Moore / Thanks for nothing but a grim future

“As the leader of the first government in the world to abolish a carbon price, I suppose it would have been embarrassing being at the UN Climate Change Summit,” writes political columnist MICHAEL MOORE

THANK you, Tony Abbott. I have received my electricity bill and I really appreciate the effort you and your colleagues went to in saving me the grand sum of $10.37 for the last quarter.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott... thanks for 65 cents a week.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott… thanks for 65 cents a week.

At first I thought it was for the whole quarter – a saving of just 12 cents a day. Actually, it is even better. The law came in on July 1 and so the savings are for 16 days – that is 65 cents a day – or $237 a year.

Not bad; I might even be able to have an extra coffee each week!

Then I started to think of the costs.

I suppose I had seen the carbon tax as an investment in the future and that my (yet-to-be-born) grandchildren and their descendants would reap the benefits of a return on that investment. But now my savings will mean they have to pay.

Putting a price on carbon was a clear way of meeting our emissions targets to slow and eventually turn round the looming disaster that is global warming. This is a global issue and one in which Australia was able to participate in the UN Climate Change Summit. I understand that a Prime Minister must set priorities and delegate. This is one that you delegated to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to attend the meeting in New York. As the leader of the first government in the world to abolish a carbon price, I suppose it would have been embarrassing being there, but more than 100 world leaders, including Barack Obama and David Cameron, made it.

When a few days later you went to New York for a meeting on the situation in the Middle East you illustrated which issue you consider more important. The difference is the narrow, immediate threat of terrorism and kowtowing once again to the US on bellicose issues versus a threat to the planet as a whole for generation after generation to come.

There was a third choice. Take both issues seriously.

The carbon tax has gone. We have some savings on our electricity bills. However, our other taxes are being diverted to support coal production and its dirty energy. The mining tax was abolished and corporate taxation reduced by your government, Prime Minister.

The money comes from somewhere. So the slash and burning on spending in health, in education and in Aboriginal affairs has effectively been diverted to support mining.

Where is the light at the end of the energy tunnel? For a while it was looking like Australian investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal would pay dividends in the emergence of a new industry and in reduction of greenhouse gases. Sounded like a winning solution. Oh! That’s right, it didn’t suit the big miners.

Would you at least have your government build on sensible Renewable Energy Targets? Julie Bishop’s motherhood comments and failure to support sensible RET at the UN Climate Change Summit were summarised in her statement about “economic growth and competitiveness must be at the forefront of our thinking” rather than the generations to come.

Thank you, Prime Minister for our short-term savings. However, I would really like you think of the long, long term and put such decisions in the context of a sensible return on investment.

Michael Moore was an independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.

 

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