On Sunday — dubbed “Carbon Sunday” by the opposition — the carbon tax will finally begin. It therefore seemed an opportune time to take a look at what lines the government and the Coalition will be spinning come next week.

The basic gist from the Coalition: this will cost us billions in jobs and living expenses.

The official Coalition message earlier this week, as revealed by Bernard Keane yesterday in Crikey, was: “The world’s biggest carbon tax will add $4.6 billion to the costs of electricity generators, risk critical investment in the sector and drive up the electricity prices of every Australian household and business. The carbon tax will drive up electricity prices and put jobs and investment at risk.”

Abbott vowed to mark “Carbon Sunday” by “talking to families, the forgotten families of Australia whose cost of living pressures will be going up and whose jobs will become less secure under the carbon tax”: “There is not a single problem in this country which is going to be helped by the carbon tax and all of our economic difficulties will be made worse by the carbon tax.”

Not that Abbott’s the only Coalition pollie pushing the anti-carbon tax message across the media. Greg Hunt, the Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, penned an opinion piece for the ABC today, outlining how from Sunday everything we do will be affected by the carbon tax:

“This is how it will work. From midnight when you’re in bed, your heating system is slugging you with a carbon tax. When you get out of bed and turn on the light, you will be slugged the carbon tax. When you shuffle into the shower, your gas hot water will be slugged by the carbon tax. When you get out of the shower and dry your hair with the hair dryer, you will be slugged with the carbon tax.”

And so on.

Meanwhile the basic gist from the government appears to be: declare the Coalition’s message a “scare campaign”, note the handouts to working families and tell everyone it’s going to be OK.

Julia Gillard will be on a media blitz for the next fortnight selling the benefits of the scheme, joined by Minister for Families Jenny Macklin and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. ALP Secretary George Wright told a caucus meeting this week to press the message of Abbott’s “negativity”.

Last night Combet went on Lateline to help sell the carbon tax message. When asked to respond to the claims being made by the opposition leader about the cost of the carbon tax being faced by everyday Australians, Combet replied:

“Oh, well, Tony Abbott’s running a — you know, quite a fraudulent scare campaign in relation to carbon pricing. He’s a good scare campaigner, there’s no doubt about that. But we are about to move from fiction to fact and his claims are going to have to be tested against people’s lived experience.

“He’s said the price impacts will be unimaginable. They will not be. It’ll be an average of 0.7 per cent increase in the CPI and people will get an average of $10.10 a week in cash.”

It’s not just politicians who are stepping out in force to voice their opinion about the carbon tax. On Sunday the No Carbon Tax Team are holding rallies in both Sydney and Melbourne in order to demand an election, with its website declaring:

“We will not be had for fools; this tax must be and will be repealed. Bring your banners, your loud voices as we let the Gillard Labor Party know they have no mandate for this tax and we demand an election as our democratic right.”

The Melbourne rally guest speaker is none other than the king of shock jocks himself, 2GB presenter Alan Jones.

Stay tuned for Monday’s Crikey, where we’ll take a look at how the media covered the first day of a carbon tax.

Peter Fray

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