Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wall Street Journal Savages Rudd's ETS

With a slap the WSJ says Mr. Rudd just wants to do what every Labor pol likes: tax industry and redistribute the proceeds, at huge cost to the economy.

Rudd acknowledges that emissions trading would be costly – especially in a country where natural resources account for around half of all exports. Agriculture and mining together represent about 9% of GDP. Taxing emissions could cripple these industries and would percolate through every corner of the economy, raising energy prices. The ultimate cost in terms of jobs and growth is unknowable.

To alleviate this government-created problem Canberra would pay companies to stay in Australia rather than move to a country that doesn't impose arbitrary costs on business.

30% of the indirect carbon tax would go to "research, development and commercialization of new, low-emissions technologies." So instead of encouraging the whole of Australian industry to invent cleaner business practices through transparent tax incentives. Australia, with one of the world's biggest supplies of uranium, already has at its disposal a cleaner form of energy that it doesn't use: nuclear power.

The bulk of the proposed handouts are reserved for "households," to relieve the "regressive income distribution effects of the emissions trading system." Translation: Poor Australians will suffer most from higher energy prices as companies pass on costs. The report doesn't specify which households would receive handouts. But it's safe to say that with the Labor Party controlling every Australian state and its federal government, it would be tempting to shovel that cash pile to Labor constituencies.

We could say, similarly for New Zealand


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