Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Matters of Public Importance
Being lectured by the shadow Treasurer on budget discipline is like being lectured by Lord Monckton on the science of climate change. Lord Monckton does not believe in climate change, and the shadow Treasurer does not believe in budgeting. In fact, the shadow Treasurer was exposed, along with the shadow finance minister, who is still with us—they cannot stand each other—before the last election as having to go to an accounting firm because they knew that they had a very big budget black hole. They went to an accounting firm instead of chancing their arm to have their costings done by Treasury and Finance. When the Independents insisted that those costings be done, voila: an $11 billion black hole was exposed.
But, in the period of one year since the ministry was sworn in, that $11 billion black hole has not been plugged; it has exploded to $70 billion. The $70 billion comes from none other than the shadow Treasurer, who told the shadow cabinet that they had a very big problem, whereupon the Leader of the Opposition said: 'This $70 billion is in fact just media talk. It's just the Labor Party.' But in a moment of candour on a Sunday program very recently the shadow finance minister indeed confirmed that there is a very big problem to the tune of $70 billion and the coalition has no idea how they are going to plug it. This points to the fact that the opposition leader is, as described by a former employer—that is, Mr John Hewson, who was also an opposition leader but is a professor of economics—'innumerate'. He has described the opposition leader as 'innumerate', and so he is. While we are talking about the impact of carbon pricing, this is a man who has estimated the weight of one tonne of carbon dioxide as zero. He has been asked, 'What does a tonne of carbon dioxide weigh?' and his answer was, 'Zero.' I can imagine him at school. When they asked, 'What does a tonne of lead weigh?' he would have said, 'A tonne.' When they asked, 'What does a tonne of feathers weigh?' he would have said, 'Well not so much, because feathers are lighter than lead.' So if they had asked, 'What does a tonne of carbon dioxide weigh?' he would have said, 'Nothing at all.'
I am told that the teachers realised then that young Tony had a problem with numeracy, and since they thought he was quite a good sports person they started asking him questions such as, 'Young Tony, who won the fabulous tied test of 1960-61?' whereupon he said, 'Australia,' and they said, 'No, it was a tie.' He was then asked, 'After which famous cricketer was the Victor Richardson stand named?' and young Tony said, 'Wally Grout?' They said, 'No, no, that was Victor Richardson.' The final question was, 'Okay, young Tony, how many balls in a six-ball over?' and the reply was: 'Sir, sir, I know! Is it eight?' 'No, it's six, Tony.' Then the teacher said: 'Look, you are completely innumerate. You could be the leader of the Liberal Party.' That was the recommendation and here we are—he is the leader of the Liberal Party.
This motion was put forward by the shadow Treasurer as:
The adverse impact of the carbon tax on the Australian economy.
Let us have a look at the impact on jobs. You would think that this would be central to the argument of the coalition. They have said virtually nothing about it but, in fact, the modelling does estimate that there will be 1.6 million extra jobs in Australia by 2020 under a carbon-pricing mechanism. That is not job losses, but 1.6 million extra jobs to build on the almost three-quarters of a million jobs that have already been created under this government during adverse economic circumstances, including the deepest global recession since the Great Depression.
We could ask: what are some of the other authorities saying about this sort of thing? The IMF, in fact, gave a glowing endorsement of the carbon-pricing mechanism when they said just last month that they:
… support the proposed introduction of a carbon price as part of a transition to a permits trading system to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, they are economists, and we know that the opposition leader believes that economists do not know what they are talking about. The opposition leader believes that lawyers do not know what they are talking about. He believes that scientists do not know what they are talking about. Only the opposition leader knows what he is talking about.
But the opposition leader has detractors from his own side. They are getting very, very tired of this economic Hansonism that is being espoused by the opposition leader. We know that he has a DLP background—that is, he has said, 'I worship the very water that Bob Santamaria walks on'. Bob Santamaria himself was quoted as saying that capitalism is worse than communism. These were the great interventionists of the 1950s and the 1960s, but here is Mr Abbott back as the reincarnation of Bob Santamaria.