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August 25th 2009 print

David Flint

ETS – Energy Tax Swindle

The Liberals should welcome a double dissolution and turn it into a referendum on the ETS, which has absolutely nothing to do with halting global warming and everything to do with damaging the living standards of the Australian people. 

A double dissolution could be a referendum on the ETS

Whenever I see the climate change minister on television, I feel like a kulak. To give her the benefit of the doubt, I assume she really believes that what she is proposing is in the public interest. I suppose that even the Bolsheviks believed they could actually run agriculture better than the kulaks, but their overriding interest was control, and neutralising, if necessary liquidating, their opponents, particularly their  class enemies. Then they could begin on one another.

Now I don’t think for a moment that Ms. Wong is into liquidations, but the ETS will mean an unparalleled peacetime surrender of economic control to -and a vastly increased income for – the Federal government. The result will be a damaged economy as businesses move offshore, with new taxes, higher prices for consumers and the loss of jobs. Yes, quite a few carpetbaggers will profit, and I suppose there will be more chances for politicians, apparatchiks and their spouses to go into so called businesses as rentiers, consultants and lobbyists. So we’ll be told over and over about “business” being behind the ETS.

If you belong to the West’s fastest growing religious denomination, the AGW’s – the Anthropogenic Global Warmers – the enactment of this legislation will produce some warm inner glow. But other religions don’t expect to lay waste to the economy, so why should the AGW’s?

But even if you are the most devout AGW and actually believe everything that St. Al Gore says, you know the ETS will not do anything at all to contain or reverse global warming. 

Surely no one now believes that were Penny Wong able to take an enacted ETS to Copenhagen, anyone other than fellow denominationalists and the media would take any notice. Certainly the main global emitters would not. The EU will of course pretend, by some creative accounting, to show how they are painfully reducing their emissions. I suppose it will be a similar exercise to that of the Sainted Al Gore, who buys offsets to reduce his obscenely gargantuan footprint.

The ETS is of course nothing more than an Energy Tax Swindle. So how is it that the polls still show support for it among the general public? 

It is because our mainline media has decided that their first duty is no longer to do what The Times long ago declared it to be: "The first duty of the press is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation.”

That is old fashioned. As Paul Kelly said in 1992 about the constitutional debate, the media has a vested interest in change. But what sort of change?

In any event in presenting the news about the referendum, the mainstream media campaigned vigorously for a Yes vote. John Howard sees this as at least a significant part of the reason for the people saying No. The fact is the media – the mainstream media- have very little credibility on political issues. That does not unfortunately mean that they cannot influence the vote.

Bernard Golberg, the author of the best seller Bias, says it’s not the media’s role to effect change.  It’s not even to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, which is taken as gospel in American mainstream newsrooms. It’s to report the news, not advocate for causes.

The point is that very little information about the ETS is trickling down to the public. Given that most of them get their news from the evening TV, and if they work in an office  a glance at the web, this is not surprising.

When the ETS was rejected in the Senate, it was done against film of power stations belching forth not “polluting” carbon dioxide but steam. No information was given out as to the consequences on viewers of the likely tax, price and employment consequences of the ETS, or what effect it would have on global warming, if indeed global warming does exist.

Incidentally I refuse to fall for the AGW sleight of hand in renaming global warming as “climate change.” This was done because their premise that the planet was warming is now in some considerable doubt. That the media actually go along with this 1984 style change of name or its predecessor is similar to referring to the accused in a Soviet trial as “an enemy of the people.”   

The ETS is vastly bigger than the GST, which was not too difficult to understand. The opposition should not forget that the Howard government almost lost the 1998 election over that.

The fault that any vote in the next election may not be informed about the ETS is not only the media’s. The parliamentary Liberal Party has completely mishandled the issue.

They should, rather than offering their own ETS, oppose it and campaign on the consequences for the nation and for individuals if we adopt the government’s ETS, which is at least unwise and at worst sinister.   It is all very well to point out the last Liberal government had a plan for an ETS in the future, but that was only because they were in such a state of panic about the coming election.

Signalling in advance that that they will let the government have its way when the issue is brought back to the Senate is not only a tactical error. (After all what general would actually tell the enemy what he is going to do?) It was wrong in principle. The position which Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals are espousing is the one which all of the Coalition should endorse.

If there were a double dissolution the Opposition should then be able to make it a referendum on the ETS. Even the most biased media would then be unable to avoid the points in issue, just as they could not in 1999.

The media would then be obliged to present some of the arguments against not only the ETS, but about the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming itself.

The ETS is against the interests of all but a minority of Australians. It offends the very principles of liberalism.  This is not the time for some abject surrender.

The Liberal leaders should take fright neither from the opinion polls nor from the near unanimity of the mainstream media. Instead they should take a lead from the Nationals and those on their back bench who are enunciating precisely what is really in issue in this debate. And it has nothing to do with halting global warming.