On Thursday the Abbott government took four actions on climate change. First, Greg Hunt phoned Tim Flannery, letter to follow, that the Climate Commission was to cease operation. We can take for granted that money was not the problem. Five million over four years in a $400 billion pa budget is not even small change.
Abbott told us on Wednesday that his governments actions would be based on values rather than ideology.
“We will be a problem-solving government based on values, not ideology,” the new Prime Minister added.
So what problem were they solving? Too much information on climate change? Is information from independent scientific sources too inconvenient? We are told that the information we need will be prepared by the public service in the future, where there will no longer be a dedicated department for climate change.
Lenore Taylor thinks the sacking of senior public servants smacks of ideology, not values. She says two of them, Martin Parkinson and Blair Comley, appear to have been punished because of their roles in implementing the former government’s policy on climate change.
The Climate Commission site is still there, for now. I wonder for how much longer.
The other three actions require legislation – getting rid of the ‘carbon tax’, shutting down the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. So all the Government can do now is commence preparing legislation. Josh Meadows at New Matilda points out the problem. Joe Hockey has instructed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease lending, but the Corporation is obliged by law not to comply, according to legal advice received by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Defenders Office of Victoria:
“A direction to cease activities or cease investments, or to cease payments, would frustrate the legislative purpose of the CEFC Act, would be inconsistent with the CEFC Act and would not be authorised by s 64(1) of the CEFC Act … The CEFC’s activities cannot be terminated by executive action … If given some unlawful direction by the responsible ministers (or anyone else) to cease operations or some aspect of its operations, the board would be obliged to ignore that direction.”
We live in interesting times! I hope those running the Corporation have the courage to proceed with their duties until legislation changes, which might require a double dissolution.
The Climate Change Authority chaired by Bernie Fraser is currently undertaking a Caps and Targets Review, due, I believe, in October. This too may be inconvenient information for the new government. Again I hope they complete the task.
Sara Phillips says Abbott’s climate change action holds no surprises.
With this early and bold action from the Coalition, it unequivocally states that the Government wants to be seen as efficient, business friendly, and nothing at all like its predecessor.
But it also reveals the Government is not serious on climate change, despite what words may flow from Greg Hunt’s mouth.
Former Chief Commissioner, Tim Flannery, is Australia’s Al Gore in that he is the figure most loathed and pilloried by the people who are not convinced of the climate science. Much was made of his commissioner’s salary and his supposed waterfront property.
The dismantling of the organisation he heads sends a message to those people that the new Government has heard their complaints and is listening.
Last time I looked genuine climate deniers, as distinct from sceptics, were a small part of the population, struggling to get into double figures. This of course contrasts with the percentage of deniers in LNP ranks. Val at fairgreenplanet has pointed out that a Crosby Textor survey in marginal seats showed that very few people spontaneously mentioned the carbon “tax” as a factor influencing their vote.
Val has also provided a link to a petition asking the Liberal Party not to axe the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It’s one small thing we can do against this brutal attack on the rational measures put in place by the Gillard minority government, along with Greens and indies, to meet the great moral challenge of our times.
We really did need the third term of progressive government to get the country onto some kind of virtuous course which couldn’t be changed by the arrival of the goon squad.