Monday, March 07, 2011

Direct Action: Name an economist who supports the Coalition's plan

Suggestions below please

Can anyone name an economist who supports the Coalition's carbon reduction plan? Asked last week to name one, Coalition front bencher Malcolm Turnbull could not.

"I can't cite any economists that agree with it but I have to say to you that at the moment it's actually the only carbon reduction plan on offer," he told the ABC's Q&A program.

Asked yesterday on ABC Insiders whether he could name one such economist Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb named two: "Greg Evans from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry," and "Danny Price" who "has said our program as it stands is far superior to the emissions trading scheme the government sought to bring in a year ago".

Greg Evans, normally a backroom operator, is a former Coalition staffer and Treasury economist who once ran the Wool Council. Asked by The Age whether he did support the Coalition's plan as claimed, Mr Evans drew a distinction between his own view as an economist and the Chamber's view...

"We unambiguously represent the views of mainstream businesses and energy users in particular and our view is consistent with their approach on this issue," he said.

Unlike the Coalition the Chamber has no plan to cut net carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. It doesn't see the point.

"We are not proposing a model to do that," Mr Evans told The Age. "There is no case until there's international agreement. In the meantime we support voluntary action. The Coalition is closer to us on that than Labor.

Danny Price, the other economist mentioned as supporting the Coalition's plan to use grants and incentives to cut emissions, is an energy specialist who worked on the Coalition's plan at Frontier Economics.

''I had to ring them up and tell them not to say I supported it," he told The Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend. "All I'd said was that their numbers added up, I didn't say I supported it.''

He believes the Coalition's proposal "only makes sense as a transitional plan" along the way to something more permanent.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan described Mr Robb's claims as "nothing short of cringeworthy," but had his own difficulties claiming yesterday it was both "legitimate" to describe Labor's proposed carbon price as a carbon tax and also "absolutely incorrect."

"It doesn't operate like a traditional tax," he told Channel Nine. "The government is not going to take the carbon price out of your pay packet and we're not going to put it in the revenue. It is paid, by a small number of large polluters, and used to assist industry and households," he said.

Published in today's SMH and Age

Coalition Direct Action Plan

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