Just as it did here in the US, the threat of putting a price on carbon has roused the polluter industries to a frenzy of propaganda against it on talk radio and right wing news outlets in Australia. The new Labor Party Prime Minister Julia Gillard is proposing a carbon tax for Australia, to begin by next summer.
The carbon tax is designed to keep the costs of cleanup on the energy industry itself, according to ABC AU. And that has roused the right wing there who represent the polluter industries.
In 1993, when then Vice President Al Gore promoted our first attempt at a carbon tax – the btu tax taxed just carbon, and omitted renewable energy sources – the polluters were roused to the same frenzy of rage against Al Gore, that has not let up since. That is what is happening in Australia now.
One crossover MP in Australia, Independent Tony Windsor has had death threats: “You’re a f***ing liar, a dog, a rat, a big f***ing MP dog – and you wait – you’re not going to get voted in again. I hope you die, you bastard.”
In the same way as the climate bill the US House passed and the similar one the Senate passed out of committee did, the Australian carbon tax proposal would be revenue neutral or better, and compensates households and businesses for rise in energy prices.
“Every dollar raised by the payment of the carbon price by the large polluters – because that’s where the obligation resides – will be used to support households to meet price impacts,” Climate Change Minister Greg Comet said.
But the opposition describes this as a “slush fund.”
“Mr Abbott will run a fear campaign and that’s exactly what he’s doing, but we intend sticking to our guns, arguing the case because it’s the right thing to do for the future of this country,” said Senator Brown of the Green Party, which is aligned with the ruling Labor Party.
Australia has several parties on both sides of the left-right divide over climate and pollution. While the far right National party is the most against the carbon tax, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is a member of the (confusingly named) Liberal party, another right-wing party opposed to environmental protection.
Speaking about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Senator Brown added, “His new description of proposed compensation for households under the carbon tax proposal as ‘slush’ will offend many Australians – but delight the big corporations who want the same money for themselves.”
As long as a carbon tax is seen by polluters as a way to just pass down the costs to the little guy, it is seen by the energy industry as preferable to cap and trade. But once a carbon tax puts the pressure on polluters themselves, as the US cap and trade climate plan did, the propaganda begins.
But someone has to clean up old dirty sources of energy, to build a sustainable, clean source of power for a long term future, by investing in newer and cleaner sources of energy. And the money to do it must come from somewhere. Shouldn’t that be done by the energy industries themselves, simply as part of the cost of doing business?