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By John Kellett
Hot doggies. Get your hot doggies. Get your carbon tax details here!
There are plenty of people hanging out a shingle saying get your carbon facts here. And they’re all selling different doomsday scenarios – whether from the disease (carbon pollution) or the cure (carbon emission reductions). The trouble is deciding whose economic analysis or data to believe when they make such opposing claims.
The Minerals Council tells us that 24,000 jobs will be lost over the next ten years in mining under a carbon tax. Another respected economist tells us that this figure is so insignificant in the normal ebb and flow of jobs that he can’t draw it on a chart based on the fact that every month around 370,000 people move in and out of work.
The NSW Government claims economic disaster, and again, major job losses from a carbon tax. But the researchers who prepared the analysis say the results were cherry-picked to highlight the regions where some job losses were predicted and to hide the overall economic boost provided by the low carbon economic reforms.
It is political bread and butter to conscript any business closure or job cut to whatever cause is currently being fought. We saw this recently when Cement Australia closed its Kandos plant blaming outdated and inefficient technology, high costs, a skills shortage and the rising Australian dollar. These culprits were not enough cause for local politicians who spotted an opportunity to rope in the carbon tax. A similar story when Nestle Purina wound up 44 jobs in Blayney recently because of losses in the understandably encumbered Japanese market. Once again next years’ carbon tax reared its ugly head in the political commentary. Could it be that Blue Scope Steel is bowing to international market pressures or is it the domestic price on carbon pollution yet to be introduced?
One thing in over supply right now is claim and counter claim. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by information one way to detect distortion or bias in what you’re being told is to ask what any good journalist asks themselves – “Why is this person telling me this?” Naturally our motivation colours the evidence we are drawn to. And as the issue of climate change and carbon emission reduction goes to the heart of our current economy there are some powerful people with a lot of money invested in the status quo. They’re also happy to invest in convincing you their interests are the same as your interests – remember the anti-mining tax ads: not one foreign shareholder to be seen. Change is usually inconvenient and it was never going to be easy finding out the truth about climate. The responsibility of democratic decision makers is to make decisions based on what is best for life and wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants, present and future.
John Kellett is the Chairman of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network