I have an article this morning in Quadrant-on-line addressing the latest developments involving
The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) Australia’s new carbon tax. This is to operate by requiring electricity retailers to ensure their supplies conform to a progressively declining level of greenhouse gas emissions. And, as each generator has a unique carbon footprint, there will be a diversity of prices.
We are, therefore reintroducing a price on carbon, the carbon tax, enclosed in a vanilla wrapper, disarmingly advertised as “technology neutral”.
Not only do we have a carbon tax but its implementation adds a new complexity to the electricity market.
As renewables are more costly than coal and gas the average price to households and businesses will increase.
It is easy to see why this economy-wrecking policy has been put into place. The original carbon tax was introduced by Julia Gillard and devised by the then Secretary of the Climate Change Department, Martin Parkinson. Malcolm Turnbull, as leader of the Opposition, supported that policy and, after refusing to reconsider, was defeated on the issue by Tony Abbott. Under Gillard, Parkinson was promoted to the Secretary of Treasury.
On becoming Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in line with his commitment, repealed the carbon tax. After a decent interval he also fired Martin Parkinson.
On becoming PM, Turnbull appointed Parkinson to head up his own Department, from which position he has immense influence to dictate energy and climate policy. Moreover as head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Parkinson is able to play a key role in selecting appointments in the bureaucracy proper and in the quangos that administer and advise on energy policy.
This has placed irresistible pressure on the Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who has to sell the policy and seek out ways he can neutralize some of its features.
My Quadrant piece is here . There is also some press reporting of the issue in The Australian, which addresses an analysis of the admirable Craig Kelly. And Tony Abbott has correctly recognised the policy as a “carbon tax in disguise”.