The government is working furiously on the old ETS legislation, front ended with a 2-3-year carbon tax at $25/tonne , to cover all sectors of the economy. This adds 2-3c per KWh through the tax and 4-8c per KWh under the ETS — with no guaranteed abatement. This is their preferred option. The energy sector accounts for almost 1/2 of GHG emissions — and there are only 20-30 major power plants. A target or direct intervention to provide incentive to achieve ABATEMENT would deliver more than 5% reduction for that sector — with no need for elaborate or costly trading systems, and at negligible flow on costs to consumers (less than a few per cent over the period from now to 2020). One could then deal with the other sectors through whatever approach works best. But this is too hard. Instead, it is back to the one-size-fits-all scheme that will inflate energy prices and reduce industry competitiveness in Australia. The Energy Supply Association condones this nonsense because it is heavily influenced by the Victorian brown coal generators who think they will be able to bribe the Australia government for massive funds to close these inefficient plants.

The ramifications of Ted Baillieu’s election win in Victoria is already having an effect federally. Treasury yesterday finalised an implications paper for Canberra, which included Baillieu’s stated opposition to mandatory pre-commitment technology, the system Julia Gillard agreed to introduce to secure Andrew Wilkie’s vote and to reduce problem gambling on the pokies. The paper predicted that with opposition to the mandatory nature of the technology (a non-negotiable component of the Wilkie deal) from Victoria and NSW, the Feds will have little choice but to overrule the states in April 2011. And that will mean huge compensation to state and territory governments for the expected 30%-40% drop in state gaming taxation. Of the three Treasury options, one involved delaying extra funding of Hobart Hospital with the dollars to be redirected to the state and territory governments to help secure their support. Another option acknowledged the likelihood of a High Court challenge by the gaming industry to any overriding of the states and the costs of such action on the taxpayer. The report was handed to me by a colleague with the message “just another headache from Andrew Wilkie.” Interesting times ahead.

Qantas still in baggage disaster mode on Tuesday. How does a jammed climber’s pickaxe in Melbourne days ago stop all baggage sorting on a flight between Sydney and Canberra? Could it be a computer glitch with their new scanning software? And why didn’t staff notify passengers that there was no chance of them accessing their luggage before the flight left?

You might want to ask some questions of the Future Fund’s entertainment policy. The Chief Investment Officer who is also acting CEO was up in Brisbane on a work day being entertained at the cricket.

The same journalist who questioned whether it was appropriate for SA treasurer Kevin Foley to be out on the town at 3am was at the Treasurer’s 50th bday bash recently. I wonder what time that little party broke up?

“When you open your power and water bills you’ll see the results of a failure to invest in infrastructure.” Queanbeyan residents who recently received a letter from the gaff-prone independent Queanbeyan councilor and National Party candidate Dominic Barilaro were bemused to read his observations concerning water rates in the city. According to councillor Barilaro, when you open your water bills you’ll see the results of a failure to invest in infrastructure. One thing residents do notice when they receive their water bills is the Queanbeyan council logo. That’s because, according to council’s own residents guide, council provides “water supply and sewerage disposal for the city”. One thing Queanbeyan residents have not noticed though, is councilor Barilaro doing anything to address the problem.

Peter Fray

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