Australia: Abbott ditches climate change in 2014 budgetBy Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon May 20, 2014 10:48AM UTC
It is not a big surprise when the Coalition Government of Tony Abbott sliced a huge amount of budget for the environment.
Reacting to the budget, mining magnate Clive Palmer, who leads the Palmer United Party, said the 2014 budget is delivered for the lobbyists and donors of the Liberal Party. He, however, failed to realise that the mining sector, which he likewise represents, is a big budget beneficiary.
Palmer wrote in The Guardian:
As the government prepared its first budget, the spin doctors were working overtime, preparing for the moment when Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey would throw away the promises and the policies they took to the election. At parliament house, lobbyists queued to see ministers and bombarded new members of parliament with detailed submissions…
The budget, which was delivered in Parliament last week, hits the Green sector hard – not to mention a range of other victims under Australia’s welfare system.
Australia’s climate change policy and investments in renewables are now facing uncertain future.
Investment in renewables has been scaled down to save about $1.3 billion. The government has also turned its back from its commitment to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) with funding of $2.55 billion now set to spread out over 10 years instead of four years as promised.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is no longer needed and its function will be streamlined under the environment department. ARENA was set up in 2012 to drive research and investment in renewable technologies. With bipartisan support, it was set up as an independent agency to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and their uptake. Ivor Frischknecht, the agency’s chief executive ,said abolishing the agency will reduce Australia’s ability to lower cost energy in the long term.
The Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme is designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The RET scheme is helping to transform Australia’s electricity generation mix to cleaner and more diverse sources and supporting growth and employment in the renewables.
More bad news comes with AGL backflipping from its commitment to renewables. It announced over the weekend Australia’s RET is not achievable.
Leading utility AGL Energy has called for the scrapping of federal government support for rooftop solar PV, and has indicated the large scale renewable energy target (RET) should also be diluted or deferred because it would be impossible to meet the current 41,000GWh target in the current timeframe. – Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy
This will make Australia to slip further as an enemy of clean energy Already, the country ranks ninth in renewable investments last year ahead of Italy, but behind the likes of South Africa, Canada, India and Germany.
In contrast to renewables, the mining sector get a big boost with $100 million allotted over four years for minerals exploration. Small explorers will not make any taxable income access to a refundable tax offset for their Australian shareholders.
Abbott has also spared mining an increase in the diesel fuel excise. Currently, commercial vehicles used in mining and agriculture get a rebate on the diesel fuel excise that drops it to six cents per litre. Before the budget there had been calls to raise this in line with the petrol fuel excise.
The Minerals Resource Rent Tax, otherwise known as mining tax, which was introduced during the Government of Kevin Rudd and passed the Parliament under Julia Gillard has been tabled in Abbot’s agenda. The abolition of mining tax is projected to save $3.4 billion over the next three years. Read ABC’s summation of the budget.
With the G20 summit to be held in Brisbane this coming November, Abbott has already informed the EU he wants environment and climate change to be taken off from the agenda- besides he already informed the IPCC and the rest of the world he does not believe in climate change.