Carbon Tax Positives

Karl FitzgeraldCommentaryLeave a Comment

The Gillard Government’s Clean Energy Future plan signifies that the game is up for the free rider’s polluting our planet.

The Carbon Tax of $23 per tonne of carbon for July 1 2012 – June 30 2013 sends a clear message that polluters must pay. In this age of compromise politics, the industry lobbyists who seem to have won are the steel manufacturers. The ALP’s union links have been rewarded. The coal and mining lobby have lost out. But have no fear, Gina Reinhart has no doubt flown Lord Monckton to Australia to represent their interests.

Land Locked
Of immediate interest will be to see how land prices in sun drenched locations near major power transmission lines behave. If it is anything like California’s Mojave desert land rush, land prices there will sky rocket. Land speculators will get in first, with solar operators forced to pay more for land to meet their ransom price.

Rainforest land values
How will land prices for carbon sinks in the Pacific Islands react to this announcement? One expects there to be a gold rush of land grabbing for rainforests. Reports of cashed up mining companies hedging their bets has been prevalent for a number of years.

We remind you that these precious carbon sink resources, the lungs of the world, will only get more valuable in the future. Selling carbon permits off per annum is a much more sustainable solution for tribal elders. Then when carbon prices increase to $100 – $200 per annum, they get a share of the rising prices too.

Selling rainforest lands outright should be avoided at all costs.

Pressures on Housing
The exemption of petrol form the carbon tax means that sprawling home owners won’t be penalised. Some in the housing industry are complaining:

“Competing against imports from non-CO2-e taxing countries, Australian building product manufacturers face a cost collage as the carbon tax is passed on down the line into the inputs for each production and fabrication phase,” HIA Chief Executive Graham Wolfe said.

Construction costs have largely flat-lined during this land and house price boom. However, there is next to no commentary from the HIA on the role of land speculation in holding prime locations bare and forcing the rest of us to travel further to our work, our home.

Land speculation is an issue that will increase in importance as the drive to a more sustainable future becomes intrinsic to humanity’s survival. Listen to this recent podcast where second only to energy production was the importance of living in central locations (as the surest way to reduce our carbon footprint by 70%).

Some are complaining that Negative Gearers would be hurt by the rising of the tax free threshold from $6000 – $18,200. This will deter property investment/ speculation as there will be less of a tax write off for those hard working property flippers. This is a good thing. First home owners and the market in general continue to prefer established housing in centralised communities, rather than McMansions in ‘Master Planned Communities’.

Some commentators are concerned at the $4 billion budget hole over the next four years from the Clean Energy Future package. Compare that to some $24 billion we will be giving to negative gearers to both bid up existing house prices and support the building of unwanted McMansions in unwanted areas.

The Big Sell

Now we are set for a campaign like fever of salesmanship from both PM Gillard and Opposition leader Abbot. When will anyone in politics use the golden words ‘tax switch’ as a means of describing this momentous shift?

To see Abbot in his fluro vest working amongst the people, one wonders when a government MP will hit him over the Mining Tax. Abbot wants small business in manufacturing and services to pay the same company tax rate whilst miners benefit from record price gains for their products. That does not sound like a strategy towards lowest operating costs. It sounds like the end of the eastern seaboard manufacturing industry. The Liberal Party have become little more than a protectorate for monopolists, rather than the shepherds of efficient pricing systems.

Land Value Capture

Our aim for a sustainable society will not be maximised until we adopt a Geonomics system, where the earth’s scarce values are recycled back to the community. Page 7 of today’s AFR reported the high cost structure of the proposed high speed railway as one of its biggest hurdles to competing with discount airfares. Melb – Sydney is the world’s fourth busiest air route. A high speed train emits 1/4 of the greenhouse gases per person than what air travel does.

Land values along this train route would sky-rocket, especially at linking train stations. The $32 – 59 billion infrastructure price tag could be met if landowners paid back just 6% of the windfall land price gain they receive from this new service (over 20 years). Then train ticket prices could reflect the Marginal Operating Costs, keeping their price structure low.

That would certainly continue the positives.

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