John Menadue. The Carbon Tax and Flat-Earthers.

Feb 28, 2014

Despite all the political rhetoric and hysteria, the evidence is mounting almost daily that the carbon tax is largely working as planned and that its impact on electricity prices is quite small, particularly compared with the ‘network costs’, the poles and wires, which have been the main drivers of increased electricity prices.

But the flat-earthers in the government and News Ltd refuse to face the facts. They have run one dishonest campaign after another on the carbon tax, then pink batts and then the education revolution. We are paying an extraordinarily heavy price for the abuse of power by the Murdoch media in the dishonest and partisan campaigns they run. Are they all as ignorant as Rupert Murdoch’s favourite editor Rebekah Brooks who told a London court this week that she didn’t know that phone tapping was illegal!

Just recall the extremist and exaggerated language of Tony Abbott in association with News Ltd on the carbon tax.

  • Whyalla will be wiped off the map.
  • Julia Gillard is trying to close down Gladstone.
  • The carbon tax is socialism masquerading as environmentalism.
  • It is a ‘great new tax on everything’.
  • The impact of the tax will be ‘almost unimaginable’

It says something about the corruption of public debate that Tony Abbott’s campaign with News Ltd’s backing was successful. It was based on fiction and not fact.

In October last year, one year after the introduction of the carbon tax, the impact on the CPI was almost undetectable. Treasury had estimated that a $23 per tonne emission tax would result in an increase of $9.90 in the cost of living for an average household. It turned out that the impact was even less than the Treasury has forecast.

Earlier this week Michael West in the SMH on February 24 drew attention to the work of the Energy, Economics and Management Group at the University of Qld. These researchers found that network costs and retail costs which included the profit margin of energy retailers made up 62% of NSW residential electricity prices in 2013. The carbon tax made up only 10% of prices.

In comparing increases in electricity prices in NSW and Qld between 2007 and 2013, the University of Qld Group found that price increases per kWh were due to the following.

  • Network costs – +7c
  • Retail costs, including profit margin – +2/3c
  • Green schemes, including carbon tax and renewable energy target, – less than 3C

Generating costs were relatively stable over the period.

The main increase in prices has been due to the ‘gold plating’ of the networks and the price-gouging by retailers along with large executive bonuses. Green schemes including the carbon tax have a much smaller impact – about 25% of the total increase in prices.

Michael West put it this way. ‘Tony Abbott [must recognise] that it is not the carbon tax and renewable energy costs that are primarily responsible for energy hikes. The culprit is network costs and state governments that are making a killing’.

Last week in Sydney the IMF chief, Christine Lagard, said that ‘environmental degradation’ [carbon pollution] was an external cost to the economy that had to be priced. She said that these ‘externalities’ must have a price. Almost every economist will tell us that a tax on ‘externalities’ like a carbon tax is much preferred to Direct Action that the Abbott Government is adopting.

Tony Abbott has done enormous damage to good policy making to curb carbon pollution and global warming. The flat-earthers have so far won the day in Australia. But surely it cannot last. Is the Australian public so gullible to put up with these scare campaigns on the carbon tax? The flat-earthers in the coalition and News Ltd have done a great disservice to Australia.

On top of this Tony Abbott is now hemming himself in with people who reject the overwhelming scientific evidence. The head of Tony Abbott’s business advisory group Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton the head of the review of the Renewable Energy Target both think that climate science is “group think”. Newman goes even further and describes climate science as a “scientific delusion”

When will all this nonsense stop?

For the sake of our children and grandchildren the flat-earthers must be strongly opposed


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