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John Passant

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October 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Solar panel feed-in tariffs scam the poor to pay the rich

This is a letter I sent to The Australian today in response to a front page story they had about the exorbitant cost of the feed-in tariff subsidy being borne by the poor. While the whole exercise was self-serving, the figures do make the case that subsidised solar panel feed in tariffs are a form of regressive taxation. For example the article argued that the NSW scheme is costing between $520 and $640 to reduce each tonne of CO2 compared to $23 a tonne under the ETS. 


As someone who has railed against the inequity of feed in tariffs for some time, it was interesting to read Annabel Hepworth’s front page exclusive  echoing and further substantiating my sentiments, although for reasons I suspect which had more to do with protecting the polluting electricity generating sector than any concern for the poor.(‘Home solar costs 25 times more than ETS to cut gas’ The Australian 6 October page 1.) 

In addition to that wealth transfer from poor to rich, as the report shows, feed in tariffs are  completely inefficient – a waste of money of the highest order. 

It seems to me that all the schemes to address Anthropogenic Global Warming have at their heart a basic flaw – they make the poor and working class pay for the sins of the big business polluters.

Subsidised feed-in tariffs redistribute wealth to those well off enough to be able to put solar panels on their roofs. Now in the ACT the subsidy is being extended to large business providers.

Who pays for these massive subsidies? It will be other electricity consumers, and those who use the State and Territory services that will inevitably be cut back to balance the books and cover the cost of the subsidy. 

By and large this will be poor people who will receive only partial compensation for increased energy prices and none for the loss of services, and workers who will pay twice – in increased energy bills and lost services. 

As a tax teacher, I had thought that the tax system would address this inequity to some extent by taxing the income made from feed in tariffs. It appears the Commissioner of Taxation, at least in some private rulings, disagrees and has not taxed this income. 

These private rulings appear to me to be incorrect. It may be the Commissioner is concerned about negatively geared solar panel installations, but that should not be a consideration in deciding if the feed in tariff payments are income or not.   

To provide certainty, the Commissioner should issue a public ruling stating his views on the taxation of feed in tariff payments. That way at least the true cost of the return can be calculated and the charade of equity can be argued.

More importantly Governments should move away from subsidising the well off to set up inequitable, inefficient and costly solar panels on their roofs at the expense of the rest of us.



Pingback from En Passant » Solar panel feed-in tariffs scam the poor to pay the rich :: Solar Panels For Homes| Information on Solar Power For Homes
Time October 6, 2010 at 11:39 pm

[…] Read the original here: En Passant » Solar panel feed-in tariffs scam the poor to pay the rich […]

Comment from Dee
Time October 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Dear John. I stumbled across your review as I was searching the internet for feed back tariff rates and was very disappointed to read that you would class all people who install solar panels to their roof as the ‘rich’ or ‘wealthy’. I can assure you I am neither. My partner and I are simply trying to figure our future in a couple of ways. 1) Global impact of pollution caused by power generators and 2) getting old and not being able to afford futute electricity bills generated at our huge 15.5 square home (HUGE – NOT!) as we are so rich (not!). We simply made the decision to invest in our earth and our future and use some of our long time created savings. Is that so bad? Dee

Comment from John
Time October 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Thanks Dee. Estimates of the cost of producing this type of electricity range up to 25 times greater than under the ETS. Some one’s got to pay and it will be electricity consumers, not the polluting industries.

Large scale solar farms would be a much better and more cost effective approach.

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