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Australia Commits Trillions to Carbon Pollution & War

australian-special-forcesThe neoliberal, pro-war, pro-Zionist, anti-science, pro-fossil fuels, US lackey Coalition that rules Australia is happy to commit hundreds of billions of dollars in total annually to war, state terrorism, genocide, human rights abuse, fossil fuel burning subsidies, greenhouse gas pollution, ecocide and terracide – indeed trillions of dollars committed thus over the 3 year term of government - but has refused to give a $25 million subsidy to keep Australia’s last remaining fruit cannery, SPC-Ardmona, open in Shepparton, the main town in Victoria’s rich Goulburn Valley that is described as the “fruit bowl of Australia”.

This extraordinary, anti-Humanity, anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-science, pro-fossil fuels and anti-Australian Coalition decision is also anti-health – fruit is good for you (“an apple a day keeps the doctor away’) but fossil fuel burning each year already kills about 10,000 Australians [1] and 4.5 million people world-wide [2, 3]. .

This decision of the neoliberal Coalition Government comes on the heels of the Coalition’s recent refusal to keep car manufacturer General Motors Holden alive in Australia – with Ford and General Motors now closing down in Australia in the next few years it seems likely that Australia’s last ongoing car manufacturer, Toyota, will follow suit, this being a body blow to Australian manufacturing and putting at high risk about 250,000 car-related Australian jobs.

The Coalition Government justified its decision to can the huge SPC-Ardmona fruit canning plant on the basis that the foreign-owned parent company Coca Cola-Amatil had made a circa $250 million profit in the previous financial year and, while prepared to invest a further $90 million to make the plant profitable, was demanding $50 million in subsidies from the State and Federal Governments. However the counter-argument has been that if SPC-Ardmona closes then 700 jobs will go at the plant, with thousands more jobs to go in the city of Shepparton and in the Goulburn Valley, the “fruit bowl of Australia”. The Australia taxpayer-funded broadcaster the ABC estimates the following consequences for the Goulburn Valley “About 700 factory positions face being slashed outright, while thousands of jobs could be affected in flow-on industries” [4].

The Federal Coalition MP for the affected region, economist Dr. Sharman Stone, has trenchantly criticized the Coalition Government’s action and its “lying” over workers’ conditions at the plant. The State Coalition MP for the region has indicated that she will not contest the next election. The public debate has centered on failure of the Coalition Government to give a mere $25 million in support of the Goulburn Valley (which has a high unemployment rate similar to that of Tasmania), while giving $16 million to subsidize the Hobart, Tasmania Cadbury chocolate factory, the product of which rots teeth and contributes to the huge Australian obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics.

However Alex White writing in the Guardian poses the question “Why does Tony Abbott support $10 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies but oppose an aid package [of $25 million] for food manufacturer SPC-Ardmona?” and states that “The prime minister seems very happy to continue to give taxpayer's money to fossil fuel companies to the tune of $10 billion per year in subsidies. The fossil fuel subsidy decision is particularly inconsistent with his stance on industry support for SPC-Ardmona and the car industry [5].

“Help end polluter handouts” details how the Federal Government spends $10 billion annually on subsidies for fossil fuel burning, stating “Right now, the federal government spends more than $10 billion a year as handouts – in the form of subsidies, cash, tax breaks and infrastructure - to big polluters. These handouts make fossil fuels (like coal, gas and petroleum) artificially cheap. So companies use more fossil fuels than they would with a level playing field – creating more pollution, blocking clean energy projects and fuelling the threat of climate change to all Australians. We can cut pollution, unlock clean energy and protect our environment for all Australians – if we end polluter handouts. The next 18 months present a number of clear opportunities to help end polluter handouts – the 2013 federal election, the 2014-15 federal budget, and the G20 meeting to be hosted in Brisbane in Nov 2014” [6].

However rather than backing the Goulburn Valley “food bowl of Australia” with a mere $25 million, the Coalition Government permits anti-social subsidies not just in the tens of millions of dollars (as in the case of the Cadbury chocolate factory) but in the tens of billions and hundreds of billions of dollars to deadly fossil fuel burning, war, genocide and other human rights abuse, as summarized below.

1. $500 billion per annum (pa) subsidy re human cost of War on Terror fiscal perversion ($125 billion long-term accrual cost of the War on Terror and linked 0.8 million Australian preventable deaths since 2001 at a VOSL-based valuation of $6 trillion).

The long-term committed cost of the US War on Terror to Australia has been $125 billion although only 4 Australians have been killed by terrorists in half a century (3 in the 1978 Sydney Hilton Bombing that some intimates ascribe to Australian Intelligence itself and 1 killed by a Right to Life fanatic). Nearly 800,000 preventable Australian deaths since 2001 can be causally linked to this huge fiscal perversion which, after applying a Value of a Statistical Life (VOSL) of $7.6 million per person, amounts to a an estimated cost of $7.6 million per person x 800,000 persons = $6 trillion or about 4 times the annual GDP of about $1.5 trillion ]7].

2. $255 billion pa subsidy for Domestic plus Exported Greenhouse Gas pollution at a Carbon Price of $0 per ton CO2-e.

The Coalition insists on a Carbon Price of $0 (zero dollars) per ton CO2-e i.e. it allows climate criminal polluters to dangerously pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all countries on earth for free. In contrast, leading climate change economist Dr. Chris Hope from 89-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University estimates that a Carbon Price of $150 per ton CO2-e for effective climate change action [8]. Australia’s current annual Domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is about 600 Mt CO2-e and hence the climate criminal Australian Coalition Government is subsidizing this deadly, terracide activity to the tune of $150 per ton CO2-e x 600 million tonnes CO2-e per year = $90,000 million pa = $90 billion per year. However Australia’s current (2010) annual Domestic plus Exported greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is about 1,700 Mt CO2-e [9]. and hence the Coalition is effectively subsidizing Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution by $150 per ton CO2-e x1700 million tonnes CO2-e pa = $255 billion each year.

3. $83-$126 billion pa for future generations converting Australia’s annual GHG pollution to biochar (carbon, charcoal).

The atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) is now 400 ppm (parts per million) and top climate scientists and biologist say that it must be reduced to about 300 ppm ASAP for a safe planet for all peoples and all species [10]. A major way this can be done is by converting excess atmospheric CO2 to cellulose biomass (wood and straw) via photosynthesis and thence via anaerobic pyrolysis at 500-700C to biochar (charcoal, carbon). The cheapest way of doing this is using US mid-West corn stalks at a cost of about $49-$74 per ton CO2-e [11]. Ergo, for every $1 received for coal by the coal industry our children, grandchildren and further generations will have to spend $2 to $3 at present prices converting the consequent CO2 back to biochar to save the Planet. Australia will earn about $150 billion from coal exports under the Abbott Coalition Government at a long term cost in today’s dollars for future generations of $300-$450 billion. Australia’s current (2010) annual Domestic plus Exported greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is about 1,700 Mt CO2-e [9] and hence the cost today’s dollars for future generations converting this annual CO2-e pollution to biochar would be about $49-$74 per ton CO2-e x 1,700 million tonnes CO2-e pa = $83-$126 billion pa.

4. $73 billion pa subsidy via 9,600 Australian deaths pa from carbon burning.

About 9,600 Australians die each year from the effects of pollutants from vehicles, coal burning for electricity and other carbon burning, the breakdown being about 2,200 (vehicle pollutants), , 4,600 (coal burning pollutants) and 2,800 (other carbon burning), respectively. Given a "value of a statistical life" (VOSL) of $7.6 million per person this carnage corresponds to a Government subsidy of deadly carbon burning pollution of $7.6 million per person x 9,600 persons = $73 billion per year [1].

5. $32 billion pa in subsidies for superannuation and the rich getting richer.

While the poor and those sensible enough to consolidate their wealth into their personal home retirement receive very modest taxpayer-funded pensions. However other Australians secure their retirement through various kinds of superannuation schemes that are encouraged by all kinds of tax breaks. Tax concessions on superannuation cost the taxpayer $32 billion annually [12].

6. $31 billion pa subsidies for religion, maleducation, Educational Apartheid and intellectual child abuse.

The Australian Government subsidizes religion (surely a private affair) through tax exempt status for churches and state aid for religious schools. According to the Secular Party of Australia, “Funding for religion in Australia is costing taxpayers over 2000 dollars each per year … total funding for religious institutions including tax exemptions and grants for religious schools is currently worth 31 billion dollars… According to the 2011 census, 41% of Melbournians identify as non-believers” [13]. However the cost is measured not just in terms of direct subsidy – there is also the unquantifiable cost of the intellectual child abuse inflicted on the 1/3 Australian children attending state-subsidized religious schools that are variously foisting egregious falsehood on children e.g. gender discrimination, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, sexual guilt, racism, jingoism, creationism, intelligent design, anti-science attitudes, jingoism, other religious clap-trap (walking on water, raising the dead, water into wine, virgin birth etc.) and egregious racism, including the right to invade, devastate and ethnically cleanse other countries [14, 15].

7. $10 billion pa in subsidies for fossil fuel burning.

The Australian Federal Government spends about $10 billion annually on direct subsidies by tax breaks and other mechanisms for fossil fuel burning [5, 6].

8. $3-7 billion pa in Federal Government-permitted Carbon Tax avoidance re fugitive emissions of methane.

The Federal Government understates the Carbon Tax obligations of the corporate gas producers by a factor of 137-329, collecting a mere $21 million annually rather than the science-indicated Carbon Tax obligation of about $3-7 billion each year from leakage of natural gas (fugitive emissions). This Federal Government-sanctioned Carbon Tax avoidance arises because the Government assumes a leakage of 0.1% (whereas the actual leakage may be 3-8% as in the US) and assumes a Global Warming Potential for methane 21 times greater than that of CO2 (in actuality it is 105 times greater on a 20 year frame and taking aerosol impacts into account) [16].

9. $5 billion pa subsidies for negative gearing and the rich getting richer.

A major means of making money for rich people in Australia is for negative gearing of rental property. The costs entailed in borrowing money to buy, maintain and rent a residential property can be used to minimize taxable income. It’s estimated that negative gearing costs Australia $5 billion annually. The top 20% of households own 47 per cent of all non-owner-occupied housing and 36 per cent of all property. While expert economists rail against this system there is simply no political will to abolish it because so many people (including many MPs no doubt) take advantage of this means for rich people to make huge amounts of money with negligible effort [17].

10. $5.5 billion pa in subsidies disproportionately supporting rich women having babies in overpopulated Australia.

The Coalition was elected to government in 2013 in part on a promise for a $5.5 billion pa paid parental leave scheme that, for example, gives $75,000 pre-tax to rich Australian women having babies [18] in a profligate Australia that is seriously overpopulated in terms of climate change and loss of prime agricultural land, ecosystem loss and biodiversity loss [19, 20, 21].

11. $5.4 billion annual tourism benefit from the Great Barrier Reef threatened by Government-permitted dredging, run-off, coal shipping and GHG pollution

According to the World Wildlife Fund Australia: “The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) stretches 2,300 kilometers along the Queensland coast and includes over 2,900 reefs, and around 940 islands and cays. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is 345,000 square kilometers in size, five times the size of Tasmania or larger that the United Kingdom and Ireland combined! The reef is immensely diverse. It is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 types of hard coral, one-third of the world’s soft corals, 134 species of sharks and rays, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles, and more than 30 species of marine mammals, including the vulnerable dugong. Add to that stunning marine suite as many as 3,000 molluscs and thousands of different sponges, worms and crustaceans, 630 species of echinoderms (starfish and sea urchins) and 215 bird species, of which 22 are seabirds. The GBR is listed under all four natural World Heritage criteria for its outstanding universal value… Protecting the reef has benefits beyond conservation - it is also an investment in the continued security of coastal communities and provides significant benefits to the Australian economy. Reef industries, such as tourism and fishing, which contribute approximately $5.4 billion annually to the Australian economy and employ about 63,000 people, are reliant on a healthy environment.” [22]. The $5.4 billion annual tourism benefit from the Great Barrier Reef is threatened by Government-permitted dredging, run-off, coal shipping and GHG pollution [22, 23].

12. $2 billion pa on the post-1990 US War on Muslims.

Australia has participated in all post-1950 US Asian wars, atrocities that have been associated with about 40 million Asian deaths from violence or war-imposed deprivation with about half the victims being children. The post-1990 US War on Muslims has been associated with about 12 million such deaths and about 6 million under-5 infant deaths, 90% avoidable and due to gross violation of the Geneva Convention by the US Alliance. Australia has participated in the post-1990 Iraqi Genocide and the post-2001Afghan Holocaust that have been associated with violent deaths totaling 1.7 million and 1.3 million, respectively, avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation totally 2.9 million and4.2 million, respectively, and under-5 infant deaths totally 2.0 million and 3.0 million, respectively [24, 25, 26].

13. $1.5 billion pa in subsidies for fringe benefits tax concessions on salary-packaged motor vehicles.

The fringe benefits tax on salary-packaged motor vehicles costs the Australian taxpayers around $1.5 billion a year [27].

14. $1 billion pa for the highly abusively confining of refugee men, women and children in off-shore concentration camps.

The Australian newspaper reported (2013): “The cost of managing offshore asylum-seekers is expected to pass $1 billion in 2012-13”.

15. Other subsidies and destructive consequences that is difficult to quantitate precisely in dollar terms.

Many other areas of anti-social government expenditure can be listed but it is difficult to precisely estimate the cost to revenue. Thus, for example, in Australia donations toward the Palestinian Genocide [28, 29] via the Jewish National Fund are tax deductible but the magnitude of this subsidy for genocide is not readily publicly available. At the high end of the scale of subsidies, Australia is extraordinarily over-governed for a country of 23 million, having 8 state and territory parliaments as well as the Federal Parliament. One can crudely estimate that the immediate cost of salaries alone would be about 1,000 MPs x 0.2 million per MP = $0.2 billion. However if the World Government scheme advocated by Pramod David Khisty in his book “Imagine” [30] were adopted, we would be governed by local councils and a solitary World Government, with nations, flags, armies, navies, air forces, and government bureaucracies abolished - as well as wars. This would save Australia hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

In relation to the biggest picture of all, Biophere sustainability, the climate criminal Coalition’s climate change inaction and unlimited greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution policies mean that Australia (57th worst in this respect out of 61 nations) [31] disproportionately threatens the world’s biosphere that is worth about $33 trillion pa.

Thus Professor Robert Costanza and colleagues have estimated that “For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16-54 trillion (1012) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year [32]. Professor Andrew Balmford (89-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University) and numerous colleagues have stated that “Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit: cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1” [33].

The Abbott Coalition Government’s climate change inaction, environmental vandalism and pro-greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution policies result in an Australia that disproportionately threatens the world’s biosphere that is worth about $33 trillion pa. Australia’s annual Domestic plus Export GHG pollution is 74 million tonnes CO2-e per year as compared to the annual per capita GHG pollution of Bangladesh of 0.9 million tonnes CO2-e per year. It is estimate that unaddressed climate change will kill 10 billon people this century [34]. “Climate Change Performance Index reports (2014): “After a change in government, Australia’s policy evaluation was much worse than previous years; consequently it has fallen to a rank of 57th (previously ranked 51st). One of main reasons for this decline was a turnaround on previous commitments to install a carbon levy and trade system that would have helped to reduce emissions. Canada still shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains at 58th position for another year. Only Iran (59th), Kazakhstan (60th) and Saudi Arabia (61st) have worse ratings” [31]. Given Australia’s huge fossil fuel and mineral resources, bipartisan Coalition Government and Labor Party Opposition (Lib-Lab,: Liberal-Laboral) climate change inaction policies of unlimited coal, gas and iron ores exports will see Australia exceed by a factor of three (3) the whole world’s terminal Carbon Budget that must not be exceeded if we are to avoid a catastrophic 2C temperature rise [35].

Conclusions

The pro-war, anti-science, pro-fossil fuels, climate criminal Australian Coalition Government adamantly refuses to give a $25 million subsidy to keep Australia’s last remaining fruit cannery alive in Shepparton, the main town in Victoria’s rich Goulburn Valley that is described as the “fruit bowl of Australia”. However this same neoliberal Coalition Federal Government happily commits hundreds of billions of dollars in total in annual subsidies and annual increased Australian indebtedness to war, state terrorism, genocide, human rights abuse, fossil fuel burning subsidies, carbon price avoidance, greenhouse gas pollution, ecocide and terracide.

In the face of utterly stupid, ignorant, anti-science, climate criminality by the Australian Coalition Government, decent, sensible and humane Australians who care for fellow Australians, children, grandchildren, Humanity and the Biosphere will vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last. However the climate criminal and war criminal actions of the neoliberal Coalition Government of Australia simply mirror those of the governments running the US, UK and Canada. All decent people can do in the face of worsening climate emergency is to apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all the climate criminals destroying the Planet for short-term profit [36].

References

  1.  “Australian carbon burning-related deaths and carbon burning subsidies => minimum Carbon Price of A$555 per ton carbon (C) or A$150 per ton CO2-e”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: .
  2. DARA, “Climate Vulnerability Monitor. A guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet”, 2012, Executive Summary pp2-3.
  3. DARA report quoted by Reuters,”100 mln to die by 2030 if world fails to act on climate”, 28 September 2012.
  4. Simon Cullen, “SPC-Ardmona jobs in doubt after Federal Government denies $25 million assistance request”, ABC News, 31 January 2014. 
  5. Alexander White, “Why does Australian PM Tony Abbott support fossil fuel subsides?” Guardian, 3 February 2014 .
  6. “Help end polluter handouts”.
  7. Gideon Polya, “Endless War on Terror. Huge cost for Australia & America”, MWC News, 14 October 2012.
  8.  Dr. Chris Hope, “How high should climate change taxes be?”, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011 .
  9.  “2011 Climate Change Course”, section G.
  10. 300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm CO2”.
  11. Gideon Polya, Expert Witness Testimony To Stop Gas-Fired Power Plant Installation”, Countercurrents, 14 June, 2013.
  12. Mike Steketee, “Tax concessions make for super hypocrisy”, ABC, The Drum, 22 Febraury 2013.
  13. see Secular Party of Australia, “Funding for religion costing taxpayers”, Media release, 26 August 2013.
  14. Gideon Polya, “37 Ways Of Tackling Australian Educational Apartheid And Social Inequity’, Countercurrents, 22 May, 2013.
  15. “Educational Apartheid”. 
  16. Gideon Polya, “Pro-Gas Australian Labor Government's Carbon Tax Scandal: $3-7 Billion Gas Under-Payment Annually”, Countercurrents, 23 November, 2012.
  17. John Durie, “Negative gearing, first-home buyer grant should go, says economist”, The Australian, 21 January 2014.
  18.  Politfact, “Childcare versus paid parental leave – which would cost more?” 2013 .
  19. Tim Flannery, “The Future Eaters”.
  20. Jared Diamond, “Collapse”.
  21. Gideon Polya, Chapter 17, “Antipodean epilogue – the moral dimension of the Lucky Country and the world” in Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History”, now available for free perusal on the web.
  22. World Wildlife Fund, “The Great Barrier Reef”.
  23.  Greenpeace, “Boom goes the reef”.
  24.  “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”.
  25. “Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide”.
  26. “Afghan Holocaust Afghan Genocide”.
  27. Steve Lewis, “Rudd aims axe at public servants”, The Advertiser, 22 December 2008.
  28. “Palestinian Genocide”.
  29. Gideon Polya, “Review: The Plight of the Palestinians. A long history if destruction”, Countercurrents, 17 June 2012.
  30. Pramod David Khisty, “Imagine, A book on race, religion and patriotism”.
  31. Climate Change Performance Index, “Climate Change Performance Index – emissions are rising but there is a glimmer of hope”, German Watch, 2014.
  32. Robert Costanza et al, “The Value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital”, Nature, 1997.
  33. Andrew Balmford et al, “Economic reasons for preserving wild nature”, Science, 9 August 2002: Vol. 297 no. 5583 pp. 950-953.
  34.  “Climate Genocide”.
  35. Gideon Polya, “Australia’s Huge Coal, Gas & Iron Ore Exports Threaten Planet”, Countercurrents, 15 May 2012.
  36. “Divest from fossil fuels”.

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