At a high profile economics conference hosted by the Melbourne Institute, Tony Abbott said the following when speaking about his climate change policy:
Speaking at the The Australian-Melbourne Institute Growth Challenge conference in Melbourne, Mr Abbott said economists should not be taken in by Labor’s use of the term “market-based mechanisms’’.
“It may well be, as you say, that most Australian economists think that the carbon tax or emissions trading scheme is the way to go,’’ he said.
“Maybe that’s a comment on the quality of our economists.’’
Actually, the Australian did not complete the sentence which ended “rather than on the merits of the argument.”
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I should just let this go. You are thinking that it was actually Australian economists who educated Labor on the value of “market-based mechanisms” to control climate change. That when we did so, we had the overwhelming support of the Liberal party. And so it is hardly the case that Labor is duping economists.
And I know you are thinking that I had it right a year or so ago when I cast the Opposition leader as a market-hater. Why would I need to say such things again?
And surely it goes without saying that in the choice of a carbon price rather than direct action there is not one single economist in Australia who has advocated direct action. I mean we know Tony Abbott knows that and what conclusion he draws from it.
And I know what you are thinking, if you read Abbott’s full speech it really is a broadside against government creation of a market and the notion that it just can’t be done because ‘you can’t sell air.’ And I know that you are thinking that he doesn’t understand that a carbon permit is just a financial instrument or that measuring emissions for the purpose of taxation is just as hard an accounting exercise as measuring firm profit for company tax. And that we would draw the conclusion that he wants to give up entirely on these government facilitated markets too.
Yes, you are thinking all of those things as you read this post and that I, for one, should just let it go.
But I just can’t so I’m going to say it. Wait for it. OK, here it is.
It may well be that the Opposition leader truly thinks that direct action is the way to go.
So maybe that’s a comment on the quality of our Opposition leaders.