Carbon tax and voters:

David Hand writes: Re. “Labor and the myth of the rational voter” (Friday, item 1). Bernard Keane bemoans the unpopularity of Labor by suggesting that voters aren’t interested in facts but are driven by their own irrational prejudices. Though I agree that irrational voters exist, I think his take on the current unpopularity of Labor is a bit like England fans maintaining they were robbed by Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter final. It sounds reasonable to the faithful but is laughably wrong to any objective view.

Gillard’s problem with the carbon tax is that the electorate has been lied to. It was lied to during the election campaign and was lied to last month when government-funded ads lauded the family assistance payouts without mentioning the carbon tax. It was lied to again over the weekend when Labor politicians came out with a set of comments that the world hasn’t ended. Do Labor or Keane actually think electors don’t see through this charade? If the salesman looks dodgy, you tend to doubt the veracity of his product and Julia’s problem is a huge deficit in trust and credibility.

The underlying problem with the carbon tax is that it won’t help reduce carbon emissions because all the money is being given back to the end users, skewed towards Labor voters. Once compensation is paid to trade exposed industries, a minute percentage is left for actual emissions reduction measures. Though I don’t think that is widely understood in voter land, its perverse effect is that Labor can’t spruik it for what it should really be about — saving the planet. Instead it is reduced to banging on about government handouts and is mystified when people aren’t grateful.

Labor’s problem is not treating irrational voters as rational. It is treating voters as manipulable by spin.

John Thompson writes: Although I may agree with most of his conclusions, it is disingenuous of Bernard Keane to express outrage at Neil Mitchell’s “offensive” comment. The “offence” is at the timing of Swan’s comment — it has never been suggested that Whyalla would cease to exist on the day that the carbon tax was introduced, but that it might cease to do so in the long run, due to the effect of the tax.

Personally, I think that is just more hyperbole from Abbott, but Swan and Gillard have certainly done their utmost to alienate anyone with any concerns about the effect of the tax. I think Keane is spot on in his assessment that nothing will change (in a positive direction) for Gillard, given that no one is listening any more.

More disturbing is the strange belief that imposing a price on carbon will affect climate change. We, overall, will not accept a reduction in our creature comforts; remember how uncomfortable we were in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s without decent heating in winter, cooling in summer.

Why would (or should) we expect the Chinese or the Indians to go without similar creature comforts? As a result, if anthropogenic influences are having a significant effect on climate change, things will only continue in that direction; if not, pricing carbon will have no appreciable positive effect. Either way, it seems a lot of hassle for no actual improvement in the situation.

Declaration: I am a genuine global warming sceptic, NOT a denialist. Accordingly, I have named my quite successful racehorse (five wins from 18 starts) “Globalwarmnsceptic”. Given the usual lack of success of most racehorses, perhaps the “gods” are smiling on my choice of name. Personally, I find it quite encouraging.

Amanda Lohrey writes: Recently my massuese complained to me — while I was prone on the massage table — about the fact that her parents, in their seventies, can’t get a concession health card.

I happen to know her parents, former business people, are well-off with substantial property holdings. Why don’t they sell a property if they need cash, I (foolishly) asked. Well, she replied, “Dad’s the kind who likes to hold on to things. But he’s paid his taxes all his life, so he’s as entitled to a health card as anyone else.”

This “tax-paying” rant went on for some time and despite my attempt at diplomatic remonstrations she would not be budged, and the rest of her (large) family apparently agree with her. This woman is a good woman, and I like her, but I left her house with a feeling that there is no hope for Labor governments — the degree of irrational entitlement, anger and grievance out there is unfathomable.

John Hunwick writes: There are times when Bernard Keane makes me cry with his insight, clarity of expression and passion for being rational. The political debate around the carbon tax has only added to my fear that democratic government in the form found in Australia is incapable of responding rationally to the real world.

At a time when Rio+20 is thundering out the urgency of responding to the science as it continues to pour in with increasing desperation of those closest to the problem, we do less, not more. It would seem that the majority of people who can presumably read, write and think have abandoned all that so they can choose their own facts.

It is conceivable that once a biological change starts to happen at a tipping point it can’t be reversed and all future generations are imprisoned in a world that is only a glimmer of its former self, and what it could have been.

Please, Bernard Keane, do not stop proclaiming your point of view, the truth as you write it will soon be apparent to all who choose to read.

The NSW workers compensation system:

Rebecca Lang, WorkCover NSW, writes: Re. “More pain for injured workers from cash-strapped WorkCover” (yesterday, item 11). The NSW workers compensation system changes are quite complex and there were several inaccuracies in the opinion piece yesterday by law student Luke Williams.

You may be interested in the attached  fact sheets outlining the recent reforms to the legislation.

These fact sheets can be found here and here.

Peter Fray

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