As I write this the Prime Minister of Australia is answering questions in Parliament about her proposed Carbon Tax. This issue has divided the country as its supporters shout about it being the only way to curb those nasty, un-green industrialists from destroying planet earth and the detractors argue garrulously that it is an unfair tax that will affect those that are least able to defend themselves- the poor. There is the school of thought that says that as climate change cannot be definitively proven, or even proven to be an unnatural occurrence, then it is wrong to impose a definitive tax.
While we have all been focused on these issues and crystal gazing at what impact this proposed tax will actually have on the carbon output of Australian industries, I think that we have missed the opportunity to ask some more important questions. One question that I would like answered is what will this tax actually achieve? Not “what do the government say that it will achieve”, but what will be the actual outcomes. Will the government spend this new revenue on improving industrial carbon output? If so how much of it? All of it? I don’t think so.
Obviously some of the money is going to go towards giving pensioners and welfare recipients a hand out to pay for the higher priced electricity that they are forced to use. Utility bills have about doubled in Australia in the past couple of years so this increase is almost inhuman and it brings us to the brink of a society where those that are wealthy enough can be warm and have basic first world amenities like refrigeration and electric light but many will be too poor to pay for them.
The projections of the government’s income from the Carbon Tax is around $73 billion over three years. How much of those billions will actually be used to alleviate the financial pressure on the poorest people, how much will be spent to clean up industry, and how much will be used to pay back $48 billion in debt that the Labor Government incurred through the Stimulus Package in 2009? We all knew when they gave us our $900 AUS that they would want it back- with interest. No matter how much they try and compensate the financially disadvantaged folk that struggle to pay their bills now, the pressure that this tax will put on inflation through increased production and transport costs will ensure that the poor will only get poorer.