I'd feel ashamed. They feel proud.
Senior government ministers have blasted new anti carbon tax television advertisements as “factually incorrect” and an attempt talk down the economy.
The multi-million dollar industry-funded campaign claims that in just over six years Europe’s carbon pricing scheme has raised $4.9 billion. Over six or so years Australia’s will raise $71 billion.
Labelling the claim “deceitful” climate change minister Greg Combet said the ads excluded free permits from the European calculation but included them in the Australian calculation.
“It's completely misrepresentative. These are fundamentally Liberal Party ads. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which is the leading organisation behind these ads has historically had a close association with the Liberal Party,” he said.
The ACCI is one of six industry groups behind the campaign. A strategy document seen by the Herald says its key objective is to ''build public opposition to the carbon tax so that it is either substantially modified or fails to pass the Parliament''...
ACCI policy director Greg Evans said he had “no response” to accusation of a close historical association with the Liberal Party. “On this issue we are representing the unambiguous views of our membership. They are not the large polluters, they are small and medium sized enterprises, it’s nothing to do with politics.”
Until the election of the Rudd government the chamber was headed by former senior Coalition staffer Peter Hendy who rejoined the Coalition on leaving the chamber.
Mr Evans referred questions about the claims made in the advertisements to Minerals Council deputy director Brendan Pearson who confirmed the Australian calculation included the cost of free permits whereas the European calculation did not.
“We are using the government’s own figures for revenue,” he told the Herald. “It’s the right figure to use. But the Europeans simply don’t publish this data, so we have had to use the money raised at auctions of permits.”
Because free permits are not auctioned the European figure excludes revenue included in the Australian calculation.
“But even if you value Australia’s free permits you still come up with an Australian figure of around $50 billion compared to $5 billion in Europe. I hope the government will be pleased to admit that on their reading of the world their scheme is ten times as expensive as Europe’s.”
When asked whether it was valid to compare income over the past six years in one region with income over the next six years in another Mr Pearson said it was.
Speaking from North Queensland where he was inspecting coal export facilities set to double their traffic in five years Treasurer Wayne Swan attacked “well-funded vested interests trying to talk down the future of our economy”.
“A town like Gladstone really is a reality check for the scare campaign. Far from being at risk of being wiped off the map, businesses are expanding and jobs are being created. A staggering $70 billion in coal-related projects was either underway or on the drawing boards as of April.”
An Access Economics report released this morning said the impact of the carbon tax “may well be rather smaller than the huge headlines would have it”.
“Indeed if the government succeeds in generating greater certainty, that could even unlock investment potential in a range of industries, particularly utilities,” Access director Chris Richardson said.
Published in today's SMH and Age
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