By Piers Akerman
June 12, 2008 06:00am
The Daily Telegraph
GIVING Japanese car manufacturers millions to build green cars in Australia is the 21st Century equivalent of paying people to paint rocks white.
It is yet another example of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's propensity to make up expensive, meaningless, policy on the run.
This stream-of-consciousness decision is the latest in an exponentially expanding list of Ruddelusions that would be marked as harmless except for the fact that they all come with a huge price tag for already suffering Australian consumers.
In this case, the ticket to dream costs $70 million in federal and Victorian government funds -- a huge bonus for carmaker Toyota which was planning to build hybrid cars here with or without such a generous subsidy.
One of the 20-somethings running Rudd's office should have asked the Japanese before flashing the chequebook but that is not the way of this shoot-from-the-lip adolescent team's approach to management.
Again, they have ignored the best advice from the Productivity Commission which has also warned against the idiotic FuelWatch program and ploughed ahead, tossing away taxpayers' hard-earned dollars as fast as the Mint can print the stuff.
There are other problems, too. Even though Rudd and Victorian Premier John Brumby have guaranteed Toyota sales into their car fleets (ignoring the usual tendering processes), current sales of such hybrids are extremely limited.
Even if the price of fuel continues to rocket despite the Rudd Government's pledge to keep downward pressure at the pump, as well as keeping a watch on groceries, housing affordability, whales, nuclear disarmament, OPEC, Asian region diplomacy, and the number of NATO troops in Afghanistan, the reality is motoring experts claim small diesel cars are more fuel efficient and emit less greenhouse gases than hybrids.
This is by no means the end of the anthropogenic global warming madness inspired by Rudd's friend Al Gore, who also makes it up as he goes along.
Rather than listen to the growing numbers of eminent scientists who challenge the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Rudd Government has bought its line in the face of numerous peer-reviewed scientific reports which find that none of the so-called evidence on which the IPCC's reports were based confirms a relationship between emissions of greenhouse gases and any harmful climate effect.
Let's face it, so-called consensus science can get it wrong. It was wrong in its prediction of global starvation in the '60s, it was wrong in its forecast of an AIDS pandemic in the '70s and it was wrong on the Y2K virus.
In a thoughtful speech delivered in Canberra last week, the Liberal MP for Tangney, Dr Dennis Jensen, looked at the damage and cost to consumers of the Rudd Government's short-sighted policies.
He listed the removal of the condensate exemption, which will result in a net gain of revenue of $2.43 billion but will significantly damage the international competitiveness of the resources industry, and the decision to reintroduce the CPI increase on the diesel excise levy, which will result in increased (and inflationary) costs to transport, increased costs to mining (and reduced productivity and hence the tax take) and increased (and inflationary) costs to agriculture, threatening farmers' livelihoods.
He saved his big attack for the Rudd Government's approach to energy and the environment, where he said the Government "is shown to be clueless hypocrites".
"Look at Labor rhetoric on carbon dioxide emissions and contrast that with their actions," he said.
"State Labor governments in NSW and Western Australia have decided to build new coal-fired power stations. What happened to gas, never mind renewables or -- God forbid, in the eyes of some Labor and particularly Greens members -- nuclear power?
"This seems to be a pattern: A lot of whingeing about problems when in opposition but nary a solution when in government. Labor's spin puts youths with hotted-up cars doing burnouts to shame."
Dr Jensen, originally from South Africa, didn't dwell on negatives, he leapfrogged Labor's nihilistic debate and asked why Australia is not investing in the Sasol oil-from-coal process which his native country was forced to rely on when South Africa was subjected to trade sanctions which cut its energy supplies.
According to Dr Jensen, the process, which uses the Fischer-Tropsch process, developed prior to World War II, was used by Germany to produce synthetic fuel during the war.
Largely ignored by the rest of the world during the era of cheap fuel, it produces an extremely clean fuel and in the current climate is extremely cheap -- producing oil for between $27 and $55 a barrel.
Australians are now beginning to realise to their cost how expensive their experiment with Rudd Labor is but it will really hit home when Ross Garnaut delivers his report on the cost of carbon emission trading.
Rudd's ministers are already referring to him as Ross Mugarnaut, in a savage comparison with the destroyer of Zimbabwe, as they speculate on the damage his report could do the nation.
In hindsight, white rocks will be seen to be less harmful than a fleet of green lemons.