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Why Tony Abbott wants to abolish the carbon price

Tony Abbott, Australia

Tony Abbott’s elevation to Liberal leader was largely based on his opposition to carbon pricing. Photograph: AAP


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Why Tony Abbott wants to abolish the carbon price” was written by Alexander White, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 18th September 2013 11.47 UTC

Why does Tony Abbott want to abolish the carbon price? What are some consequences if he did?

Two days after the Australian election, prime minister-elect Tony Abbott declared that his “top legislative priority” would be the removal of a carbon tax.

In an interview to the Daily Telegraph Mr Abbott said: “The carbon tax has been a handbrake on the NSW economy and I will assure Premier O’Farrell today that my top legislative priority is scrapping the carbon tax because that will be an adrenalin shot for local business and relief for families too.”

Despite his eagerness to abolish the carbon price, his cabinet won’t be sworn in by the Governor General until Wednesday, a full eleven days after the election. (This is despite him campaigning that there was a budget and border emergency.) His new ministry, announced on Monday, also abolishes the role of Minister for Climate Change, opting for just Environment Minister.

This sends a clear signal that climate change is not a priority to the incoming government.

Why does Tony Abbott want to abolish the carbon price?

There are no doubt several competing reasons for Tony Abbott’s desires to abolish the carbon price. Obviously there is a political imperative for him to pursue this course, given that his elevation to the Liberal leadership was primarily based around opposition to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009.

However, in my view it’s clear that Mr Abbott wants to abolish the carbon tax primarily for two reasons.

Firstly, he is either not convinced of the urgency of the threat of climate change to Australia’s economy or society, or doesn’t believe in climate change at all. For example, one of Tony Abbott’s business advisors, former ABC chairman Maurice Newman, in an article in The Australian equated concern over climate change to a “global warming religion” and climate scientists as a “global warming priesthood”.

Mr Abbott himself famously said in an interview that climate change is “crap”, and his ministry and senior member of his political party are avowed climate change science deniers. This position was made clear in 2009 by Malcolm Turnbull after being dumped as leader:

“the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion ‘climate change is crap’ or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”

Secondly, powerful vested interests in Australia, including the fossil fuel lobby, mining industry and carbon intensive corporations are heavy donors to Mr Abbott’s Liberal Party.

Major donors to the Liberal Party prior to the 2013 election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission include mining company Santos ($227,880), Clive Palmer’s Minerology ($459,900), nickel miners Minara Resources ($358,000) and Mincor Resources ($120,000), Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group ($50,000), and oil giant Chevron ($28,500).

It has been reported that Gina Rinehart, a major supporter of Barnaby Joyce (who is a member of the Queensland Liberal National Party and was elected as deputy leader of the National Party), has surrounded herself with notorious climate skeptics. In a profile of Rinehart in The Monthly, author Nick Bryant wrote:

“Like her father’s views, Rinehart’s have been reinforced through her friendships with like-minded academics and scientists, although whereas Hancock had an intellectual crush on nuclear experts like Edward Teller, Rinehart has sought out climate change sceptics like Professor Ian Plimer and Christopher Monckton. Monckton was invited to deliver the Lang Hancock Memorial Lecture in 2011. Plimer has been appointed to the boards of three of her companies, and is also a member of her pressure group, Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV).”


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