Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has finally managed to fulfill one of his election promises — to scrap the Australian carbon tax. The action has been long in the making, with numerous obstacles — including a last-minute interruption from Clive Palmer — and has once again reminded Australia and the world that Tony Abbott is fighting well out of his weight-class — a juvenile and unintelligent egotistical politician trying to force through a personal agenda devoid of any common sense.
The Liberal Party — the majority party in Australia’s two-party parliament — believed that the carbon tax caused “real economic damage to our economy”, when in reality the carbon tax was affecting the bottom-line of utilities, utilities behind many of the alternative proposals to the now-dead carbon tax.
A report conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in May found that scrapping the Renewable Energy Target “could have catastrophic ramifications for the renewable energy industry in the country”. The report found that the Renewable Energy Target was expected to drive $35 billion (AUD) in investment in clean energy, employ 25,000 workers each year in construction and operations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation by 5%, and prevent future surges in power prices by supplying electricity for 20-25 years without ongoing fuel costs.
In a press conference following the repeal, Abbott told reporters that the repeal would remove a “useless, destructive tax” and stressed that he would “never do anything that damages the economy.”
Seems someone forgot to read the relevant material before he started making policy.
In May, Tony Abbott’s treasurer, Joe Hockey, made similarly absurd remarks, claiming that the wind turbines he drove past on his way to work were “utterly offensive” but that he was powerless to close them down. As I wrote at the time, “hopefully there are few — if any — budget decisions based on whether or not Joe Hockey’s view is obstructed.”
Environment vs. Tony Abbot & Coal
Tony Abbott has promised environmental progress — the Liberal environmental plan stating that “we will take direct action to reduce carbon emissions.” However, at a meeting of business leaders at the Asia Society Texas Centre in Houston in June, Tony Abbott said that coal would fuel human progress for many decades to come, adding that this view was partly responsible for the decision to axe the carbon tax.
“Discussion about developing our natural resources often goes hand in hand with conversation about climate change and impacts on the environment,” Mr Abbott told the audience.
“It is prudent to do what we reasonably can to reduce carbon emissions. But we don’t believe in ostracising any particular fuel and we don’t believe in harming economic growth.
“For many decades at least, coal will continue to fuel human progress as an affordable energy source for wealthy and developing countries alike.”
Thank heavens the Liberal Party are going to “establish a 15,000-strong Green Army charged with the clean-up and conservation of our environment.”
Responses in Opposition
Opposition leader Bill Shorten told reporters that Abbott was guilty of “sleepwalking Australia towards an environmental and economic disaster,” while former Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and now current leader of the opposition in the Senate said that the repeal meant for Australia has “walked away from a credible and efficient response to climate change.”
Given that Tony Abbott’s plan seems to have a healthy place for the coal industry, one can only assume that Shorten and Wong are right on the money.
“I think future generations will look back on these bills and they will be appalled… at the short-sighted, opportunistic selfish politics of those opposite and Mr Abbott will go down as one of the most short-sighted, selfish and small people ever to occupy the office of prime minister,” Ms Wong added.
Whereas Greens leader senator Christine Milne said that Tony Abbott wants to “cost-shift the burden of climate change onto the community and away from the people who are causing it” — a fact we can see in evidence with the decision to focus on environmental policies favourable to existing and entrenched traditional energy institutions.
One cannot help but wonder just what it is Tony Abbott is thinking — and whether he actually believes he’ll manage to get away with it. With the Labor Party managing to coalesce into an un-fractious political entity again — after the horror of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd disaster — the Liberal Government are only paving their way to a one-year term in office, and setting Tony Abbott up to be one of the most out-of-touch Prime Minister’s Australia has ever had.
Australia is now the first country in the world to have abolished a tax on carbon — a flimsy award, to be sure, and one that is sure to confirm international beliefs about our possibility of being a forward-thinking environmentally-friendly country. Any outside investment we might have hoped for to continue building our fledgling renewable energy industry is now seriously at risk as Tony Abbott and his self-proclaimed “conservationist government” do all they can to prove they are anything but a government focused on sensible conservation.