Australia should be able to put out the stocking this Christmas with some confidence of getting some goodies this year. Santa is coming to town with his list. Let him check it twice. We haven't pouted, we haven't cried. We've been good.
Actually its not really Santa we have to worry about, it's his agency in the United Nations - The Policy Reference Evaluation Service for Sustainable Innovation and Environment (UN PRESSIE). This is the official body that provides advice to Santa on the annual dispensation to countries based on their behaviour and achievements during the year.
There has been a bit of discussion in UN PRESSIE whether any awards should be given this year, because so many countries have been badly behaved. They have been using their credit cards quite irresponsibly and are now having trouble paying their bills. This may be very bad for the Santa support industry, and the Christmas industry in general.
The other problem of course is that, despite having been told many times, countries still have not cleaned up the mess they have made, especially in the atmosphere.
Despite all this, it was decided that countries need the reward system at Christmas so that they have some kind of incentive to improve their behaviour. Otherwise they could get nasty and start fighting again. This could be a big problem in the European family of countries. Uncle Germany has to pay the credit card bill and he is not happy about it at all. A family breakup, at least, is on the cards. The danger is that they might all close up shop, and that would be very bad for the whole world family.
Australia has continued to be the lucky country, with so much coming from our sales of coal and iron ore. We don't get presents for being lucky though. But we have been good. We could have continued to spend all the money on a big party, but we haven't. One reason is that we still had to pay off the bill for the last party. But anyway, Santa, through his agency UN PRESSIE, should be pleased.
Another problem was that all our mining companies were selling off all our minerals and keeping all the money for themselves. We did try to fix it, but the miners outsmarted us. We now have got some kind of resource rent tax, but it doesn't do that much.
The mining companies spent $30 million on newspaper ads, which scared the government so much that it gave up $30 billion in tax. The miners got a 1000 to 1 return on their investment in the ads. They were very clever, but maybe just a bit too clever. Being so greedy does not look good, especially when others are not so lucky.
But at least the mining tax sets a good example for other countries to follow. It shows them that they too can get a cut out of the exhaustible resources trade, which they can share around. Hopefully they will learn not to fall for the miners' silly tricks, like we did.
Of course a lot of people will be expecting a lot of brownie points, otherwise known as greenie points, this year, because of our carbon tax. True, it does show we are trying to do something about the global carbon mess. It sets an example, sure. Let's take some credit for it. Will it actually do much? It may be a start, but its not enough.
But it certainly won't do any harm, and if the carbon price is high enough, it might cause the closing of some dirty power stations and the opening of cleaner ones. However, our reduction targets are not high and most of them are to be met by buying permits from our neighbours who promise not to cut down their trees. It is another silly trick really, and it won't work, but so far no one seems to have cottoned on. But anyway we did seem to make an effort, and we're trying to be good, and it is the thought that counts.
Of course there is a big problem with our coal exports, but no one has noticed it, so I think we can get away with it. Those coal miners are going to double our coal exports. Don't tell anyone, but the carbon dioxide that comes from burning our export coal is already more than what we emit in Australia, from everything.