Last night, I watched Q&A which starred, inter alia, Barnaby Joyce.

The man who aspires to lead the Nationals
The man who aspires to lead the Nationals

Who cannot watch this man and despair the state of Australian politics? Perhaps he just had a bad night last night but whose responses were halting and semi-articulate.

Last night Tony Jones asked him what the government’s direct action policy would cost to reach the target of 28% reduction in emissions controls given that it’s cost $4 billion getting to 5%.

Joyce did everything except answer the question.

Why didn’t he just say: “I don’t know.”   because it certainly looked as if he didn’t.

He spent a lot of time talking about the cost of electricity and how under alternative schemes electricity bills will go up. Jones made the point that people are going to pay for it anyway through the existing bills or through taxation

Jones pressed him on the final cost but to no avail.

So here are some quick sums.  (Rough and ready but Barnaby of all people would appreciate that.)

If it costs $4b to get 5%, it will cost five and half times that to get to 28% that’s $22b  to get to 28%. Let’s not bicker about  the woefully inadequate nature of this target.

Let’s assume that by 2030, the Australian population is 30 million people. That’s around $740 per every man, woman and child or a bit over $3000 per family.

It’s a rough estimate and you would have expected Joyce to know this.

So why didn’t he just say that the direct action scheme will cost every Australian family $3000 extra a year in taxation.

Adopting this approach, coming up with numbers, evidence et cetera lays the basis for rational discussion about the costs and benefits of direct elections.

But what Barnaby Joyce did last night was effectively closed off that option.

Why?  Well, it’s probably because kept Direct Action won’t stand  up to that kind of scrutiny.

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