Time for Mr. Abbott to put up or shut up.
In Australia, the carbon tax is one of the most hotly debated topics in recent political history, as it should be. This blog should be read for what it is – an opinion on whether the carbon tax is a good or bad thing for this country. Whether you agree or disagree, I hope you will take the time to share your thoughts – and to vote in our poll.
So without further ado, I would like to state that I think this is the single most important piece of legislation to be proposed in recent decades. I also think it is an extremely courageous piece of legislation for a government which is flagging in the opinion polls.
We hear a lot about the effect, on the economy, of a price on carbon. But I believe we have got it around the wrong way. For generations we have treated our planet with contempt and it has now caught up with us. A majority of the worlds’ scientists have agreed. Unless we reduce carbon emissions soon, there will be no economies left to worry about.
And to our great shame, the world's highest per-capita offender is Australia, with a whopping 27.3 metric tonnes per person. Not China (5.5), not one of the rapidly developing economies such as India (1.7) nor Brazil (5.4). Nearest other offenders are the USA (23.4) and Canada (22.9). So for me there is no question of whether we should have a tax on carbon emissions – it’s simply how soon it can be implemented without causing grief to those on low incomes.
We have also heard comment that Australia should wait for other countries to take the lead. Why? If we are the number one offender, surely it is appropriate that we step up and make the necessary changes to reduce our emissions as quickly as possible. We once led the world in the introduction of social reforms, including giving the vote to women and creating a pension for older citizens. What is wrong with leading the world now when it faces the greatest challenge of modern times? Are we afraid of being innovative? Of punching above our weight? For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I sincerely hope not.
The debate preceding yesterday's release by the Federal Government of the detail of the proposed carbon tax has been acrimonious, to say the least. From the get-go the Federal Opposition, led by Tony Abbott, has denounced the carbon tax as a bad tax which needs to be rejected and, if it became law, to be repealed. All this without any detail! This negative stance was reinforced by the decision of the Opposition to not participate in the proceedings of the cross-party Climate Change Committee – preferring instead to promote its own option of a Direct Action climate policy.
Yes, the carbon tax is very new territory for Australia. But it is not without precedent, a similar scheme having been happily working in Europe for the past six or more years, depending upon the individual nation. The UK emissions, per capita, are 10.7 per cent, less than 40% of ours.
Over the next few weeks and months two things are likely to happen.
With the support of the Greens and Independents, the Federal Government’s carbon tax legislation will pass both houses of parliament and become law.
And the Federal Opposition, led by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, will criss cross the country chanting “Great Big New Tax” and spruiking fear and catastrophe in the wake of this new legislation.
My suggestion for Mr. Abbott is that he should do one of two things.
We now have a detailed plan put forward by the elected government, costed by politically-neutral Treasury officials.
Mr. Abbott has been offered the opportunity to have his preferred scheme – Direct Action – costed by the same officials.
I believe he should accept this offer and present his fully costed alternative to a carbon tax rather than resorting to cheap stunts and one-liners with little substance.
In short, I think he should either put up or shut up.
What do you think?
Has Kaye got a point? Or is she being unnecessarily unfair to the Leader of the Opposition?
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