Winning hearts and minds – the carbon tax issue

By Phil Drew

While we are regenerating Our ALP we need also to be countering Abbott and his big lies. Two interesting articles, a Letter in the SMH and media releases by Jed Kearney, ACTU President, should be required reading so that we can win some hearts and minds on the carbon tax issue.

First some facts to help us win hearts and minds.

$7.80 estimate of what the average household will pay extra each week on goods and services, including electricity, gas, and food, in the first year of a carbon price (assuming it is $20 per tonne of pollution).

0.7% estimated rise in consumer prices in the first year of a carbon price, as shown by Treasury modelling of Kevin Rudd’s trading scheme.

6% Jump in consumer prices after the (Howard era) GST was introduced.

0.325% Carbon cost as a % of steel’s market value.

$800 Price of steel per tonne.

$2.60 Carbon price a tonne that would be imposed on steel.

$50 per tonne impact of rise in value of dollar this year.

0.748% Carbon cost as a % of aluminium’s market value.

$2,500 Price of aluminium per tonne.

$18.70 Carbon price a tonne that would be imposed on aluminium.

$500+ per tonne impact of rise in value of dollar this year.

The first article is by Lenore Taylor: Abbott’s beef on carbon price doesn’t add up in SMH Saturday April 9, 2011 (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbotts-beef-on-carbon-price-doesnt-add-up-20110408-1d7fw.html). She calculated, shock horror, that a butcher in Coffs Harbour would be able to cover his extra power bills (jumping 18% over two years) by adding four cents to the price he charges for a kilo of T-bone steak.

The second article by Jessica Irvine: Sweetener can’t negate need for sacrifice in SMH Saturday April 16, 2011 (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/sweetener-cant-negate-need-for-sacrifice-20110415-1dhpj.html) demonstrates the first year impact on consumer prices will be less than one sixth of that of the GST. She also shows what the increased cost of steel and aluminium will be, hardly likely to put Australian producers out of business (see above).

Now Wayne Swan has added information about the impact on steel and aluminium of the rise in the value of the Australian dollar so far this year (http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/swan-hits-back-over-claims-tax-will-wipe-towns-from-map-20110501-1e37s.html).

Compensation for trade exposed industry is important but, in his letter to the SMH Editor retired Judge Murray Wilcox, argued Careful pricing need not leave industry exposed (http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/careful-pricing-need-not-leave-industry-exposed-20110417-1djnr.html). He also drew attention to an EU survey (http://cadmus.eui.eu/handle/1814/15503) that shows how industries cry wolf in the run up to emissions controls wildly exaggerating claims of how bad will be the effects. He suggests legislation should not confer any permit rights. It should establish an independent tribunal to consider applications by firms in respect of leakages within a particular year. That is after the effects can be demonstrated.

Jed Kearney, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, was interviewed on Radio National on Monday 18 April. She gave a positive expression of union policy arguing that there was need for all parties (government, unions, companies, welfare and other agencies) to sit down, together, to achieve a positive result. She pointed out that new figures from the Climate Change Department show Australia’s emissions jumped 0.5 per cent last year – and that rise will continue if we do nothing. Two press releases expand on these themes: Unions support a price on pollution, reject scare campaign by Coalition and big polluters 19 April, 2011 Media Release (http://www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/UnionssupportapriceonpollutionrejectscarecampaignbyCoalitionandbigpolluters.aspx), and Australians want revenue from price on pollution to help families and invest in renewables: poll 19 April, 2011 Media Release (http://www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/Australianswantrevenuefrompriceonpollutiontohelpfamiliesandinvestinrenewablespoll.aspx).

Next time your mate at the pub or coffee bar starts rattling on about the big new tax based on a big lie you can quote the arguments summarised in the figures below. You can also mention that saying no carbon tax before an election that left the Parliament hung means everyone, Abbott included, has to rethink their situation. Would we really be supporting pokie controls and other issues if we didn’t have to deal with Wilkie and the other independents?

Regenerating and reclaiming Our ALP means that we need to both influence and support policy development.

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