Michael Pascoe: Robodebt tradition lives on underneath Labor

Confession – I’m responsible of the journalistic crime of burying the lede final week. As a substitute of the RBA flogging a useless horse, I ought to have led with:

A 1°C rise in temperature throughout El Nino lifts international meals costs by greater than 6 per cent after one 12 months, based on European Central Financial institution (ECB) analysis. We’re getting into an El Nino occasion and local weather change is making our El Ninos hotter.

What’s extra, different ECB evaluation finds simply your standard-or-disastrous degree of anticipated local weather change will trigger meals inflation of about 1-3 per cent yearly out to 2035.

That’s with out the dreaded “tipping factors” that will set off an entire different degree of disaster. It doesn’t cease after 2035 – that’s simply so far as they went with the forecasts.

Local weather denialists/sceptics/chain draggers like to headline the prices of chopping carbon emissions. They don’t give the prices of not chopping carbon emissions practically as a lot consideration.

However I’ve buried the lede once more. I ought to have began this with:

The Robodebt tradition continues to thrive underneath the Albanese authorities – our legislators mendacity for the sake of politics and finances numbers, public servants and consultants enjoying together with the lie as a result of that’s what they receives a commission for, doing what the politicians need.

An ongoing lie

In contrast to Robodebt, the actual lie I’m focussing on right here isn’t leading to tons of of 1000’s of people being tortured by debt collectors for money owed they don’t owe, however it would trigger loads of particular person struggling down the observe.

The continuing lie with all of the hallmarks of Robodebt-style denial and obfuscation is that the Australian Carbon Credit score Items (ACCU) scheme run by the Clear Vitality Regulator is doing a great job, just isn’t losing many tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} on dud “carbon farming” tasks, just isn’t easy greenwashing.

Why would the federal government lie about such issues? As a result of the ACCU scheme is on the core of its “safeguard mechanism”, the unhappy shadow of a carbon value began by the earlier authorities and now the core of the Albanese authorities’s pledge to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Admit the scheme is nonsense and Labor is uncovered as not being critical about local weather change – one of many issues that the Greens are utilizing to nibble away on the Labor base.

In case you are a politician incapable of really pricing carbon, you possibly can’t admit that. It’s embarrassing.

And if you’re a public servant delivering the coverage the politicians need delivered, you possibly can’t admit that both – if you wish to maintain your job.

Does that behaviour sound acquainted? It was what occurred with Robodebt – politicians deceptive the general public and overlaying up unhealthy coverage as a result of they’d publicly dedicated to a plan of action; public servants facilitating the ministers’ wishes and going together with the lie.

The principle distinction is that Robodebt was unlawful.

Losing huge quantities of taxpayers’ cash on a greenwashing just isn’t.

For my part, it’s unethical and immoral behaviour – however not unlawful.

In his Monday column, colleague Kohler ran by means of the nonsense that the ACCU carbon farming principally is – farmers (after numerous brokers and advisers take their clip) paid fortunes to extend tree cowl however not doing it and infrequently reducing tree cowl.

This isn’t really information. Alan wrote concerning the dodgy schemes final 12 months when the scandal belonged to Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor as a substitute of Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen.

The Australia Institute and Australian Conservation Basis blew the factor aside two years in the past.

A memorable ABC Background Briefing report by Geoff Thompson in 2021 included the Monty Pythonesque story of a farmer who was being paid $1 million a 12 months to not clear scrub he didn’t intend to clear. He used the cash to purchase the property subsequent door and clear it.


In March final 12 months, Professor Andrew Macintosh, the previous head of the federal government’s Emissions Discount Assurance Committee, actually blew the whistle, saying the carbon market overseen by the federal government and the Clear Vitality Regulator was “largely a sham”.

That was a dagger to the center of the Coalition’s always-dubious $4.5 billion “direct motion” different to local weather change coverage, however Labor’s “safeguard mechanism” principally incorporates it.

Unsurprisingly, the federal government, key farm teams and the consultants and brokers making a fortune from greenwashing didn’t like Professor Macintosh’s whistleblowing. What authorities ever likes whistleblowers?

Now that the ACCU greenwashing was Labor’s embarrassment as a substitute of the Coalition’s, the federal government did what governments do – arrange an inquiry, the outcomes of which have been spun as discovering the carbon offset scheme was “basically well-designed” when launched and was not damaged.

It’s past me how something might be thought of “basically well-designed” when it paid folks cash for not doing one thing they weren’t going to do, however the inquiry did suggest scrapping that specific side of the racket.

The inquiry additionally needed adjustments to “maximise transparency, information entry and information sharing”. I’d wager if that was achieved, it might reinforce Professor Macintosh’s findings.

Unsurprisingly, the professor and his workforce at Australian Nationwide College stay unconvinced by the inquiry. Alan used their Carbon Integrity Explorer software to display on Monday how dodgy the ACCU scheme stays.

Sticking with a failed coverage

There are different criticisms of the scheme and the federal government’s inquiry, however you get the drift.

The purpose is that frequent sense and apparent proof say the scheme is a failure but the federal government is sticking with it as a result of, nicely, that’s its coverage – in any other case it might be embarrassed.

The larger level is the place this column began.

Local weather change inflicting food-price inflation is a euphemism. What it actually means is that much less meals is produced, making it more durable for poor folks to afford to eat and tipping extra folks into poverty once they must spend extra of their meagre funds on meals.

Meals additionally has the second-biggest weighting within the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Shopper Value Index. Central banks are bashing folks over the top with larger rates of interest to scale back inflation regardless of larger rates of interest not producing extra meals, not decreasing meals value inflation.

However in contrast with what much less meals means in creating nations, our rate of interest ache is a really first-world downside.