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Jul 15, 2011

It's not a carbon tax, it's a carbonanza!

Crikey readers have their say.

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Gillard and the carbon tax:

Dave Sag, founder and Executive Director, Carbon Planet Limited, writes: Re. “Gillard’s credibility going from bad to worse” (yesterday, item 3). Why does the Government call the carbon price a tax? I pay my local council to collect my rubbish but that’s not a rubbish tax.

When Gillard first took over as PM one of the very first things she said was that she would “re-prosecute the case for a price on carbon.” This is what she has done, and done very well. Full credit to her and the multi-party committee on carbon pricing for getting a complex set of negotiations through.  So what idiot told her to call it a carbon tax?

Julia Gillard could have avoided all the #juliar shrieking simply by sticking to a clear message that this is about putting a price on carbon pollution. Because that’s what it is.

Now, instead of simply having a hard job of persuading the general public that forcing big polluters to pay for their pollution, she has to fight off the #juliar cries. Sadly the damage is already done and it would be hard for her to reframe the message properly. What a terrible shame.

She may in all likelihood lose this fight, simply because some numbskull somewhere told her to use the word “tax”. No-one likes tax. And it’s a strange sort of “tax” that leaves 9/10 households financially better off.  Honestly the stupidity of it is breathtaking. She should have called it the carbonanza.

What a dog’s breakfast.

In my humble opinion whoever has been advising this government on their communication ought to be fired.

Charles writes: My name is Charles and I was born in Victoria in 1917. You can believe me when I say I have witnessed a few changes of government but have never seen Australia in such debt as it is today. One does not have to look to far to witness what uncontrollable debt does to nations and the people.

However Crikey, I’m more than a little concerned about this carbon tax and send you the following epistle as I see it. It seems that you and I are going to waste $16 million dollars plus endeavouring to convince us that it is a good thing when in fact we will continue producing energy and carbon because we cannot do without it. Imagine the hospital beds that money would furnish.

I question why electricity generators are labelled the “bad guys” for carbon production. The producers of electricity and the coal needed to produce that energy are merely meeting our demands. The “bad guys” are  you and me  who demand unlimited  electricity to run  the many appliances we refuse to live without,and we  are the first to complain if that supply is interrupted. Now we  want to tax the  coal that produces the energy and the manufacturers for using electricity and farmers for having animals that ‘break wind’ when these people are  providing  us with the necessities and luxuries of life.

Is it not possible to have a fair and reasonable debate on the issue of carbon and it’s consequences without those who believe nature will have it’s way being labelled “right wing sceptics” or is common sense now dead and buried and replaced by “spin”?

Ken Lambert writes: The driven don’t need a coherent narrative or belief system — the engine is pure ambition to get to the top of the greasy pole. Principles and policies are incidental and pragmatic vehicles for this ambition.

It is clear that Ms Gillard knows nothing about climate change and cares nothing for the infinitesimal difference a 5% cut in Australia’s puny emissions will make to the planet.

Preposterous claims of saving the Barrier Reef and our children’s future by cleaning up carbon pollution should be met with equally preposterous ways of actually doing that. How about a clear plastic screen right around the Australian coastline extending up to the troposphere which will preserve our carbon reductions and stop CO2 from the rest of the world mixing with our pristine atmosphere? A cat flap could be inserted to let Foreign Minister Rudd jet in and out — preferably one way — out.

For Ms Gillard, a carbon tax is only a vehicle — a big policy issue to define an otherwise grossly incompetent administration mired in the kindergarten impulses of a nanny shop steward, and in the grip of the loony tune Greens.

Small business and contractors not engaged in the mining industries are doing it tough. The last thing they need is a tax collector in the power stations and a flow of extra costs right through the economy.

Added to the live export fiasco, BER fiasco, Pink Batt fiasco — the punters are as mad as hell and not going to cop Ms Gillard any more.

She and her paramour will be gone by Christmas.

John Hunwick writes: The answer Gillard needs to give when confronted about her lying is quite simple. It would go something like this:

“Before the last election I promised there would be no carbon tax and I meant it. However, after the election, to retain office it was necessary to do a deal with both the Greens and the three independents. They were convinced that action had to be taken on climate change, and I knew that it had to happen preferably sooner rather than later.

At that point I deeply regretted my pre-election pledge not to have a carbon tax but decided it better to ‘do the right thing’ and break my earlier pledge. I am sorry it happened that way, and apologise for it. Now that we are moving forward to taking action that will help save the Earth I am even more convinced that breaking that pledge was what our country (and the world) needed to do in dealing with the greatest moral crisis of our time.

I deeply regret what people have now called a lie, but believe in my heart that, under the circumstances of the election result I have done the right thing.”

Clytie Siddall writes: Martin Gordon (yesterday, comments) wrote, “CO2 is pollution — better revisit biology texts on that one”. Biologically speaking, too much of anything is toxic. I’ve even been told that too much chocolate is bad for you, but I’m pretty sure I can find a specialist non-nutritionist to disagree with that.

Rupert and BSkyB:

Michael R. James writes: Re. “BSkyB bid falls over, why should Foxtel’s Austar bid proceed?” (yesterday, item 1). In his article Stephen Mayne pointed out that The Australian had an article complaining about “Inappropriate’ lobbying by ABC bosses“. What he did not note is that the article was the lead item on the front page, with the title in large capitals spread across the full page width. More importantly there was no notification to the reader of the obvious conflict of interest in that one or more of News Corps units (News Ltd in Australia, BSkyB in UK) have a controlling interest in Sky News who are bidding for the Australia Network contract.

No notification on the front page that is. There was a small paragraph towards the end of the article on page 98. Oh, ok, it was page 4 but it may as well have been p98 as Morgan’s recent sectional readership survey (reported in Crikey) revealed “readers across all mastheads (…) take a good look at the front news section (86%)” but the number who continue reading inside page items drops dismayingly. This is a tactic employed by The Australian relentlessly day in, day out. The front page is mostly opinion and mostly distorted or arguable facts. We all know Denis Shanahan’s wondrous ways with opinion polls!

Further, this omission to make the conflict of interest clear and upfront is at the least a transgression of the spirit if not the letter of a publishing code of conduct. It is an entirely typical case of naked abuse of power by News Ltd. However I note that, while employees are instructed to avoid or declare any potential conflict of interest in their recently revealed Code of Conduct (Items 20.1-5), there is nothing about the organization’s obligations in this regard. Presumably it is covered in industry-wide codes.

Meanwhile as Mayne noted, Wednesday night’s forum with Julia Gillard in Brisbane was organized by Sky News and The Courier-Mail. Madonna King reported on her Thursday ABC 612 morning show that the ambience was unrelentingly hostile. By contrast Tony Abbott’s crowd couldn’t cope with a single dissenting voice and turned on a thuggish display of bullying. It seems many people need to think about a code of conduct in the presence of the Prime Minister of our country, despite the appalling standard set by Abbott and his cheerleaders at News Ltd.

Not surprisingly this ugly behaviour may be counterproductive. At Gillard’s meeting they took a poll as people moved into the auditorium and again at the end as they left. One of the attendees who admitted ambivalence on Gillard at the beginning told King that the numbers considering Gillard in a favourable light doubled on the exit poll. She said that Gillard can handle this unruly and unseemly behaviour and by itself it impressed people.

Suppression orders:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “Barns: why a suppression order ensures a fair trial” (yesterday, item 15). Not to put too fine a point on it but Greg Barns is full of s*it. There is no credible evidence to support lawyers’ claims that media exposure affects jury decision-making, much less decision-making by judges.

There have been all sorts of studies done over the years that show juries actually make decisions based on the evidence presented in court, even when the accused is outrageously famous (or infamous, as the case may be). Suppression orders are used because judges have the same prejudice towards the media that Barns, a senior barrister, has. These closeted individuals instinctively distrust the media and the way it covers courts, so they slap suppression orders on coverage as often as they can, in the arrogant belief that they know what’s best.

The fact is, open courts and open coverage of what goes on in them are the best defence against judicial abuse. But our courts are increasingly closed off and the open reporting of what goes on in them is increasingly limited. Judges and lawyers treat the justice system as some sort of private club that anyone without a law degree has no place in, other than as a cringing supplicant or as an observer. This is fundamentally at odds with our traditions and is frankly contemptuous of the average person’s intellect and honesty.

Personally, I’d like to see video cameras installed in every court room in the land so anyone, at any time, can go online and check out what’s going on in the trial of their choice. I’d also like to see transcripts of every trial made freely available online. The more accessible, open and “normal” we can make the justice system, the better off we’ll all be.

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