Monday 20 September 2010

BHP's taxing time: bouquets and brickbat for the "big Aussie"

The Australian gets a pretty bad wrap from the left – “tool of the arch-conservative Murdoch” and the like.  But it does offier differing views on its opinion pages, from left and right,  and here’s an example from The Weekend Australian 18-19 September.  On one side Matthew Stevens reports in generally favourable terms, on the proposals of Marius Kloppers’s, CEO of Australian’s BHP – the worlds’ largest mining company –for an Australia-wide carbon tax.  On the same pages, Terry McCarnn tears Kloppers apart and calls him “silly”.   Some clips below.
[photo above of Kloppers in BHP HQ, Melbourne Australia.  I’ve sat in this office with a previous CEO, talking about BHP and China business – back in the eighties, when it was all new].

As whether the carbon tax is a sensible proposal, I don’t know, as I’ve not read Kloppers’ proposal in detail.  It may be, as he claims, that it will give Australia a competitive advantage when other countries impose the same.  But that may be a long wait, which is McCrann’s point.  So there we are, sitting firmly and uncomfortable on the fence again.  Read and make your own judgements…..
Matthew Stevens
Kloppers' public assertion of BHP's preferred political response to climate change caught Australia by surprise. His plain English acknowledgement of BHP's long-standing position on the reality of the impact of carbon emissions on climate and his equally blunt assertion of the policy settings required to deal with the issue have attracted slightly stunned endorsement or blunt scorn….
The BHP proposal “….is built on the idea that through a direct, simply constructed carbon tax, the federal government can become a clearing house to reprice carbon and then recycle the funds generated back to the energy users.”  [PDF]

Terry McCrann
What Kloppers is proposing -- I suggest, for Australia but not BHP -- is akin to insisting our sports men and women handicap themselves with weights on the assumption that at some point the global sports federations will make them compulsory for all competitors in all sports….
For that is what a carbon tax is: a dead weight that serves no other purpose than to make us pay more for electricity so other forms of otherwise inefficient and useless forms of generation like wind and solar become price "competitive".
Just as if we'd strapped weights to Cathy Freeman's calves, suddenly other runners would have become "competitive" with her.   [PDF]