We cannot help but note this week’s news that the Department of Climate Change — a Ministry of Silly Walks if ever there was one — has declared Tim Wilson of the Institute for Public Affairs a vexatious applicant as a result of the numerous Freedom of Information Act requests he has filed with that agency.
Never mind that, from the time Kevin Rudd nixed his emissions trading scheme to when Julia Gillard went back on her own promise regarding a carbon price, the agency has had precious little to do. Apparently the stress of dealing with all these requests was just too much for these poor bureaucrats. Ironically, despite excluding transaction and transition costs from their modelling of the impact of a carbon price (a fact which should immediately raise eyebrows at any claims about the nugatory effect of the tax), the department says fulfilling all these requests is just too expensive.
We would have thought that given the apparent moral and economic imperative of pricing carbon, the government would be eager to show its work. Processing FOI requests may be an onerous task (though the workers pushing the paper would surely be counted as having ‘green jobs’), but it is necessary to the business of a more transparent government — something the PM promised when she came to office. Yet when it comes to climate change, the government is nothing if not slippery. It has not released the names of the 500 companies to be pinged by the carbon tax. It has dissembled when caught out over its claims about China’s carbon price. And it has refused to show all its economic modelling that proves the carbon tax will be a boon to Australia and the Earth. What are they afraid of?