08 March 2011

At last

At last, there is some action on climate change that imposes a financial penalty on polluters while at the same time forcing us to modify our behaviour in whatever petty way we can.

At last, we have a Prime Minister who regards political capital as an asset to be risked in pursuit of further gains, not only politically for her party but also policy-wise for the nation. I too wish there was more of it, but developments must be welcomed however small they are.

The carbon tax will not be wound back once implemented, and anyone who says it can/will is lying. This, rather than Gillard's "no carbon tax" promise, will be the broken promise most fresh at the next election. The Liberals should be ready for this and for more scrutiny of their policies, but my guess is that they'll just do what they do in Parliament: "awww, what about her!".

The whole prospect of shifting the tax system away from what we earn toward what we do (dig up minerals, engage in carbon-emitting consumption) is fascinating. Rather than more pissant and self-interested modelling, it requires a Hayek, a Keynes, a Smith to help us put it into a broader perspective and show us what it means for our country, and what we teach our children about it.

The whole prospect of the Coalition dumping the carbon tax and the MRRT means that the Coalition will have to justify the tax system today, and in 1996-2007, as some state of nirvana (or even slightly better than the status quo). Heaven knows they lack the research skills, wit and flair of the Liberal Opposition in the first ten years after 1983 to come up with innovative ways of talking and thinking about the way we are taxed. Their 2010 economic policy was like the truculent assignment of a school student seeking a bare pass in a subject that they hated; a far cry from the bold, visionary (and, yes, slightly wacky) economic policy documents of the 1980s and '90s.

At last, we in NSW are soon to be delivered from Princess Wonkyhair and her creepy "government". Only journalists are listening to the Princess. The very idea that she should be demanding scrutiny of O'Farrell is risible.

I really hope they don't cop out now.

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