Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dodgy 'carbon tax' claims using the Coalition's favourite North Coast butcher as an example

The one thing about public life that remains constant is that eventually all politicians who purvey dodgy claims get found out – unfortunately it’s not always in their own lifetimes.

However, in this case two Australian politicians – Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker – have been discovered trying to slap suspect meat on the bones of their argument against putting a price on carbon pollution.

In February 2010 Hartsuyker rose to his feet in Parliament to wail about the sad plight of a Coffs Harbour butcher who paid $7,400 per quarterly electricity bill, which would see his annual power cost coming in at $29,600.

While in April 2011 Abbott fronted the media with the claim that the very same butcher was now paying around $22,000 per year for electricity, which works out at $5,500 each quarter.

Now this would mean either the figures quoted in Parliament by Hartsuyker were blatantly false or that (despite rising electricity costs) the butcher will probably now pay considerably less for electricity this year than he did in the previous year.

If it is the latter, then based on current carbon price rise projections for 2012-14 this butcher would see next year’s electricity bill come in at about $3,600 less than his stated total 2010 power costs for the business.

Couple that with Lenore Taylor’s observation that (using the butcher’s admissions concerning annual turnover) any post-carbon price electricity costs passed on by the butcher in 2012-13 would mean T-bone steak at $22 a kilo would now cost … wait for it … . $22.04. Minced meat at $11 a kilo would now cost $11.02 and the Abbott-Hartsuyker argument about future prices spiraling because of a ‘carbon tax’ falls apart.

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