Friday, February 5, 2010

Penny Wong's excruciating interview on Lateline

Here are just some of the questions Climate Change Minister Penny Wong refused to answer last night in her excruciating interview on Lateline

TONY JONES: The Prime Minister has spelled out that in the first two years of your emissions trading scheme, electricity prices would rise by 7 and then by 12 per cent in the second year; a total of 19 per cent by 2013. What happens after 2013?

TONY JONES: I’ll just interrupt there because you put out some of the modelling. There’s no modelling, is there, that we’ve seen or that I’ve seen beyond 2013?

TONY JONES: Yes, understood. That’s the difference as you paint it. But let me ask you this: you say that the big question is about the two schemes, but actually one of the big questions is about the costs. So what happens after 2013? What does Treasury model tell you? For example, if your targets go from 5 to 10 per cent, does that mean automatically and exponentially you get a doubling in the cost of electricity from 20 per cent increases to 40 per cent increases?

TONY JONES: Yes, but the open question is: how much will you have to increase? You must have Treasury modelling which tells you what a 10 per cent reduction would be, a 15 per cent reduction, a 20 per cent, or even a 25 per cent reduction in emissions would cost in terms of cost-of-living increases. Do you have that modelling?

TONY JONES: That’s not the only policy question. The policy question that is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment is what this is going to cost. And so I’m asking you: do you have Treasury modelling that tells you what the additional costs will be to electricity and cost of living if your targets increase from 5 to 10 per cent, from 10 to 15, or even to 25 per cent, as you’ve canvassed, if the rest of the world moves?

TONY JONES: Alright, but before the voters go to an election with an emissions trading scheme, potentially, as a virtual referendum on how to deal with climate change - before the voters go to election, are they entitled to know what your modelling is telling you about what different targets would do to the cost of electricity and the cost of living?

TONY JONES: OK, but what happens? Is there an exponential change to the cost of electricity? Does it double from a 20 per cent increase with a 5 per cent reduction in emissions trading to a 40 per cent increase in electricity costs with a 10 per cent and so on, up to 80 per cent with 20 per cent reductions? Does it work like that, or is it somehow different? What does the modelling tell you?

TONY JONES: OK. But before people vote for this in an election, as they are likely to do this year, do you commit to giving the complete Treasury modelling to the public so they can see what happens at the different targets that you’ve proposed?

TONY JONES: Will you release the full Treasury modelling about the potential cost to electricity and cost of living with the different targets?

TONY JONES: But they won’t know prior to the election, based on what you’ve just said, what the potential economic impact is of higher targets.

TONY JONES: Yes, but you’ve already told the rest of the world that you’re prepared to go to 25 per cent if the rest of the world moves. You’ve also set a target for 2050 of 60 per cent, so there has to be large reductions over time, and don’t the public have the right to know what the cost of those increases will be?

TONY JONES: Well, no, we don’t have to, I was just trying to get to the bottom of whether you’re prepared to release that modelling. I think the answer is no.

TONY JONES: If that is the issue, let me ask you this: is it now standard practice to pass confidential departmental briefing documents to the press, or to sections of the press, I should say, as part of a media strategy to undermine the Opposition’s position?

TONY JONES: No, no, I’m not talking about honesty. I’m talking about the way in which this information was released. And isn’t it precisely the sort of thing that infuriated you about the previous government: the use of confidential departmental material to undermine the Opposition’s case?
It’s hard to recall a worse performance by a federal Minister.

When I say Wong didn’t answer Jones’ questions, I don’t mean that she simply failed to give an answer that was full or frank. I mean exactly what I say: that she did not supply any kind of answer to these specific questions, leaving every viewer with the clear impression that she had something very ugly to hide.

Fact is, of course, that she does. The clear message last night was that Rudd’s warming plans will cost you more than you’ve been told - or will be told, either.

(Thanks to reader uncle John.)

Much more entertaining media performances by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in the first of their weekly debates on Channel 9’s Today. I also detected a greater willingness by Abbott to suggest the science around global warming has some questions to answer.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous


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