When Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott won the election last year his priority agenda included the repeal of the carbon tax laws put in place by the previous government. Following his oath-taking, he wasted no time abolishing the Australian Climate Council. Climate-related projects introduced by the Labor Government were scheduled to be scrapped shortly after.
On Monday, his Government’s plan faced a setback. The Upper House blocked his attempt to repeal the carbon tax by rejecting the passage of a Bill to abolish the Climate Change Authority.
The Labor-Green coalition knocked back the legislation designed to disband the authority. The authority was created during the Julia Gillard Government to oversee the implementation of the clean energy laws, which include the carbon tax.
The bill was amended by Labor Senator Louise Prat, but defeated on the second reading- 38 votes against 32. It can be re-introduced in three months, but a second rejection would trigger a double dissolution.
Greens Senator Christine Milne took it as a victory as Environment Minister Greg Hunt expressed his frustration, saying it was “as if an election was never held.”
While environmental groups are celebrating, the Australian Conservation Foundation said the authority would now be able to continue its work until the new Senate takes over in July. Milne said the government could bring this legislation back before the Senate in three months taking into account of the new composition of the legislative body.
Milne said the authority could continue to provide Australia with high quality independent advice on global warming and a rigorous review of the renewable energy target. She told reporters,“I am delighted that today the Senate has defeated Tony Abbott’s push to try and tear apart a science-based recommendation and go with his anti-science obsession.’’
The authority is mandated to govern Australia’s mitigation policies, undertake reviews and make recommendations on various issues, including emissions reduction targets and carbon budgets, renewable energy targets, the carbon farming initiative, and national greenhouse and energy reporting system.
Abbott disbanded the Climate Council shortly after he was sworn in as the new prime minister last year. The council was commissioned to provide independent and authoritative climate change information to the Australian public “based on the best science available.”