier for having the temerity to tell us of the components of the increase, unlike what has happened to Brumby bakeries. So there it is: heating and lighting our house will cost us a whole lot more, without any compensation that I am aware of.
So I’ll ask the Minister who calls what we are getting for this whopping increase from one year to the next — which of course, as good-hearted Australians, we will cheerfully bear. I have some responses ready. If he tells me that Australia is leading the world in this endeavour I will reply that this is not the Olympics, or a race, or a popularity contest. Why are we doing it?
If he says that it will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions I will ask by how much. The figures I have seen suggest it will not be of any consequence whatever, in the short run or the long run. A few new Chinese power stations coming on line burning our coal will overshadow our reductions in a week or two. In any case, it is not clear — still — that greenhouse gas emissions are a bad thing, or even that they have caused a measured amount of whatever warming has occurred over the past fifty years.
If there is a moment of silence from the Minister I will ask him something like this: Isn’t it the case that the carbon tax was the essential component of the deal that Julia Gillard struck with Bob Brown to ensure that her Government would be supported by the Greens? No one has said this exactly, yet it appears to be the case. After all, she had said firmly that there would be no carbon tax introduced by her Government, and then finally introduced one. Yes, I know that she could argue that the election results changed everything, but it was a firm statement, and the rejoicing by the Greens after the events suggests at least to me that it was the cornerstone of the deal.
I don’t expect that the Minister would agree with me. He will probably say that to argue this way is to bring politics into it, whereas what the Government is doing is preserving the world for my grandchildren. He will then leave quickly, and I will shake my head.
What a truly silly thing this carbon tax is! It can have no discernible effect on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it is going to materially increase domestic costs everywhere. I think that the Ministers are going to be on a hiding to nothing.