Respected economist John Quiggin, ARC Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science at the University of Queensland, had a column in the 5 August edition of The Australian Financial Review that explored Tony Abbott’s claim that a $40/tonne tax on carbon would double the price of electricity. In the process Quiggin had a swipe at a compliant media that permits politicians to get away with such claims. The column is reproduced on Quiggin’s blog. He begins:
It’s often said that a country gets the government, and the media, it deserves. Looking at the current election offerings of the major parties, and the coverage presented by the media, it’s hard to see what we could have done to deserve this. The parties have offered gimmicks like cash for clunkers and unverifiable immigration targets. The media have eagerly focused on leaks and manufactured scandals, with no attempt to inform us about the choices before us.
A striking example is the free pass that has been given to Tony Abbott on his repeated claim that a $40/tonne tax on carbon would ‘double the price of electricity, on top of recent 35 per cent increases’. Five minutes with a calculator and a recent electricity bill would have shown any reporter who bothered to check that this claim is nonsense.