Productivity Commissioner Gary Banks warns we really are in for a “tough time” if commentators are right and productivity reform under Julia Gillard is at a standstill.
He says we’d better free up the workplace laws a bit more and he also seems to warn against adding to the costs of our mining industry (with a new super profits tax?).
But most telling is this, about the ludicrous cost of green power schemes and other government measures to “stop” global warming:
Given the marked asymmetry between the costs and benefits of action by Australia – pending a significant global response – perhaps the strongest economic argument for carbon pricing is that it would displace more costly alternative measures targeted at particular products or technologies. If this were not achieved, the potential value of any new economy-wide instrument would be compromised. Unfortunately, most of the programs in question serve more as industry assistance than environmental assistance, and they will accordingly be difficult to terminate.
How damning that is of the Labor Government, that the best argument for imposing its promised carbon tax or trading system is that at least it might prevent something even worse – like what it’s doing already.
Banks’ is right about the difficulty of winding back some green-power technologies that cost far more than they’re worth. In fact, the problem is even more serious, given that the biggest investors in our wind power – an industry kept alive only by government subsidies, government-mandated green power quotas, and a government ban on cheaper nuclear power – are our union-dominated superannuation funds.
Allowing such huge investments of workers’ super in an uneconomic industry kept alive only by government patronage is the height of political stupidity and irresponsibility, and it will take an exceptionally brave government to wind back the assistance, which costs us so much and gains us so little, when the unions’ members have so much to lose.
Candidate Gillard made three big promises in the election campaign. Presumably, she thought then, they were necessary to win the election.
There would be no tax on carbon; she would stop the boats; and she would solve Rudd’s mining tax mess.
So how’s she doing?
The boats speak for themselves, so to speak. She is determined now to have a carbon tax. To misquote Shakespeare, a carbon tax by any other name such as a price on carbon would still stink like a big fat new tax.
So far that’s zip out of two; and at least one of the two, arguably both, deliberately self-inflicted. That leaves the mining tax – and something of a further Gillard own goal.
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Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and is a regular commentator on Channel 9′s Today show and ABC TV’s Insiders. He will be heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of new radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.