A day after Tony Abbott was elected as the new Prime Minister of Australia, conservation groups are already worrying about the future of environmental protection and sustainability in the country.
Under the new “management”, a term used by Abbott in his acceptance speech at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, his government will put environmental issues on the back burner to get the business back on track.
Abbott won Saturday’s Federal Election to become Australia’s 28th prime minister, beating Kevin Rudd in an overwhelming victory.
In a reaction to his election, however, Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe from the School of Science, Griffith University said Australia’s newly elected government will be disastrous for the environment. He finds the Coalition Government’s policies on environment to be depressing, The Conversation reports.
Under the Liberal Party’s plan, Abbott will seek to abolish the carbon tax immediately, which he considers toxic and destructive for Australian businesses. The new PM also vowed to suspend the operation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Citing New South Wales as an example of bad business affected by carbon tax, Premiere Barry O’Farrell has made it clear that the state’s black coal-fired power stations will suffer a loss in value of at least $5 billion because of the carbon tax.
Abbott will also abolish the mining tax which he claims undermines investor confidence in Australia as an investment destination and as a secure “supplier of resources.” By scrapping the tax, the Coalition aims to “restore confidence, stability and security for the industry, allowing it to thrive, create jobs and contribute to the prosperity of all Australians.”
Green groups have been alarmed at the Coalition’s plan to implement a One-Stop-Shop Environmental Approvals Process. The process will cut green tape and will fast-track approvals of new mining and other projects. Once it gives green light to the petition lodged by the Business Council of Australia, the Coalition will offer State and Territory governments the opportunity to act as a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals. The States and Territories would then administer a single approvals process including approvals under Commonwealth legislation such as the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Environment Defenders Office has already released a report that finds the One-Stop-Shop a process to streamline the process of environmental destruction. Read related article here.
Lowe said Abbott’s proposal will turn the clock back 30 years on environmental protection.
“Since the Hawke government blocked the proposed Franklin Dam, successive governments – ALP and Coalition – have curbed the worst excesses of growth-oriented states, which are prepared to approve irresponsible developments. Even our National Parks are no longer safe,” he said.
Other plans in the Coalition pipeline include a go for mineral exploration activities; agricultural land exploration for seam coal gas; approval of uranium exports to India; examination of the potential of thorium as an energy source for export; and a review of the former government’s White Paper on energy and resources, among other things.