Economists agree on carbon

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A RECENT survey of Australian economists has revealed around 60 per cent believe the carbon tax package is a good economic policy and 25 per cent disagree.

The poll included 140 economists in response to the weekend’s carbon tax announcement. Nearly 85 per cent said they did not think the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan is a sound economic proposal to reduce carbon emissions.

The questionaire coincided with today’s release of a major Economic Society of Australia survey that asked more than 500 Australian economists about current policies.

ANU’s Crawford School of Economics and Government society president Prof Bruce Chapman said there was good and bad news for the Government and Opposition.

“The good news for the Government is a solid endorsement of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s increased public spending strategy to combat the effects of the 2008 North Atlantic financial crisis and the substantial monetary easing by the Reserve Bank,” he said. “But there is little support for having deficits go on forever. The great majority of the economists want the national budget balanced over the complete economic cycle which includes the tough times, the recovery period and the good times.

“What is not so good for the Government is that three-quarters agreed that a cost-benefit study, conducted independently by experts, should be published before the approval of any major public infrastructure project.

“While not specifically mentioned in the survey, the National Broadband Network is arguably the most prominent project to which this survey finding applies.”

He said on taxes, benefits and subsidies generally, two-thirds of the economists want middle-class welfare cut so that more assistance can be given to the disabled and severely disadvantaged.

“This gives support to the move by the Government, advised by the Productivity Commission, to institute a more generous disabilities scheme,” Prof Chapman said.

“The bulk of the economists favour abolition of the Baby Bonus and the First Home Owners Grant, and are in favour of introducing the indexation of tax thresholds and for the introduction of congestion charges.

“A solid majority of the male economists surveyed opposed requiring quotas of women for company boards. However, of the 94 women who responded to this question, opinion was balanced with 44 per cent for and 44 per cent against.”

There was no consensus for the use of large tax cuts to combat a severe recession.

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