Leading article Australia

Hip, hip hooray for Tony Abbott’s carbon tax repeal

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

Barring any more sudden Ricky Muir-like surprises, it looks as if the Senate will repeal the carbon tax; so allow us a little gloating. When the Australian edition of The Spectator was created in 2008, we took a leaf out of Bill Buckley’s National Review in 1955 and stood athwart History, yelling Stop. We yelled because, like broadcaster Alan Jones, pundit Andrew Bolt and the Institute of Public Affairs, we hoped to be heard in a conformist climate. These were the days of Tim Flannery’s hysteria, the Garnaut Report’s hype and Kevin Rudd’s ‘greatest moral challenge’.

The orthodoxy held that even though average temperatures had barely changed in recent times we were headed for an environmental catastrophe in a few years, and only drastic changes to our way of life could possibly prevent it. With his poll numbers in the doldrums, Malcolm Turnbull looked like one of those doctors in Grey’s Anatomy who had observed the ailment but misdiagnosed it. Opposition to Labor’s plans for an ETS, he warned, would annihilate the federal Coalition, so Mr Turnbull fell over himself to accommodate Mr Rudd at every turn. But when his successor Tony Abbott challenged this cozy consensus, the political wind turned into Labor’s perfect storm. After Copenhagen, Mr Rudd imploded. Almost overnight, his stratospheric poll figures cratered. The very experts who only a few months earlier had predicted electoral oblivion for an anti-ETS Coalition — Paul Kelly, Laurie Oakes, Peter Hatcher, Michelle Grattan, Lenore Taylor, Mark Kenny — were forced to concede Mr Abbott’s tactical acumen.

Facing a changing (political) climate, Mr Rudd ditched the ETS. In June 2010 Labor’s factional warlords panicked, knifed him and installed Julia Gillard, who had recognised that the carbon tax was so unpopular that she promised not to enact one as a ploy to win votes at the election. After Labor joined with Greens to create a minority government, she went about legislating the very tax she pledged not to introduce. The effect of mounting mistrust had destroyed Ms Gillard’s authority in the lead-up to the 2013 election. She was subsequently knifed — by the very bloke she had backstabbed three years earlier. Back in office for only two months, Mr Rudd pretended he would scrap the hugely unpopular tax, again as a ploy to win votes. But Middle Australia was not to be fooled (again), voting for his much-maligned opponent in a landslide last September. With the new Senate this month, the scene has been set for the repeal of one of the most controversial laws in Australian history.

The lesson here 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 leaders are not afraid to challenge a stifling political consensus. When global warming alarmism was dominant in late 2009, Mr Abbott — encouraged by people like us — had the political nerve and moral conviction to provoke people into questioning the religious fervour of carbon pricing. To wit, he has been able to pioneer a new direction in climate policy that has transformed Australian politics. Bring out the champagne!

More carbon follies

Apparently, Australia is about to destroy the world because Tony Abbott will end the carbon tax. Who brands Mr Abbott such a planetary vandal? None other than Lord Deben, a thermomaniac climate-change Cassandra from England. Lord Deben used to be a British cabinet minister, a job he did with little distinction. When minister of agriculture during the mad cow crisis he was so desperate to calm things down, and keep his job, he made his blameless little daughter eat a hamburger for a grotesque photo opportunity. Luckily, the girl survived.

Now he feathers his nest chairing and working for various businesses that exploit fears about man-made global warming to rake in cash. He has no scientific training, but makes up for it with an arresting line in alarmist self-righteousness. His po-faced doom-mongering has long made him a laughing stock in Britain, where not everyone is aware of his financial interest in lobbying for swingeing carbon taxes.

Now, his toxic brand has gone global. Mr Abbott reflects the growing consensus on the futility of carbon pricing. After all, prospects for a binding and enforceable global post-Kyoto deal at Paris next year are about as likely as England winning the soccer World Cup in 2018. Lord Deben is entitled to go money-grubbing at the expense of the gullible, but he should not include us among them. If we ever want his self-serving, propagandising opinions again — and it’s unlikely — we’ll ask for them.

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  • bunit

    Don’t worry, The Spectator. It happens to every guy at least once.

  • Martin Kingsley

    Don’t you hate it when you blow your (carbon) load early?

  • Brendan Keogh

    Hip, hip hooray!

  • Cowcakes

    This article is severely lacking in evidence on the current global state of play with Carbon pricing. i.e. more countries are introducing it and with peoples acceptance of the overwhelming evidence that supports the fact of global warming. This however matches the lack of evidence in the global warming denial camp as a whole. Just more hot hair which is contributing further to the problem.

    • EschersStairs

      Aha, more consensus I hear. More and more and more of it. But, I’m afraid, labels and hearsay don’t have much longevity about them Cowcakes.

      • Cowcakes

        Speaking of your own belief system are you. The science on climate change is far more than heresay and labels. It’s support by observable data which happens to match the models and predictions. That is how all science works. Make a prediction, create a model, see if it matches future observable data. The consensus is because of the evidence not the other way around.

        • EschersStairs

          Sorry, that is what is known as Equivocation, and in this case it amounts to an error of argument. You have called your own belief system ‘science on climate change’, in order to disguise it as science on climate, de facto.
          A second mistake that you make is that you declare ex cathedra that the consensus follows the evidence. It should. But it doesn’t. And if you declare that there is a consensus on ‘catastrophic man-made climate change due to CO2 emissions’, you are your own counter-factual.

          • Cowcakes

            Evidence is not a belief system, it just is, and exists regardless of belief or not so Papal infallibility is neither relevant or possible.

            In the case of anthropomorphic climate change the evidence most certainly supports it in the strongest possible fashion. The effect of releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than natural processes can recycle out of the atmosphere has been understood since the beginning of the industrial revolution. At the time nobody seriously imagined that humanity would burn as much fossil fuels as we do now.

            You can spew forth words as much as you like, however it doesn’t change the fact of man made climate change. No credible source has put forward a counter argument based on evidence capable of overturning the vast majority of peer reviewed research. The evidence is not restricted to atmospheric sciences. It is also apparent in biology, oceanography, farming, fisheries and the re-insurance industries figures on payouts due to damaging weather events.

          • EschersStairs

            Please. If you are going to make such generalised claims of consensus, at least offer a literature review, or a reference to a literature review. That would be evidence. What you have offered thus far is an appeal to authority, and I’m sure this isn’t intentional, but the authority appealed to is you.

          • Cowcakes

            I feel no compulsion to do your research for you. Suffice to say just to a quick Google search on any of the Worlds major and most reputable scientific bodies from NASA to NOA, the CSIRO or the Royal Society. I could easily throw the same question back at you, where’s your evidence, you have presented none. As as you are the one going against the vast majority of scientific opinion it is incumbent on you to present extraordinary evidence for your extraordinary claims.

            You know where the evidence is you just choose to ignore it and listen to what agrees with your preconceived ideas.

            Not going to explain any more because you are a brain dead fuckwit that cant tell shit from chocolate cake.

          • EschersStairs

            I’m always impressed by internet toughguys. In my experience climate change loonies tend to resort to ad hominem when excited by a challenge to their views.
            Let me help you: up til this point it is you and not I that have put forward a claim about consensus. As such, it is quite illogical for me to be required of by you to provide evidence of a claim which I question; and furthermore, it would also be illogical for me to find evidence to the opposite claim (which you have assumed that I hold) if I am ambivalent about it.

          • Cowcakes

            Far from being a “tough boy” I’ve just had enough of your insane passive aggression and illusion to debating rules which like any debate are not required to stick to facts. Debating is a literary word game where the ability to place pleasing sounding words in a coherent way is what counts. A bit like your nom de plume you are a mix of confusing paths, which while looking impressive ultimately lead nowhere.

    • amirlach

      There is no “overwhelming evidence that supports the fact of global warming.” It has not warmed for over 17 years. The “consensus” is a fraud. Every single one of the IPCC’s models has failed.


      Professor Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics said, “It does not matter who you are, or how smart you are, or what title you have, or how many of you there are, and certainly not how many papers your side has published, if your prediction is wrong then your hypothesis is wrong. Period.”

      Your simply projecting when you say “. This however matches the lack of evidence in the global warming denial camp as a whole.”

      It is in fact the alarmists who lack evidence. They cling to their Models and data Adjustments and ignore real world observations that refute the “theory” reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing.

      • Cowcakes

        The Forbes data typically cherry picks a small subset of the remote sensing NASA data. Strange how it doesn’t mention the significant increase in ocean water temperatures, the thinning of pack ice which is just as important as pack ice surface area. The fact we have had La Nina and favourable ENSO during that time period which meant very heavy rain and quite damaging flooding in Australia. The increased rainfall turned central Australia into a temporary quite large carbon sink. That level of new vegetative growth is not the norm for Australia.

        Unless your sources include ALL the data they are worthless and inaccurate, not the type of thing to be forming an opinion on. But then you and your kind have an opinion then trawl for any tiny set of contrary data or selective grab bits ignoring the larger picture to support your opinion.

  • Katherine


  • draco


  • quinks

    > and stood athwart History, yelling Stop.

    Oh, wow. You guys are really hilariously adorable in your conservatism. “Stop the bus, I don’t like this future, I want to go” – what year did you mention again, 1955? – “I want to go back to 1955!”

    Next you’ll be telling me that young up-start Luther King Jr. is up to no good and wonder what Menzies has been up to lately?

    • David Cameron

      and remember it was Menzies who signed Australia to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention in 1954 !

  • EschersStairs

    At long last the flora can breathe a healthy carbon rich sigh of relief.

  • Name


  • Chan Loop

    This is obviously a parody piece. All those carefully crafted dollops of misinformation, the wild swing of the insults, the hilarious reference to “stopping History”…its got to be that erudite “comic columnist” Rowan Dean, the doyen of self promoters whose leeching of advertising has been temporarily ceased whilst he pursues a broader media campaign on behalf of various things libertarian…Comedy Gold.

  • Jackthastripper

    How can you know what will happen in the future if you’re living 70 years in the past though?

  • Hambone

    Wow. Such evidence. Much complex analysis.

  • Mongo


  • Dave The Happy Singer


    • Mukundray

      Because it wasn’t repealed, it was blocked in senate. The Spectator was a little *premature* in it’s gleeful anti-environmentalist rhetoric.

      • Dave The Happy Singer


      • Jen

        Someone hand them a tissue. Or a towel.

  • Dave The Happy Singer

    Also: there’s an Australian Spectator? Really? Did you tell anyone about it?

  • ap89


  • Benjamin Dicker

    Hip, hip, hoor…….wait a minute…..

  • Mukundray

    Well, this is embarrassing.

  • Alice Weber

    What are you reporting on? The tax was not repealed. The Senate knocked it back. Who is your source? My advice is sack them.

    • Michele Keighley

      It passed today Alice – happy now?

      • EschersStairs

        There are so many levels of hubris… what amuses me is that there are no similar comments on the Spectator’s follow up article this week.

  • Tony Emond

    That’s priceless… like Nigel Mansell waving to the Montreal crowd in 1991, and having his car pack it in on the last lap.

  • Alegra

    Wow who’s paying you? Hahahahahahahaha

  • DP

    I love how the first article is praising journalists for their strong views and advocacy on climate science, while the second is ridiculing a non-scientist for having an opposing view

  • Cardinal fang

    Hooray the holy trinity have prevailed, in the name Andrew bolt, the IPA and Alan jones (hello cocky) . Tony the tactician , not just a pugilist but a tactician. Who would have thunk it? Four years of saying no, and the sky is falling. Doing his Michael Caine and jack Palance. Was a tactic. It was all an act. Oh bravo ! Now when the carbon tax is repealed he would have achieved…….? And the cheer squad will…….?
    Well Alan can screech for whoever pays him,same for the IPA and as for Andrew he can just dish out more apologies for when he tells fibs.

  • Hotdog

    This appears to be the winning entry in the PMO’s competition to write a story on the repeal of the Carbon Tax. Now we know what the forty three media advisors to the PM do with their time.

  • Sunray


  • Crispy

    And so ‘The Spectator’ turns into ‘The Onion’ with one editorial. Priceless.

  • Pearl

    “…the growing consensus on the futility of carbon pricing” ??? Abbott and Harper and, and, and…um…
    Talk about karma, you couldn’t invent a Palmer for Abbott.

  • Des Demona

    In next week’s issue ”Australia Win World Cup”

  • EschersStairs

    Notice all the journo’s from the ABC and Crikey coming out of the woodwork?