Des Moore Interview with Alan Jones on Global Warming
(2GB), 23 September 2008

ALAN JONES:     I'm not too sure that Mr Rudd knows why he's going to the United States of America.  He's now telling us it's about the global financial crisis but, of course, this trip was put in place long before a global financial crisis overtook us.  So when his office was asked about this yesterday, we were told that he is going to do a million other things: "Participate in a number of official United Nations rated events, such as the round table discussion on health and education, and the millennium development goals which focus on alleviating global poverty, and he will attend the Special Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting on the reform of international institutions, including global financial regulators." That's a statement out of his office.  Then it says: "On climate change, the Prime Minister will hold a number of formal meetings, including participating in a high level meeting with key government and business leaders in the climate group to outline Australia's plans for a low carbon economy."

Well, here the trouble begins.  Des Moore is a former Deputy Head of Treasury. He is now at the Institute of Private Enterprise in Melbourne.  He wrote last week in a letter to the Australian Financial Review of the Government, and this whole climate change religion and emissions reduction policies that: "Despite calls for an independent inquiry into the scientific basis of the policy ­ that's the governments' policy ­ the government gives no indication that it will undertake any such analysis." Des Moore wrote: "Instead it simply assumed that the intergovernmental panel on climate change reports reflect a scientific consensus that increasing human activity will lead to damaging increases in temperature unless emissions are reduced." Des Moore is on the line.  Des, good morning.

DES MOORE:      Good morning, Alan.

ALAN JONES:     Your point is that there are thousands of scientists, and literally thousands, who don't agree with that and indeed many of the disciples of the climate change religion have also indicated that there are no warranties that the information is correct.

DES MOORE:      That's correct.  And it would be grossly irresponsible to proceed with a policy that will involve major changes to the structure of the Australian economy without having a proper independent inquiry that listened and paid attention to the voices of many distinguished scientists, including Australian scientists, who either disagree totally with the so­called consensus view, or at least are highly sceptical of it.

ALAN JONES:     It's become a religion; hasn't it?

DES MOORE:      It's become an absolute religion and there is a long history, Alan, of so­called expert scientists proclaiming views about what the Government should do to prevent something happening on the basis of their opinion.  You may recall back in the 1970s we had a group of scientists who said we can't grow any more because we're going to run out of resources.

ALAN JONES:     Correct.

DES MOORE:      We had Mr Erlich, or Professor Erlich, who produced the population bomb, who said we've got to stop population growing because we can't ­ we will starve. And there's a whole stream of those sort of opinions. I've just been reading a book by a prominent London journalist, Christopher Booker, and that book is called Scared to Death, and he outlines a whole series of these expert scientific opinions which governments acted on but they acted on it wrongly without checking the views.

ALAN JONES:     That's dead right.  It is a fact that amongst the scientists who disagree with all of this are 31,000 American scientists.

DES MOORE:      That's right, absolutely.  They've signed a petition saying they totally disagree with the science that is reflected in the reports by the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

ALAN JONES:     And we've had increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, highly industrialised economy, and yet over the last 10 years or more we've had global cooling.

DES MOORE:      Well, the temperature has actually fallen, the global temperature that is, has actually fallen by about half a degree in the last couple of years.

ALAN JONES:     That's right.  The guts here, Des, and I'm speaking to Des Moore, a former Deputy Secretary of Treasury and he knows what he's about, and what responsible government ­ I mean, when you were in Treasury, for example, would you be introducing an emissions reduced reduction policy, any policy at all, without getting the facts right first?

DES MOORE:      Absolutely.  One has to blame both sides of politics here, Alan.  The coalition government was also promising to introduce an emissions trading scheme and they didn't undertake any investigation either.

ALAN JONES:     That's right.  But if we take unilateral action, and Kevin Rudd is over there talking about all of that, then we're in grave risk, aren't we, of eroding our international competitiveness and what a time to be doing this.

DES MOORE:      Well, absolutely, and we have this review by so­called eminent Professor Garnaut who says even if there isn't an international agreement we should go ahead with our emissions trading scheme, which would be absolutely absurd.

ALAN JONES:     And then, of course, even assuming everything they say is correct, they then have got the model wrong, surely when they're talking about taxing production rather than taxing consumption.

DES MOORE:      Well, yes, but I mean taxing consumption, which in effect would happen of course, is very politically unpopular, Alan.

ALAN JONES:     That's right.

DES MOORE:      So you select a few businesses, particularly those that generate electricity, and you tax them and they pass it on so that the direct effect is not on consumers.

ALAN JONES:     That's right.  But they are fair dinkum, the Government, the Rudd Government, is talking about 2020 targets, we're wanting to be good global citizens, strut the world, but we will lose competitiveness, won't we, against countries who will just be free riding on our efforts.

DES MOORE:      Yeah, absolutely, and we will have industries such as the aluminium industry which will shift offshore.  But the other interesting thing about this is, if you believe the Garnaut Report, that even if we do nothing the cost by 2100, that's 90 years ahead, the cost by 2100, will only be a reduction of GDP of about 4.8 per cent.  That's minuscule given that the economy and people will be much richer in 2100 so why are we going to all this trouble now?

ALAN JONES:     That's right.  I mean, there is no way the United States, China, India or others are going to have an emissions trading system which is a production based model, that is taxing everybody who produces something that produces carbon emissions, they will not do it.  So we start doing this in a recession, with slowing economic growth, what the hell are the consequences?

DES MOORE:      Well, it would be absolute madness, given the financial situation, the financial crisis in the United States now which is going to have global effects including on Australia, it would be absolute madness to introduce an emissions trading scheme which is effectively a tax now.

ALAN JONES:     When we don't have a majority scientific view on climate change, we don't have a majority view.  We don't even have, as you say, an inquiry into it, we don't have a consensus with scientists.  Obviously Australians shouldn't ­ and you would have argued this when you were in the Public Service ­ shouldn't lag behind the rest of the world but we shouldn't be out there breast­feeding ourselves trying to lead the world.

DES MOORE:      Absolutely.  It's a great pity that the Commonwealth Treasury has not put out a paper on this assessing ­ ­ ­

ALAN JONES:     Well, they're most probably frightened to.

DES MOORE:      They are.  Absolutely.  They're absolutely frightened to. In our day we would have done that, under the leadership of the Former Secretary of the Treasury, John Stone, we would have put out a paper assessing this in an impartial manner.

ALAN JONES:     But I mean those people are frightened to move now.  I mean, the guts of what you're saying is that while ever the science of climate change is not settled, any proposal to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gasses is surely premature.

DES MOORE:      That's right.  Absolutely premature.

ALAN JONES:     Is the federal opposition going to be stampeded into agreeing to sign up to all of this?

DES MOORE:      I'm afraid that Malcolm Turnbull is inclined, even more inclined than previous leaders of the Liberal Party, to go along with the science. I hope he will change his mind ­ he has been known to change his mind in the past ­ and I would very much hope he will, but his Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, is unfortunately ­ - -

ALAN JONES:     On the wagon.

DES MOORE:      Yep, that's right.

ALAN JONES:     On the wagon.  Kevin Rudd is saying not a moment to be lost.  Good to talk to you, Des.

DES MOORE:      Thank you, Alan.

ALAN JONES:     Thank you for your time.  Keep at it.