Coffee House

Australia’s Tony Abbott has made history by abolishing the hated carbon tax

17 July 2014

12:56 PM

17 July 2014

12:56 PM

A few years ago, the conventional wisdom down under held that Tony Abbott and his centre-right Liberal Party were crazy to oppose the notion of carbon pricing. The view was so commonplace among Canberra press gallery pundits that it seemed reckless to contradict it.

Those were the days, remember, when global warming alarmism was all the rage around the western world. From Sydney to Southampton, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was a blockbuster. An Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, had declared that climate change was the world’s ‘greatest moral challenge.’ Nigel Lawson’s book, An Appeal to Reason, was rejected by every British publisher, to whom it was submitted. As one rejection letter told the former chancellor: ‘My fear, with this cogently argued book, is that it flies so much in the face of the prevailing orthodoxy that it would be very difficult to find a wide market.’

Someone forgot to tell Tony Abbott. Having won a landslide election on the issue of opposing the carbon tax last September, the Australian Prime Minister and his conservative parliamentarians have just legislated the repeal of the hugely unpopular policy to de-carbonise the Australian economy.


The story of the rise and fall of global warming alarmism in Australia in many respects mirrors the six-year experience of the Australian edition of The Spectator. Founded in 2008, The Spectator Australia took a leaf out of William F. Buckley’s National Review in 1955 and stood athwart history, yelling ‘Stop’. We yelled because like a few lonely conservatives, including Melbourne columnist Andrew Bolt, Sydney radio broadcaster Alan Jones, and the Institute of Public Affairs, a Melbourne think tank, we hoped to be heard in a stifling and intolerant political climate.

For years, the climate debate in Australia had been conducted in a heretic-hunting, anti-intellectual atmosphere. We Australians had heard a lot of science, much of it poorly explained. But the ‘dismal science’ had been conspicuously absent from the carbon debate. There was very little serious analysis of the economic consequences of climate change: what choices did we have to mitigate its effects, and how much would these choices cost us? Labor ministers had emitted a lot of hot air about global warming and the urgency with which resource-rich Australia (which accounts for only 1.2 per cent of global emissions) must act.

All of this changed dramatically when Abbott won the Liberal Party leadership on the eve of the Copenhagen UN gabfest in late 2009. By raising questions about the high costs of living when trade competitors were chugging along the smoky road to prosperity, Abbott almost overnight transformed Australia’s debate beyond the religious fervour and feel-good gestures that had held sway all too often. Suddenly, political strategists were thinking the unthinkable: far from presaging an electoral debacle that was inevitable under Abbott’s green (Cameron-like) predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, the issue had become a political godsend for conservatives in the Antipodes.

Abbott — an Anglophile, Rhodes scholar and protégé of former Prime Minister John Howard — came very close to defeating a first-term government in 2010. When Rudd’s successor Julia Gillard betrayed a key election pledge not to introduce a carbon tax, the scene was set for a landslide Liberal election last September. With the new Senate this month, the controversial carbon tax’s days were numbered. Today, the Senate issued last rites to one of the most unpopular laws in Australian parliamentary history.

The lesson here, as The Spectator Australia and I have long argued, is that voters are not easily deceived when politicians try to conceal the costs of their environmental ambitions. Nor do emissions restrictions grow more popular the more politicians try to sell them. Another lesson is that real political leaders are prepared to challenge a stifling and intolerant consensus. Tony Abbott, much to the angst of the nation’s climate enthusiasts, had the moral conviction and political nerve to take issue with the accepted wisdom. The result was a landslide election and today’s keynote legislation. David Cameron could surely learn from his experience.

Tom Switzer is editor of The Spectator Australia.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Rush_is_Right

    “The result was a landslide election and today’s keynote legislation. David Cameron could surely learn from his experience.”

    Well it was a good article up to that last sentence. David Cameron is incapable of learning anything, especially from a Conservative.

  • Conway

    David Cameron could surely learn from his experience.” Well, he might if he were a Conservative. As it is, he’s the Heir to Blair.

  • JoeDM

    Now that is the sort of common sense policy we need in the UK !!!

  • AlecM

    Abbott was guidance by professional scientists and engineers, none of whom accepts the IPCC’s pseudoscience funded by Obama, delegate of carbon traders.

    The IPCC got all the key IR and radiative physics wrong. This can only have been by design; the biggest scientific fraud in History.

    There is near zero CO2-AGW, proved empirically and by theory. The problem is, the stranglehold of Obama’s billions on the science publishing system has prevented the truth coming out.

    However, our government knows the truth: Cameron is playing for the election by trying to keep the scam going.

  • foxoles

    About time.

  • swatnan

    Isn’t this Blair lookalike the same Abbott who said they’ll find MH370?
    Carbon trading is a con. Just impose heavy penalties on abusers.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Or better still, just ignore all of those envirowhacko socialist nutters lad.

  • Gizzard Puke

    There’s more chance of Cameron advocating EU withdrawal or scrapping the Yooman Rights Act than him ditching his marxist ‘green’ agenda.

  • Des Demona

    Hang on – is this true or is this another of these?

  • Geronimo von Huxley

    White man is speaking with snake tongue. I have tipi – always cool in summer, I build iglu in winter, always warm in winter. White man stupid.

  • Inverted Meniscus

    Oh for a British politician who would follow Tony Abbot’s excellent lead and repeal the ludicrous green taxes imposed by the last Fascist Labour misgovernment. The tide is turning on the preposterous idiots who worship at the altar of AGW and use this manufactured nonsense to impose more taxes and order the behaviour of Britain’s citizens. The net result of the efforts of these Eco fascists has been to impose a totally unnecessary fuel poverty on many of the most vulnerable and poorest members of society. So come on Cameron tell the LibDems and Fascist a Labour to get stuffed, repeal these ludicrous taxes and pursue an energy policy untrammelled by the demands of the Eco fascists. You might even gain a few votes. Not holding my breath though.

    • HJ777

      Green taxes and government impositions certainly have raised domestic energy prices. On the other hand, I always though levying a lower rate of VAT (5%) on domestic fuel was an aberration. I wonder whether domestic energy prices would be higher or lower if VAT was levied at the standard rate but many or all of the green taxes/levies were removed?

      • Conway

        If it weren’t for the EU we need not have VAT on fuel at all. That would go some way to off-setting the “cost of living crisis” (TM).

        • HJ777

          There is no sensible argument for taxing fuel less than other items.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Yes, but what many fail to realise is that Tony A is one of the greenest Greenies the planet has ever seen – how can I say that?
    Well … Aussie, like AngloAmerica, are cronically broke – they too are living way beyond their means, their current account balance shows what the AngloAmerican current account balance shows – it’s DEEP RED.
    Now, unlike in the US or the UK, Aussie natural resources have already been sold to the Chinese et al. So, not only is there no money left, there is no *future* money left either. That means Tony, our ever so Greenie hero, is only one step away from step two: switching off the air-con. You see, you may huff and puff all you like but life does not get any GREENER than that!

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Gold medal for envirowhacko gibberish lad. Is that what the goat thinks laddie? This is the beginning of the end for you Eco fascists so hats off to Tony Abbot

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Your moronic levels of sustained cretinous idiocy cannot be topped.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Are you talking to the Goat laddie or another of your sock puppets? You all spout the same EU sponsored socialist nutter gibberish lad.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Given that Australia is currently making major investments in LNG projects that have yet to come on stream I don’t think that one month’s data are a trend. What is clear is that under the Labor/Green government exports were hampered. Try looking at the trade trends since say 2000 here:

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well of course Australia is in debt. It had a DEEP RED government from 2007 to 2013 and DEEP RED governments always put countries into the DEEP RED. Australian government debt rose from 58 billion in 2007 to 257 billion by 2013. The DEEP RED government created a “debt ceiling” to supposedly limit government borrowing but then raised the ceiling in 2009, 2011 and 2012 so that it could borrow more to pay for its DEEP RED policies.

      If Tony does switch off the air con it will because of the lunatic DEEP RED debt binge embarked upon by loony DEEP RED leaders Rudd and Gilliard.

      The people’s debt is deepest red,
      It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
      And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
      Their manic spend dyed its ev’ry fold.

      Then raise the scarlet deficit high.
      Within its shade we’ll live and die,
      We cowards steal and traitors sneer,
      We’ll keep the red debt rising here.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum
        wie GREEN sind deine Blaetter!

        • Colonel Mustard

          You can have the last word. I know that’s really important for the left’s sock puppets.

          • dalai guevara

            Tag Tag Tag
            Sehr gut, ja.

            • Colonel Mustard

              If you say so Fritz.

              • dalai guevara

                Tag Tag
                No one in their right mind wants socialism. Have I made myself clear, Charles Philip Arthur George VI?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Clear as schlamm.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    “Tony Abbott, much to the angst of the nation’s climate enthusiasts, had
    the moral conviction and political nerve to take issue with the accepted
    wisdom. The result was a landslide election and today’s keynote
    legislation. David Cameron could surely learn from his experience.”


    You are surely right, Mr. Switzer. The problem is, Dave is an envirowhacko nutter, and wholeheartedly believes in that accepted wisdom. The only thing he’s learned from your experience is that apostates like you must be shouted down by shiny-eyed zealots like him.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      There is an even worse envirowhacko on this thread. Perhaps we should expect a visit from the Goat very soon?

  • itdoesntaddup

    Doubtless the BBC will report it as a betrayal of their principles. As it happens, I have just been researching what has happened to power prices in Queensland. They’ve increased 50% in the past three years – to pay for solar subsidies and beefing up the network to carry away solar surplus power, and to cover the carbon tax according to the Queensland Competition Authority.

    • Conway


      • Vindice


    • ReefKnot

      The BBC will deal with this by simply not reporting it or by a few lines tucked away in some hidden corner of their website.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Now Owen Paterson will lecture at Lawson’s GWPF.
        We knew from day one this guy was a fraud.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …the “we” being you and your army of sockpuppets, laddie.