11 ways Tony Abbott is ruining Australia and threatening the whole world
Tony Abbott, opposition leader of Australia's
Liberal Party since 2009, assumed office as Prime Minister on September
18, 2013. Since then, he has done Australia and the world a great many
disservices in a very short amount of time.
From his rolling back of green initiatives and his disregard
for climate change to his hardline stance against asylum-seekers and
promotion of social conservatism, it sometimes feels like Abbott is
taking Australia back into the dark ages (he suggested bringing back knighthoods, if it's a literal example you want). And his dangerous approach to the environment threatens to take the world with him.
Here are the 11 worst things that Tony Abbott has done in his short tenure, beginning with the worst-of-the-worst: his policies on energy, climate change, and the environment.
1) He plans to allow logging in some national forests
(BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
In a March 2014 speech to workers and executives in the
timber industry, Abbott called loggers "the ultimate conservationists" —
a statement that couldn't possibly make any less sense — and he pledged
to open up protected forests to logging while preventing other forests from receiving new protection.
"We don't support, as a government and as a Coalition,
further lockouts of our forests," Abbott said. "We have quite enough
National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact,
in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest."
Abbott promised to create a Forest Advisory Council and he's
asked UNESCO to remove 74,000 hectares of forest in Tasmania from its
list of world heritage sites.
"I salute you as people who love the natural world," he said
during his speech, "as people who love what Mother Nature gives us and
who want to husband it for the long-term best interests of humanity."
2) He abolished the Climate Commission and is defunding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency
(WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Then Prime Minister Julia Gillard established the
independent Climate Commission in 2011 to "provide reliable and
authoritative" information about global climate change. Abbott shut it down.
According to his environment minister, Greg Hunt, the closure was part
of "plans to streamline government processes and avoid duplication of
Abbott can't reasonably shutter every environment-focused agency, but he can certainly cut their funding. He's targeted
the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for major reductions to
its $3 billion budget. There will be a $435 million cut, and an addition
$370 million will be deferred for a decade.
3) He has promised to repeal carbon and mining taxes
(Lukas Coch-Pool/Getty Images)
Abbott calls the taxes, which are designed to curb fossil fuel emissions, "green tape" that hurts investment, industry, entrepreneurs, business, the future, etc., etc., etc.
4) He's allowing coal companies to dredge and dump soil for a port near the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef as seen from space (Staff/AFP/Getty Images)
Abbott's administration, via the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, approved
a permit that will allow for the construction of a coal port by
dredging 3 million cubic meters of soil and dumping it 15 miles from the
reef. Further investment in coal energy is plenty dangerous on its own
without messing with one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Strangely, the permit approval came one day after the
administration reported to UESCO that the reef, which is a world
heritage site, was experiencing "a serious decline in hard coral cover."
5) He's murdering sharks
Protestors show their support
during a shark-culling policy protest at Cottesloe Beach on February 1,
2014 in Perth, Australia (Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Citing the effects of shark attacks on tourism, Western Australia asked
the Abbott administration to exempt the region from a federal law
banning shark culling. The cull included Great Whites, which are
The Humane Society called the decision "a complete disgrace"
and thousands of Australians protested, but Abbott was basically like:
6) He's taken climate change off the G20 agenda for 2014
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey
speaks to the media at the close of the G20 Finance Ministers and
Central Bank Governors meetings on February 23, 2014 (Lisa Maree
Abbott's domestic environmental policies have obvious
implications for the world's climate, but his anti-environment influence
has extended beyond domestic politics.
In November 2014, Brisbane, Australia will host the G20
summit, an annual meeting of heads-of-state and finance ministers from
the world's largest economies. As the host nation, Australia has some
control over the agenda. The world, and Europe in particular, was
shocked when Abbott decided
to take climate change off the docket even though it was on the agenda
at the most recent G20 summits in France, Mexico, and Russia.
Abbott explained that he didn't want the agenda "cluttered" by topics that weren't directly related to growing economies.
7) He's defunding scientific research
(Gary Ramage/Getty Images)
The Abbott administration is planning large cuts
to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
(CSIRO), the country's main agency for scientific research. The cut
could be as large as 20 percent of the present annual budget of $750
Immunologist and Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty called the cuts "a sure way of accelerating our transition to a Third-World economy."
Read more: Australia's war on science
8) He's failing when it comes to immigration and asylum
Asylum seekers from Iran,
Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan were heading for Christmas island, and
were turned back by Australian Navy according to Indonesian authorities
Every year, thousands of immigrants seek asylum in
Australia. They board ships from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and
Myanmar, hoping to reach Australia's Christmas Island, which is just 220
miles off the southern coast of Indonesia.
Abbott's campaign promise on asylum and immigration was simple and callous: "stop the boats."
Two months after taking office, he launched a program called "Operation Sovereign Borders," which focuses on stopping boats
before they reach Australian waters and escorting them back to their
point of origin. Often, that job goes to the Australian navy, a decision
that has caused controversy because other sovereign nations don't like
when navies enter their own sovereign borders.
Asylum-seekers that make it to Australia need to sign a code of behavior. Some asylum-seekers are held at remote detention facilities on other islands."
At the end of March, Abbott celebrated
100 days without a boat successfully reaching Australian land. He did
not celebrate the revelation that an asylum-seeker had been killed on
Manus Island, allegedly by two Australian security contractors.
9) He opposes his sister's gay marriage
(RIE ISHII/AFP/Getty Images)
Abbott opposes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and
same-sex marriage. State and territory governments have recently passed
or are considering laws that legalize same-sex marriage, and he has mounted swift opposition.
When the Australian Capital Territory legalized same-sex marriage in
late 2013, the Abbott administration sought to invalidate the law in
federal court. In December, the High Court ruled that Australia's
Federal Marriage Act voided the territory's law.
Abbott's sister is gay and when she and her partner married, Abbott said he would "do the right thing" and attend the nuptials but did not support their marriage.
10) He ended Australia's UN opposition to the building of new Israel settlements
(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Approximately 160 United Nations member nations agree that
Israel should stop building settlements in occupied Palestine. Australia
once joined those countries. No longer.
Australia and eight other countries abstained from voting on a UN
resolution that called for the "prevention of all acts of violence,
destruction, harassment and provocation by Israeli settlers, especially
against Palestinian civilians and their properties." Australia also
abstained from a resolution calling on Israel, as an occupying nation,
to comply with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. (The US voted against.)
Australia's former foreign affairs minister, Bob Carr, called the new policy "a shame, in the deepest sense."
11) He supports constitutional monarchy and has restored honorific titles
(Jason Reed/Pool/Getty Images) )
Okay, so this one isn't on par with climate denial, but it's a little weird. For the first time since 1983, Australians can receive the titles of "knight" and "dame." Really?