Letter to Greg Hunt MP

29 Jun

* Shortcuts to Update 2 , Update 3 , Update 4 , and Update 5 below.

Prompted by a reader, this afternoon the following email sent to the Federal Opposition’s Shadow Environment Minister, Greg Hunt MP.

Cc’d to Senator Barnaby Joyce.

*****************************

Subject:  Why Are You Calling It A “Tax”, When It Is NOT?

Dear Mr Hunt,

I am writing to you pursuant to a recent communication between yourself and a follower of my Twitter feed – @BarnabyisRight and blog BarnabyIsRight.com

I understand that this lady questioned you concerning my recent article, which affirms that the “carbon tax” is NOT a tax, but rather, an “emissions trading scheme with an initial fixed price period”.  Exactly as per the Rudd Government’s proposed CPRS.

I also understand that your response contradicted this, instead arguing that “In fact the tax will actually morph into a tradeable right after 3 years”.

Mr Hunt, you are wrong. And I firmly believe that both yourself, and the Federal Opposition more broadly, are guilty of doing the electorate a grave disservice by continuing to falsely attach the moniker “tax” to the government’s proposed scheme.

In proof of this, I refer you to the following quotations and links. They are all from this blog article that I published recently, which has attracted considerable attention. The lady in question advises me that she did not feel comfortable sending you a link to the article, given that it contains some “florid” descriptors.

All but one of these quotes and links are from the government’s own handpicked sources.

I would ask that you please respond to my email, by specific reference to these evidences –

Julian Turecek of Cleantech Ventures, writing for MacroBusiness in May 2011 (emphasis added):

The current government has not yet give its policy a formal name. So the Opposition has obliged* and chosen one for them: a carbon tax.

Now this has got a lot of people, mainly tax advisers and accountants, barking up the wrong tree. It’s not actually a tax…

The current proposal is not a tax, but a fixed price emissions trading scheme. This is exactly the same as the CPRS, which also had a fixed price at the start.

[* Please think back carefully. When Gillard announced that she would introduce a “price on carbUon” after all, she and the government initially denied the Opposition’s “great big new tax” claim. But they have since allowed, and encouraged, this false meme to become entrenched into the public psyche. I believe that is because calling it a “tax” sounds more simple and less threatening, and most importantly, it does not so clearly highlight the banker-driven “trading” aspect than if they had instead called it what it is, and always was ultimately intended to be right from the beginning … an Emissions Trading Scheme.]

Garnaut Review, Chapter 5 (emphasis added):

In implementing an emissions trading scheme with a fixed-price start, there are two sets of decisions to be made: the starting price and how much the price will rise in each subsequent year; and the timing, conditions and manner of transition to emissions trading with a price that is set by market exchange.

The government’s own climate change website on the topic (emphasis added):

Broad architecture of the carbon price mechanism

A carbon price mechanism could commence with a fixed price (through the issuance of fixed price units within an emissions trading scheme) before converting to a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme…

Note very carefully what it says under Transition Arrangements (emphasis added):

Transition Arrangements

At the end of the fixed price period, the clear intent would be that the scheme convert to a flexible price cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme. In relation to the transition to a flexible price, it would be important to design the arrangements so as to promote business certainty and a smooth transition from the fixed to flexible price.

Ross Garnaut also reiterates the importance of the initial design promoting a “smooth transition” to a fully-floating price ETS, in his final Garnaut Review:

Investors need clarity about when and the conditions under which the transition to a floating price will occur. To support a smooth transition, the necessary institutions and supporting infrastructure should be established from the beginning of the scheme. It is important to specify rules for the scheme as soon as possible, including arrangements for auctioning permits and for acceptance of offsets and international permits.

Mr Hunt, this is where we come to the critical matter pertaining to whether there is any remotely possible justification for calling the government’s proposed “pricing mechanism”, a “tax”.

How exactly do you design a scheme to promote a “smooth transition”?

By giving those initial “fixed price” permits an expiry date that is far enough away to ensure that they can be traded when the emissions trading scheme transitions to a “floating” price. In this way, the “property rights” of those forced to purchase the initial “fixed” (and rising over “3-5 years”) price permits are safeguarded (ie, thus, “business certainty”) – they can “bank” their permits and trade them later, when the transition to a floating price occurs.

Of course, an even simpler way would be to give these permits to “pollute” an unlimited expiry date.

Which is exactly what the government’s official Policy position was under the original Rudd-Garnaut CPRS White Paper.  Which the Gillard-Garnaut “carbon pricing” mechanism aims to replicate – because that is what the bankers want (emphasis added):

Policy position 8.1

Each permit will have a unique identification number and will be marked with the first year in which it can validly be surrendered (its ‘vintage’). It will not have an expiry date.

8.4.1 Banking

Banking allows permits to be saved for use in future years. With unlimited banking, permits would not have an expiry date—once issued, they could be used for compliance at any future time.

… the advantages of banking are greatest if banking is continuous. For these reasons, the Government will allow unlimited banking from Scheme commencement.

Mr Hunt, in calling this a “tax”, you are misleading the Australian public.

You are focussing (diverting?) attention on to the quite unimportant details of the initial “fixed price” period, and failing to draw attention to the true end game. The Big Picture.

The Government’s plan has never changed.  They have always been pursuing a CPRS – an emissions trading scheme – with an initial fixed price period.

I should also mention that I am fully aware of the key role played by your colleague Mr Turnbull, going back to 2004 and his entry into Parliament, in the banker-driven push to include Australia in a global CO2-derivatives trading market (casino).

I am especially aware of the fact that Mr Turnbull is effectively “owned” by international bankers and CO2-trading pushers, Goldman Sachs, by virtue of their “confidential settlement” on Mr Turnbull’s behalf, to keep him out of court when Opposition Leader, in the 1/2 billion dollar HIH lawsuit in which Mr Turnbull was a named defendant.  I have documented this fact on my blog as well.

This is a matter of clear conflict-of-interest / corruption of our democratic processes. One that, some day, will become widespread public knowledge. I would suggest to you that it would be very wise – for numerous reasons – for the Federal Opposition to ensure that the matter of Mr Turnbull’s highly dubious associations and obligations does indeed become widely known.

Sooner, rather than later.

I (and the rapidly growing readership of my blog and Twitter feed) look forward with considerable interest to your responses on these matters.

Sincerely,

*********

Barnabyisright.com

UPDATE:

I should mention, it is my view that the above was a complete waste of my time.

For lots of reasons.

Apart from anything else, has anyone ever seen a politician admit that they are/were wrong about a critical issue? And then, do something proactive about correcting their error?

UPDATE 2:

Mr Hunt responds (Wed 29/6, 5:42pm)-

I respect your views ******** but respectfully disagree.

A tax is a fixed price with floating volume.

That is what is being created.

After three years – five years it will then turn into a tradeable floating price and fixed volume system.

Cheers,

greg

My subsequent response to Mr Hunt (Wed 29/6, 6:42pm) –

(cc’d to Senator Barnaby Joyce … I note that Mr Hunt did not cc Senator Joyce with his response)

**********************************

Dear Mr Hunt,

Thank you for your prompt response.

You have stated that – “A tax is a fixed price with floating volume. That is what is being created.

This is a wholly unsatisfactory response to the concerns raised at length in my previous communication.

It is not a question of our holding differing views or interpretations, Mr Hunt. It is a simple question of very clear facts and evidence, which you appear to be wilfully ignoring.

Your response is misleading and deceptive by omission.

With respect, your response suggests either a culpable ignorance, or complicity, on your part.

Your statement wilfully ignores the perfectly clear statements of the CPRS White Paper, the Garnaut Review 2011, and the government’s climate change website description of the “Broad Architecture” of the proposed “mechanism” for “pricing carbon” that I have quoted and referenced for your due consideration.

It also ignores, most importantly, the key point detailed in and evidenced by the government’s sources in my previous communication.

Mr Hunt, that key point is this.

The government’s openly professed intention, and the Garnaut Review’s consistent recommendation, is to issue carbon permits at a fixed price only for a temporary initial period, with said permits having the following key characteristics, specifically in order to “smooth the transition” to the ultimately intended fully-floating cap-and-trade scheme:

(a) Unlimited expiry date;
(b) Unlimited bankability, from Scheme commencement.

The implications of these parameters – stated previously as formal Policy Positions by Prof Garnaut and the ALP – are perfectly clear:

1. A “polluter” forced to purchase the initial “fixed price” carbon permits will be empowered to “bank” said permits, “from Scheme commencement”.

2. Due to their unlimited expiration date, the “polluters” will be enabled to trade said permits, after the temporary initial period has passed.

3. The “price” of carbon permits issued during the temporary, initial “fixed price” period, will be legislated to rise incrementally over that interim period.

Thus, it is patently obvious to any thinking person, that “polluters” forced to purchase carbon permits at (eg) the Year 1 “fixed price”, having been enabled to “bank” said permits, will be able to on-sell them after the temporary initial “fixed price” period trading restriction has passed, at the then going market rate.

Furthermore, as the price of permits will have been forced to rise by government decree during the initial period, this means that, absent a collapse in the market price upon the “floating” of the Australian carbon permit market, “polluters” will be granted opportunity to profit from the sale of carbon permits that they were forced to purchase – at lower prices – during the initial temporary period!

Indeed, those “polluters” who will be granted “free” permits will effectively be granted a free profit-making opportunity, directly arising from the nature of the proposed “initial fixed price” carbon pricing mechanism.

Mr Hunt, it is specious, an insult to intelligence, and clear cause for questioning your own integrity and motives in this matter, for you to suggest that a scheme such as that proposed – one which will guarantee an enhanced profit-making opportunity for at least some so-called “polluters (as described above) – could by any logic or rational measure be deemed a “tax”!

Sadly, I am confident that there is little to be gained in my extending on this point, by defining what a “tax” actually is, by way of reference to any external authoritative source/s.

Mr Hunt, it is also both insulting, and revealing, that you have pointedly failed to address in any way the arguably far graver matter raised in my earlier communication to you, vis-a-vis the conflict-of-interest / corruption of democracy evidenced by your colleague Mr Turnbull’s associations and manifest obligations to international bankers and CO2-trading pushers, Goldman Sachs.

Therefore, I am now directly requesting your comment on that specific matter, and refer your particular attention to the publicly available evidences linked in my previous communication to you.

Once again, despite the wholly unsatisfactory (and revealing) nature of your limited response, I do thank you for at least having taken the time to respond promptly to my and my readers’ concerns.

Sincerely,

******************

Barnabyisright.com

UPDATE 3:

Mr Hunt responds again (Thur 30/6, 10:30pm) –

I respect your views but the Prime Minister herself has said that it operates like a tax.

As has the Treasurer.

Cheers,

greg

My subsequent response to Mr Hunt (Thur 30/6, 11:14pm) –

(cc’d to Senator Barnaby Joyce … I note that, once again, Mr Hunt did not cc Senator Joyce with his response)

**********************************

Dear Mr Hunt,

Thank you again for your prompt response.

It is wholly unsatisfactory – and once again, thoroughly misleading and deceptive – for you to downplay / brush off the detailed concerns that I and my readers have raised, and/or for you to ignore the numerous government-published official documents that I/we have referenced, by merely stating that “the Prime Minister herself has said that it operates like a tax. As has the Treasurer“.

The citizens of Australia all know that the PM lies. As does the Treasurer.

The issue at hand, however, is your and your colleagues’ continued complicity in doing the same on this particular issue.

I refer your attention to the specifically stated concern that was first raised with you in my prior communication – which abundantly clear from the Subject description in these communiques:

Why are you calling it a “tax”, when it is NOT?

“I firmly believe that both yourself, and the Federal Opposition more broadly, are guilty of doing the electorate a grave disservice by continuing to falsely attach the moniker “tax” to the government’s proposed scheme.”

Mr Hunt, the concern raised directly references your and your Federal Opposition colleagues’ misleading and deceptive descriptions of the proposed policy.

Whether or not the PM – or indeed any other politician, media commentator, or individual – employs the use of the same misleading and deceptive description, does not exonerate either yourself or your Federal Opposition colleagues, for your continued use of the same.

I should not need to remind you, Mr Hunt, that both you and your Federal Opposition colleagues are elected representatives of the citizens of this nation.  You are being paid via our taxes, to represent our expressed interests, and properly and thoroughly heed our concerns.

You have failed to do so. Despite now repeated specific and detailed requests.

It is my and my readers’ expressed interest and concern, that both the Federal Opposition generally, and yourself as the responsible Shadow Climate Change portfolio spokesperson particularly, should:

(1) Formally and publicly correct the misleading and deceptive description of the government’s proposed “carbon pricing” policy; and

(2) Henceforth discontinue referring to the policy as a “carbon tax“, and instead refer to the proposed policy exclusively by way of the specific description consistently published by the Federal Government in its public policy documentation, as displayed on its climatechange.gov website and in the 2011 Garnaut Review.

I am now directly asking you, Mr Hunt, on behalf of myself and my readers, whether or not you will undertake to both heed, and act upon, this specific request from your electors.

I also note that, once again, that you have pointedly failed to respond in any way to my direct and specific request for comment on the directly associated matter of your colleague Mr Turnbull’s associations and manifest obligations to international bankers and CO2-trading pushers, Goldman Sachs. I would repeat this request by direct quotation from my previous correspondence:

Mr Hunt, it is also both insulting, and revealing, that you have pointedly failed to address in any way the arguably far graver matter raised in my earlier communication to you, vis-a-vis the conflict-of-interest / corruption of democracy evidenced by your colleague Mr Turnbull’s associations and manifest obligations to international bankers and CO2-trading pushers, Goldman Sachs.

Therefore, I am now directly requesting your comment on that specific matter, and refer your particular attention to the publicly available evidences linked in my previous communication to you.

Thank you in advance, for your choice to finally and directly address – and act upon – the specifically stated and repeated substance of my and my readers’ concerns.

Sincerely,

***************

Barnabyisright.com

UPDATE 4:

Mr Hunt responds again (Thur 30/6, 12:03pm) –

Many thanks and I respect your views but think and believe that this is a tax ands in fact the country believes it.

Cheers,

greg

My subsequent response to Mr Hunt (Thur 30/6, 1:10pm) –

**********************************

Dear Mr Hunt,

Thank you once again for responding so promptly.

Your response to my and my readers’ concerns – and direct and specific requests – continues to be appalling unsatisfactory.

Indeed, in your continuing to ignore the specific points of reference and direct requests that have been made repeatedly to you, your communications to me on these matters represent a wilful dereliction of your Parliamentary responsibilities to the citizens of this nation, to whom you directly owe your position, title, income, and power of influence.

Mr Hunt, in your latest response to me you have once again ignored all of the evidences and information that have been repeatedly submitted to you, and instead resorted to argumentum ad populum

I … think and believe that this is a tax ands in fact the country believes it.

Argumentum ad populum is authoritatively recognised as being a fallacious argument. Your resorting to it as a singular response to the evidences presented to you, as direct quotations from the government-published official documentation on this issue, represents a (further) wilful act of misleading and deceptive conduct.

As you have once again failed to respond to any of the specific matters that I have references, I will now again repeat my previous requests to you below:

Item 1.

It is my and my readers’ expressed interest and concern, that both the Federal Opposition generally, and yourself as the responsible Shadow Climate Change portfolio spokesperson particularly, should:

(1) Formally and publicly correct the misleading and deceptive description of the government’s proposed “carbon pricing” policy; and

(2) Henceforth discontinue referring to the policy as a “carbon tax”, and instead refer to the proposed policy exclusively by way of the specific description consistently published by the Federal Government in its public policy documentation, as displayed on its climatechange.gov website and in the 2011 Garnaut Review.

I am now directly asking you, Mr Hunt, on behalf of myself and my readers, whether or not you will undertake to both heed, and act upon, this specific request from your electors.

Item 2.

Mr Hunt, it is also both insulting, and revealing, that you have pointedly failed to address in any way the arguably far graver matter raised in my earlier communication to you, vis-a-vis the conflict-of-interest / corruption of democracy evidenced by your colleague Mr Turnbull’s associations and manifest obligations to international bankers and CO2-trading pushers, Goldman Sachs.

Therefore, I am now directly requesting your comment on that specific matter, and refer your particular attention to the publicly available evidences linked in my previous communication to you.

In closing, I would ask you to please explain for the benefit of myself and my readers, exactly how it is that a scheme which proposes to grant a selected subset of the total population a new “property right” (a “carbon permit”) – a property right that has an initially fixed and then subsequently a tradeable monetary value – in exchange for a government-mandated surcharge / levy / fee for the acquisition of that same property right – can be plausibly deemed a “tax”.

My readers and I look forward to receiving your direct, relevant, on-topic response to each of the aforementioned matters.

Sincerely,

*********
Barnabyisright.com

UPDATE 5:

Mr Hunt responds again (Thur 30/6, 1:24pm) –

Hi ************,

I receive over 300 emails a day- really…and I have endeavoured to be both fast and respectful.

I have to say that you are the first person I have encountered who does not accept that the levying of a fixed rate figure on the production of a floating volume of emissions is not a tax.

This is the economic definition of a tax.

You do not have to accept this of course.  But I also accept that nothing I say will change your opinion and while I disagree with that I stand for your freedom to take a different view yourself.

Regards,
greg

My subsequent response to Mr Hunt (Thur 30/6, 2:13pm ) –

**********************************

Dear Mr Hunt,

I do thank you once again for your promptness in responding to my and my readers’ concerns.

Your statement of definition in your most recent communique is, once again, misleading and deceptive, by reason of its representing (1) a blatant “red herring” fallacy, and (2) a blatant “straw man” fallacy:

(1) “you are the first person I have encountered who does not accept that” –

Mr Hunt, this is a red herring fallacy. Whether I am, or am not, “the first person you have encountered who does not accept that” the government’s proposed scheme is not a “tax”, is irrelevant to the facts and evidence as have been demonstrated to you by way of reference to the government’s official documentation.

(2) “the levying of a fixed rate figure on the production of a floating volume of emissions is … the economic definition of a tax” –

Mr Hunt, your statement is factually untrue.

This is not the economic definition of a “tax”.

A “tax” is typically described as follows: “A fee charged (“levied”) by a government on a product, income, or activity… The purpose of taxation is to finance government expenditure”

Furthermore, the “definition” that you have stated is irrelevant, and constitutes a blatant “straw man” fallacy.

I have repeatedly drawn your specific attention to the definition of the government’s proposed scheme, as published on its official climatechange.gov website, and in the 2011 Garnaut Review.

The only definition that is relevant to the matter, is the government’s definition as published in its official documentation. And it is manifest that this does not in any way, shape, or form, define the proposed scheme as a “tax”.  Instead, it clearly and repeatedly identifies the proposed scheme as being an emissions trading scheme with an initial fixed price period”.

Mr Hunt, your continued obfuscation, resorting to rhetorical fallacies, and above all, your refusal to directly respond to each of the points of reference and concern, and also to the direct requests that I have repeatedly submitted to you, only further evidences that you are persisting in acting in a thoroughly misleading and deceptive manner.

This is wholly unacceptable for any law-abiding citizen in right community standing, and the more especially for an elected representative of the citizens of this nation.

So much so, that I am now considering the option of enlisting the support of the several barristers and lawyers within my blog readership and Twitter following, in the potential pursuit of legal redress against you and/or your Federal Opposition colleagues, pertaining directly to the matters I have repeatedly detailed to you.

I now repeat – again – my previous, itemised requests for your direct response and action.

Sincerely,

***************
Barnabyisright.com

UPDATE 5A:

Correction – I inadvertently neglected to cc Senator Joyce on the last two (2) of my responses above (at Updates 4 and 5). Post edited to remove references.

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13 Responses to “Letter to Greg Hunt MP”

  1. Tomorrows Serf June 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Excellent article!! I fervently hope that the conservative side of politics (Turnbull excluded) has not already secretly climbed into bed with the banksters..

    Bad enough that Juliar “there WILL be no Carbon Tax under a government I lead” Gillard did a Judas on the Aussie people, but could she be playing word-semantics with the term Carbon Tax and ETS…?? Is she that clever/cunning?? Probably!!

    Lets hope the Good guys really are the Good guys.. If not, time for a coup

    • The Blissful Ignoramus June 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      “..could she be playing word-semantics with the term Carbon Tax and ETS…?? Is she that clever/cunning??”

      My tip?

      Both so-called “sides” of the false L-R ideological paradigm, are that clever/cunning.

      The response/s … or lack of … to this email will certainly be a very noteworthy indicator of just how (dis)honest the “conservative” side of politics in this nation is.

  2. Medusa Knows June 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    There are no ‘White Hats’ or ‘Black Hats’ on this issue, only Green Hats waving the UN Agenda 21 flag. ALP and LNP both had policies in 2007 for an ETS, and around the world, all govts are scrounging for money. Tomorrows Serf is right, time for a coup!

    • JMD June 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

      Careful, I remember a couple of years ago the NSW government was showing off its latest ‘anti terrorism’ gear, it looked a lot like one of those armoured trucks that disperse protestors with water cannons.

  3. Tomorrow's Serf June 30, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Who’s afraid of a little water, It’s the tear gas, battens and rubber bullets that hurt.. Just ask the Greeks!!(and the Syrians, Yemenis, Bahrainis,LIbyans,Tunisians, Moroccans, Jordanians,…………and soon the Americans)

    • The Blissful Ignoramus June 30, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      … and nearer to home, the Chinese, Tibetans, North Koreans, Thais, Indonesians et al

  4. Richard June 30, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    You are right that you are wasting your time with Greg Hunt, he’s a “liberal” in the American sense of the word. He wants an ETS along with his mate Turnbull.

    Why don’t you write to Tony Abbott about Malcolm Turnbull and see what response you get. Surely it’s time for Abbott to grow a pair and put Malcolm on his bike, for the sake of the party and our country.

  5. Bill Calvin June 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Mate, it’s tax – get over it.

  6. Tomorrow's Serf June 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Open your eyes, Bill. Why would the likes of Al Gore and David Blood,Turnbull, Goldman,Deutsche,UN IPCC, and the whole Central Banking Cabal,(Rockefeller/Rothschild et al), go to these bizarre and extreme lengths to perpetrate this extraordinary fraud if not for the opportunity of impoverishing “we the people” for their own gain.(not necessarily monetary either, perhaps they just think they know what’s best for us)

    Are you so naive to believe that they could give a rats about saving anything, other than their domination over we, their serfs. If you’re still in doubt, try asking the Greeks what that think of the IMF/ECB &World Bank

    • The Blissful Ignoramus June 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      Thanks for comments TS. I’ve written a blogpost for publication tomorrow, ref’ing Gillard’s comments today, and explaining rationale for why I’m pushing so hard on a distinction (“tax” versus “ETS”) that most cannot fathom as mattering much one way or the other.

      The distinction does matter. A lot. Strategically speaking.

      I hope more will “get it” after tomorrow.

  7. Callan Election July 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    And the redheaded buffoon called it a tax when first announcing it.. and was ‘happy to use the word tax’..over and over and over again.
    Obviously she changes her mind on her wording based upon the results of polls…but she hasn’t responded to the most important poll yet.. and that is that most of Australia simply do not want her or trust her.

  8. Jan Cantwell August 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    When Combet moves from his home a couple of metres from the Hawkesbury River and Al Gore sells his recently purchased home metres from the waters of San Francisco Bay and they both head inland to the mountains , I will believe this climate change/global warming HOAX!

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