Ian Macfarlane, governor of the Reserve Bank for most of the Howard years, has pointed out in his book, The Search for Stability, that short-term interest rates in the 1970s and early 1980s were ‘higher in December 1985 (Hawke-Keating government), even higher in April 1982 (Fraser-Howard) and briefly so in May 1974 (Whitlam)’. The reforms, mostly when Keating was treasurer, started the long period of stability that we have now. So Australia’s economy, with some fluctuations owing to the global situation, is now largely independent of government and should not be the major focus of the current election. Of much more significance within a few decades will be global warming and the related problem of world over-population. Australia, the world’s highest per-capita greenhouse-gas emitter, has a huge responsibility owing to its wealth and stability to not only contribute but to lead. As with all waste products, there has to be a cost associated with their clean-up and we cannot pretend otherwise.
Of the three proposed schemes, an ETS is clearly the cheapest and most effective while Direct Action is by far the most convoluted and expensive. The latter may not be a big new tax but it will require an even bigger impost on normal taxation revenues with either large increases within the current tax system or a huge and unacceptable reduction in essential services.
Brian Milton, Avalon