WHYALLA, poor Whyalla. Sources confirm the carbon tax, introduced on Sunday, has not (yet) wiped it off the map. But now the South Australian steel city has bigger problems than the prospect of annihilation.
As the unlikely pawn in the epic carbon tax battle between the government and the Coalition, the town was yesterday subjected to one indignity too many.
The Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, sang about it on national television. His song, accompanied by a jig that was more convulsive than it was rhythmic, was scarier than any carbon tax-related price rise could ever be.
In an interview with the ABC’s Mark Simkin, Emerson, who visited Whyalla on Sunday, was asked what the mood was like there.
The Trade Minister paused in a stagy manner as his media advisor cued the music and then sang: ”No Whyalla wipeout, there on my TV /Shocking me right out of my brain / Shocking me right out of my brain”.
It was a less-than-tuneful re-working of the old Skyhooks number Horror Movie.
There were other signs the world had gone mad. Julia Gillard did an interview with her radio nemesis, 2GB, home to her tormentor Alan Jones. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott spoke to not one but two ABC radio stations – Radio National and Melbourne’s local ABC. The Opposition Leader usually avoids the public broadcaster.
Both leaders were desperately peddling their versions of the carbon-tax future. They dashed from youth-focused commercial stations to morning television and then to press conferences.
Abbott tweeted and Gillard bantered with Kyle Sandilands, who invited himself to her place for a barbecue, the sausages for which may or may not be more expensive now, depending on whom you believe.
Gillard did more than 10 daytime media calls. She said the Clean Energy Future would create jobs, not cost them. She emphasised the tax cuts and compensation with which the government is showering lower-income earners.
She argued the difference between a ”price” and a ”tax” with broadcaster John Laws. Whatever you wanted to call it, individuals wouldn’t pay it, she said.
Abbott, who had around seven media engagements during the day, said ”millions of Australian households will be worse off”, according to the government’s own figures.
He said the tax wouldn’t even achieve emissions reductions.
Where Gillard uses averages (the cost-of-living increase will be a teensy 0.7 per cent), Abbott uses specifics (just wait till you open your electricity bill).
It remains to see which tactic will prevail, and whether or not Emerson’s creative use of song will prove an effective weapon against Abbott, or what the military euphemistically calls ”blue on blue”.
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