We’ve all heard the fable of The boy who cried wolf:
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, “Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!”
The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
“Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!” They went grumbling back down the hill.
I’m sure you know the story.
A similar fable is being played out in our political paddock but with different players; the shepherd boy is replaced by the LNP, the villagers the Australian electorate and the big bad wolf the big bad ‘carbon tax’.
I heard this cry of ‘wolf’ recently when the shout rang through the media that the Libs tip $560m carbon bill on buildings:
The carbon tax will add $560 million to the costs of running hospitals, schools, courts and other government buildings during its first three years, according to a Coalition analysis of the climate change scheme.
Independent schools – which teach more than 500,000 children across Australia – have warned they may have to raise tuition fees to offset an estimated $28 million rise in annual energy bills.
And private hospitals claim the carbon tax will add up to $36 million to their annual expenses, although they say there is no evidence the greenhouse scheme has yet led to rises in patient charges.
According to new analysis by the Coalition and based on a report by the Climate Change Department, the carbon tax will add $558.9 million to the energy costs of public and private hospitals, schools, TAFE colleges, courts, galleries, libraries and museums through to 2015/16.
The Coalition initially claimed the carbon tax sums only applied to public institutions – but later conceded that it also included private schools and hospitals, after being corrected by the Gillard Government.
Hospitals – which receive around $50 billion a year in public funding – will have to fork out $227 million in higher electricity and gas charges, while schools will be hit with a $129 million carbon bill.
Bill Daniels, the executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, last night said there were “two possible outcomes of this additional cost. Either school fees from parents would need to be increased to compensate, or schools would have to seek cost savings from the provision of educational services.”
Well that certainly sounds like ‘wolf’ to me. If the Coalition would bother to investigate whether these claims are factual or fictitious, as I have, they need not have imitated the discredited shepherd boy.
I particularly want to point out what I’d call a furphy in regards to the increased power costs expected to be thrust upon the independent schools. Mr Daniels, despite his role as executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia apparently must have had no idea of the National Solar School Program where:
Over $217 million has been provided to 5,310 schools (or almost 60 per cent of all Australian schools) to install renewable energy systems, rainwater tanks and a range energy efficiency measures.
The solar power systems already installed are producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4600 average households every day.
The funding has helped to educate students about renewable energy and energy efficiency, and that everyday actions can prevent the production of millions of tonnes of carbon pollution.
A spokesperson from the former Department of Climate Change estimates that on average (disregarding the size of the school or the number of solar photovoltaic panels installed) each school has reduced their energy costs by $5,000 a year. Therefore, over the three-year period the power costs for 5,310 schools will reduce by $79.5M. That’s a fair whack we can take off the LNP’s $560M wolf-crying debt.
The estimate provided by the department spokesperson is not a stab in the dark amount. The savings are verifiable on publicly available web sites, such as on www.sunnyportal.com where hundreds of Australian schools publish the amount of data generated by their solar photovoltaic panels and how much the generated solar power has reduced their power costs since installation. Click on the photo on the sunnyportal that says ‘Publicly available plants’ (plants include schools) and see if your local school uses this site and if so, how much they have saved. I chose the All Saints Catholic School in Casula, Sydney, randomly. Click on their link and you’ll find this little gem under Plant Review:
CO2 avoided:35,072.73 kgReimbursement:AUD 8,194.56
That’s one independent school that has so far reduced its power costs by $8,194.56. So much for the increased power costs because of the ‘carbon tax’ that Bill Daniels bemoans. And, obviously, who the LNP are happy to use a credible source. The Government has provided funding of $217M which will contribute to decreased power costs in the range of $79.5M every three years and the LNP pluck out a bloke who says that the ‘carbon tax’ would have a dastardly effect on schools . . . and then they cry ‘wolf’.
Incidentally, nowhere have I found anything to support the Opposition’s claim that “based on a report by the Climate Change Department, the carbon tax will add $558.9 million to the energy costs of public and private hospitals, schools, TAFE colleges, courts, galleries, libraries and museums through to 2015/16.”
I’ve found an error of $79.5M in the Opposition’s costing just on schools alone. Amongst the further readings (below) millions more are to be found. Hundreds of millions, in fact. Too many to include in this post.
There is no wolf. This story ends a bit differently to the popular fable.
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