People cheer Kevin Rudd because they cannot believe a prime minister would trick them so brazenly.
But never has Rudd – a genius at seeming, a disaster at doing – been as brazen as he was this week.
No, he did not “terminate” Labor’s carbon tax.
No, his planned emissions trading scheme cannot start next year, or not without spending billions he does not have to buy off the hostile Greens.
No, it won’t save families $380 per year.
No, your electricity bills might in fact soar, not fall.
In fact, Rudd will be the second Labor prime minister to go to an election promising “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”.
If re-elected he will be the second Labor prime minister to claim “changed circumstances” made him break his solemn word.
On Tuesday, Rudd made the following false claims or almost certainly undeliverable promises in announcing he’d move to an emissions trading scheme a year earlier than Labor planned: “The Government has decided to terminate the carbon tax . . . From 1 July next year Australia will move to an emissions trading scheme.
“The modelling from Treasury shows that in the financial year 2014-15 an average family will receive a cost of living relief to the value of $380 per year.
“We expect the change that we are bringing in will see the price on carbon fall from an expected $25.40 a tonne by next July to around $6 a tonne.”
Not one of those claims can be trusted. Some are outright fabrications.
Here are the facts.
First, it is very unlikely Rudd could get his plan through Parliament in time, because the present Senate, in which Labor can be outvoted by the Coalition with the Greens, stays until June 30 next year.
The Coalition is against this switch to an emissions trading system, in which the European Commission effectively sets our carbon price by manipulating its market in permits to emit carbon dioxide.
Europe’s price is now an unusually low $6, but European politicians plan to ramp it up.
The Greens are opposed for different reasons.
For one, they don’t want the carbon price to fall by as much as Labor promises.
“The Greens do not support making it cheaper for the big polluters to pollute,” Greens leader Christine Milne said.
If the Coalition sticks to its guns, Rudd’s plan is dead – unless it can bribe the Greens with billions of dollars of more dud green schemes just like the ones Rudd says he needs to cut.
Second, Rudd is dead wrong in claiming his change would save families $380 per year, as he stated five times on Tuesday.
In fact, Rudd is merely bringing forward by one year Labor’s planned switch to emissions trading, so any savings are also for just one year, as Treasurer Chris Bowen tried to point out to him: “It is a one-year figure based on the Treasury’s view of the carbon price.”
Third, Rudd’s claim of $380 in savings for each family is a wild exaggeration at best.
That figure assumes our carbon price will next year drop to the $6 set by Europe’s trading system today.
But the European Commission this month voted to increase that $6 price, with analysts at Point Carbon expecting it to perhaps double in the near future.
Add the likely depreciation of the Australian dollar, and half Rudd’s $380 in claimed savings could be wiped out.
In fact, in a few years we might not be saving but spending a lot, lot more.
Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on 2GB this week not only conceded the obvious — that the price set by Europe could well rise – but refused to rule out it rising to a level much higher than our carbon tax today.
Indeed, the Government’s own Budget, released just two months ago, worked on a “modelled price of $38 at 2019-20”, which the Government needs to pay for its hugely expensive disability scheme and Gonski education changes.
People with short memories may find it unbelievable that a prime minister could tell them such untruths with such moral conviction.
But Rudd has long traded on seeming something he is not.
He is a genius at seeming to fix what he’s actually broken, like our border laws.
And here he is again, pretending to fix a tax that pretended to stop a global warming Rudd pretends is dangerous even though it’s now paused for more than 15 years.
Pretending, too, he’ll save you money when he’s costing you a fortune.
The King of Seeming in an Age of Seeming. Not worse than Julia Gillard, but a greater indictment of Australia and our times.
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. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.