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Ignore carbon tax noise: Garnaut

The federal government's economic adviser on climate change has urged the community not to judge the controversial carbon tax proposal until all details are on the table.

Professor Ross Garnaut also took a thinly veiled swipe at Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, saying he hoped “the noise” of the Australian political debate would not dominate decision making on the crucial issue.

The community would have to look at how the money would be spent as well as how it was collected before forming a judgment, he told reporters in Brisbane.

“The money doesn't just disappear when a price is put on carbon,” Professor Garnaut said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, accompanied by other members of a multi-party climate change committee including Greens leader Bob Brown, last week announced plans to introduce a carbon tax mid next year.

Ms Gillard, who has come under fire from the opposition for breaking a pre-election commitment not to pursue a carbon tax, vowed to compensate households for the rise in costs.

The plan involves polluters paying a fixed carbon price, or tax, to emit carbon into the atmosphere over the first three to five years.

The government then plans to switch to an emissions trading scheme, in which a cap on carbon pollution is set and market forces determine how much companies have to pay to pollute.

Ms Gillard said every cent raised would help families with higher household bills, help businesses make the transition to a clean energy economy, and tackle climate change.

But it's still not clear how much the tax will be, which sectors of the economy will be liable to pay the tax, and what assistance will be provided to households and industry.

Mr Abbott has vowed to scrap the tax if he is elected, saying Ms Gillard's plan would push up power and fuel bills.

He has also targeted the Prime Minister over her comments during last year's election campaign that there would be no carbon tax under a government she led.

Professor Garnaut called for “sober discussion based on facts and analysis” when asked about Mr Abbott's position during a forum in at Brisbane's Sebel Citigate hotel yesterday afternoon.

“We're in an early stage of dealing again with a very hard policy issue in Australia,” he said.

“This is a really hard issue. It's complicated. It's easy to take slogans to it. But I think that if we in the independent centre of the Australian polity insist on facts, analysis, then what we might think of as the noise of Australian politics won't dominate outcomes.

“That might be too much of a hope but Australia has done it before – at our best, we're good enough.”

Professor Garnaut was in Brisbane to release his latest research document on climate change issues.

The fourth paper, focusing on rural land use, stresses the benefits farmers could gain from helping to capture and store carbon through biological processes, or biosequestration.

It argues that the land sector accounts for one-fifth of Australia's emissions and biosequestration “must be central to any ambitious global effort to meet targets for limiting temperature increase”.

“Movement toward comprehensive coverage of all land sectors under a carbon pricing mechanism would yield economic and environmental benefits,” the paper says.

The plan released last week by the federal government suggested the carbon price could cover emissions sources including the energy and transport sectors, but not agricultural emission sources.

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18 comments so far

  • Isn't it a good thing to do - to clean up the environment?

    Whether global warming has been caused by human activity or not is irrelevant. Our current prosperity is a result of the last 150-200 years of world-wide industrial activity that that has included an environmental cost that HAS NEVER BEEN PROPERLY ACCOUNTED. We have increased our standard of living for generations, at the cost of polluting our natural environment with toxic chemicals and gases.

    Surely, It is our responsibility to clean up this planet, for our children and for future generations. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, it's going to cost us.

    Let's just suck it up, and get started. Enough talking already.

    Commenter
    Mario Bono
    Location
    BNE
    Date and time
    March 02, 2011, 12:32PM
    • The opposition to the tax is what I believe de Tocqueville called the Tyranny of the Majority. Seriously, democracy is only as good as the intelligence of the population, and the opposition to the tax doesn't say much for the collective IQ of the nation.

      Commenter
      The Undertaker
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      March 02, 2011, 1:18PM
      • Well said Mario Bono. This is too important an issue to play politics with. The purpose is to clean up our environment by ceasing to use environmentally damaging emissions. Why would anyone in their right mind, argue against that?

        Commenter
        John
        Location
        Rochedale
        Date and time
        March 02, 2011, 1:25PM
        • What makes you think that charging for pollution is going to lessen it. Is there any proof. Does increased petrol prices reduce driving for those who really need to drive, I dont think so. Those who need to pollute to create power will continue to pollute at the same rate, the only difference being they will pass on theyre costs to the end users.

          Commenter
          howdy
          Location
          brisbane
          Date and time
          March 02, 2011, 1:33PM
          • Screaming schoolyard hysterics will be past tense after The Friar scales the Belfry Bulustrassen, pulls on the Cape de Verde and the Rommel shades before articulately declaring from the Mount..ding dong ding dong..the gathering flock of Wallaby Peasants luv me, will die for me..aaaagh!

            Commenter
            Bob Lansdowne
            Location
            A to Zee
            Date and time
            March 02, 2011, 1:44PM
            • @howdy, THANK YOU!

              Its all well and good to think its saving the planet, but whats all that cash really doing? Because this government has been so savvy with our cash thus far haven't they? I'm all for recycling, sustainability and the like, but those things have concrete documented outcomes. Not just, 'oh yeah we'll tax the arse out of it and then the masses will decide being warm in winter is not a necessity, keeping the food cool isn't a necessity'.

              I mean water costs a fortune, and we all use as little as that as possible, same for power. I mean whos blatantly polluting here? No one I know.

              Besides seeing as the rest of the world isn't concerned enough to be implementing their own ETS and carbon (ha) taxes and the like, why are we all willing to jump in the handbasket to hell just so we can be the first? Let someone else make the errors first so we can learn from them. We cannot afford the costly errors this government is sure to make.

              AND I don't believe in the argument for AGW.

              Commenter
              Jack
              Date and time
              March 02, 2011, 2:21PM
              • howdy | brisbane - March 02, 2011, 2:33PM

                Increased energy prices drive efficiency. For evidence look at the 1973 oil crisis and its effect on alternative energy sources and efficiency standards.

                As a point of irony, it's interesting to know that cap and trade or emissions trading was initially introduced by the Republican Bush Government in the 90's to adress acid rain. It has been a market mechanism supported by conservative governments both here and in the US, with supporters including Bush, Palin and our own Liberal Party elite who now squarely oppose the mechanism in favour of government controled spending or flat denial that introducing more insulating gasses into the atmosphere will insulate the atmosphere more.

                The noise makers will have you believe that this will bankrupt the nation, however the reality is the design of emissions trading schemes is intended to gradually introduce the price to avoid shocks to the economy and allow industry to use the price signal to find efficiency gains and the lowest cost of emissions reductions.

                If government spending is the only tool used for emissions reductions then its effectiveness at reaching its uses, for example the space between your ceiling and your roof, will be reduced and money will be wasted, regardless of who is handing it out.

                Commenter
                Mike
                Date and time
                March 02, 2011, 2:37PM
                • Howdy (1:33pm) Proof is not required. Logic and faith in the human frailty (money) will achieve the end result. Those who need to pollute will use their expertise to lessen their costs, thereby lessening the pollution; those that don't will pay more cost and their retail prices will be greater than the non-polluters' OR they will go broke.

                  As for Petrol (it may or may not be included in the carbon pricing) the question is; has the lack of carbon pricing kept petrol prices low? Will peace in the Arab countries bring the petrol prices down? The need to use petrol is lessening as we comment, which is why many hybrid and alternative sources of power are now being introduced.

                  Whether we like it or not, we are in the 21st., century and over 10% towards the 22nd. We are either competitive, leading or trailing others. What would you prefer?

                  Commenter
                  John
                  Location
                  Rochedale
                  Date and time
                  March 02, 2011, 3:11PM
                  • To all the Shock Jocks and Carbon Tax whingers... I'll repeat a line that's close to your souless hearts: "If you don't like it, Leave"

                    The carbon tax is a tax you can do something about... The GST is not... You just have to use less and you'll waste less and consequently pay less. Get Over it!

                    Commenter
                    On yer bike!
                    Location
                    Melbourne
                    Date and time
                    March 02, 2011, 4:19PM
                    • If pollution is caused by scientists, then why don't we get rid of the scientists. That way we don't have to pay the carbon tax. Up there for thinking, down there for dancing.

                      "On yer bike!" answer me this: Where does carbon tax money go? Overseas? Into the hands of international bankers to fund the next war perhaps? Don't give your money away. Lets get rid of the Greens instead.

                      Commenter
                      Roger
                      Location
                      Mt Druitt
                      Date and time
                      March 03, 2011, 6:29AM

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