When Julia Gillard was campaigning for Prime Minister of Australia in 2010, she stated no carbon tax would be imposed under a government she led, but did exactly that with the Clean Energy Bill of 2011. This led to her being met with placards that read 'Ju-liar' and, through a series of Parliament events, resigned her position as Prime Minister in June, 2013. Tony Abbott hammered her on the broken promise. His conservative coalition won the September 2013 election and Abbott introduced a bill on his first day as Prime Minister to repeal the carbon tax. The bill passed in July 2014, much to the fanfare of climate change deniers and fossil fuel billionaires everywhere.
Happily ever after? Not hardly.
While campaigning, Abbott vowed he would not cut popular programs. Now that he is in charge, he has cut funding for schools and hospitals by A$80 billion over the next decade. As can be expected from someone that is demonstrating his contempt for science, the science budget is being hit with cuts of A$420 million. The national science budget amount to just .6% of the national GDP. His reasoning for cutting their budgets? To cut the budget deficit.
But, wait a minute, one of the reasons Australia has a budget deficit is because Abbott cut the carbon tax and then replaced it with a tax-payer funded program to pay polluters to cut back on carbon emissions. Instead of making the polluters pay to clean-up their own mess, Abbott decided the taxpayers had to pay for it. Instead of having an income stream, he now has an expense. Who benefits and you doesn't? Well, the polluters benefit because they are now being paid by the government to pollute. The more they pollute, the more they get to clean it up. The taxpayers lost because their tax dollars are being used to pay Abbott's corporate sponsors and they have to live in the pollution.
Now, the government is reeling and Abbott is getting back what he dished out - his integrity is being questioned and he is being accused of lying about his campaign promises. Ms. Gillard probably thinks it all sounds familiar. The popularity of Abbott's coalition government has plummeted and he is being met with placards that read, "Abbott-Liar." On November 29, Abbott's coalition lost in the state election in Victoria.
Abbott is finding himself isolated in the international community, as well. As the U.S. and China negotiate limits to greenhouse gas emissions, Abbott is busy paying polluters to clean-up their own mess. Abbott tried, and failed, to keep climate change off the G-20 agenda. The man that said the "climate change argument is absolute crap," is now finding himself in the minority on the issue.
It just keeps getting worse for them. The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop has been getting hammered from all sides on the issue. First, being embarrassed at the Australia-hosted G-20 conference on the subject, and now at the climate change conference in Lima, Peru.
So, Australians decided to elect a guy that is beholden to the fossil fuel industry, and now they aren't happy when they find out he will take care of industry instead of the citizens. I feel like saying this is a case of voter beware, except for the fact that we pretty much did the same thing in this country when we gave the Republicans full control of Congress last month. That is likely to be something we will regret, so I can't wag a finger at Australia.
UPDATE (12/10/2014): Did Australia cave in to international pressure? After saying all along that Australia would not contribute to the UN's global green fund, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has now announced Australia will pledge A$200 million to the fund to help third-world countries deal with climate change. Is this the start of a change in policy? We'll have to wait and see.