How much will the carbon tax cost you?

Probably not much in the short term, if anything, with the generous compensation measures offered by the government. And it’s not the most interesting question.

The structure of our economy radically changes on July 1. Hundreds of businesses will be taxed directly on their emissions. Thousands more will be impacted by flow-on costs. How they manage and mitigate those costs — and how much investment will be driven into greener ways of doing business — is the real key to this economic transformation.

What 25 journalism students from Bond University investigating the tax’s impact on business quickly discovered was how difficult it is to get answers. And how much we just won’t know until the tax rolls through the supply chain later this year. Their three-month research project — which we begin publishing today — is, as co-ordinator Caroline Graham writes, “their collective best guess at the way industry, the economy, household budgets and our way of life might change post July 1”.

When it comes to the carbon tax, a little demystification and depoliticisation goes a long way.