How many dead pensioners does Julia Gillard need to save her useless carbon tax?
In a speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister defended the 10 per cent hike in power prices caused by her tax, claiming it was dwarfed by the cost of “over-investment” in “poles and wires” by the states.
Forget that investing in “poles and wires” at least gives you poles and wires, while paying a tax to stop global warming leaves you with nothing – not a flicker of change in the temperature.
Focus instead on Ms Gillard’s demand that less be spent on giving Australians a reliable power supply.
“One quarter of all retail electricity costs … is spent to meet the costs of peak events that last for less than two days each year in total,” Ms Gillard complained.
“It’s like building a 10-lane freeway but with two lanes that are only used or needed for one long weekend.”
When is that peak power most needed? On the hottest days, when Australians switch on a million airconditioners.
And what happens if there are no airconditioners or the power fails? In 2009, up to 80 people died in a heatwave in Adelaide, with the Council on the Ageing pleading: “If you have airconditioning, use it … It could literally be fatal for older people not to use it.”
In Victoria that same year, nearly 400 people, most old, died in a heatwave that triggered repeated blackouts, prompting a senior Victorian minister to suggest “providing a cool place of respite” to older people.
But, for most of us, that “cool place of respite” is next to our own airconditioner – providing there’s power to keep it humming.
So what does Ms Gillard say about these life-savers?
“It’s a very good thing that more Australians can afford airconditioners to cool their families on our hottest days.
“It’s a very bad thing that the supply side response to this is so deeply costly and inefficient … “
So the states should get “the balance right between affordability and reliability”.
The message seems clear.
Spend less and put up with more blackouts.
Asked to confirm this yesterday, Ms Gillard backtracked: “I think we can find better ways of meeting peak demand, keeping reliability, but doing better on prices.”
But how? Ms Gillard did not say, and in her speech she talked vaguely of buying more modern airconditioners – which few pensioners could afford.
So I ask again: How many pensioners must fry?
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 hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.