LAST week’s public meeting to discuss carbon tax and its alternatives appeared to attract only carbon tax supporters.
Bishop George Browning chaired the Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) meeting at St John’s Church hall and said this was an issue which confronted everybody.
Bishop Browning said economic problems facing the world had been caused by people living beyond their means and leaders must face up to the consequences or will he pay the price.
“We have to work out what sort of society do we want to live in” he said
The Bishop said that gambling was a huge problem with Australians betting and losing twice as much as people in other OECD countries, and 40 per cent of those were problem gamblers.
“We need to do something about this and about other issues that affect us all. I cannot bear to think that the children of today will pay the price for what my generation hasn’t done. Churches and religion must contribute to the solution. We have to find a level of co-operation now between political parties and the community,” he said.
Dr Matthew Nott from CEFE said the proposed carbon tax looked like becoming law but the alternatives had to be considered, such as the Opposition’s Direct Action and the NSW Government’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme.
Under a carbon tax, it is proposed the 500 most polluting companies will be taxed and this may mean they will bring in measures to reduce emissions or pass some of the costs on to the consumer.
From the moneys the government will raise, half will be spent compensating households and the other half on renewable energy, Dr Nott said.
The Direct Action policy covers an emissions reduction fund, the replenishment of soil carbons, tree planting and funding for more solar homes.
All these schemes would be paid for by the taxpayer.
With the tree planting many of 60 million trees would have to be planted in marginal land where water will become a real problem, Dr Nott said.
He said the basic difference between the two schemes is that with the carbon tax scheme the polluters were paying whereas with the Opposition’s Direct Action scheme it would be “bureaucrats making the decisions and taxpayers footing the bill”.
The NSW Government commissioned Frontier Economics to look at the economic impact of carbon tax and Premier Barry O’Farrell said that, based on the report, 31,000 jobs would be lost in NSW.
Dr Nott said that was not the impression he got from reading the report.
Admittedly jobs would be lost in the Hunter and other coal mining regions but the report also said that three regions of the state would benefit from the carbon tax and south-east Australia was one of them.
Dr Nott said the NSW Government’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement scheme was a great success.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance said he recently had an audit at home and had found out numerous ways to save electricity including turning his refrigerator down to a lower level.
“We have learnt to change our water use, now we must learn to change our electricity use.”
Mr Constance said the NSW Government was against the carbon tax because there would be such a flow-on effect on families, and despite what had already been said there would be a great loss of jobs, and he was not aware where the jobs in the south-east would come from.
There would also be a loss of capital investment, he said.
The NSW Government was also not being compensated as the Victorian Government was with the introduction of carbon tax and would be $867 million in the red.
Mr Constance said the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme had been successful but that would not continue once the carbon tax was introduced.
He also queried why those at the meeting who seemed to be very concerned about pollution weren’t backing the Wolumla residents who were fighting to stop a pollution landfill at Wanatta Lane.
The meeting was then opened to questions and Mr Constance fielded queries from people angry at the time it was taking for the NSW Government to make a decision on the Solar Bonus Scheme.
He was told that hundreds of jobs were being lost because of the tardiness of his Government.
He said that it was being reviewed by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and he was sorry that it was taking so long but it had to be done thoroughly and the review would be finished by March, 2012.
Bishop Browning said that he was “disgusted” at the way such a vital issue at what to do about climate change was being so politicised.
“I saw a letter in a local paper which talks about “Gillard’s science”.
“It’s not Gillard’s science, it’s all our science.
“The major problem with the way the carbon tax and climate change issue was publicised was that everything was so adversarial,” Bishop Browning said and received the loudest applause of the evening.