Mr Garnaut, climate policy should be questioned

In today’s The Australian:

‘Ross Garnaut has an unusual concept of democracy. The Prime Minister goes to the country promising “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. Once in office, she then proposes to implement one, with the added twist of making repeal by a future government prohibitively costly. Yet, according to Garnaut, rejection of the government’s proposed legislation would amount to a failure of Australian democracy on a historical scale, indeed to “a corruption of democracy” caused by “distortion of reality and abuse of truth”.’

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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34 Responses to Mr Garnaut, climate policy should be questioned

  1. JC

    Of course he does. Another one who suspects that Democracy is not what it’s cracked up to be.

    I could say that about a lot of things too.

  2. We need same-sex marriage with a polygamy provision NOW – surely Garnaut, Hamilton and Manne belong together. :p

  3. C.L.

    If Garnaut really said that, we have no choice but to adjudge him mentally unwell because mendacity so shameless and infantile can only be understood in terms of pathology. Ideology, as corrupting as it is, isn’t enough to explain it.

  4. Marky Mark

    These people just have to be stopped… The ALP government and associated cronies are behaving as though their political and legislative power gives them the right to dictate to Australians what is fact and truth. It’s as though they actually believe they are a higher authority in this regard. Up until now, it seems most of the checks and balances on governments’ power relies on “good faith”, and political parties not wanting to harm the electorate for fear of not being re-elected. We now need clear and unambiguous rules, limitations and provisions to allow the Australian public greater flexibility and control over their local candidates. We must be in complete control of them and what they say in their capacity as our representative, not the other way around.

    To be clear, no human alive gets to decide what is and is not fact. Facts are inalienable, as is the truth, and those who set themselves up as arbiters are almost invariably revealed to be fraudsters.

  5. Jim Rose

    “distortion of reality and abuse of truth”.’

    Garnaut’s raging against rational ignorance, rational irrationality, expressive voting, the fickle rotation of power, divided government, the separation of powers and interest group manipulation by special interests that he does not like does not make them any less prevalent or powerful.

    Constitutional political economy solutions must be out forward that lead to better decisions.

  6. Mike of Marion

    This sort of ‘demand’ by such people really beggars belief!!

    And what is frightening is that desperate politicians will believe every word these dangerous people utter!


  7. .

    “a corruption of democracy”

    A couple of years ago, a left Labor front bencher (Duncan Kerr) wrote a book called Elect the Ambassador! He thought trade, tariffs (a kind of tax) and foreign relations must be put to the ballot.

    Apparently, the machine and the left it let go feral now believe that taxation is too important to be left in the hands of the public.

  8. amcoz

    perturbed; my problem with your suggestion is that it might lead to some two-, or three-, or more-, headed drongos if they interbreed under the MAT (Modern Advanced Technology) plan they might hatch from their ill-gotten gains under the carbon tax.

  9. Jim Rose

    the same democratic process that will pass the climate change bills will slow down their repeal, such as the need for a double dissolution under Abbott.

    will this frustration of the latest will of the people be “a corruption of democracy” caused by “distortion of reality and abuse of truth”.’

  10. Judith Sloan

    If businesses respond to the forward price curve (carbon dioxide price) and they have reason to believe it, then the immediate labour market impact will be HIGHER in the first period. This is because emissions-intensive industries will realise the game is up and that the cost of adjustment is too high, so they may as well shut up shop now.

    Alternatively, there could be a massive fall in real wages in the first period to ensure the labour market clears. I wonder whether Treasury has cleared that one with the ACTU.

  11. No Worries

    Garnaut and earlier Chubb make these outrageous statements to a select committee unhampered by the need to tender any evidential basis for their opinions. The Treasury modelling and assumptions remain opaque, leaving Garnaut to gargle about their contents.
    Does a select committee have any power to require the tabling of documents and data ? Or can anyone show up and produce verbal used dog food without any information backing up their statements ?
    Are there any legal sanctions against telling lies (Chubb) or acting like an information broker (Garnaut) when making a submission to a select committee ?

  12. Louis Hissink

    Garnault is a member of the Asia Pacific Trilateral Commission, along with Hugh Morgan and John Hewson. The commission’s goal, apparently, is to set in place a new world economic order.

    I wonder if that might be based on a carbon pricing scheme in which units of Carbon are traded to exchange goods and services, instead of the present medium of exchange.

  13. Token

    Alternatively, there could be a massive fall in real wages in the first period to ensure the labour market clears. I wonder whether Treasury has cleared that one with the ACTU.

    I’m puzzled how, with any good or service that faces global competition, there will not be a fall in real wages with energy costs and the cost of other inputs all going up?

  14. johno

    Hugh Morgan in bed with Garnault and Hewson!!!

    I thought he had better judgement and more self respect than that!

  15. Alex Robson

    “If businesses respond to the forward price curve (carbon dioxide price) and they have reason to believe it, then the immediate labour market impact will be HIGHER in the first period.”

    I tend to agree with you, but that may not necessarily be the case. Treasury’s prices come from a Hotelling rule. So the present value of the future price, discounted at the real interest rate, is just today’s price.

  16. ar

    We need same-sex marriage with a polygamy provision NOW

    You’re excluding cross-species heterosexuals. H8er.

  17. Feral Abacus

    Y’know what’s a corruption of democracy? Going to an election explicitly ruling out a carbon tax and then proposing a carbon tax as soon as you’ve cobbled together a pack of unrepresentative halfwits to support your emaciated minority government.

    And no one can give me the bullshit excuse of “She had to do it to win the Greens’ support!” Yeah, because the Greenshirts were really contemplating backing Abbott. Herr Bandt pledged his loyalty to the Bogan Queen on election night, prior to any carbon tax deal being struck, did he not?

    That’s a “distortion of reality and abuse of truth” if ever there was one. Don’t worry, Mr. Garnaut, you can rest easy knowing that Australians still love democracy and will gleefully use their democratic will to throw the Gillard Government onto the ash heap of history soon enough.

  18. val majkus

    How Julia jilted Oz
    by Peter Smith

    a bit of cut and paste

    Ms Gillard both promised not to do something and, then, made this promise watertight by promising to do something else. That, though, is by no means the most of it. She intends putting in place something of extraordinary scope and complexity that will be all but impossible to undo.

    The proposed legislation will create twelve new entities variously described as: regulator, authority, program, package, plan, corporation, agency, fund and council. The Productivity Commission will have a new role, effectively bringing the number to thirteen. Many additional public servants will be needed to oversee and administer these entities. Valuable “Australian carbon credit units” will be given away to form a large liability of the Commonwealth. Money will be doled out to renewable energy companies ($10 billion), as established Australian companies are forced out of business by carbon dioxide pricing, or are forced into costly adaption and/or downsizing. A new array of industry subsidies, selective personal taxation cuts and welfare benefits will be put in place as the carbon tax revenue is churned.

    The legislation is making changes of great moment and effective permanency under no pressure of circumstances; and contrary to clear and explicit commitments which were almost certainly instrumental in winning a very narrow election.

    Without doubt this broken promise outdoes all the rest put together. It is not short of incredible that an Australian government would put something of this magnitude and consequence in place, against its explicit promises, without taking it to an election. It brings our political processes into disrepute and calls into question the trust we should have in them. I doubt that any comparable precedence for this political double-dealing could be found in Australia’s past. Tinpot is too flattering a word to describe the Prime Minister and the Government she leads.


  19. JamesK

    Leftism is best understood as a religion and Gaia is its God.

    Unenlightened Man is the Devil and strangely quite a few economists feature prominently among its High Priests.

    Garnaut is but one.

    They view all who threaten Gaia as evil.

    Garnaut is sounding more and more like Flummery – certifiable.

  20. ar

    Leftism is best understood as a religion

    Religions have some organisational structure. I prefer to think of Leftism as one vast grab bag full of ideas – every one of them shit.

  21. JamesK

    Religions have some organisational structure

    Is ar sayin’: Universities, teachers unions, civil service, Canberra, North Fitzroy, Ultimo, ‘their’ ABC, Channels 10, 7, 9, Unfairdrivelnofax, the Greens and ALP aren’t organisationally structured?

  22. Sean

    Leftism is best understood as a religion and Gaia is its God.

    Maybe Marxism and hard line Environmentalism fit this category but not ‘leftism’ totally.

    Interestingly the concept of Gaia was introduced to Loverlock by William Golding, author of the Lord of the Flies. I was listening to an essay about him on BBC radio just the other day. He was a strange cookie that’s for sure. He fluctuated from athiest/thiest throughout his life.

    One of the characters in Lord of the Flies was meant to meet with God during the novel but the publisher pulled it from the book. His new conception of God/Earth as a being has infiltraded the athiest scientific community who should know better.

  23. Aqualung

    There is some established hierarchy, with your Mannes and your Pilgers, but outside of that my impression is that each person is the Pope with everyone else a member of their flock.

    Every lefty with a vision of the left wing Church Triumphant imagines themself as member of the ruling elite. They do not aspire to the day when they will be told what to think, just to the day they can guide the rest of us, and each other.

  24. JamesK

    Maybe Marxism and hard line Environmentalism fit this category but not ‘leftism’ totally.

    Hows’bout multiculturalism and cultural self-loathing Sean?

    And anyone who disagrees with ’em are: homophobic, islamophobic, racist, bigoted, xenophobic or ssimply stupid.

    No word like ‘christophobics’ is bandied about but there are many more of them than islamophobics.

    ‘Course there is that unholy alliance of Islam and Leftism……

    The western world’s two most threatening faiths?

  25. Judith Sloan

    Alex, as I understand it, the government expects the real price of carbon dioxicd to increase; thereby the NPBV of the forward curve will not be today’s price.

  26. dianeh

    While scanning the comments under Henry’s article in the Oz, I noticed a comment about how if we have insurance than we are hypocrites. This seems to be a recurrent theme by the carbon tax supporters.

    Try as I might, I cannot understand how so many people are so logically challenged.

    Insurance is not mitigation, it is to recover damages from an event that may happen. It is a balancing act between the likelihood of an even occurring and the cost of the damages from that event. It is in no way, shape or form akin to a carbon tax, which is designed (cough cough) to mitigate the adverse effects of man made climate change.

    These people arguing it is insurance must then also think that house insurance prevents your house from burning down, or car insurance prevents your car from crashing.

  27. Biota


    Maybe they are confused between insurance and ‘ensurance’- a CO2 tax is meant to ensure that the catastrophe doesn’t happen. Which gives us all great assurance!

  28. Unfortunately Garnaut now has the belief that what he says is the irrefutable truth. He has become the demon of his own thoughts and his conceit is paramount.
    The public servants of his ilk are fawned over by politicians to such an extent they now believe in their own legends.
    We mere members of the populace are in dire straits.

  29. Louis Hissink
    I couldn’t believe that we have the pathetic figures of John Hewson & Hugh Morgan out there leading the charge for a new world economic order.
    We really are in deep trouble!

  30. Chris M

    I’m tired of these senile wheezing old goats that Labor wheels out regularly to prop them up.

    They all belong in a padded cell.

  31. there are market failures just as there are democratic ones. the electorate failed with their last vote in case nobody had noticed..

  32. JC


    Give me an example of a real market failure.

  33. squawkbox

    Hugh Hewson as a member of the Trilateral Commission, Louis? The man couldn’t organise a conspiracy to catch a bus. It’s like imagining the Elders of Zion led by Woody Allen.

  34. squawkbox

    I mean John Hewson. Too early in the morning, not enough coffee etc.

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