Abbott's 'Extreme' Budget Strikes Down Australia's Claim of Taking Climate Change Seriously

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By Reissa Su | May 23, 2014 9:17 AM EST

The first budget of the Australia's Abbott government was described as the "least popular" and the "most extreme" in 40 years, according to most media accounts and statements. The country's Budget 2014 was released during an unexpected heatwave in May with temperatures measuring 20 degrees.

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A man works on a roof covered with solar panels at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales March 25, 2010.

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Opinion polls like the recent Newspoll revealed only 5 per cent of Australians think they are "better off" with the new budget while the majority feel they are "worse off." Protests against the Abbott government's budget were recently held as Australians expressed their opposition.

Aside from affecting social policies including the $80 billion budget cuts in health and education, the release of the new budget has destroyed Prime Minister Tony Abbott's claims that Australia was taking climate change seriously.

Treasurer Joe Hockey delivered the new budget on May 13 which mentioned the axing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) that was tasked to help bring new and emerging technologies into production and support the country's world-class solar research programmes.

The Abbott government has decided that ARENA will be absorbed into the Department of Industry despite ARENA Chairman Greg Bourne's statement that the agency will continue to its duties until a repeal bill is passed in Parliament.

Mr Abbott's Direct Action plan may cost as much as $40 billion by 2020. The Climate Institute said this amount will go higher if the policies will weaken the renewable energy target. 

Climate Institute Chief Executive John Connor said the Direct Action is "a friendless piece of policy" and only few people are trying to defend it.

Australian Solar Council's John Grimes has described the recently released budget as a "boulevard of broken dreams" for the renewable energy industry. With the Abbott government redirecting support for renewable energy, Clean Energy Council Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the scrapping of ARENA will prompt potential investors to look for other countries that have strengthened its clean energy initiatives. Australia may miss out on the possibility of more jobs and boost renewable energy efforts.

The government's Budget 2014 has only provided scientists more ammunition to criticise Mr Abbott for reduced funding to research more on renewable energy in an effort to reduce the effects of climate change.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Stefan Wermuth)
A man works on a roof covered with solar panels at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales March 25, 2010.
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