Amid the torrent of earnest declarations, comments and wisecracks to mark the start of the carbon price yesterday, there was a moment of bright, shining stupidity that captured the entirety of this "debate". Radio entertainer Neil Mitchell lashed out at Wayne Swan on Twitter for noting that Whylla, contra Tony Abbott’s apocalyptic claims, remained in existence.

"Is this stuff from Wayne Swan really the level of political debate we want?" he angrily demanded. "People in Whyalla and Yallourn and similar are actually concerned for their future. This reaction is offensive to them."