A number of climate change commentators are trying to have it both ways: not directly stating that recent natural disasters are caused by AGW, but claiming that the events are becoming more frequent and more severe. (See also column by Piers Ackerman)
Garnaut states that this bolsters the argument for a carbon tax. Yet no one has yet put forward the proposition that, were Australia to adopt a carbon tax, natural disasters will be less frequent and less intense. Unless one considers smugness, it is a poor policy to introduce a measure which will do nothing to address the problem that is being posited.
But there is action that could have mitigated the damage of the Queensland floods – build more dams and / or let out some water from the Wivenhoe dam. Yet vested interests such as the Greens have effectively stymied the building of new dams.
So we have advocates pushing a new tax that won’t affect the frequency or outcome of natural disasters while the same people oppose measures which would have mitigated the damage of the same natural disasters.
And what of the $1000 flood payment and associated flood levy?
We have people who did not suffer damage to their home – merely being delayed entry for 24 hours or so – receiving the $1000 Australian Government Flood Relief Payment and consequently (see fact sheet) being exempted from the flood levy.
Yet people who lost their homes in the floods in NSW or from Cyclone Yasi will not receive the flood payment and will (if of sufficient income) be required to pay the flood levy.
Is this equitable? Of course not.
It is the outcome of ad hoc and poorly thought through policies such as the Australian Government Flood Relief Payment and Flood Levy.