Before the introduction of carbon pricing Tony Abbott claimed that the price of petrol would go up by 6.5c per litre. It actually went down by 3.3 per cent in the first year.
He claimed that the cost of living would skyrocket. Inflation for 2012-13 was 2.3 per cent which is at the lower end of the RBA’s target range. It was estimated that about 0.7 per cent of that rise was due to carbon pricing. To put that into perspective, the GST and related changes caused an increase to the CPI of almost 2.5%! Record low interest rates have also led to substantial savings on mortgage payments.
He claimed that power bills would increase by $300 a year. This was a reasonable estimate. To compensate for that the tax free threshold was increased from $6000 to $18,200 which meant that the majority of people earning less than $80,000 saved at least $300 on taxation. Pensioners and self-funded retirees, as well as family payment recipients and other allowance recipients had their payments increased.
The level of compensation saw the vast majority of people fully compensated for the price increases, and millions of households, particularly pensioners and low income households, actually ended up better off. Plus, if you can reduce your dependence on carbon-intensive products you could end up even better off still.
Tony also continues to claim that the carbon tax is responsible for the closure of businesses. Not one of the many manufacturing or mining ventures that have closed have mentioned the carbon tax as a reason. With the imminent repeal of the carbon tax in July, rather than a decrease, we are seeing a rapid increase in industry closure all of whom seem to agree that the greatest pressure has come from the high Aussie dollar.
The carbon price only applied to about 500 businesses and there were six different streams of assistance that industry could apply for, with special consideration given to those who were “trade-exposed” by having to compete with companies that did not have carbon pricing. Tony was embarrassed on more than one photo shoot to be told about grants and industry assistance that have been given to the very businesses he was saying had suffered.
In fact, before carbon pricing, Qantas had to pay an initial carbon tax penalty of 15% on its carbon emissions for any flights it made into or out of Europe. This penalty would increase over time, and is payed directly into the coffers of the European Union. The reason for its imposition was specifically because Australian did not have a carbon price in place.
Over the next few years, the European Union will expand its penalty regime to impose general sanctions on countries that do not meet its standards on carbon reduction mechanisms.
There are further economic reasons behind acting to implement a price on carbon, aside from the risk of foreign sanctions. The fact is that renewable energy technology will be the next huge growth industry. The Chinese have been quick to recognise this and have the highest level of investment in this sector, accounting for almost 25% of worldwide investment in renewables in 2010 for a total of $50 billion USD. If we do not incentivise investment in the sector, we will simply be left behind.
Fossil fuel subsidies cost almost $200 per taxpayer per year while mining companies continue to enjoy record profits. As they move from construction to production phase, profits will increase but jobs will be lost in this less labour-intensive phase. It is unjustifiable madness to repeal the mining tax just when it could make us some revenue. The cost of repealing that tax on superprofits is the loss of the schoolkids bonus, delay of superannuation guarantee increase, scrapping of the low income co-contribution to superannuation, and scrapping of the instant asset write-off for small business amongst other things. In other words, the workers will take a cut so the profits of mining companies can skyrocket.
I know energy bills are high but let’s be clear about when that happened and why. In the 7 years prior to the introduction of carbon pricing, the average bill for a customer in regional NSW had risen by 154 per cent to $2520. This was due to the ‘gold-plating’ of Australia’s power grid. Power companies had been basing spending decisions on their own forecasts of future consumption of electricity, but power demand has been decreasing.
Escalating use of renewable energy and energy efficiency are contributing to reducing wholesale power prices across Australia. Mr Abbott seems convinced that the Renewable Energy Target and the carbon trading scheme were almost entirely to blame for the doubling of power prices since 2007, even though the Australian Energy Market Commission and every state government utility regulator has provided information that shows this is not accurate. Distribution network charges, supported by transmission networks, are by far the biggest cause of price rises, even though peak demand growth has tailed off well below the projections used to justify this huge expenditure.
There has been a deliberate campaign of misinformation about carbon pricing and the renewable energy target and the assault looks set to continue with the appointment of self-confessed climate change deniers, opponents to renewable energy, and fossil fuel industry lobbyists, as government advisers.
Pinning our economy to an industry that the rest of the world is moving away from is economic short-sightedness to say the least. Expanding coal mining as the price plummets and China and the US sign agreement to move towards clean energy and sustainable practice is bad planning. The short term boom has made our dollar so high that we are seeing the death of manufacturing nationwide.
If Tony Abbott really wanted to lower your energy bill he could do it very easily by making power bills GST free. If he really cared about action on climate change he would keep carbon pricing and invest in renewable energy. If he truly cared about falling revenue in this country he would tax the superprofits that the mining companies make. If he really cared about jobs he would be investing in the industries of the future and the education and skills training of our youth and retraining of the many people whose jobs have been sacrified to fossil fuel greed.
Mr Hunt, two months ago you said:
“Our Direct Action plan encompasses support for solar power through our One Million Roofs, Solar Towns and Solar Schools programmes”.
These initiatives are in addition to support for renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Target and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is funding projects and research across the spectrum of renewable energy sources, including bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal, ocean energy and wind.
The Government will provide $500 million for the One Million Solar Roofs programme and a further $50 million each for the Solar Towns and Solar Schools programmes.
The Solar Roofs programme will provide $500 rebates for installing one million rooftop solar energy systems over the next ten years.
This rebate will be in addition to the support already provided through the RET. Eligible systems will include small-scale photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters and heat pumps.”
Do you stand by what you said and your support for the RET? I am paying you to fulfil the role of Environment Minister which is a job with a huge responsibility attached. If you make the wrong decisions the consequences could be far worse than any war that mankind has seen and the longer you delay, the more likely that the damage will be irreversible.
Tony Abbott described carbon pricing as “an act of betrayal”. What do you call paying vested interests to convince us to maximise their profits by throwing ourselves, our children and our planet off a cliff?