Barnaby Punches On

14 Oct

Senator Joyce writes for The Punch today:

An unaffordable tax beyond all regional doubt

When I think of regional Australia, I think of long drives, lots of wildlife and lights in the sky not on the ground. There is another thing that now distinguishes regional Australia: an absolute rejection of the carbon tax.

Senator John Williams recently conducted a poll in the seats of New England (based around Tamworth) and Lyne (based around Port Macquarie). After receiving over 9,400 responses, 89 per cent of residents are against the carbon tax.

The reason for this is not that hard to fathom. When it comes to the carbon tax, the greater the distance, the greater the cost.

From 2014, the carbon tax will apply to transport fuels, making the costs of getting things out to regional Australia more expensive.

People in regional Australia already pay more for electricity too. Australians in regional NSW spend 25 per cent more on electricity than those in Sydney and Australians in regional Victoria spend 30 per cent more than those in Melbourne. There are already people out there who can’t afford the price of power as it is.

The carbon tax will make our industries less competitive. That is its whole point. That means some will lose their jobs, even if jobs are created elsewhere.

What sort of solace is that to the coalminer in the Hunter valley who must tell his wife and kids that they have to move to western Queensland to keep a job? They probably would like to stay in the Hunter where their family, friends and home are.

Most of the jobs forecast to be lost as a result of the carbon tax will be in regional Australia because that is where the mining, manufacturing and power generation jobs are.

Economic modelling by the Queensland Labor government found that the carbon tax would see 41,000 fewer Queensland jobs, with the biggest impact in regional areas. The Rockhampton and Gladstone area will see economic activity fall by 8.2 per cent, the Mackay area by 5.7 per cent, double to triple the impact of the carbon tax on the rest of Australia.

NSW Treasury figures show that the carbon tax will lead to 31,000 lost jobs in NSW but over 26,000 of these jobs would be in regional Australia, including 18,500 in the Hunter, 7000 in the Illawarra and 1000 jobs in the central West.

Some of Australia’s most competitive manufacturing companies are in the food processing industry located near Australia’s world-class agriculture. The carbon tax will add $3.3 million per year to the costs of just one of JBS Australia’s abattoirs. JBS employs over 4000 people in regional Australia. After the live cattle fiasco, the last thing our beef industry needs is a carbon tax.

Unemployment in regional Australia is already higher at 6 per cent, compared to 5.1 per cent in the rest of Australia.

Given all this you would think that a government seeking to introduce a carbon tax would carefully analyse its impact on the smaller towns and communities which may not be able to recover if their local abattoir or mill cannot survive the higher costs of a carbon tax.

But, no, the government has not released any economic modelling of the impact of the carbon tax on regional areas. That’s despite the Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian governments doing so, although they haven’t had access to the same economic models that Canberra has used because Wayne Swan refuses to release them.

The Government is treating Australians, particularly regional Australians, with absolute contempt. The people of Rockhampton want to know what the carbon tax means for them, the people of Newcastle want to know what the carbon tax means for them and the people of the La Trobe valley want to know what the carbon tax means for them. The government, though, is refusing to give them any answers.

When the last Coalition government faced heat over National Competition Policy in the 1990s it asked the Productivity Commission to evaluate what its impact had been on regional Australia. It made these results public, including the finding that employment was lower in 33 out of 57 Australian regions because of national competition policies. Not everyone liked NCP but at least the government was up front about its impacts.

Another poll released the other day showed that one out of every two Australians think that minority government has been bad for Australia. Is that any wonder when we have a government which goes back on its promises and fails to be up front with the people about its own policies.

And for the Canberra Times yesterday:

Mad carbon tax burns hole in Labor’s credibility

It is a frightening thought that our nation is about to recalibrate its economy on a colourless, odourless gas at a time when the global economy is on the edge of a precipice.

It is deeply saddening that the warrants, given before the last election on the banks of the Brisbane River to national television, that ”there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, mean nothing and that by reason of this the dignity of the office of prime minister has been sullied.

It is a very bad day for democracy when the views of the Australian people as voted for at a federal election, then reinforced in all the polls since, are to be ignored.

It is historically momentous that the oldest party in Australia has been dragged so low that they are now the captive to the peripheral extremism of the Greens party, which is quite evidently determining substantial sections of the Labor Government’s policy.

Former Labor leader Kevin Rudd is obviously on the move against Prime Minister Julia Gillard and there is no love lost between the two or reason for any dtente. Australia is suffering all the signs of a government which is in critical and dangerous demise as they fight each other, rather than sail the ship which is now heading toward a rather large economic iceberg.

Last week we borrowed an extra $2billion, again, and we are now $212billion in gross debt. Our manufacturing industry is in real trouble and the final thing our nation needs is a tax that removes the strategic advantage we have, cheap power.

Industry lobbyists have been literally running around desperately trying to cover the multiple exposures coming down the path to them. Their frustration is palpable.

The banks are happy, however, they are about to score a ticket to billions of dollars in commissions. This is the new world that the Greens have forced on a capitulated Labor, which is now stumbling around making excuses for this complete and dangerous policy fiasco.

As Manufacturing Australia’s Dick Warburton said, the commodity boom will one day end then our economy will be one of services, banks and agriculture. This trio will be trying to pay off a massive debt left by a party that maxed out the credit card when there was a minerals boom.

May the divine spirit have mercy on us, as our nation tries to pay the debt off when China decides that it does not wish to pay us as much as it used to for our coal and iron ore.

The key issue is this, whether you are the most fervent supporter of the argument on human induced global warming, or alternatively believe that human capacity to change the climate is vastly overblown, there is one unifying fact; Australia’s action on carbon reduction will have no effect whatsoever on the climate, it is merely a gesture.

So how much do you wish to pay for this gesture? Labor’s political position is that on the one hand it will have little price effect, which if that is true then the carbon tax as a pricing mechanism is pointless, yet it comes with a multiple $100million bureaucracy.

On the other hand, if it does have a bad effect then Labor promises to compensate you. People only get compensated if they have been unjustly hurt. So who by this statement does Labor believe will be hurt? Pensioners, steel production, coal mining, power companies, low-income earners all by Labor’s own admission of compensation will be hurt by this pointless gesture to placate the policy desires of the Australian Greens.

The final lunacy is that Australia signs up to send up to $57.9 billion a year to the very dubious carbon credit market overseas. Your loss of lifestyle will support the most lucrative scam market in the history of the planet.

So good luck finding the mythical green jobs they promise, good luck paying back the debt and, most importantly, the best of luck finding one Labor member who will say that they will campaign at the next election knowing they are personally responsible for the predicament this mad tax put us in.

UPDATE:

If only it were true.

And … if only Senator Joyce sent his knockout punch in this direction too –

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