Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:56 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:56 | SYDNEY

The Minister for Holden


Sam Roggeveen


11 August 2009 15:39

I just spent a few hours with colleagues grilling an eminent European economist about the state of the world. On climate change, he was adamant that governments could have no possible idea which technologies will end up being decisive in the move from carbon-based energy, so their focus should be on basic research that the private sector will not touch.

Unfortunately, environmentalists tend to be romantics, so green-inclined governments instead try to pick winners, subsidising specific technologies which the free market would back anyway if they looked commercially promising.

It reminded me of the Rudd Government's subsidies for Australian low-emissions vehicles, which is not only bad economic and environmental policy, but turns ministers into spruikers for commercial enterprises. Here's Industry Minister Kim Carr in last weekend's SMH:

Mr Carr said Australians still wanted large six-cylinder family cars, despite sales figures to the contrary. "Everyone thinks they know what Australians want from a car but Holden is one of a few that has got it right," he said. "Commodore has been Australia's most popular car for so long because people want a vehicle that can hold the kids and the shopping at the same time. They want economy but they want power."

When contacted by The Interpreter, the Minister's staff would not confirm that Mr Carr has taken to wearing chunky jewellery, shiny suits and shirts with the top three buttons undone, although he could be heard in the background shouting, 'Have I got a deal for YOU!'