An Opinion Piece, By Thomas Ebersoll
The Village Voice of 18 July put an article about ‘Truth in the media’ on top of a press release from John Cobb titled the ‘Carbon Tax axed’.
In general it is advisable to put a few pages between a politician’s press release and an article on truth. Some people have said that “there is no truth, it’s all a matter of perception.” But this particular issue of the carbon tax has been obscured with perception based un-truths like few other issues.
Mr Cobb states that the scrapping of the Carbon Tax “is estimated to save the average household around $550 a year”. The PM Tony Abbott was more modest with his claim that “electricity and gas prices will drop by 7-9 per cent once the carbon tax is abolished” (1). Now, here is one for your next math lesson: If Tony’s 7 % represents John’s $550, what’s the total cost? They are talking about an electricity cost p.a. of $7,857 – that’s not an “average household”. So, some of these claims are wrong and my advice is: don’t count on your $550 windfall from the scrapping of the Carbon Tax.
One truth which does not get mentioned by John Cobb –nor Tony- is the fact that the effect of the Carbon Tax only represented a meager 9 per cent of the average electricity bill in 2012-2013. The other components were network costs at 51 per cent, wholesale generation at 20 per cent, and retail and customer service at 20 per cent (2). So, while blowing out of all proportion the slight increase of the 9% part of your electricity bill they ignore the 91% of your electricity bill spent on often unnecessary infrastructure upgrades and company overheads. While John Cobb does not tell us a lie it is not the truth either – let’s call it a misrepresentation.
John Cobb closes his media release with “The Carbon Tax doesn’t even achieve what it set out to do…” The opposite is true: “Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are down about 7.6 per cent since the carbon tax was introduced in July 2012” (3). The carbon tax proved to be successful in reducing emissions. Nine months after the introduction of the pricing scheme, Australia’s emissions of carbon dioxide from electricity generation have fallen to a 10-year low, with coal generation down 11% from 2008 to 2009.(4)
While the budget is “in emergency” we could have kept this nice little money earner and joined other countries in developing the new renewable energy industries providing jobs and creating new wealth. Instead, this government is locking us into outdated, polluting and unsustainable ways to produce our energy.
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