Tony Abbott rushing Australia backwards on climate change

Abbott-liarChanging climate: from debate to leadership, The Age Editorial 4 April 14,  Tony Abbott’s response to this week’s international report on climate change – ”Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains. Always has been, always will be” – is not the first time he has quoted Dorothea Mackellar. In January 2013, as opposition leader, Mr Abbott said this: ”I do make the general point that Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains, and the ordinary business of government should include being able to cope with the sorts of natural disaster which we regularly experience in this country”.

The important distinction here is not so much what Mr Abbott said (an opinion that is essentially unchanged), but when. Early last year, and as leader of the alternative government, his view on climate change was hardly surprising and was, indeed, more contained – he was responding to a question about the possibility of restoring the flood levy in Queensland. But this week’s repetition is a different matter entirely. Tony Abbott is Prime Minister, and he was responding to a far more serious concern that goes beyond state and national borders.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, representing years of work by 309 leading global researchers, confirms that the effects of climate change are being felt across the world, and are likely to increase. The nub of the report is that these impacts are already being felt. To deal with them, therefore, requires strong commitment rather than prevarication. In other words, decisive leadership.

The Prime Minister, however, dogmatically prefers the past tense to the present indicative. He still indulges in sterile and pointless debate in the face of sustained and perhaps irreversible damage to our planet. In the process, Mr Abbott prevails against the judgment of science and the force of popular opinion. This is not true leadership: that happens when governments, sometimes taking risks for the greater good of community and country, look beyond ideological and political differences. True leadership, which emerges in times of cataclysmic disaster and times of war, should also be deployed in gauging and attempting to control the most critical environmental challenge of our time…….


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