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OPINION: How to Cook a Goose



In *Aesop’s* fable of the Golden Goose, the owners of the goose deduce that there must be a large chunk of gold inside from which the goose’s eggs come. They decide to kill the goose to find this source of gold, but discover that the goose is no different from other geese on the inside. They lose their source of golden eggs through greed.

There is no doubt that the Australian coal industry is a golden goose right now. Over the past 12 months, exports of Australian coal have earned our nation $130 billion, more than any other export. The price of coal has remained at stratospheric levels for more than a year, and it does not look like falling anytime soon.

But instead of feeding this productive golden goose, Australian State and Federal Governments do not seem to have understood the moral from a children’s story. They seem intent on killing the goose to extract the gold (or the coal) in this case today.

In the case of the State Governments, they are doing this literally by forcing coal companies to sell them coal at below market prices. Some of these governments have until recently been saying they do not need coal anymore because they are going to rely on wind and solar energy. Now they want to force people to sell them the very thing they claimed they did not need.

And in the case of the Queensland State Government they have hiked royalties to a level that makes investing in Queensland coal uncompetitive.

The Federal Government is not far behind, however. They have announced a new carbon tax that will hit the coal industry indiscriminately. The Labor party does not call it a tax, instead preferring the Orwellian moniker of a “safeguard mechanism”. The safeguard mechanism would make 215 Australian businesses reduce their carbon emissions by 5 per cent a year. They will have to pay a capped price of $75 per tonne to do this.

How much will this cost the coal industry? There are 63 coal mines that will have to pay Labor’s new carbon tax, just under a third of the businesses targeted are from the coal sector. At $75 per tonne the tax will cost $15 billion over the next 7 years until 2030. At a third of this, the Australian coal sector’s bill comes in at $5 billion.

Labor’s new carbon tax is a tax on those that wear hi-vis to work.

Other than coal mines, the tax will hit 35 gas production facilities, 22 iron ore mines and what is left of our manufacturing of steel, aluminium and fertilisers. It is not a good idea to tax the industries that make our nation prosperous.

Meanwhile, Labor’s policy lets the banks off scot-free. Banks are large emitters themselves due to the energy use of their data centres.

However, under Labor’s policy, emissions from the use of electricity is inexplicably ignored. If Labor had included emissions from electricity use, three of the four big banks would have carbon emissions over the 100,000-tonne threshold and have to pay the tax.

So Labor’s climate policy taxes the jobs in the hi-vis industries of mining and manufacturing, while turning a blind eye to the emissions created by jobs in suits.

Our only hope is that golden geese get added to the endangered species list, and then the greenies in the Labor party might start protecting us again.

Hon Matt Canavan

Senator for QLD

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