Rudd won’t share our pain with climate tax

Glenn Milne, Canberra: The Advertiser | July 06, 2008,22606,23974940-5006301,00.html

KEVIN Rudd wants all Australians to pay more for power and petrol to help save the planet – except himself.

The Prime Minister has revealed he will continue to allow taxpayers to pick up his power and petrol bills, despite saying everyone must share the pain of increased costs to help stop climate change.

The Government is set to introduce a national Emissions Trading System by 2010 in the wake of the Garnaut Report released on Friday.

Energy bills and the cost of fuel will sharply increase under the system.

The Sunday Mail asked Mr Rudd if he would share the pain with the people by picking up the tab for power, lighting and heating bills at The Lodge when the scheme is introduced.

The Sunday Mail also asked whether he would start to pay his own petrol bills for his chauffeur-driven car when the trading scheme begins.

Both the bills for the car and The Lodge are footed by taxpayers. Mr Rudd has constantly stressed that for a carbon trading system to work, consumers will have to be hit with a price signal in order for them to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But he will not share the hip-pocket pain of voters.

In response to the Sunday Mail’s questions, Mr Rudd’s office said: “The Prime Minister will not be changing the long-standing practices of previous prime ministers in relation to these matters.

“The Prime Minister understands the cost-of-living pressures that confront Australia’s working families, carers and seniors.

“He also understands that Australians want the Australian Government to take action on climate change.” Mr Rudd declined to say how much The Lodge and his chauffeur-driven car cost taxpayers last year, referring the Sunday Mail to Government annual reports.

According to Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio estimates, the cost of running both The Lodge and Kirribilli House in Sydney is projected to be $1.8 million this financial year, including costs such as staff and the wine cellar.

Mr Rudd, whose wife Therese Rein’s companies turned over about $260 million last year, also has a taxpayer-subsidised nanny for his youngest son and a taxpayer-funded butler paid $78,000 a year.

As Prime Minister, Mr Rudd earns $370,000 a year, including allowances.

In February, he applied a year’s wage freeze to politicians’ salaries, including his own.

“We need to be able to face the Australian community in the eye and say that we in a privileged position in this place are doing one small bit when it comes to exercising some wage restraint,” he said at the time.

In December, after signing the Kyoto Protocol at the Bali Climate Change Summit, Mr Rudd declared: “We must all share the burden.”

The following comment was sent to The Advertiser in response to the above article.

“Perhaps people are forgetting that prior to the last election when KRudd first took the reigns of power in the Labor Party, he promised to at least triple the cost of electricity in this country. If KRudd gets his way, there will arise such a gap between rich and poor that it will no longer be the standard “have and have not” of frivolities, but the “have and have not” of essentials such as electricity, water and petrol.”

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Cailen Cambeul, Adelaide.