$10 million to drive fear and greed on carbon price

Originally posted on http://www.crikey.com.au 

This weekend multi-billion dollar vested interest groups launched their $10 million “no campaign” against a price on pollution. Under the banner of the ‘Australian Trade and Industry Alliance’, businesses driven by fear and greed are dispersing misinformation to the public through social media, full page newspaper ads and a just-launched television advertising campaign.

The ATIA are capitalising on a public in confusion. Confusion —  with Abbott calls his own climate policy “crazy”, relentlessly demands another election, practically declares class warfare and blows everyone away with his literary skill in dubbing Julia JuLIAR (see what he did there). Add to that the completely absurd rhetoric of completely ill-qualified individuals like “Lord” Monckton, Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones and its no surprise that making big businesses pay for their emissions seems almost as completely and utterly insane as making it illegal to dump waste in the ocean (which we did in 1981), or deciding that women should earn equal pay almost a decade earlier (which provoked much of the same hysteria that the economy would collapse and the working Australian family would suffer as the bread winner would have to fight with his missus for a buck).

When the doctor diagnoses you with lung cancer after smoking for 60 years, you don’t trust the tobacco industry who capitalise from your carcinogenic addiction, when they insist that smoking is not bad for your health. Similarly, when scientists worldwide conclude that climate change is an immediate and serious threat, and economists domestically advocate pricing carbon as the best first step; you don’t turn to the billion dollar industries who are crying poor because they might finally have to cough up for the pollutants they dump for free into our skies.

Banks including Westpac and NAB, alongside a multitude of economists such as ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake, Westpac’s Bill Evans, former Liberal Party leader John Hewson, Citigroup Global Markets’ Paul Brennan, Lowy Institute visiting fellow Stephen Grenville, and Macquarie Bank’s Richard Gibbs all say that a carbon price is necessary for certainty and investment into the future.

Meaning, you shouldn’t listen to social demographer like David Chalke who cries class war in the Herald Sun and declares that the max $10 per week possible rise will threaten values at the core of Australian society. You especially don’t pay any attention to his hyperbole when the government has already committed to compensate 9/10 households affected and is planning to lower the tax threshold to further alleviate what looks like a minute (if any) increase in the cost of living. Hardly the stuff of class warfare.

You wouldn’t listen to views like these, unless those opposing voices had $10 million to ensure their voice is the loudest and most dominating despite the lack of credentials or expertise, and the painfully apparent motives of self-interest and greed.

The ATIA has used their $10 million to launch a black, yellow and orange onslaught of misinformation. According to the independent Climate Institute, the ATIA’s facts and figures are billions off. Claims that Australia’s carbon tax will generate $71 billion in its first six years are probably closer to $61 billion. Plus, claims that the European Union created $4.9 billion in the same period of time conveniently ignores the expected generation of $143 – $296 billion over the next six years. And all of these +10 digit numbers flying around that the ATIA is using to inflate the size of the carbon price, totally ignore the fact that the bulk of the revenue will be spent on permits, tax cuts and compensation to households.

Behind the orange and black are all the usual suspects — the Australian Coal Association, Minerals Council of Australia and Manufacturing Australia to name a few. All are driven by short term fears of profit loss, despite all the evidence that a carbon price and transition towards clean energy is not going to result in the collapse of any single industry tomorrow and instead will see the beginnings of a transition towards new job and industry opportunities in a clean energy economy.

In contrast to AFGC’s scare mongering, businesses around Australia who don’t have the billion dollar buffer of the Coal Association and cohorts are autonomously declaring their support for a carbon price and pledging to exercise corporate responsibility.

Businesses for a Clean Energy Economy (B4CEE) is an initiative developed by a (rapidly growing) number of businesses and corporations in Australia who recognise a carbon price as “being the most efficient and effective way of reducing emissions” as well as being integral in providing “a long term signal for investors in early stage clean energy technologies — such as geothermal, wave, large scale solar — that there will be a strong and vibrant market for these technologies in the future.” B4CEE represents businesses around Australia who are looking past the fear mongering and towards the long term opportunities that a carbon price offers them.

B4CEE, alongside the thousands of workers and unions like the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the CFMEU and the huge show of support from communities around Australia at the Say Yes Australia rallies that attracted in excess of 45,000 Australians, is a far more powerful indication of public sentiment then the desperate lies of multi-billion dollar industry cronies who are scared of finally paying for their pollution.

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