Five years after stating clearly his preference for a market price signal to help reduce Australia’s growing emissions debt, Tony Abbott is once again embracing price signals as a means to change behaviour and address another critical issue, Australia’s growing medical debt.
“It sends a price signal – a necessary price signal – because visits to the doctor might be free to most patients, but they certainly haven’t been free to the taxpayers of this country.”
Yep, that’s what taxes and market mechanisms do. But just how difficult would it be to change the words so that an even bigger problem can be addressed ….
“It sends a price signal – a necessary price signal – because sending emissions into the atmostphere might be free to most polluters, but they certainly haven’t been free to the taxpayers (population) of this country.”
Hard to argue against that, isn’t it. After all, this is what Abbott said in 2009:
“If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon intensive products should rise. The Coalition has always been instinctively cautious about new or increased taxes. That’s one of the reasons why the former government opted for an emissions trading scheme over a straight-forward carbon tax. Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.”
The only spoiler here is that if the author, and his advisors, are more than just skeptics and don’t accept now that pollution is occurring, or that there is a cost. Their’s is now the “climate science is crap” argument, or that a carbon price is “a so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one.”
That is certainly what Abbott’s audience at the MCA wanted to hear. Loading a great big new tax on Medicare users – and capping pensions, cutting unemployment benefits, lifting uni fees, recovering tertiary education debts from dead people – means that no great big new taxes need to be loaded onto his mining friends.
As he told his friends last night:
“I want you to know that you are not in hostile territory; you are here amongst people who want you to flourish and if there is one message that I can give you this evening, it is that this Government wants you to succeed, because when you succeed, our country succeeds.”
But, gee, you wonder what they will make of the price signals coming from overseas – plunging thermal coal prices as China and India turn away from their assumed massive coal adoption, the dangers of the trillion dollar carbon bubbles in the oil industry.
That’s OK, like Shell and ExxonMobil, the Australian government – as we wrote yesterday – is grimly determined to extract its fossil fuel reserves. For them, the age of entitlement is not over yet.
This is from Abbott’s speech.
“It’s particularly important that we do not demonise the coal industry and if there was one fundamental problem, above all else, with the carbon tax was that it said to our people, it said to the wider world, that a commodity which in many years is our biggest single export, somehow should be left in the ground and not sold. Well really and truly, I can think of few things more damaging to our future.”
Yes, but markets need both buyers and sellers.
Head. Sand. Ideology. Vested Interests. Anyone see a link?