Classified as: Reflective journal - advocacy
Updated with links 22 July 2014
What can I say? Like many others, I have watched in shock as the Abbott government tried to undo all the good work of its predecessor. In public health and education in particular, the government's actions seemed to be motivated by ignorance, meanness and petty revenge.
In the budget, those in the most difficult conditions - the chronically ill, the young, Indigenous people, sole parents, low income families and unemployed people - have been targeted for savage cuts, while the wealthy or comfortably off - like myself - pay nothing or a token short lived levy.
Now we come to the major moment - Tony Abbott's plan to 'Axe the Tax'. Such ignorance, such foolishness I have never seen in a government in all my long life. I cannot understand how Australia has elected such a government.
Yes I know people were sick of the infighting of Labor, and I know they had been made to look incompetent, particularly through sexism and exaggeration, but they weren't. The Clean Energy Futures Act, which includes the carbon price, was actually good and far sighted legislation. It is setting us on the road to a lower emissions future already. More needs to be done, but we have started our journey.
Fortunately at least some of the mechanisms associated with the Act, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Renewable Energy Target, and the Climate Change Authority, look set to be retained due to the Palmer United Party position - for which I am grateful. But they still look set to axe the carbon price and at best go to an emissions scheme which won't have any impact until major trading partners adopt one.
So I make a last plea - don't do it Senators. If you want to switch to an emissions trading scheme, ok. But it has to be meaningful. The message sent by Australia setting a price and then backing off is just terrible. Apart from making us look like idiots - no small thing in itself - it creates doubt and uncertainty in Australia and internationally. Citizens and businesses in Australia deserve better than this.
To dispel a few false ideas, here is some evidence:
- The carbon price caused only a small amount - about nine or ten percent - of recent electricity price rises. Most were for other causes particularly infrastructure upgrades.
- People on low to middle incomes were compensated for the cost increases associated with the carbon price under the legislation. Paying the money back to them again is like paying them twice. People on average to high incomes don't need to be repaid as it was only a small amount for us. (I am not sure how long the link in this point will last as it links to the previous government's information, so here is another one, hopefully more permanent.)
- Electricity prices are set to decline if we continue our investment in renewables. Without a carbon price, this investment will likely slow down. People will end up paying more in a few years. The carbon price is a small pain for a big gain. As long as vulnerable groups are compensated, it is a fair way of helping us move to a sustainable economy.
Yes, the economy will change in some ways. People may fly less and drive cars less - or drive different types of cars - but that is part of the transition of the economy. We have to invest in sustainable industry like renewable energy and public transport, to meet our changing needs and make sure there are jobs for people.
We can't just cling to the past as the Abbott government wants to do. We have to change. So please Senators, let's do it sensibly. Keep a price on carbon. Compensate vulnerable groups, and go further - help them through mechanisms such as community renewable schemes. Invest in alternative sustainable industry to meet our needs and create jobs. Look to the future, look to what we can be and the world we create for our descendants.