Australian PM abolishes climate change watchdog

AFP, SYDNEY

Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 5

Australia’s new conservative government yesterday abolished an independent climate change commission set up by the previous Labor administration, as part of its plans to streamline bureaucracy.

The Climate Commission was set up to provide apolitical and reliable information to the public about the science of climate change, emissions targets and international action being taken.

However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative coalition, which plans to repeal Labor’s tax on corporate pollution and is the first post-war Australian government not to have a science minister, said an independent body was not needed and the role would be assumed by the Department of the Environment.

“As part of the coalition’s plans to streamline government processes and avoid duplication of services the commission’s function to provide independent advice and analysis on climate change will be continued by the Department of the Environment,” new Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.

Australian Climate Commission chairman Tim Flannery argued that there was a strong need for independent and accurate information on climate change as “propaganda” aimed at misinforming the public increases.

Australia, which is among the world’s worst per capita polluters due to its reliance on coal-fired power and mining exports, has just experienced its warmest 12 months on record.

Australia’s last summer witnessed an unprecedented heatwave, bushfires and floods and Flannery, a professor regarded as one of Australia’s top climate scientists, said an informed public was key to action on climate change.