SHORTEN’S SHORT­FALLS

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION - with An­drew Bolt Aus­tralia's most- read colum­nist

Bill Shorten’s as­ton­ish­ing un­truths will kill our econ­omy. And cau­tion: those un­truths are mul­ti­ply­ing fast. This week the Op­po­si­tion leader threw the switch to Greece, mak­ing three reck­less and mis­lead­ing claims.

Shorten promised to dou­ble Aus­tralia’s green power in 15 years with­out blow­ing our elec­tric­ity bills.

He in­sisted that we didn’t need to raise taxes to pay for La­bor’s un­funded prom­ise to spend $ 80 bil­lion more on health and ed­u­ca­tion.

And he claimed a free trade deal with China threat­ened Aus­tralian jobs.

Be­lieve Shorten’s non­sense, as many do, and we won’t be­come another Greece. No, the Greeks will look at us and think they got off lightly.

Yet the polls are clear: Shorten may well be­come Aus­tralia’s PM next year de­spite his man­i­fest empti­ness and shady deal­ings as an Aus­tralian Work­ers Union leader.

That’s largely be­cause the public is fu­ri­ous at Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott’s bro­ken prom­ises and spend­ing cuts, even more so now that Bron­wyn Bishop seems to have rorted her ex­penses at high al­ti­tude. But some of that rage seems to be pure petu­lance at Ab­bott forc­ing peo­ple to face the fact that the money is gone.

In con­trast, Shorten has never made Ab­bott’s mis­take of telling the truth about the na­tion’s fi­nances — that we still spend $ 96 mil­lion a day more than we earn, with no sign of re­pay­ing the mas­sive debt left by the pre­vi­ous La­bor gov­ern­ment.

Shorten prefers in­stead to feed the vot­ers’ fan­tasy that this in­sane spend­ing can sim­ply keep go­ing.

In a nor­mal so­ci­ety, Shorten’s latest three cons — all this week — would dis­qual­ify him as a leader.

First was his lu­di­crous prom­ise to dou­ble our re­new­able energy tar­get from the 23 per cent of sup­ply that La­bor voted for only last month to 50 per cent by 2030.

As­ton­ish­ingly, he yesterday claimed “more re­new­able energy will push down power prices”.

Yet if green power were cheaper than what we have al­ready, La­bor would not have to lift a fin­ger to make us use more of it. The con­sumers would be mak­ing that choice for them­selves.

But wind power ac­tu­ally costs more than dou­ble the price of coal- fired power, and is also un­re­li­able. No wind equals no power. And so­lar is even worse — it’s more than four times more ex­pen­sive.

There is no way a gov­ern­ment can make us use more wind and so­lar power than by sub­si­dis­ing it with taxpayers’ money or by forc­ing sup­pli­ers by law to use more if it, with the cost passed on through our power bills. Al­ready re­new­able energy costs us about $ 3 bil­lion a year ex­tra, and Shorten’s plans could more than dou­ble that. Right now, dams ac­tu­ally sup­ply two thirds of our green power, and wind and so­lar al­most all the rest.

But La­bor won’t build another dam, so dou­bling re­new­able energy will ef­fec­tively in­volve cre­at­ing three times more wind and so­lar gen­er­a­tors than we have to­day. For­get the talk of mir­a­cle other techno-lo­gies tak­ing the load. Geo­ther­mal and wave tech­nolo­gies have been vir­tual duds here so far.

So imag­ine that mas­sive build­ing pro­ject over just 15 years. Three times more wind farms? Three times more so­lar energy plants? Re­ally? And at no ex­tra cost?

This is a recipe for dis­as­ter. The higher power prices would drive more man­u­fac­tur­ers to the wall, cost­ing jobs.

And all for noth­ing, be­cause more green power will do vir­tu­ally noth­ing to cut global tem­per­a­tures.

Not that Shorten cares. In­deed, en­vi­ron­ment spokesman Mark But­ler yesterday ad­mit­ted that La­bor hadn’t even both­ered to model the ef­fects its pol­icy would have on emis­sions, let alone on global tem­per­a­tures.

In­cred­i­ble. But­ler wouldn’t even give the guar­an­tee that Shorten did, say­ing it was not pos­si­ble to be “de­fin­i­tive” on whether prices would be go­ing down or — as is scream­ingly ob­vi­ous — go­ing up.

How can Shorten pro­pose some­thing so wild and use­less? Yet it’s the same make- be­lieve with La­bor’s other great un­truth this week.

Shorten feigned out­rage that state pre­miers are now de­bat­ing with Ab­bott on whether to in­crease the GST from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Pre­miers on both sides of pol­i­tics — NSW Lib­eral Mike Baird and South Aus­tralia’s Jay Weather­ill — agree higher taxes are needed to pay for the Gil­lard gov­ern­ment’s prom­ise to in­crease spend­ing on health and ed­u­ca­tion by a colos­sal $ 80 bil­lion.

Again, Ab­bott once told the truth about those prom­ises — that there was no money at all to pay for them. With the gov­ern­ment so deep in debt, Ab­bott cut those fic­ti­tious prom­ises from the bud­get.

And they should stay cut. More taxes are the last thing we need when un­em­ploy­ment is high and the deficit even higher. But Shorten still ped­dles the un­truth that there is in­deed money to spare for the $ 80 bil­lion fan­tasy prom­ises he re­fuses to for­mally ditch.

“I’m against rais­ing the GST,” he stormed.

“Tony Ab­bott has been try­ing to po­si­tion the states with his $ 80 bil­lion worth of cuts into ar­gu­ing for a GST . . .

“I don’t un­der­stand for the life of me why it is that Mr Ab­bott is happy to in­crease the taxes that ev­ery­day Aus­tralians pay.”

So Shorten is against cut­ting the $ 80 bil­lion of un­funded spend­ing on health and ed­u­ca­tion. But he’s also against rais­ing the taxes to pay for it.

How does he get away with such rank op­por­tunism?

Which brings me to his last big un­truth of the week. For his fi­nal trick, Shorten joined the mil­i­tant CFMEU in claim­ing the gov­ern­ment’s free trade deal with China “un­der­mines safe­guards for jobs” and puts Aus­tralia in “a race to the bot-

Let Greece be your warn­ing: even the sweet­est prom­ises must be paid for, and the price of Shorten’s prom­ises will crip­ple us

tom on wages and con­di­tions”.

Never mind that Chi­nese com­pa­nies here must still em­ploy Aus­tralian work­ers where pos­si­ble and pay any Chi­nese work­ers Aus­tralian wages.

Ig­nore the fact this deal cuts both ways — more Aus­tralians can go work in China or for com­pa­nies ex­port­ing to it.

Just note this: Shorten last year ac­tu­ally praised this same deal in front of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, and even claimed credit for it.

“La­bor wel­comes the prospect of a trade agree­ment be­tween our two coun­tries,” Shorten said.

“A decade of hard work has gone into cre­at­ing this op­por­tu­nity for Aus­tralia, from prime min­is­ter Howard to prime min­is­ters Rudd and Gil­lard, and now Prime Min­is­ter Ab­bott.”

For­mer La­bor leader Mark Latham, in his no­to­ri­ous di­aries, wrote he’d seen this op­por­tunism close up when he was La­bor leader and Shorten still a union boss.

“Lit­tle Billy ( Shorten) was in my ear about the ( free trade agree­ment with the US), telling me the party has to sup­port it,” Latham said.

“I said that I thought both he and his union were against it, to which he re­sponded, ‘ That’s just for the mem­bers. We need to say that sort of thing when they reckon their jobs are un­der threat. I want it to go through.”

This pan­der­ing and pos­tur­ing by Shorten, these wild and mis­lead­ing prom­ises, are sim­ply un­ac­cept­able in a man who is run­ning to be our next prime min­is­ter.

Let Greece be your warn­ing: even the sweet­est prom­ises must be paid for, and the price of Shorten’s prom­ises will crip­ple us.

Art­work: John Tiede­mann

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